For a three-minute stretch in the first half on Friday against Appalachian State, Jaime Echenique was the best player on the floor.
The 6-foot-11 center from Colombia, an under-the-radar find by Marshall in the junior college ranks, did a little bit of everything to spark a 12-1 run as WSU established a 37-32 lead. He scored on two tip-ins, stepped out and knocked down a three, took a charge, and even dished an assist to Erik Stevenson on a back cut for a layup.
Echenique finished with WSU’s first double-double of the season, 12 points and 11 rebounds to go with three assists and a block in 22 minutes. The Shockers won the game 82-76 and advanced to play Alabama in the fifth-place game on Sunday in Charleston.
“Jaime made himself some money tonight,” Marshall said. “Now I don’t know if he’ll be a NBA player. I’d love to see him develop into a NBA player, but when you can shoot the three and have that type of size. He’s obviously got to get a little stronger, a little tougher, a little meaner and a little more aggressive. But gosh, every NBA scout for every team is here and he goes for a double-double and knocks down two threes.”
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WSU has been at its best this season when Echenique has been on the floor and that was again the case on Friday against Appalachian State. Echenique was plus-7 in his 22 minutes and WSU outscored Appalachian State 19-4 in the final six minutes of the first half with him out there providing the spark.
He has also been one of the team’s hardest workers. He spent time before Friday’s game with WSU’s student managers playing catch with a football to try to improve his hands. It’s a work-in-progress, but Echenique is already making strides early in the season.
“At some points it’s really stressful because I want to win so bad,” Echenique said. “You just have to make winning plays and do things that help your team win. If I have to take a charge, block shots, get a rebound, I am happy to do the little things to help my team win.”