Paul Suellentrop

Wichita State notes: Arkansas big man Mitchell Smith grew up with guard skills

Mitchell Smith is a guard in a big man’s body and he uses those skills to his advantage.

“I’m not the type of player who is going to out-muscle you,” he said. “I’m more versatile, athletic. I’m going to try to out-run you. I’m going to try to play you away from the basket.”

Smith (6-foot-10, 200 pounds) will visit Wichita State the first weekend in October. He visited Creighton and will visit Missouri, while also considering Arkansas and Memphis. He is a senior at Van Buren (Ark.), where he earned All-Class 7A honors and averaged 18.1 points and 7.6 rebounds, according to the Southwest (Ark.) Times Record.

Van Buren coach Randy Loyd sees Smith as a forward in college after playing in the post for his team. Most of his points come around the basket in high school. Smith spent the off-season working on his jump shot to add range to his scoring.

“He’s a highly skilled forward,” Loyd said. “With that size, it’s hard to believe he can do the things he can do with a basketball. He’s developed a shot from the perimeter and he’s going to do it for us this year.”

One of Smith’s top skills is passing. His highlight videos show him handling double-teams with crisp passes and finding open teammates.

“When I was young, I always wanted to be a point guard,” he said. “I watched a lot of point guards and watched how they saw the floor. I pull a lot of double teams, so there’s always going to be someone open.”

Smith said he will likely sign in November. WSU’s recent success put the school in his focus and he pays particular attention to guard Ron Baker when he watches.

“The relationship with the coaching staff and players is important,” he said. “I’ve got to jell with them. I’m going to be there for four years.”

Also in the picture — Kansas City’s Jeriah Horne includes WSU on his list of five schools, but he isn’t sure if he will visit, according to The Barstow (Mo.) School coach Billy Thomas.

Horne, a 6-6 power forward, is also looking at Kansas State, which he was scheduled to visit this weekend, DePaul, Pepperdine and Nebraska, according to Rivals.com. Rivals.com ranks him No. 130 nationally.

“He's been a really, really good example of working hard and becoming a better basketball player,” Thomas said. “He can shoot it, he can pass it, he can handle it. He’s able to shoot three-pointers. He’s able to catch and shoot and his post game is getting better and better.”

Horne averaged 18.9 points for Barstow as a junior, helping it win the Missouri Class 3 title with a 29-2 record.

▪  Auburndale (Fla.) point guard Keon Clergeot (Cler-Joe) is considering a visit to WSU while Shockers coaches continue their evaluation of his skills and fit.

Clergeot (6-1, 170) said he is also considering Texas Tech, Chattanooga, Bowling Green and Stephen F. Austin. He expects to sign in April.

“I like their up-tempo offense,” he said. “The way Fred VanVleet plays, the way he runs a team, I can do the same things.”

Clergeot averaged 26 points, according to the Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger and earned All-County honors. HoopSeen.com ranks him No. 18 in the Class of 2016 in Florida.

“I haven’t really seen anybody that can stay in front of him,” Auburndale coach Eric Robinson said. “He’s really developed his jump shot and extended out to three-point range.”

Sorting hat sends Murry to Wizards — Former WSU guard Toure Murry will attend training camp with the Washington Wizards.

Murry played four games with Washington last season before a sprained ankle led to his release late in the season. He played briefly with the Wizards summer league team before a groin injury sidelined him.

Lighter, faster — Wichita State sophomore outfielder Keenan Eaton won the baseball team’s mile run on Friday at Cessna Stadium with a time of 5 minutes, 31 seconds.

After playing at around 220 pounds as a freshman, Eaton came to WSU this fall weighing 199 pounds. Coach Todd Butler is happy with the new look.

“He made a big commitment about halfway thorugh the (summer) to lose some weight and get more athletic,” Butler said. “He’s a much better player with the weight he’s holding. Now he looks like an outfielder that can play left, center or right.”

Eaton, from Parker, Colo., played in 23 games as a freshman, starting 12. He hit. 289 with three doubles.

Butler said 34 of the 38 players made the time in under 6:30. Those who didn’t will run again on Friday.

Worth noting — Former Shocker men’s basketball player Tekele Cotton scored a team-high 16 points in MHP Riesen’s first scrimmage, a 75-70 win over the Walter Tigers in Germany. Cotton also grabbed six rebounds and had three assists. MHP Riesen’s season in Germany’s Bundesliga begins in October. One of Cotton’s teammates is Kevin Dillard, who played two seasons at Southern Illinois before transferring to Dayton. … Former WSU women’s basketball player Jamillah Bonner will play for Leonas de Ponce in Puerto Rico. … Neuqua Valley (Ill.) setter Kora Kauling, a 6-2 setter, gave WSU a non-binding commitment, according to the Chicago Tribune. … Drake sophomore women’s basketball player Becca Jonas will miss the season after knee surgery, according to the Des Moines Register. Jonas averaged 12.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a freshman.

Reach Paul Suellentrop at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @paulsuellentrop.

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