Key Departures: Daishon Smith
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Landry Shamet (RS So.)
SG: Conner Frankamp (RS Sr.)
SF: Zach Brown (Sr.)
PF: Markis McDuffie (Jr.)
C: Shaquille Morris (RS Sr.)
Key Reserve Players:
SF: Rashard Kelly (Sr.), PF: Darral Willis Jr. (Sr.), C: Rauno Nurger (Sr.), SG: Austin Reaves (So.), PG: Samajae Haynes-Jones (Jr.)
A young Landry Shamet is the face of the Wichita State Men’s Basketball Program. Shamet showed tremendous maturity and poise as a redshirt freshman, leading the team in minutes and assists, while also finishing second in points per game. He is now the Fred VanVleet for Gregg Marshall. He has tremendous length and size at the point guard position. Shamet will form one of the better backcourts in the country with Conner Frankamp, the former Jayhawk. Shamet and the sharpshooter Frankamp shot 43.9 percent and 44.0 percent respectively from 3-point range this past year. I think Shamet is destined for stardom. He has stated that he is confident that his right foot issue will not sideline him long. Junior college transfer Samajae Haynes-Jones should see a boost in playing time depending on how long Shamet could be sidelined for. The competitive winner should be able to hold the fort down at the point guard position.
The Shockers don’t have the crazy recruits that teams like Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas seem to have every year. However, they are guided by a tremendous coach in Gregg Marshall, and have a rotation filled with experienced seniors. Marshall has won four straight regular season titles in the Missouri Valley Conference, including five titles in the last six years. Now, Wichita State is a member of the American Athletic Conference. This strengthens their in-conference schedule tremendously, pairing them against teams like UConn, Cincinnati, SMU, and others. This should give the Shockers more love when it comes to selection Sunday. After going 31-5 last season, they only received a 10 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Zach Brown and Markis McDuffie return as the forwards for the Shockers, and bring solid experience with them. For his senior season, Brown needs to be a consistent 3-point threat, which will really aid in his overall game. McDuffie was the leader in points and rebounds per game last season, and will continue to bring his versatile game to this team. Shaquille Morris is the beast down low, who has improved on his points and rebounds every single year. If he continues to make these jumps his senior year, he will definitely be a force in the paint for opponents to deal with.
Rashard Kelly will bring his high energy and effort off the bench, as he will play a key role on this team. He is a great teammate to have because he will go out and make the hustle plays. He will go after boards and loose balls in order to create extra possessions. I expect him to be a tremendous asset off the bench this season. Darral Willis Jr. and Rauno Nurger will come in and play big man minutes off the bench. Willis Jr. is an extremely effective piece off the bench, and is very efficient when on the court. He makes the most out of his minutes. Nurger will play behind Morris, and Nurger has actually shown an improved ability to stretch the floor as a big man. With the transfer of Daishon Smith, Austin Reaves will see an increased role in his guard minutes off the bench as a sophomore.
This Wichita State team is loaded with chemistry, maturity, and experience. For many, it might be shocking to see the Shockers so high on my preseason list. I have them at number four, but I think this is absolutely appropriate. They didn’t lose much, and now they have another offseason to work together. This team will be a joy to watch because they will play together, they will rotate the basketball, and they will flat out win a lot of games.