No. 10 Wichita State point guard Fred VanVleet entered Friday’s opener against Charleston Southern at less than full strength, as he’d been dealing with a hamstring injury. Unfortunately for the Shockers the All-America candidate picked up another injury in the first half of the 88-63 victory, as he left the game with a sprained ankle that head coach Gregg Marshall described as “minor.”
VanVleet, who played just three minutes Friday night, is considered to be day-to-day with the Shockers’ next games scheduled for Tuesday night at Tulsa.
Friday night freshman guards Ty Taylor II and Landry Shamet saw the most minutes off the bench amongst the Wichita State guards, with Shamet (27 minutes) scoring 13 points and Taylor (16 minutes) tallying ten. Junior John Robert Simon played just eight minutes but finished with a team-high three assists, a number matched by senior Ron Baker.
Also of note in the win was the play of forwards Anton Grady and Eric Hamilton. Grady, a grad student who transferred in from Cleveland State, accounted for 12 points and three rebounds while the freshman Hamilton added 13 points and seven boards off the bench. They’ll be two key players moving forward for a team that has to account for the loss of Tekele Cotton and Darius Carter from last season’s Sweet 16 team.
VanVleet’s status heading into Tuesday’s game will be something to keep an eye on, as Tulsa has a very good backcourt tandem of its own in seniors James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison. And even if he can go, how effective he’ll be dealing with two injuries remains to be seen.
Wichita State unveiled new road uniforms on Friday afternoon, via the athletic department’s Facebook page.
The Shockers will officially unveil the new black uniforms on Nov. 17 during a non-conference contest at Tulsa.
Wichita State has won 30 games in each of the last three seasons. This rise to national prominence includes an appearance in the 2013 Final Four, followed by an undefeated regular season in 2013-14. The Shockers intends to build on that success this year behind the play of one of the nation’s premier back courts in Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet.
Check out the uniforms Baker and VanVleet will wear in their final season with the Shockers:
Wichita State opens the 2015-16 season on Nov. 13 against Charleston Southern.
Wichita State senior point guard Fred VanVleet will enter the 2015-16 season as one of the nation’s top players and point guards, teaming up with Ron Baker to form a perimeter tandem that will be among the nation’s best. But VanVleet is hard at work this summer to ensure that he’s a slightly different player than the one who helped lead the Shockers to the Sweet 16.
While VanVleet was certainly a good enough athlete to earn the praise and honors that have come his way over the last three seasons, he’s looking to become even more athletic ahead of his final season. According to Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle the hard work has paid off, with the 5-foot-11 floor general showing more explosion both vertically and laterally.
Those developments, combined with VanVleet’s efforts to trim a few pounds from his frame, can not only help the guard in the college game but as a pro as well.
Part of this, (Wichita State strength and conditioning coach Kerry) Rosenboom says, is about attracting the attention of NBA scouts. If VanVleet adds muscle and definition and dunks in a game, he might start to check boxes for athletic ability scouts previously ignored.
“As much as it helps your jumping, it helps your lateral movement, quickness, you’re getting more explosive,” VanVleet said. “I’ve already got a lot of finishes I can do, and I think as my vertical increases, hopefully, I’ll get more finishes that I can do and it’s going to be scary for a lot of people.”
During the summer players see more of the strength coach than they do their basketball coaches, with the NCAA having limits on how much time coaches can spend with their players on the court and the recruiting requirements of the summer factoring in as well. That leaves most of the responsibility when it comes to getting better on the shoulders of the players themselves, and based upon how well VanVleet has performed throughout his time at Wichita State it’s no surprise that he’s put in the work.
That will benefit the Shockers in 2015-16, and if VanVleet has his way the improvements be noticed by NBA scouts as well.