First some news. Some good news.
We’re planning to play out this Shocker Invitational, devised of 16 fictional teams and 80 of Wichita State’s best past and current players, during the
basketball season. Stay tuned for more details. Soon. I promise.
I didn’t just pick these teams to analyze them player by player with no pay off. We’re going to play this thing out and eventually crown a champion.
And it just might be the team I’m writing about today.
This one consists of center Garrett Stutz, power forward Cliff Levingston, small forward Dave Leach, shooting guard Kelly Pete and point guard Fridge Holman.
Levingston and Pete are two of the greatest Shockers in history and form a formidable duo here. Stutz, Leach and Holman are a better-than-solid supporting cast. Watch out for this club.
Stutz, a 7-footer, started slowly during his WSU career (2008-12). He didn’t average more than 7.8 points or 4.4 rebounds until his senior season, when he exploded to become a force on a team that reached the NCAA Tournament. Stutz averaged 13.3 points and 8.0 rebounds that season, finally realizing the potential promised by his coach, Gregg Marshall and becoming a first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference selection.
Levingston stayed three seasons at Wichita State before leaving for the NBA. They were three outstanding seasons, during which he averaged 16.2 points and 10.6 rebounds. His best season came as a sophomore in 1980-81, when he averaged 18.5 points and 11.4 rebounds, both team highs. He is one of five former WSU players whose uniform number hangs from the rafters at Koch Arena, joining Cleo Littleton, Dave Stallworth, Antoine Carr and Xavier McDaniel.
Leach was a fantastic baseline shooter, so good in fact that the baselines at the Roundhouse were called “Leach’s Corner.” A high school standout at McPherson, Leach averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds for Wichita State’s Final Four team in 1964-65.
Pete, a 6-1 guard from Wichita East, averaged 14.1 points and 6.4 rebounds during his WSU career and was probably an even better defensive player. He was the Shockers’ MVP in 1964-65, their Final Four season, and averaged 17.3 points and 7.0 rebounds that season. He had a 31-point game against SMU during the NCAA Tournament.
Holman, a junior college transfer, played two seasons for the Shockers and Mark Turgeon from 2002-04. As a senior, he averaged 10.4 points and 5.8 asssits.
This is an interesting team, one that could go either way.
Stutz, Leach and Holman were able to put together outstanding senior seasons after so-so starts to their careers. Levingston and Pete, obviously, were outstanding from the get-go.
How will this club mesh? Pete and Leach were Shocker teammates during some of the team’s best seasons. Levingston and Stutz also have NCAA Tournament experience.
I know a lot of people who are interested in the Shocker Invitational believe this is one of the three or four teams to beat. It’s hard to disagree.