Six Shocker seniors honored on Sunday
The six-person senior class of 2018 will be remembered at Wichita State for maintaining the Shockers’ winning ways following the Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker era, and now they will all be playing professional basketball.
With the signings of Conner Frankamp (Bulgaria) and Rauno Nurger (Spain) on Tuesday, all six seniors have secured professional contracts for the upcoming season. Shaq Morris (Japan), Rashard Kelly (Russia), Zach Brown (France), and Darral Willis (Cyprus) all signed contracts earlier this summer.
Counting Landry Shamet, who left early for the NBA draft and was selected No. 26 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, the Shockers had seven professionals on the team last season that finished 25-8 and reached the program’s seventh straight NCAA Tournament.
Here’s a more in-depth look at where each of the six seniors are headed:
Frankamp will play for BC Beroe, a team that plays in the top league in Bulgaria, the National Basketball League. Beroe, which is based in Stara Zagora, was a championship team as recently as the 2016-17 season, when it swept the Bulgarian Cup, the Bulgarian Super Cup, and the Balkan League. But Beroe took a step backward this past season, finishing 12-12 and fifth in the NBL with a first-round exit in the playoffs. Frankamp, who averaged 10.6 points and 2.3 assists last season at WSU, is expected to start for Beroe.
Morris initially signed with Bnei Hertzeliya in Israel, but his contract was bought out by San-en NeoPhoenix and he will play in Japan’s B.League, which is the country’s top league, this season. NeoPhoenix, which is located in central Japan, plays in the first division of the B.League and is coming off a 25-35 season where it finished out of the playoffs and 12th of 18 teams. Teams in the B.League are allowed three foreign players on roster and considering NeoPhoenix went out of its way to pursue Morris, who averaged 14.0 points and 5.6 rebounds last year for WSU, it’s logical to assume Morris will play a major role on the team.
Kelly is headed to Russia after agreeing to terms with Parma Basket of the VTB United League, the top league in Russia. The team is located in Perm, Russia and won the Russian Cup in the 2015-16 season. It’s been all uphill for Parma Basket since then, however, as the team finished 1-23 and in last during the 2016-17 season, then followed it up with a 7-17 record and 11th place finish last season. Kelly, who grabbed 7.6 rebounds per game last season at WSU, is already slotted into the starting lineup for Parma Basket.
Brown has signed a contract with CEP Lorient in France playing in the Nationale Masculine 1, which is the amateur level third-tier division of basketball in France. CEP Lorient plays in an 18-team league with the opportunity to be promoted to the LNB Pro B League if it finishes first or second this season. CEP Lorient fell just short of promotion during the 2017-18 season and is expected to once again push for promotion with Brown as a starter.
Nurger signed a contract with CB Penas Huesca on Monday and will start his career in Spain playing in the Liga Espanola de Baloncesta, which is the second division in the Spanish basketball league system. Huesca plays in an 18-team league with two spots available for promotion and the bottom-two teams relegated. Last season Huesca finished 13-21 and narrowly avoided relegation with a 15th-place finish in the standings. Nurger will try to help lead Huesca to promotion to Liga ACB for the first time since 1996.
Willis is headed to Cyprus to play for a successful Keravnos Strovolou team in the top-tier Cyprus Basketball Division A. Keravnos has played for the league championship the last two seasons, winning the title in the 2016-17 season and finishing runner-up in the 2017-18 season. The team is a combined 33-5 the last two seasons in league play and also advanced to the Round of 16 in last year’s FIBA Europe Cup. Willis is expected to compete for playing time at the forward position for a competitive Keravnos team.