Cotton finds a team in the Shocker Invitational

As I was watching Wichita State’s Tekele Cotton take over the second half during the Shockers’ 70-61 win over Tennessee on Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena, it occurred to me what a bone-headed move it was to leave Cotton off the 16 teams I’ve devised for the Shocker Invitational.

Cotton normally isn’t a take-over kind of player. But the 6-foot-2 junior scored all 19 of his points in the second half against Tennessee, and scoring wasn’t even his biggest contribution.

Cotton is one of the toughest players in Wichita State history. He reminds me some of Kelly Pete, a

Gene Wiley (12) played four seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers. This is the 1963-64 Lakers team, which included left to right: Elgin Baylor, Don Nelson, Frank Selvy, Rudy LaRusso, Leroy Ellis, Wiley, Hub Reed, Mel Gibson, Jim Krebs, Dick Barnett, Jerry West and Jim King.

Gene Wiley (12) played four seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers. This is the 1963-64 Lakers team, which included left to right: Elgin Baylor, Don Nelson, Frank Selvy, Rudy LaRusso, Leroy Ellis, Wiley, Hub Reed, Mel Gibson, Jim Krebs, Dick Barnett, Jerry West and Jim King.

great from the early- to mid-1960s. And some of Warren Armstrong, a great during the late-1960s.

Cotton isn’t a Shocker great, at least not yet. But he’s working on it.

He is the team’s best defensive player. He has no deficiency, especially since he’s now capable of knocking down three-point shots and has made some key treys during the past two seasons.

So, Cotton obviously belongs on one of the 16 fictional teams – listed here -  that make up the bracket for the Shocker Invitational, with first-round games coming within a few weeks. Stay tuned on that as we work to devise a way to pull these games off with some semblance of realism.

I’ve plugged Cotton into Team 16, captained by former Shocker guard Ernie Moore from the early-1960s. Sean Ogirri, who played three seasons for Mark Turgeon earlier in this decade, moves from Team 16 to Team 15, where he replaces Terrell Benton. Sorry, Terrell, you’re the odd man out. It pains me to do this to someone from Derby.

So let’s take a closer at Team 15:

Team 15 (Gene Wiley team)

C – Gene Wiley (1959-62)

PF – Cleanthony Early (2012-present)

SF – Darrin Williams (1996-2000)

SG – Sean Ogirri (2004-07)

PG – Preston Carrington (1969-71)

Wiley – A 6-11 center, Wiley was a tremendous shot blocker. He ranks fourth on WSU’s all-time blocked shots list with 105 and seventh in rebounds per game (10.1). Wiley averaged just under 11 points per game during his Shocker career and went on to play four seasons in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers. Wiley had four triple-double games as a Shocker, equaling Warren Armstrong for the most in WSU history. One was a 22-point, 23-rebound, 10-block performance against Tulsa on Jan. 18, 1962.

Early – Though he’s off to an up-and-down start in 2013-14, Early is regarded as the top NBA prospect to play at Wichita State perhaps since Maurice Evans. He can score from inside or out and has a long, 6-7 frame. Early averaged 13.9 points per game in 2012-13 and was at his best in the national semifinals against Louisville, when he scored 24 points to go with 10 rebounds.

Williams – A product of Wichita South, Williams finished his Wichita State career with 843 points and 520 rebounds. He had his best season as a senior in 1999-2000 when he averaged 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds while leading WSU in blocked shots.

Ogirri – Ogirri, from Denver, was one of the most highly-recruited players during Mark Turgeon’s seven years as the team’s coach. And at times he looked the part, becoming Wichita State’s all-time leader in three-pointers made in a season (91 in 2005-06). He also ranks second to Randy Burns in career three-pointers with 200. As a junior on the Shockers’ team that reached the Sweet 16 in 2006, Ogirri averaged 12 points and was a 44.2 percent three-point shooter.

Carrington – One of the most athletic Shockers, Carrington was a world-class long jumper. A junior-college transfer, he averaged 12.2 points per game as a junior in 1969-70 and 10.4 points as a senior. In both seasons, he led the Shockers in assists.

Overall analysis – Wiley, Early and Williams provide an athletic front line. Ogirri can score and Carrington is one of the fastest point guards in this field. There’s a lot of athleticism on this team and Wiley’s contribution as a defender is a key. I like this team as a darkhorse. All five can score and really run the floor. An interesting team.