Kansas making statement as college hoops hotbed

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm •  Published: January 10, 2014
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"We all talked about keeping the success going," Baker said.

They're doing a fairly good job of it:

— Wichita State is 16-0, one of six unbeaten teams left in Division I. After the loss of Missouri Valley heavyweight Creighton, some believe the Shockers could still be unbeaten by the time the NCAA tournament rolls around. Wichita State made the Final Four last year.

— Kansas starts three freshmen but has already beaten Duke, and its four losses all came to Top 25 teams. That's a big reason why the Jayhawks, who are pursuing a share of their 10th straight Big 12 title, are No. 2 in the most recent RPI.

— Kansas State has rattled off 10 straight wins, knocking off then-No. 21 Gonzaga and then-No. 6 Oklahoma State along the way. The Wildcats, who also start a pair of freshmen, shared the regular-season Big 12 title with Kansas last season.

"It's saying that Kansas is a basketball state," said Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis, who grew up in Wichita. "There's a lot of good players that come through Kansas."

There's no disputing that. The success of the state's three flagship schools, in some ways, can be traced to the powerful prep programs that have popped up in recent years.

There were five Division I prospects in the state last year and nine the year before, and they weren't low-major talents, either. Ellis and fellow Wichita product Conner Frankamp went to Kansas, Semi Ojeleye chose Duke and Willie Cauley ended up at Kentucky.

While the state has long had one of the nation's premier junior college conferences, schools such as Sunrise Christian Academy near Wichita have become must-stop destinations for high-major coaches. Among the Sunrise products is Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield.

"I've been real pleased with who we've been able to recruit," Self said, "and I hope that there's good players in our state every year. I wish we could get a kid out of here every year because I do think it adds something to your program to have some local flavor."