Shockers extend winning streak to four games with win over Tulane
While the season for the Wichita State men’s basketball team is starting to heat up, with the Shockers now on a four-game winning streak heading into Sunday’s road game at Cincinnati, so is the recruiting trail.
Since the Shockers had eight days in between games this week, WSU’s coaches were busy flying and driving all over the country to watch practices and games of recruits.
WSU signed three prospects in the fall for its 2019 class, including four-star guard Tyson Etienne, three-star guard Noah Fernandes and three-star forward DeAntoni Gordon. WSU currently has a full roster for next season, but the Shockers are still in the mix to add onto its 2019 class with a high school senior, junior-college transfer or graduate transfer this spring in case of any roster attrition this summer.
For now, here are a few names to keep an eye on for the 2019 class, as the Shockers make a late push in their recruitment.
Vitals: 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, wing from Hopkins, S.C.
Plays for: Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
Interested: North Carolina State, Illinois, Pittsburgh and South Carolina
Scouting report: Brown is a former five-star prospect, but injuries knocked him down a peg in the rankings. He started his prep career playing in his home state of South Carolina, but transferred to prep powerhouse Oak Hill Academy for his senior season. Playing alongside three of the nation’s top recruits, Brown has carved out a role for himself on the No. 7 high school team in USA Today’s latest Super 25 rankings. Brown is averaging 12.8 points on 55.8 percent shooting and 78.1 percent shooting on free throws. He also averages 4.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks. He’s an explosive athlete who thrives in the open floor and is capable of throwing down highlight-reel dunks. He’s not much of an outside shooter, but can slash to the basket, crash the boards, and projects as a switch-everything defender at the college level. In its new reality in the AAC, WSU is always on the prowl for athletic wings and Brown fits the bill.
Where WSU stands: The Shockers are trying to crash the party in Brown’s recruiting. North Carolina State is believed to be the front-runner for Brown, although Illinois, Pittsburgh and South Carolina are all making pushes for Brown. Illinois could have an inside advantage with Brown’s teammate, Kofi Cockburn, already pledged to the Illini. All of these teams have been recruiting Brown for much longer, which gives them a huge head start on WSU, which only offered Brown three weeks ago. But the Shockers have at least an outside chance at Brown with assistant Tyson Waterman on the lead. Waterman has made up a gap like this before, evident by WSU swooping in late and signing four-star 2019 guard Tyson Etienne in the fall. Snagging Brown is unlikely, but WSU is doing all it can to push itself into the conversation.
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, guard from Wichita, Kan.
Plays for: Sunrise Academy in Bel Aire, Kan.
Interested: Iowa State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Purdue, Texas Tech and Wake Forest
Scouting report: Sherfield is a bucket-getter, first and foremost. He’s earned that reputation on the summer circuit and furthered it this season after transferring to Sunrise Academy for his senior year. Sherfield is averaging a team-best 15.8 points on 40.1 percent shooting from the field, 38.3 percent shooting on three-pointers and 78.9 percent shooting on free throws. He’s not necessarily an explosive player, but has an effective crossover that allows him to create enough separation for an outside shot or an attack at the rim. He’s not a pass-first guard, but is a willing passer out of the pick-and-roll and when he draws the help defender in the lane. Sherfield has the spot-up shooting that would allow him to play off-ball or as a secondary creator in an offense, which is likely why the Shockers are comfortable recruiting him even with two guards in Tyson Etienne and Noah Fernandes already signed in 2019. If the AAC has proven anything to WSU in its first two years in the conference it’s that play-making guards run the show and you can never have enough of them.
Where WSU stands: Sherfield was a long-time UCLA pledge and even signed with the Bruins in the fall. But after UCLA fired Steve Alford earlier this season, the school released Sherfield out of his letter of intent. The word is that Sherfield will focus on his recruiting after his season at Sunrise is completed, so expect to hear more news later next month. But Wichita could appeal to Sherfield since he grew up here before moving to Texas five years ago. WSU recruited Sherfield before he committed to UCLA, but was never seriously considered. It appears the Shockers will be much more involved the second time around.
Vitals: 6-foot-11, 210 pounds, forward from France
Plays for: SPIRE Academy in Geneva, Ohio
Rankings: Has yet to be evaluated by major recruiting services
Interested: Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Georgetown, Wake Forest, Illinois and Penn State
Scouting report: It’s difficult to find much on Bilau, who only came to the United States less than two years ago. He played his first year of high school in Maryland, before transferring this season to SPIRE, which is where five-star prospect LaMelo Ball plays. There’s no statistics available for how Bilau is doing this season and even a Twitter and Google search for his name comes up empty. In the few articles that have been written about Bilau, they describe him as a versatile big man who can dribble, shoot and pass. There is a clip of him on YouTube that shows Bilau draining mid-range shots with ease. He looks comfortable from the perimeter, which could make him dangerous pick-and-pops at the collegiate level. He has a 7-foot-2 wingspan and that could make him a terror on the defensive end. If he really does have range, then he could fill a much-needed position at power forward. It’s difficult to speculate how college-ready Bilau would be with so little video, but judging by his offer list, it’s clear Bilau’s ceiling has high-major coaches intrigued.
Where WSU stands: Bilau hasn’t done an interview since March 2018 and he hasn’t posted on his Twitter account since he announced his Wichita State offer on Nov. 26. Right now there’s nothing to go on with his recruiting. Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, K-State, Illinois and Georgetown all offered at the end of the summer, while Wake Forest, Penn State and WSU offered later. We might not hear anything more from Bilau until after his season at SPIRE ends, but don’t be surprised if his recruiting takes off even more in April.
Kenyon Martin Jr.
Vitals: 6-foot-6, 195 pounds, wing from Chatsworth, Calif.
Plays for: Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, Calif.
Interested: Cincinnati, West Virginia, Memphis, Nevada, Florida State, Georgetown, Oregon State, Oklahoma
Scouting report: Martin Jr. is the son of former NBA all-star Kenyon Martin who plays at Sierra Canyon, a swanky private school outside of Los Angeles where celebrities such as Kevin Hart, Will Smith, Sean Combs and Jamie Foxx have all enrolled their kids. On the court, Martin Jr. doesn’t have the height or bulk to be a power forward like his father, but he does play with the same grit when it comes to defense and rebounding. He leads Sierra Canyon with 7.4 rebounds per game this season on top of 15.8 points on 58.7 percent shooting. He’s not an outside shooter, but he’s an elite athlete and wants to dunk everything when he gets going toward the basket. He projects as a switch-everything defender at the collegiate level and with his passion for defense and rebounding, it’s not a surprise to see schools like Cincinnati, WSU and West Virginia chase after him. While he might not be a No. 1 or No. 2 option when it comes to scoring, Martin Jr. is an ideal player for Gregg Marshall because he can impact winning with his defense and rebounding.
Where WSU stands: It would seem like West Virginia and Cincinnati would have the inside track for Martin Jr. since one has the coach who coached his father and the other is his alma mater. But when Martin Jr. didn’t sign in the fall, WSU was able to slide into the mix this winter. It’s unclear how serious Martin Jr. is considering the Shockers, but it seems that his recruiting is still in the early stages. He’s only taken one official visit to West Virginia, so it might not be until later next month for his recruitment to take shape.