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Bob Lutz: 10 best Shockers of the Marshall era

Scoring and Cleanthony Early became synonymous together while at Wichita State. The New York city native led the Shockers in scoring both seasons (2012-13 and 2013-14) he played, as Early finished his career averaging 15.1 points.
Scoring and Cleanthony Early became synonymous together while at Wichita State. The New York city native led the Shockers in scoring both seasons (2012-13 and 2013-14) he played, as Early finished his career averaging 15.1 points. The Wichita Eagle

Gregg Marshall is well into his eighth season as Wichita State’s basketball and the hits just keep coming.

Marshall stresses team play and unselfishness, so if you’re basing a Top 10 list of Shockers during the Marshall era on scoring alone, you’re going to have a difficult time.

Marshall’s best players are complete. They can do a variety of things well and they defend. If they don’t defend under Marshall, they find it hard to get on the floor.

So what does a Top 10 list of players who primarily played for Marshall at Wichita State look like? Here’s one man’s version:

10. Garrett Stutz, C, 2008-12 – Stutz makes the cut because of an outstanding senior season, when he averaged 13.3 points and eight rebounds per game and was one of the nation’s best big men. In his first three seasons, Stutz was a contributor, but never averaged more than 16.5 minutes per game.

9. Malcolm Armstead, G, 2012-13 – Armstead made the most of his one season with the Shockers as a key player on a Final Four team. He averaged 10.8 points and four assists per game and was an important leader on the Wichita State team that lost a close game to Louisville in the national semifinals at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

8. Clevin Hannah, G, 2008-10 – Hannah had a major impact for the Shockers after transferring from Chipola (Fla.) Community College. In two seasons at WSU, Hannah averaged 11.6 points and 4.5 assists per game and shot 41.4 percent from the three-point line.

7. Carl Hall, F-C, 2011-13 – Hall, a junior college transfer, was another key player on the Shockers’ Final Four team, averaging 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 54.3 percent from the field. Though somewhat undersized at 6-foot-8, Hall had tremendous tenacity and athleticism and was rarely overmatched by an opposing team’s size.

6. Tekele Cotton, G, 2011-present – Few players in Shocker basketball history have come farther from where they started than Cotton, who played less than 10 minutes per game as a freshman. He’s been a vital part of the past three Wichita State teams and is a strong candidate to repeat as Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year in 2014-15. He’s also had some of the most memorable dunks in Shocker history – about one a game, it seems.

5. Joe Ragland, G, 2010-12 – Yet another junior college transfer, Ragland struggled during his first season at Wichita State. But he was great as a senior, averaging 13.4 points per game and shooting an incredible 50.4 percent from the three-point line. Ragland came to WSU with a great reputation as a shooter, but it took a season for him to find his stroke. He shot 56.8 percent overall in 2011-12 and was an outstanding floor leader, too.

4. Toure Murry, G, 2008-12 – Murry will always symbolize the beginning of the Marshall era as one of the first players recruited to Wichita State by the new coach after he took the job. Murry had a tremendous impact on the Shockers’ program, scoring 1,539 career points and becoming WSU’s all-time assists leader with 430. Murry, who had a knack for the big shot, averaged 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 139 career games and was just as outstanding as a defensive player.

3. Fred VanVleet, G, 2012-present – VanVleet, a junior on this season’s Shocker team, is headed up the charts in a bunch of categories. He’s already at the top, though, as a Wichita State leader. VanVleet has great point guard qualities and is at his best when he’s driving the basketball into the lane. He’s an uncanny shooter after making contact close to the basket and has no weakness in his game. He’ll like leave Wichita State after the 2015-16 season as the Shockers’ career leader in assists and steals.

2. Ron Baker, G, 2012-present – It’s still hard to fathom that the best Division I offer Baker had out of Scott City High was from Arkansas State. Wichita State encouraged Baker to be a walk-on, he accepted and the rest is history. He’s become one of the finest WSU players in history with a combination of talent and smarts. The 6-foot-3 Baker is closing in on 1,000 career points and leads this season’s team with 16.2 points per game.

1. Cleanthony Early, F, 2012-14 – As you can tell, Marshall makes great use of junior college transfers. Four on this list fit that bill and none was better than Early, who was an out-and-out scorer. In a different system, he probably would have averaged 20-25 points per game. At Wichita State, he averaged 15.1 in his two seasons, including 16.4 as a senior. Early was at his best on the biggest stages and had terrific performances against Louisville in the 2013 national semifinals and against Kentucky in the third-round of the NCAA Tournament last season. He’s now a rookie with the New York Knicks.

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