#14 Wichita State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Wichita State Shockers

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #1 Missouri Valley

Wichita State Team Page#14 Wichita State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Wichita State Basketball Tickets

Wichita State went 17-1 in Missouri Valley Conference action and came out on top in their little battle with Northern Iowa for conference supremacy. The Shockers had bigger plans then just making the NCAA Tournament though. As a seven seed, Coach Gregg Marshall’s squad knocked off Indiana and pulled off a huge upset over Kansas to reach the Sweet Sixteen. Over the last two years WSU has gone 35-1 in conference play. Do not be surprised if by March they are 53-1.

2014-15 Record: 30-5, 17-1
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Gregg Marshall
Coach Record: 204-76 at Wichita State, 398-159 overall

Who’s Out:
There are some pieces to replace though, most notably Darius Carter and Tekele Cotton. Carter, a 6-7 forward, was third on the team in scoring with 11.4 points and led the Shockers with 5.4 rebounds per game. On a team that needed to find answers in the frontcourt, Carter stepped up his game during his senior season to lead the way. Cotton could be tougher to replace. He averaged 9.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. His defensive intensity was second to none and he could score too. Finding a player who is as complete as Cotton is never easy. Tevin Glass, Corey Henderson and Ria’n Holland are also gone after seeing limited action a season ago.

Who’s In:
Wichita State has a nice recruiting class, but it is a couple transfers who will make the bigger impact this year. Anton Grady, a graduate transfer from Cleveland State, fills a huge need in the paint. Grady is a great defender and rebounder and will immediately fill in for Carter in that regard. Last year with the Vikings, the 6-8, 230 pound forward averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds. He was a double-double machine during his time in the Horizon League and should add a few more to his career total in the MVC. The other transfer is Connor Frankamp, a smooth shooting guard from Kansas. He will be eligible after the first semester and will then likely step into the starting lineup. The top incoming freshmen are guard Landry Shamet and forward Markis McDuffie. Both are generally regarded as top 150 recruits in this class. Brett Barney, Ty Taylor and Eric Hamilton all spent an extra year at prep school and should be ready to contribute, if needed, as well. Hamilton, a 6-9 forward, is the one who could be called upon right away in order to help fill those frontcourt gaps.

Who to Watch:
The return of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker make this a team capable of going back to the Sweet Sixteen and beyond. VanVleet is one of the best point guards in the country, regardless of conference. As a junior last year he averaged 13.6 points, 5.2 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals. Those are all impressive numbers, but perhaps the most impressive is that he committed just 1.7 turnovers per game. The Shockers can score points, but they do not turn the ball over (ranked fourth in the country with just 9.3 turnovers per game) and VanVleet is the reason. Baker led the team with 14.7 points per game and knocked down a team high 80 three-pointers. He is a dynamic scorer and a strong rebounder for a 6-4 guard. Evan Wessel is a returning starter too, but many casual fans forget about him. The 6-4 guard has not been nearly as productive as his backcourt mates, but his versatility is something Coach Marshall needs. He played as an undersized power forward last season and did well in that role. He can also play at small forward if the frontcourt options pan out.

Final Projection:
Despite the concerns in the frontcourt, Wichita State does return a lot of frontcourt options. It’s just that none of them are particularly proven yet. Shaquille Morris earned MVC All-Freshman honors last year after averaging 4.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Outside of Grady, he is also the best shot blocker on the team. Zach Brown and Rashard Kelly are also promising sophomores who could take some minutes at the power forward spot. Rauno Nurger and Bush Wamukota figure to be the primary backups for Grady at the five spot. With the expected improvement from the sophomore class of forwards, not to mention a couple freshmen who could make an impact as well, Coach Marshall should have plenty of choices in the frontcourt and the ability to play bigger when needed. That was not often the case last year, at least without putting some really good guards on the bench in the process. This time around it should be easier to be more flexible with the size in the frontcourt and that will keep Wichita State among the conference’s top rebounding teams and have them ready to make a big NCAA Tournament run when they face off against bigger opponents than they will see in the MVC.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Fred VanVleet, Senior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Ron Baker, Senior, Guard, 14.7 points per game
Evan Wessel, Senior, Guard, 4.2 points per game
Shaquille Morris, Sophomore, Forward, 4.7 points per game
Anton Grady, Senior, Forward, 14.3 points per game at Cleveland State

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.3 (96th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 57.4 (10, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.5 (107, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.2 (52, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (116, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.7 (112, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.1 (136, 8)
Rebound Margin: 4.8 (36, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (94, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.3 (4, 1)

Madness 2016 NBA Draft Rankings:
#43 Ron Baker
#58 Fred VanVleet

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#130 Landry Shamet
#139 Markis McDuffie


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