Eric Hamilton practiced with Wichita State all summer before deciding to spend a post-graduate year at Sunrise Christian Academy. The three months with the Shockers showed him what he needed to correct and Sunrise is proving to be the perfect place for him to improve.
“My work ethic has improved,” Hamilton said. “My motor has improved. Now, I don’t take any plays off. In order to play at Wichita State, that’s how you have to play.”
Hamilton is one of four athletes who joined WSU’s men’s basketball program on Wednesday, the first day of the signing period. Hamilton did not sign a letter of intent because the one he signed with WSU a year ago remains binding. Park Hill (Mo.) guard Landry Shamet, Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy guard Tyrone Taylor and St. Anthony (N.J.) forward Markis McDuffie signed their letters Wednesday.
The composition of the class reflects WSU’s rising profile and its ability to recruit at higher level after two seasons of national success. Shamet (6-foot-4, 180 pounds) is ranked No. 88 nationally by Rivals. com. McDuffie (6-8, 186) is ranked No. 91 by ESPN.com. Hamilton (6-8, 200) and Taylor (6-4, 170) will come to WSU with the advantage of a year of experience at a prep school.
Hamilton, from Duluth, Ga., has no doubt he made the right choice by delaying his college career until 2015-16. The 4.7-mile distance between Sunrise’s Bel Aire campus and Koch Arena is no obstacle to remaining close to the program. He often attends practice and calls assistant coach Greg Heiar a second father.
“God places certain people in certain people’s lives for a reason,” Hamilton said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Coach (Gregg) Marshall is a guy I can call any time of the day for any type of advice.”
Hamilton’s summer with the Shockers showed some deficiencies defensively and understanding the game. Sunrise post-graduate coach Luke Barnwell sees a different player emerging. Hamilton stays in his defensive stance for an entire possession. He took seven or eight charges in Sunrise’s first five games. He sees screens coming and fights through to disrupt the dribbler.
“He’s on time and he takes (charges) squarely in the chest,” Barnwell said. “He’s come a long way and it’s fun to see.”
Marshall watched Hamilton twice this fall.
“Each time we go over there he has improved,” Marshall said.
Barnwell said Hamilton is averaging around 15 points, with a high of 18, in five games against junior-college competition.
“He’s got tremendous ability to shoot the ball,” Barnwell said. “He scores so effortlessly that I’ll look at the stat sheet and think he played OK and he’ll have 17 points.”
▪ Shamet averaged 20.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists for Park Hill to earn All-Class 5 honors. Marshall describes him as an excellent shooter and defender with good court sense.
▪ Taylor is originally from Grandview, Mo., where he averaged 20.9 points as a senior and earned All-Class 4 honors in 2013-14. Marshall describes him as a top athlete with strong defensive abilities. He took a post-graduate year at Hargrave to get bigger and stronger and improve his college options.
“I think both of them have point-guard skills,” Marshall said. “Both of them can play the two. Landry can play the three. He’s 6-4 and very athletic.”
▪ McDuffie averaged 14 points as a junior and was named All-Hudson County for St. Anthony, where he plays for famed coach Bob Hurley. Marshall calls McDuffie a versatile player who shoots accurately and can score near the basket. He is the first Hurley recruit for Marshall.
“You’re talking about a guy who is going to be coached,” Marshall said. “His voice carries a lot of authority and Markis will come in being as well-coached as any player we’ve ever had.”
Golfer signs with WSU — Yannik Emmert signed with WSU’s men‘s golf team. Emmert, from Buchholz Nordheide, Germany, had three top-10 finishes in eight tournaments last season. In 2013, he won two of the eight. He is ranked No. 8 in the 17-18 age group in Germany.