Who are the best men’s basketball players in Wichita State history?
How about the best players from their respective eras? Instead of trying to rank all of the standout players spread across different eras, The Eagle examined players from the same era to select an all-decade team for each decade in the modern era of Shockers basketball.
Starting with the 1950s, we picked the best starting lineup — trying to adhere to a traditional lineup of two guards, two forwards and a center — complete with a bench of five players and a head coach.
You can view the previous all-decade teams here: 1950s and 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and 1990s and 2000s.
The 2010s all-decade team
6-0 guard (2012-16)
Who else besides Steady Freddy? Before he became an NBA champion, he put together one of the greatest four-year careers in Wichita State history. VanVleet is WSU’s career leader in assists (637), steals (225) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.08). He helped lead the Shockers to three Missouri Valley championships and nine NCAA Tournament wins in four straight trips. After playing a key role as a reserve for WSU’s 2013 Final Four team, he became the team’s starting point guard the following season when WSU broke an NCAA record with its 35-0 start. VanVleet, who coach Gregg Marshall has called one of the best leaders he’s seen, was a two-time MVC Player of the Year, a third-team All-American as a sophomore and an honorable mention All-American his final two years. VanVleet’s status as WSU’s greatest point guard of all time is cemented.
6-4 guard (2015-18)
Kansas City, Mo.
There’s an argument to be had for this spot in the starting five between Shamet’s two years of excellent and the brilliant two-play of Tekele Cotton over a three-year stretch. While Shamet wasn’t part of an NCAA Tournament run like Cotton, he also was the focal point of an offense that finished fourth in the country in 2018. After a late breakout in his redshirt freshman season, Shamet became a full-fledged start as a sophomore, averaging 14.9 points and 5.2 assists on top of knocking down 44% of his three-pointers. It also doesn’t hurt that Shamet has had a strong start to his NBA career, already carving out an important role on a title contender as a three-point specialist for the Los Angeles Clippers.
6-4 guard (2011-16)
Rounding out what is no doubt the most talented backcourt of any decade of WSU basketball, Baker was an easy decision for the starting lineup. From an unheralded recruit from Western Kansas to a college basketball superstar, Baker will go down as a Shocker icon alongside his running mate, Fred VanVleet. He was a first-team All-Missouri Valley selection three years straight and earned honorable mention All-American honors in 2015. Baker was one of the most complete guards to ever play for the Shockers and that’s reflected in his place in the all-time record book: eighth in scoring (1,636), second in three-pointers (242), ninth in assists (345), fourth in steals (163) and 13th in blocks (76).
6-8 forward (2012-14)
One of the most talented scorers in WSU history, Early was the leading scorer in both of his seasons on two of the most successful teams in program history. He was the go-to option for the Shockers during their 2013 Final Four run, then averaged 16.4 points for the 35-1 team the following season. Early’s 1,135 points are the third-most in program history over a two-year span. He was named a third-team All-American in 2014 and was fourth in Wooden Award voting the same year. On a team full of capable bucket-getters, Early still might be the No. 1 option with his New York City bravado.
6-8 center (2013-18)
Who gets the starting nod at center is another fascinating debate on this team? WSU has some pretty good options to pick from in Morris, Garrett Stutz, Carl Hall and Jaime Echenique. While the other three are great options, Morris gets the call because he averaged 14 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while earning first-team all-conference honors against much better competition in the American. While Morris had a bumpy road to get to his senior year, there’s no denying that his final season as a Shocker was something special.
The bench: Malcolm Armstead (6-0 guard from Florence, Ala.); Joe Ragland (6-0 guard from West Springfield, Mass.); Toure’ Murry (6-5 guard from Houston); Tekele Cotton (6-3 guard from Marietta, Ga.); Markis McDuffie (6-8 forward from Paterson, N.J.); Carl Hall (6-8 forward from Cochran, Ga.); Garrett Stutz (7-0 center from Kansas City, Mo.).
Head coach from 2007-current
The only coach of the decade who was the architect of the best decade of basketball in Wichita State history. WSU has won at least 25 games for nine straight seasons and has won at least 22 games in the last 11. While Mark Turgeon provided the first jolt back into the program, Marshall took WSU to the next level of national prominence. Marshall has compiled a 73% winning percentage (331-121) in 13 seasons en route to becoming the most winningest coach in program history.
WSU has reached a Final Four, a Sweet 16 and rattled off seven straight trips to the NCAA Tournament on top of winning five Missouri Valley titles. Even after WSU’s rise to power, Marshall stuck around to see things through in Wichita, spurning the advances from a handful of programs from major conferences. After making WSU a major player in college basketball during the 2010s, Marshall’s next challenge will be maintaining that reputation in the next decade.