Looking back now, it seems that Edmond Memorial forward Shaquille Morris jumped on the Wichita State bandwagon at just the right time, before the Shockers achieved Cinderella status.
Of course, it appears Wichita State got quite a steal by signing Morris last November as well.
Morris' stock rose steadily throughout the season, and shot up even more in the playoffs as he helped Edmond Memorial to the Class 6A state championship.
And obviously, Wichita State's stock is soaring, having gone from a No. 9 seed to the NCAA Final Four, where it will face No. 1 seed Louisville at 5:09 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall saw in Morris a player with a lot of potential growth and development.
Likewise, Morris saw the Shockers as a program on the rise. But the Final Four?
“I actually had them going all the way in my bracket,” the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Morris said with a smile. “As I went on my visits, I saw places where I could go and be good, or I could go to Wichita State and get better. That's the part of the program I really love.”
During the recruiting process, Morris had to prove to Marshall that questions about his work ethic had been put to rest, and as Morris became a harder worker, he unleashed a new player.
Morris averaged 13 points and not quite six rebounds as a junior at Edmond Santa Fe. But this past season, he led Memorial with 17.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, along with becoming a roadblock for offenses coming into the paint.
“The kid was a sponge,” Edmond Memorial coach Shane Cowherd said of Morris. “Anything we showed him, he tried to master.
“I don't think he had a full understanding of what he was capable of. It's a credit to the coaches on our staff and his teammates who set the bar for him to strive to reach every day.