High School Sports

Who's who of college basketball coaches hit Wichita

The pick-up games at Heights High on Monday night were like most any other basketball that players have participated in for years.

About 35 boys players, from all levels of the Falcons' program, played for about an hour and then several stayed to run extra drills with summer coach Steve Young.

What was different was who watched on the sideline.

Kentucky coach John Calipari. Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Kansas coach Bill Self. Kansas State coach Frank Martin. Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins. Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall.

And then there were the assistant coaches from Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Missouri, Texas A&M and Kansas State. Former Kentucky player Tony Delk was also there.

It was like a scene straight out of the 1994 movie "Blue Chips." They were all there to recruit sophomore Perry Ellis, one of the nation's best players who already has offers from many of the coaches. Heights junior Evan Wessel, who has committed to Wichita State, was also in attendance.

"It's unbelievable that all the guys decided to hang out at Heights with us tonight," Heights coach Joe Auer said.

Even Marshall was impressed

"It's a little bizarre that there's this many coaches and this high of profile coaches here," he said. "But it's a wonderful testament to the players and to what Coach Auer has been able to accomplish here."

While Wessel and Ellis enjoyed the spectacle, both agreed that it wasn't that nerve-racking.

"Last year, that's when I was just really nervous when all the coaches came," Ellis said. "But you just get used to it. You know the more you play, the more mature that you get."

Self and Martin sat at one end of the line of chairs with Memphis assistant Glenn Cyprien. Martin had made the mistake of talking about his halftime speech in K-State's game against Xavier in the NCAA Tournament. CBS televised the speech.

"That's what we're laughing about," Self said. "I thought it'd be stronger, too. 'Silly' is not a four-letter word."

Martin turned his head away and laughed.

"I'm the one that opened my mouth, I deserve it all," he said.

While the two bantered, Ellis went through yet another drill, this time dunking 10 straight times and then going to the free-throw line.

Down the line of coaches, Marshall joked with Missouri assistant Matt Zimmerman and Texas A&M assistant Pooh Williamson, while Wessel sprinted up and down court to shoot a three from the top of the key. Ellis, junior E.J. Dobbins and sophomore Terrence Moore went through the drill, too.

Delk sat near Pitino, his former coach at Kentucky, while Pitino was next to assistant Walter McCarty. Calipari had been sitting on a folding chair, but got up toward the end of the drills and stood near the bleachers.

"It's changed so much since I first started," Pitino said. "We used to go after seniors, now we're going after freshmen, sophomores and it's over in their junior year."

The contact period for coaches ends on Wednesday, then a dead period of recruiting begins on May 20.

"When I look around the room, we're all tired," Calipari said. "We're winding it down. It stops Wednesday. We have to replace nine players. We won't replace all nine, but we have to sign at least five or six for next year. But then you still are working on juniors, you're working on sophomores."

Pitino added: "We don't get a chance to talk to the kids, so it's a matter of evaluating and showing your face."

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