FROM THE VALLEY TO THE PEAK?
In 10 years under coach GREGG MARSHALL, the Shockers have developed into one of the premier March giant slayers, but this year they'll enter the season as one of the giants. Wichita State brings back its top eight scorers from the squad that won 31 games, and it should extend its four-year league-title streak this season even though the team has left the Missouri Valley for the more competitive American Athletic Conference.
No AAC team—including Cincinnati—can come close to the Shockers' perimeter tandem of sophomore guard LANDRY SHAMET and junior wing MARKIS MCDUFFIE. Shamet is a smooth pick-and-roll practitioner who held his own against Kentucky's lottery-bound backcourt of De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk in the second round of the NCAA tournament last March, while McDuffie is a versatile defender who led the team in scoring (11.5) and rebounding (5.7) last season. Both players are recovering from foot injuries, with Shamet expected to return in mid-November (from a broken foot) and McDuffie in mid-December (from a stress fracture).
In the paint, senior SHAQUILLE MORRIS gives Wichita State a left-tackle-sized (6'8", 279 pounds) frontcourt linchpin who is known for grabbing rebounds and protecting the rim. Improved shooting from inside the arc—the Shockers ranked 120th in that category in 2016--17 (50.5%)—could be the key to earning a second Final Four bid in five years.
PROJECTED TEAM STATS
With 2017--18 projections for the top six scorers
COACH GREGG MARSHALL (11TH SEASON)
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
Landry Shamet [Starter] 6'4" Soph.
Markis McDuffie [Starter] 6'8" Jr.
Shaquille Morris [Starter] 6'8" Sr.
Conner Frankamp [Starter] 6'1" Sr.
Darral Willis 6'9" Sr.
Zach Brown [Starter] 6'6" Sr.
ZACH BROWN has spent his first three seasons focused on defense, but due to injuries, the 6'6" Houston native will have to shoulder a heavier offensive load, especially in early nonconference matchups against Baylor and Oklahoma, and at the Maui Invitational.