Missouri Valley Conference

Conner Frankamp, Isaiah Austin
Associated Press

Wichita State guard Frankamp eligible to play tonight

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Hit hard by injuries at this early point in the season, Wichita State received some very good news regarding a mid-season transfer just hours before their game against UNLV.

The school announced that redshirt sophomore guard Conner Frankamp has been cleared to begin playing for the Shockers tonight, giving Gregg Marshall another guard to call upon alongside mainstays Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. When Frankamp would be available to play in games depended upon when fall semester grades were posted, be it Wednesday night against the Runnin’ Rebels or Saturday against No. 25 Utah.

Given the depth that UNLV has in its perimeter rotation, led by sophomore Patrick McCaw, the addition of Frankamp is an important boost for Wichita State.

VanVleet, who missed five games due to hamstring and ankle injuries, returned to action last weekend in the Shockers’ win at Saint Louis. Freshman Landry Shamet remains sidelined after undergoing foot surgery, and the same goes for senior power forward Anton Grady (neck).

The 6-foot-1 Frankamp can play either on or off the ball, which is key when considering the fact that sophomore Ty Taylor II (who has struggled recently) and walk-on John Robert Simon have been the players asked to spell VanVleet at the point.

Wave of injuries has crippled Wichita State early in season

Fred VanVleet
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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall abhors excuses, so when asked what needs to change to get his team back on track, he first mentions creating better shots and defending better.

Then, almost as an aside, he adds: “I hope we’re done with injuries.”

Perhaps no other team in major college basketball has weathered more of them during the first few weeks of the season. Star point guard Fred VanVleet is hobbled by a hamstring, backup Landry Shamet had a stress fracture in his left foot that landed him on crutches and forward Anton Grady may never play the game again after a frightening injury during a tournament in Florida.

No surprise that the Shockers, ranked 10th in the preseason poll, have lost four of their past five games to drop out altogether. Their only win during that stretch came against Emporia State, a Division II school not far from their campus in southeastern Kansas.

“We are missing a lot of key guys,” said Markis McDuffie, a freshman forward. “But we’re not going to sit here and say the whole (reason for the losses) was because of injuries.”

That wouldn’t be the Wichita State way.

The Shockers have made a habit of overcoming adversity the past few years. They’ve rattled off three straight 30-win seasons, each capped by an NCAA Tournament trip, even though it has only been recently that many have begun to give Marshall and his troops credit for their accomplishments.

Another 30-win season is a longshot at this point. Instead, the Shockers (2-4) are just hoping to get healthy enough to make a run in the Missouri Valley Conference, and earn another trip to the tournament in the final season for Baker, VanVleet and the rest of their seniors.

“We’re not performing to our capabilities, even though we’re missing a lot of key guys,” McDuffie said. “We’re going to keep fighting and practicing, and we’re definitely going to knock off this losing streak. It’s a wake-up call. No one expected this.”

VanVleet dealt with an ankle injury at the start of the season before the hamstring issue cropped up. He missed the entire Advocare Invitational in Florida – the Shockers lost all three games – and was still hobbled in practice this week. His status for Saturday’s game at Saint Louis remains in question.

“He’s doing stuff on the side during practice,” Marshall said. “He’s running a bit and working with the trainers. It’s protocol to get as conditioned as possible without harming the hamstring. I don’t know (if he’ll play Saturday). There’s a chance, but I don’t know.”

There is no chance that Shamet will be on the court anytime soon.

The talented freshman guard averaged 8.7 points in the Shockers’ first three games. He complained of pain on the outside of his foot for about a week before the fracture was discovered.

Marshall indicated the timetable for recovery is 10 to 12 weeks.

Asked about the state of his backcourt, Marshall replied: “Depleted, short-handed, inexperienced other than Ron. We’re moving small forwards into the backcourt just to have enough guys. … To have Fred and then Landry go down is a lot for us to overcome.”

Then came the injury to Grady, by far the most serious.

The transfer from Cleveland State collided with an Alabama player in the final minutes of their game last week. Grady took a few steps before falling to the court, and teammates heard him say that he couldn’t move. He was loaded onto a stretcher and transported to an Orlando hospital, and CT scans and an MRI exam revealed that he had sustained a spinal concussion.

Grady was able to fly back to Wichita with the team, and the senior hopes to continue playing basketball. But for now, his immediate future involves rehabilitation.

“I don’t know if he’ll play again, or if so, then when,” Marshall said. “I’ll leave that up to the doctor’s decisions – his family, trainers and him.”

For now, the Shockers are forced to press on without him.

Without Shamet and VanVleet, too.

“Once we know who’s going to be out on the floor,” Marshall said, “we’ve got to come up with an attack that’s going to create easier scoring opportunities than the ones we’re getting. We’ve got to shoot the ball better and execute better. I hope we’re done with additional injuries. It seems like we’ve been going backward for a while.”

Wichita State’s VanVleet leaves game with minor ankle sprain

Fred VanVleet
Associated Press
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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 lands highly regarded JUCO forward Darrlyn Willis

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Wichita State landed an important commitment Friday afternoon, as one of the top junior college forwards in the country announced that he’ll play his college basketball for Gregg Marshall.

6-foot-9 power forward Darryln Willis, who attends Pearl River CC in Mississippi, has signed with Wichita State. Willis, who’s from Madison, Wisconsin, picked the Shockers over Arizona State with Marquette and Mississippi State also hosting him on official visits. Oklahoma State, Alabama and LSU were also involved in Willis’ recruitment.

Willis, who’s averaging 16.0 points and 9.7 rebounds at this early point in the season, accounted for 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game as a freshman. Willis shot nearly 63 percent from the field as a freshman at Pearl River, and his ability to score in the post area is an asset that will help Wichita State upon his arrival on campus.

With the Shockers losing two front court players at the end of this season in Anton Grady and Bush Wakumota, the addition of Willis is an important one for the program. Willis has the skill needed to have an immediate impact, and in his conversations with the Wichita State coaching staff that’s the expectation for him upon his arrival.

“They pretty much told me that I was a missing piece to the puzzle, and they think that I can be an instant impact player,” Willis, who took in a couple practices while on his visit, told NBCSports.com.

While Willis won’t have the opportunity to play with Wichita State’s current senior class, one that has been incredibly successful, he will get to play with some young talented players who do have eligibility remaining beyond the 2015-16 campaign.

Among those who will be asked to pick up where that successful senior class leaves off are transfers Conner Frankamp (eligible in December) and Peyton Allen, and Wichita State also has a talented freshman class that includes Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie.

In the front court, Willis will join sophomores Shaq Morris, Rashard Kelly and Rauno Nurger next season.

Loyola (IL) lands former Colorado commit Satterwhite

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With three seniors in its perimeter rotation, adding a guard in the Class of 2016 was something Loyola (IL) likely wanted to do. Sunday Porter Moser’s program managed to do just that, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Cameron Satterwhite announced that he’d committed to the Missouri Valley Conference program.

Satterwhite is Loyola’s first verbal commitment in the Class of 2016, and he’s a talented one at that. Satterwhite, who attends Gilbert Christian HS in Gilbert, Arizona and played for the Arizona Power program this summer, was originally a Colorado verbal commit. However things changed in the aftermath of Satterwhite suffering a torn ACL while playing in Las Vegas in July.

Satterwhite reopened his recruitment last month after reportedly being asked by Colorado to reclassify to 2017 to ensure that his knee would be back to full strength upon his arrival.

“Cam didn’t want to do that,” Ortega said to Gershon of reclassifying to 2017. “Talking to Cam and his family, they didn’t want to figure out what to do for a year as a post grad or something else. Even if it means he has to go to a lower conference.”

Of Loyola’s three seniors on the perimeter Earl Peterson and Devon Turk were the most productive last season, with Peterson averaging 8.7 points per game and Turk not far behind at 8.5 ppg. Jeff White averaged 2.9 ppg but was second on the team in assists with 82.

Satterwhite and Iowa State transfer Clayton Custer (sitting out this season) will join the perimeter rotation next season, with Milton Doyle, Donte Ingram and Ben Richardson among those who will have eligibility remaining.

Video credit: AZ Finest

Tallahassee CC guard Smith commits to Wichita State

Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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With Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker both being seniors, Wichita State was in a position where adding some depth to the perimeter on the recruiting trail wouldn’t be a bad idea. Of course, Gregg Marshall and his staff have addressed this in their 2015 recruiting efforts, with two freshmen (Tyrone Taylor and Landry Shamet) being joined by transfers Conner Frankamp (eligible in December) and Peyton Allen (eligible next season).

Sunday afternoon Wichita State added another perimeter option to the fold, as Tallahassee CC guard Daishon Smith announced via Twitter that he’ll be a Shocker. Smith is Wichita State’s second commit in the Class of 2016, joining three-star shooting guard and former Colorado State commitment C.J. Keyser.

Smith played his freshman season at Eastern Florida State CC, where he averaged 8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-1 Smith is a native of Jacksonville, where he attended Ribault HS, and he discussed his skill set with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle.

He describes himself as a combo guard with a strong instinct for defense. He visited WSU over the weekend and committed before flying back to Florida.

“I’m very good at attacking and putting pressure on the defense,” he said. “I’ve built a great relationship with (assistant) Coach (Greg) Heiar. I feel like it’s a good fit to come in behind Fred (VanVleet) and Ron (Baker), just to make things happen and keep the program going.”

In total Wichita State will lose five seniors at the end of the 2015-16 season, meaning that there’s room for a few more additions in their 2016 recruiting class.