It became clear after Wichita State’s first season in the American Athletic Conference that almost every team had guards capable of scoring and taking over games.
While the Shockers have plenty of up-and-coming candidates to do that for this season, Gregg Marshall and WSU is making a strong push to add Tyson Etienne, a four-star prospect in the class of 2019, to the arsenal to do that for seasons to come.
Etienne, the No. 123-rated national recruit by Rivals, took an official visit to Wichita last weekend and was sold on a future of being a playmaker for the Shockers at either guard position.
“I have the ability to score the ball, but I also feel like I’m a point guard, it’s really whatever my team needs me to be,” Etienne said. “If we need scoring, then I can go off ball and get my shots. If you need me to facilitate, then I can go through the pick-and-roll and throw the pocket pass, throw the skip pass.”
Scoring is what Etienne, a 6-foot-1 explosive guard from Engelwood, New Jersey, does best.
His highlights from this summer playing for the PSA Cardinals in Nike’s EYBL show Etienne blowing past defenders with creative finishes at the rim. He also showed off his 3-point shooting at Peach Jam, where he made 16 triples in five games and shot 49 percent from beyond the arc.
That’s when Etienne’s recruiting picked up. WSU offered him a scholarship in late July with assistant Tyson Waterman taking the lead. Soon, the Shockers secured Etienne’s second official visit (the first was Oklahoma) and he came away impressed with Marshall’s ability to turn overlooked recruits into NBA players.
“You look at Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker and Landry Shamet and Cleanthony Early and all of those guys weren’t recruited super high and I feel like I’m not recruited super high,” Etienne said. “Those guys came in underrated and had that chip on their shoulder with something to prove and I can definitely see how those players thrive under coach Marshall. It’s a good thing knowing those guys came in and made their dreams into a reality.”
For a kid who grew up across the Hudson River from New York City, Etienne didn’t know much about Wichita or Kansas. But he was “pleasantly surprised” by Wichita’s “city vibe” and it doesn’t matter to him that the Shockers aren’t talked about much in his hometown.
“Greatness is greatness, no matter where it is,” Etienne said. “And Wichita State is a great program.”
Helping ease that transition was current WSU senior Markis McDuffie, who grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, about a 25-minute car ride to Etienne’s hometown, serving as Etienne’s host during the weekend.
Off the court, Etienne visited with the coaching staff and players, toured WSU’s Innovation Campus and met with the department head of WSU’s business school to discuss his potential major.
And as for on the court? Etienne didn’t get to play, but he did observe a practice and liked the way Marshall ran drills.
“I hear he’s an intense coach, but I feel like if you’re not intense then it’s like, ‘What are we doing?’” Etienne said. “This is the highest level of college basketball. I’m the type of person that coach Marshall is: a hard worker. Nothing is given, everything is earned.”
Gritty, tough, competitor are adjectives that recruiting services have used to describe Etienne’s play. He views those in line with Marshall’s “Play Angry” style at WSU.
“I’m a hard-nosed kid and I consider myself a leader before anything else,” Etienne said. “I believe I can score the ball and shoot it quite well, but also make plays for his team and I’m not scared to go out there and lock up whoever the best player on the other team is.”
Etienne told the Eagle he wants to sign his letter of intent in November, so he would like to make a decision soon before the start of his senior season at Putnam (Conn.) Academy. He has narrowed his consideration to WSU, Oklahoma, VCU, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Auburn and Minnesota.
He could take a third official visit this coming weekend, although he has not scheduled one yet. He has taken unofficial visits to VCU and Seton Hall.
WSU currently has two commitments in its 2019 recruiting class in point guard Noah Fernandes and forward DeAntoni Gordon.