With a little help from Ron Baker and strength and conditioning coach Kerry Rosenboom, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was able to land his latest recruiting victory in Jamarius Burton on Friday.
Burton, a 6-foot-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C. who is a three-star prospect, picked the Shockers over Butler, Massachusetts and Temple at his high school, Independence, on Friday. He joins Dexter Dennis as the second WSU recruit in the spring signing period and the seventh overall in its 2018 recruiting class.
He expects to sign his letter of intent soon and arrive in Wichita in late June.
"The two key components for me that (WSU) really filled was opportunity to play and player development," Burton told the Eagle. "With so many seniors graduating, the opportunity is there and Coach Marshall has a track record of turning walk-ons and players that weren't nationally ranked such as myself into pros."
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The day before his announcement, Burton told the Eagle he was intrigued by what WSU had to offer, but noted that it was difficult to build a relationship in less than three weeks after the Shockers started recruiting him.
Those concerns were ultimately eased by a phone call to Baker, whom Burton sought out to hear what the former walk-on turned NBA millionaire had to say about his Wichita State experience.
Burton also sought out Landry Shamet, the WSU star who recently declared for the NBA Draft, as well as other players who had Marshall as their coach at Winthrop and WSU.
"When I talked to all of those people, they gave me a sense of validation that everything (Marshall) was telling me was true," Burton said. "They all backed up what he was saying and they told me he is a man of his word. They told me I have to be willing to learn and buy in and if I put in the work, then it's going to work out.
"I just felt like at the end of the day, if I'm going to take a risk on somebody, I'm going with somebody that's done it before."
Another thing that swayed Burton on his official visit to WSU on Tuesday and Wednesday was his meeting with Rosenboom, WSU's strength and conditioning coach.
Burton was taken aback when Rosenboom already had a personalized workout plan for Burton, even complete with a plan to strengthen his left knee, which Burton tore the ACL in during his junior year of high school.
"He had actually watched film on me and read up about me and I thought that was really unique," Burton said. "Not a lot of programs would do that because it's like a 50-50 chance you're going to get the prospect. I thought it was really cool how had already had a plan for me and how he would help me strengthen certain areas and help make sure I don't re-injure myself."
That injury, which caused Burton to miss his 17U season on the summer AAU circuit, is a reason why he believes he doesn't have the recruiting stars he feels like he deserves.
After returning from injury, Burton led Independence to a state championship in a senior year that saw him average a team-best 16.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 2.2 steals.
At 6-5, Burton has the length to be effective on the defensive end and the versatility to guard multiple positions. According to his AAU coach on Team Loaded NC, Derrick Wall, Burton will fit right into Marshall's defensive system because of his passion for defense.
"Anytime we ever played a team that had a kid that was ranked, that's who Jamarius wanted to guard," Wall said. "He can guard four different positions. I had him guarding the four man in some lineups. If our four man was having problems, we'd put Jamarius on him. It didn't matter if he was 6-9. He knows he can guard anybody."
WSU has just four returning players on scholarship from last season with senior Samajae Haynes-Jones as the only guard. Burton will compete with him for minutes at point and also with incoming recruits Erik Stevenson and Chance Moore for time on the wing.
"They envision me as a point guard, but I can also play the three spot," Burton said. "But basketball is becoming positionless, so they're excited about my versatility and ability to play different positions. Honestly, I just want to do whatever is in the best interest to help my team win."