Wichita State is picking tougher battles in recruiting men’s basketball players and it won a big one with the commitment of guard Landry Shamet.
Shamet, from Park Hill, gave Wichita State a non-binding commitment Tuesday night and announced on his Twitter account Wednesday morning. He is ranked No. 87 nationally by Rivals.com and said he canceled visits to Kansas State, Illinois and Colorado after making a visit to Wichita last weekend.
“My original plan was to make all four,” he said. “It was just something I couldn’t pass on. I’ve talked a lot the whole time about my gut feeling and feeling right. I had that indescribable feeling (about Wichita State) … combined with how they play and my personal fit.”
Wichita State landed players such as Fred VanVleet, Cleanthony Early and Zach Brown who had options in higher-profile conferences. Shockers coaches are engaged in more of those tussles, helped by the success of the past two seasons. St. John forward Dean Wade, who committed to Kansas State recently, is ranked No. 107 on the Rivals.com list. He considered Wichita State. Guard Kerwin Roach, ranked No. 34, is scheduled to visit Wichita on Sept. 12.
While Rivals.com national rercruiting analyst Eric Bossi doesn’t see a big change in Wichita State’s approach, he is certain the 2013 Final Four and last season’s 35-1 record are helpful.
“I don’t think at this point Wichita State needs any validation of what they’ve done on the recruiting trail,” Bossi said. “They’ve proven they can identify high-level talent and develop it. There’s no way they don’t get a bump in profile from the success and the type of (national) coverage they’ve had.”
While it is nice to make the list for a top recruit, finishing second isn’t much consolation. Landing Shamet starts Wichita State’s fall recruiting period with a big splash.
He averaged 20.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists for Park Hill, which went 14-14. He earned All-Class 5 honors and received honorable mention on The Star’s All-Metro team. He grew several inches and improved his athletic ability from his sophomore to junior year, bringing about an increase in recruiting interest.
“They're getting a player who is very versatile, who is highly skilled and really thinks the game at a high level,” Bossi said. “He’s a good shooter, good off the dribble. The kid has an oustanding feel for the game and makes the right decision all the time.”
KC Pumas coach Darin Mason, who also coached former Shocker Garrett Stutz in his summer program, calls Shamet an excellent leader and teammate. When things don’t go well, he sees Shamet picking up teammates with a high five or an encouraging word.
“When your best player is your hardest worker, you’re going to get great results,” Mason said. “He shoots it like a (shooting guard) and handles it like a (point guard). When you’re 6-4, that’s a great combination to have.”
Shamet made several unofficial visits to Wichita State. Last weekend, he played two pickup games and watched the Shocker guards work out with coaches. The official visit and campus tour confirmed his feelings for a program where he believes he can contribute as a freshman. Wichita State coaches pointed to the success of Toure Murry, now in his second season in the NBA with the Utah Jazz, and junior Ron Baker, who is attracting significant NBA Draft attention. Both are shooting guards capable of playing the point, like Shamet.
“It feels like a 1,000-pound weight is off my shoulder,” Shamet said. “I’m joining a winning program … and I love the atmosphere and great culture.”
Shamet said he plans to sign in November. Wichita State coaches cannot comment on Shamet until he signs.
Wichita State, which loses seniors Darius Carter and Tekele Cotton, also has forward Eric Hamilton placed at Sunrise Christian Academy. Hamilton, who signed with Wichita State last year, said he intends to again sign with the Shockers during the November signing period. He went through summer workouts with the Shockers until deciding to spend a year on Sunrise’s post-graduate team to help his development and bring Wichita State to the NCAA limit of 13 scholarships.