2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: Wichita State

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Wichita State Shockers (Last Year: 23-9, 12-6 in MVC)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Kadeem Coleby (Sr)/Chadrack Lufile (Sr)/Shaquille Morris (Fr)

F: Cleanthony Early (Sr)/Darius Carter (Jr)/Derail Green (Soph)

G/F: Ron Baker (Soph)/Nick Wiggins (Sr)

SG: Tekele Cotton (Jr)/Evan Wessel (Soph)

PG: Fred VanVleet (Soph)/D.J. Bowles (Fr)/Ri’an Holland (Fr)

Gone: F/C-Carl Hall, PG-Malcolm Armstead, G-Demetric Williams, C-Ehimen Orukpe, F-Jake White (transfer-Nebraska Omaha)

2013-14 Outlook:
After their Cinderella run to the Final Four, the Wichita State Shockers have firmly put themselves on the college basketball map. With Creighton leaving for the Big East, Gregg Marshall’s team is the clear-cut favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference.

A big reason for the Shockers tourney run was their balance and depth across the board. They lose a few key players but bring back leading scorer Cleanthony Early, who made the smooth transition from the JUCO level. Early is a versatile forward who can post up smaller defenders or take bigger guys out to the perimeter. Junior college transfer Darius Carter and redshirt freshman Derail Green will battle for playing time at forward as well.

With Carl Hall and Ehimem Orukpe graduating, there is a void to fill in the middle. After sitting out last season, Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Kadeem Coleby figures to plug that hole. The 6-9, 250-pounder averaged 9.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 blocks per game as a junior and is a physical presence in the paint. Chadrick Lufile and Shaquille Thomas are also wide loads inside and will compete for minutes behind Coleby.

Wichita State returns a ton of talent on the wing and plenty of capable shooters. Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker figure to earn the starting nod. Cotton is a versatile guard who can really get after it on the defensive end, while Baker is more of a three-point specialist. Nick Wiggins was a role player a year ago and adds three-point shooting off the bench as does Evan Wessel, who missed most of last season after undergoing surgery for a broken pinky.

Fred VanVleet takes over the reins at the point guard position. He is a talented creator and distributor, and can stroke it from the outside. The former top-150 recruit is poised for a breakout season, and the Shockers need him to make the most of his opportunity since true freshmen D.J. Bowles and Ria’n Holland are the only point guards on the roster.

Can the Wichita State Shockers ride the momentum of last season’s magical run? To a certain extent, yes. This team should easily win the MVC, consistently be a Top-25 team, and is capable of making it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. With new faces inside and at the point though, there are some pieces that need to fall in place to be a true contender on the national scale.

Player to Watch: Fred VanVleet, PG
Playing behind Malcolm Armstead and Demetric Williams, VanVleet showed flashes in the minutes he was given, especially in the tourney as he was being groomed as Wichita State’s next starting point guard. VanVleet appears more than ready to take over that spot and there shouldn’t be a whole lot of dropoff.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/20 at Tulsa
  • 11/25 vs. DePaul (CBE Classic)
  • 11/26 vs. BYU/Texas (CBE Classic)
  • 12/1 at St. Louis
  • 12/14 vs. Tennessee
  • 12/17 at Alabama
  • 12/29 vs. Davidson

  • Predicted MVC Finish: 1st

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