0 Rashard Kelly
Fredricksburg, Va. (Hargrave Military Academy)
Key stats: Played in all 70 games the past two seasons, starting 10, and is a career 45.3 percent shooter, 35.7 (10 of 28) from three-point range. Averaged 4.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 2015-16 with a high of 12 against Missouri State.
His fit: A smart team defender who shines taking charges, playing hard and unselfishly. Will provide a solid presence as the team’s leader in games played. Kelly could take on a larger role if he can improve on his 42.9-percent shooting accuracy, 31.6 percent from three-point range. The Shockers need him to play defense, rebound and avoid mistakes with the ball. If he can improve his scoring around the basket and figure out his role as a jump shooter, WSU’s offense benefits.
Loves to see: Kelly averages 6.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in four games against Missouri State, making 10 of 17 shots against the Bears.
Hates to see: In five meetings with Northern Iowa, Kelly has been held without a point twice, without a rebound once and totaled seven points.
Shares a number with: Carl Lemons, Nick Rogers, Aaron Ellis, Chadrack Lufile
Shocker comps: Kelly’s defense and rebounding follow the path of Ellis, Gabe Blair and Ramon Clemente. Those former Shockers found ways to score efficiently – Ellis shot 38 percent from the field as a freshman and 50.3 as a senior. Kelly’s job is to figure out his role in the offense in the same way.
1 Zach Brown
Houston (Sunrise Christian Academy)
Key stats: Leads the Shockers with 31 starts, all last season. His shooting percentages dropped as a sophomore, to 45.6 percent (from 51.8) and to 30.6 from three-point range (from 30.6). Shot 48.8 percent from the field in MVC play, making 26 of 37 two-point shots. Stayed accurate from the foul line (70.7 percent) and did a good job drawing fouls on the exhibition trip to Canada. Often guards the opposing team’s top scorer. His 27 steals tie Markis McDuffie for tops among returners.
His fit: Brown can continue his jobs as defender and secondary scorer. He is working to improve his ball-handling, which would allow him to make more drives to the lane and use his athletic ability. Coaches want him to focus on two or three dribbles in a straight line to get to the basket. Must reduce his mistakes, after 17.7 percent of his possessions ended with a turnover, highest rate among returners in the rotation.
Loves to see: Brown scored a career-high 16 points, making 7 of 11 shots, against Missouri State last season. In the first meeting, he scored eight points in 12 minutes. In three games against the Bears, he is 9 of 16 from the field.
Hates to see: Brown averages 1.3 points in four games against Evansville on 2-of-4 shooting.
Shares a number with: Duke Tshomba, Aaron Hogg, Joe Ragland
Shocker comps: Tekele Cotton carved out a beloved WSU career with great defense, unselfishness and timely scoring. Brown can do all of that and, perhaps, more offensively because of his height.
2 Daishon Smith
Jacksonville, Fla. (Tallahassee CC)
Key stats: Averaged 16.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists as a sophomore in junior college. Also made 36.5 percent of his threes and 74.2 percent (170 of 229) from the foul line.
His fit: Expected to give WSU a speedy ball-handler and defender. His athletic ability should create points on drives and open shots when he draws defenders away from shooters. He proved a disruptive force when WSU pressed in Canada. Like all newcomers, his effectiveness will be determined by how quickly he learns the system, eliminates turnovers and his defense. WSU’s had great success with transfer point guards such as Clevin Hannah and Joe Ragland, but both had their issues early in their tenures. Conner Frankamp’s presences means Smith doesn’t need to do it all himself at point guard.
Shares a number with: P.J. Couisnard, Malcolm Armstead
Shocker comps: Demetric Williams may have matched Smith’s speed. If Smith can use his quicks in the manner coaches want, he will be a unique force in recent history. Hannah and Ragland showed junior-college guards can thrive quickly at WSU.
3 C.J. Keyser
Baltimore (Brewster Academy)
Key stats: Averaged 10.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists for Brewster, which went 29-5.
His fit: Unknown. Injuries to both feet sidelined Keyser all summer and parts of the fall. If healthy, he is a top-level athlete with the potential to help the Shockers, especially with his defense. The injuries, however, set back his conditioning and education in WSU’s plan. By late September, Keyser injuries receded enough to allow him to practice. He showed off his leaping ability when he finished second in the dunk contest at Shocker Madness.
Shares a number with: Lew Hill, Ty Rhodes, Lance Harris, Clevin Hannah, Evan Wessel
Shocker comps: Keyser, who spent a year at Sunrise Christian Academy, is a Tekele Cotton fan and would like to make a similar mark with his defense. Bouncy freshmen who appreciate defense can find no better role model.
4 Brett Barney
Wichita (Sunrise Christian Academy)
Key stats: Barney redshirted last season.
His fit: WSU’s big man among the four walk-ons. Has a nice shooting touch and plays smart and hard.
Shares a number with: Mike Arline, Larry Callis, Jamar Howard, Ryan Martin
5 Zach Bush
Key stats: Played in 43 games over his career, which started in 2012-13 as a redshirt walk-on. Played in 16 games last season.
His fit: Good shooter and athlete who adds size on the wing to the practice team. Leads the cheering and gestures on the bench and is WSU marketing’s go-to athlete for in-house player interviews and video.
Shares a number with: Maurice Evans, Randy Burns, Demetric Williams
10 Kaelen Malone
McKinney, Texas (McLennan College)
Key stats: Walk-on averaged 3.3 points in 24 games at McLennan.
His fit: WSU always has plenty of walk-on guards. Their job is to play defense in practice and run the opposition’s system.
Shares a number with: Preston Carrington, Cal Bruton, Karon Bradley, Ramon Clemente
11 Landry Shamet
Kansas City, Mo. (Park Hill)
Key stats: Played in three games last season, starting against Emporia State, before a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot ended his season. After surgery, he considered returning in late February, but didn’t progress quickly enough and took a redshirt. Scored 13 points in his opener against Charleston Southern and averaged 8.7 before the injury.
His fit: Ticketed for significant playing time as a freshman before the foot injury. He is long and athletic with a well-rounded offensive game. Expected to start at shooting guard and should grow into one of WSU’s leaders.
Shares a number with: O.J. Robinson, Fridge Holman, Cleanthony Early
Shocker comps: Toure Murry played shooting guard most of his WSU career, while taking on point-guard duties later. Shamet is capable of a similar arc.
12 Austin Reaves
Newark, Ark. (Cedar Ridge)
Key stats: All of them. Reaves put up Steph Curry-numbers at Class 2A Cedar Ridge. He averaged 32.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists and scored 56 or more points four times, with a high of 73 in a triple-overtime win.
His fit: The departure of Peyton Allen, who left school in late September, increases Reaves’ importance. He sat out most of the summer rehabbing from March shoulder surgery, an injury that’s sometimes sidelined him this fall and limited his work in the weight room. Since he lacks strength, injuries are an issue. When he plays, he makes a good impression with his shooting and toughness. He is relentless in practice and isn’t intimidated by older players. Reaves can play both guard spots and the Shockers may need him.
Shares a number with: Dave Dahl, Darius Carter
Shocker comps: Ron Baker came to WSU from a small Kansas school and, after a redshirt season, contributed immediately. Reaves isn’t as “country strong” as Baker, so his progress might come more slowly, especially if shoulder injuries reoccur. He appears, however, to possess some of the combo guard potential that Baker did.
14 John Robert Simon
Oklahoma City (Putnam City North)
Key stats: Played in 64 games over three seasons, 25 last season. High games of six points vs. Nevada (2015), five rebounds vs. Bradley (2014) and four assists vs. Saint Louis (2015).
His fit: Coaches trust Simon, a walk-on for the three previous seasons, to run the team for short stretches and it wasn’t unusual to see him relieve Fred VanVleet late in the first half or to start the second half when VanVleet had two fouls. Simon earned a scholarship for the 2016-17 season.
Shares a number with: John Cooper, Graham Hatch
20 Rauno Nurger
Keila, Estonia (Sunrise Christian Academy)
Key stats: Played in 52 games the past two seasons, 28 in 2015-16. High of 15 points in a 2014 win over Saint Louis. Scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in NCAA Tournament win over Vanderbilt last season.
His fit: Nurger’s played as deep reserve the past two seasons. He planned to redshirt in 2015-16 to improve his body before injuries motivated him to play in late November. He flashed smart defensive play and toughness in double-digit minutes in NCAA wins over Vanderbilt and Arizona. Must improve his scoring if he wants to become a bigger part of the rotation.
Loves to see: Nurger played a career-high 20 minutes last season at Missouri State, scoring four points and blocking three shots. As a freshman, he scored five points in nine minutes vs. the Bears.
Hates to see: He is scoreless in three of his past four games against Northern Iowa.
Shares a number with: Steve Grayer, Ben Smith
Shocker comps: Aaron Ellis and Gabe Blair played valuable roles for recent teams with a defense-and-rebound attitude. Nurger lacks some of their physical attributes, but there is an opportunity for him to play more minutes.
21 Darral Willis
Madison, Wis. (Pearl River CC)
Key stats: Averaged 18.4 points and 10.4 rebounds as a sophomore, making 59 percent of his shots and 75.3 percent of his free throws.
His fit: Will be a key figure, either as relief for Shaq Morris or in tandem. The lefty is a deceptive scorer with confidence in mid-range jumpers and moves to the basket. Will grow more effective as he learns WSU’s offense and defense and can react instead of thinking his way through a play.
Shares a number with: Tony Martin, Gary Cundiff, Darrin Williams, Ehimen Orukpe
Shocker comps: Willis can give the Shockers the same boost Darius Carter did for two seasons.
24 Shaq Morris
Edmond, Okla. (Memorial)
Key stats: Averaged 6.8 points on 56.6-percent shooting last season with 12 double-figure games. Shone in WSU’s comeback against Miami in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds. Averaged 9.7 points over a seven-game stretch in late January and early February while making 29 of 44 (65.9 percent) of his shots.
His fit: Morris enters his fourth season in the program (after redshirting in 2013-14) as the most experienced post player. He’s a proven scorer with a soft touch on jumpers and quick, powerful moves around the rim. He is WSU’s best shot-blocker. Must avoid fouls to stay on the floor and give the Shockers a force in the lane that make everyone else’s life easier on offense.
Loves to see: Morris scored in double figures in three of his four games against Bradley and is 15 of 22 from the field.
Hates to see: Loyola held Morris without a basket in two of the past five meetings. He averages 4 points against the Ramblers, with 12 of his 20 coming in one 2016 game.
Shares a number with: Steve Shogren, Tom Kosich, Claudius Johnson, David Kyles
Shocker comps: Morris shares a soft touch with J.T. Durley. Where Durley used clever footwork to get shots, Morris uses his big body, good hands and quick jumping.
25 Eric Hamilton
Atlanta (Sunrise Christian Academy)
Key stats: Played in 21 games, scoring 14 points against Iowa and 13 against Charleston Southern. Made 52.3 percent of his shots (23 of 44).
His fit: Hamilton is blocked in the frontcourt by several players. Owns a good long-range shooting touch and leaping ability, but needs to play more consistently and carry out defensive assignments to earn more minutes. Sometimes is too aggressive driving to the rim and tries to force the play instead of pulling up or passing to keep the ball moving.
Loves to see: Hamilton scored five points at Missouri State and six in the Koch Arena meeting last season.
Hates to see: Hamilton didn’t play in the three meetings with UNI last season.
Shares a number with: Ray Shirley, Dwayne Praylow,
Shocker comps: Hamilton can give WSU contributions on defense and with rebounding like Gabe Blair did.
32 Markis McDuffie
Paterson, N.J. (Saint Anthony)
Key stats: Averaged 7.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 34 games last season to earn MVC Freshman of the Year honors. Offensive rating of 104.1 ranked No. 11 in the MVC, according to Ken Pomeroy’s statistics, and second among players returning this season. Season highs of 16 points and nine rebounds at Missouri State. Made 12 of 21 threes during a seven-game stretch in non-conference play before finishing at 23 of 73 (31.5 percent) for the season.
His fit: McDuffie is a pivotal player, one who can play small forward or power forward. If his shooting and passing progress, he is on track to be WSU’s next star player. Earned trust early in the season for his defensive abilities and is good offensive rebounder.
Loves to see: McDuffie made 11 of 13 shots, averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds, in two wins over Missouri State last season. He made 8 of 9 shots while scoring a season-high 16 points (along with eight rebounds) at JQH Arena.
Hates to see: Illinois State held him without a point in last season’s first meeting, the only MVC team to do so. In two games, he is 3 of 13 from the field and missed all five three-pointers.
Shares a number with: Jay Jackson, Kyle Wilson, Tekele Cotton
Shocker comps: Cleanthony Early gave WSU a dynamic scorer at power forward in 2013 and 2014. McDuffie is ahead of Early with his dribbling and defensive skills.
33 Conner Frankamp
Key stats: Averaged 6.1 points in 28 games last season with a high of 14 twice. Scored 10 points in 14 minutes in an NCAA Tournament win over Arizona. Made 35 of 100 threes and 46.8 percent of his two-point attempts. Made 23 of 26 foul shots.
His fit: Frankamp is WSU’s most-experienced point guard, although he rarely played that position last season. He’s practiced at WSU since late December 2015, which gives him more minutes in the system than any other scholarship guard. Coaches love his low turnover rate (five last season for a 5.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio). They also want more dynamic scoring and creating. How he finds that middle ground is a key to WSU’s offense.
Loves to see: Frankamp made 4 of 7 threes to score 14 points at Southern Illinois.
Hates to see: Missed both of his shots and went scoreless in the rematch against the Salukis at Koch Arena.
Shares a number with: Rich Morsden, Robert Gray, Mike Jones, Ryan Herrs, Jason Perez, Rob Kampman
Shocker comps: Scoring point guards are a feature of WSU’s offense in recent seasons. Clevin Hannah and Joe Ragland ran the show, while also leading the team in scoring.