Gregg Marshall landed one of his biggest recruiting victories in his tenure at Wichita State on Saturday night, as four-star guard Tyson Etienne announced on his social media accounts he has verbally committed to the Shockers.
Etienne is a 6-foot-1 guard rated the No. 123 prospect in the 2019 class by Rivals, which would make him the second-highest rated recruit to come to WSU under Marshall if he signs his letter of intent in November. Marshall’s other top-150 recruits were Landry Shamet (No. 88 in 2015), Fred VanVleet (No. 138 in 2012) and Markis McDuffie (No. 145 in 2015).
After signing his biggest and most-heralded recruiting class in 2018, Marshall has followed it up with another strong class that also includes two fringe top-150 prospects in 6-foot-8 forward DeAntoni Gordon and 6-0 point guard Noah Fernandes.
“(WSU) realized that they need to strengthen the overall depth of the program with its move to the AAC,” 247Sports recruiting analyst Andrew Slater told the Eagle. “Coach Marshall’s reputation and the recent track record of developing players for the NBA, as well as the AAC has helped attract a higher level of talent.”
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That’s precisely why Etienne ultimately choose the Shockers over Oklahoma, VCU, Seton Hall, Auburn, Minnesota and St. John’s. After his official visit to Wichita State on the final weekend in September, Etienne told the Eagle that Marshall’s ability to turn overlooked recruits into NBA players was a major factor.
“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.”
Etienne figures to be a future play-maker for the Shockers capable of playing either guard position, despite his size at 6-1.
“He has long arms and can really defend, so he kind of makes up for his lack of height,” Rivals recruiting analyst Corey Evans told the Eagle. “He’s also a super competitive kid who is not going to back down from guys that are bigger than him or taller than him. The great equalizer in basketball is the jump shot and he can shoot the cover off it.”
Etienne has explosive athleticism that can make him a devastating force in pick-and-roll situations when he can turn the corner and attack the rim. His length gives him the potential to be a disruptive defender, as well.
But Etienne’s upside rests in if his outside shot can translate to the college level. If he’s able to consistently knock down three-pointers, then Etienne could quickly become one of WSU’s top threats.
At this summer’s Peach Jam, Etienne showed a glimpse of what he’s capable of when he knocked down 16 three-pointers on 49-percent accuracy in five games. That’s when WSU became captivated by his talent and offered him a scholarship in late July with assistant Tyson Waterman serving as the lead recruiter since.
“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.”
After his official visit to WSU, Etienne told the Eagle he was also impressed by Marshall’s track record of winning and his intensity in the practice he watched.
“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.
“Greatness is greatness, no matter where it is. And Wichita State is a great program.”
With two seniors on this season’s roster, WSU would be one scholarship player over the limit of 13 for the 2019-20 season if all three of WSU’s verbal commitments sign their letter of intent in November.
Evans said it’s a common practice among top college basketball teams to over-sign and it’s a situation WSU can figure out following this season.
“That’s just the day and age we’re in,” Evans said. “It seems like just about every team has someone transfer or leave early, so it’s pretty typical any more for teams to do that.”