Team 4 in the Shocker Invitational has Dave Stallworth.
And four other guys.
But it has Dave Stallworth.
And that, along, makes it a formidable team in the upcoming 16-team Shocker Invitational, which starts
in a few weeks after I get a ton of mileage out of talking about the fictional teams and the real players from WSU’s past (mostly) and present (a few).
I consider Stallworth the greatest Shocker of them all, with considerable appreciate for Xavier McDaniel. I think those are the only two players in the discussion for that title, though I would argue for Warren Armstrong to get some consideration. But I won’t argue today because I just don’t have the energy.
Stallworth also happens to be my second favorite athlete of all-time, just a tick behind former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson. Stallworth and his great career at Wichita State, from 1961 to 1965, has a lot to do with my love of basketball, for sure, and loves of sports in general. Because I had a ring-side seat for all of it as just a young lad with wide eyes and a vivid imagination.
My love for Stallworth makes Team 4 one of my Shocker Invitational favorites. But let’s not slight Stallworth’s teammates. They include center Henry Carr, small forward Rob Kampman and the backcourt of Randy Smithson and Leonard Kelley.
This is an intriguing team and one that, if its smart, will defer to Stallworth.
Carr had his best season in 1986-87, when averaged a team-high 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds for a 22-win that reached the NCAA Tournament before losing in the first round against St. John’s, 57-55.
That was a balanced team led by first-year coach Eddie Fogler. Carr, a senior, came back strongly from an injury-plagued 1985-86 season, when he averaged only 3.4 points.
The 6-foot-9 Carr shot 59.5 percent from the field and a surprising 60.4 percent from the free-throw line, a huge step up from a guy who had made only 69 of 168 free throws (42 percent) previously in his Shocker career.
Stallworth was magnificent from the time he first set foot on the court at the Roundhouse. He averaged 24.2 points and 10.2 rebounds in 80 career games and did everything elegantly. He was a 6-7 piece of granite who played his best in the Shockers’ biggest games and was a two-time All-American.
Kampman was a steady small forward during his four seasons at Wichita State playing for Mark Turgeon. The 6-8 Kampman fell just short of the Shockers’ 1,000-point club with 974 and never averaged double-digit scoring for a season. But he was dependable, averaging 8.3, 7.7, 9.0 and 7.1 points during his four seasons to go with 4.3, 4.1, 5.2 and 3.9 rebounds.
Kelley played in only 54 career games at WSU, but averaged more than 12 points per game and was a strong floor leader, though he often shared point-guard duties with teammate Ernie Moore. Kelley was also an outstanding defensive player, one of the best defensive guards in Shocker history and as tough-nosed as they come.
Speaking of tough noses, Smithson put his in some dangerous places during his two seasons as a Wichita State guard from 1979-81.
Smithson transferred to WSU from Illinois State when his father, Gene, then the Illinois State coach, took over at Wichita State. He averaged 10.1 points in 1979-80, then 13 points per game for the Shockers’ Elite Eight NCAA Tournament team in 1980-81, when he played 36 minutes per game.
Smithson was not fast and couldn’t jump and made it as a college basketball player on intelligence and instincts. He was a great leader who amassed 319 assists in his two seasons.
Every time I analyze one of the Shocker Invitational teams, I come away thinking it’s a team that has a chance to win the tournament.
What do you think of Team 4?