Wichita State’s No. 1 priority with its upcoming recruiting class was to find replacements for a frontcourt that will lose Shaquille Morris, Rashard Kelly, Darral Willis, and Rauno Nurger after this season.
Gregg Marshall and his coaching staff accomplished that goal on Wednesday, as Isaiah Poor Bear Chandler, Morris Udeze, and Jaime Echenique all signed their letters of intent to become Shockers. Erik Stevenson, a three-star shooting guard from Washington, also signed on the first day of the early signing period.
Talking to fans and boosters at a tip-off luncheon on Wednesday afternoon at Koch Arena, Marshall spotted freshman center Asbjorn Midtgaard, the only scholarship post player returning next season, and said “We had to go get Asbjorn some buddies since he’s losing all of his buddies off this year’s team.”
Chandler (6-foot-9, 260 pounds) and Udeze (6-8, 240) both took the prep school route this season, giving them an extra season to grow. Both are likely going to be immediate contributors next season, as Marshall told the crowd on Wednesday of their strengths.
“(Udeze) is just a load down low,” Marshall said. “I saw him this summer and he’s very impressive and he’s very tough. He’s polishing his game in the prep schools and he’ll continue to do that here, but man, he plays hard. He really rebounds it and he’s strong and he will be a dynamic young post player for us.”
“(Chandler) is going to be a four or five guy for us and he can really shoot the three,” Marshall said. “He’s a tremendous rebounder and he can score on the low block, too.”
Marshall amused the crowd by telling them Midtgaard, whose first name in his native Danish langauge translates to “God’s Bear,” roomed with Chandler, who is Native American and Poor Bear is part of his given name, this summer.
“They roomed together in what affectionately became known as ‘The Bear Cave,’” Marshall said. “One thing we learned is that we don’t have beds big enough for those guys. We needed longer beds.”
Echenique (6-10, 220) is a sophomore at Trinity Valley College in Texas and will have three seasons to play two at Wichita State. He is from Colombia and relatively new to basketball, but Marshall viewed him as a high-ceiling player.
“He’s very long and rebounds it very well and can score over both shoulders,” Marshall said. “He has tremendous hands in the pick and roll.”
Stevenson (6-4, 180) will be a natural replacement for Conner Frankamp with his outside shooting.
“We see him like a Ron Baker-type player who can hopefully play right away,” Marshall said. “He’s a really, really good player who was offered by a slew of Pac 12 schools and just loved Wichita State. I think he’s really going to fit in well here.”
Shortly following the luncheon, Wichita State picked up another commitment with 6-9 wing Chance Moore from Louisville picking the Shockers over Butler, Virginia Tech, and Dayton and also signing his letter of intent.
Wichita State was also awaiting a decision from four-star point guard Alex Lomax, who posted on his Twitter account that he will reveal his college destination between 8 and 9 p.m. Wednesday. The two-time Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee has narrowed his list to Wichita State, Memphis, Mississippi, Florida, Vanderbilt, and Missouri.
Marshall addressed a variety of topics at the tip-off luncheon, as he gave an update on CJ Keyser, who was not in uniform for either one of WSU’s exhibition games.
“He’s got a little work to do off the court,” Marshall said. “He’s dealing with a personal issue and I’m just going to leave it at that. But he’s doing that and hopefully we can get him back soon.”