Shocker cover boys

Wichita State’s basketball team is scheduled for a photo shoot today before leaving for Evansville. It’s not just any photo session – Sports Illustrated is in town.

SI reporter Thomas Lake traveled (driving the whole way and polishing his Wizard of Oz references) with the Shockers to Indiana State, Northern Iowa and to Wichita for Tuesday’s game against Southern Illinois.

If you read SI, you know they don’t send Lake out on routine assignments. He’s written some memorable stories, most notably about Rae Curruth’s son and Michael Jordan’s high school coach.

WSU’s received a ton of national attention in the past month. I read most of it and enjoyed many fine stories and interviews.

In my mind, and maybe it’s generational, nothing matters as much as Sports Illustrated and the cover. Sure, that weekly arrival of SI isn’t as important as it was 25 years ago, when the magazine and its cover largely set the national discussion. However, it’s still a rare status symbol.

Plans change, so there is no guarantee the unbeaten Shockers grab the cover. At least Derek Jeter got his retirement out of the way.

WSU’s five starters will take part in the photo shoot, which raised a problem for coach Gregg Marshall. His center position rotates and Chadrack Lufile, Kadeem Coleby and Darius Carter are all equally important in that role.

How to decide who joins Baker, VanVleet, Early and Cotton?

Marshall held three strings. Short string wins. Coleby drew first and got a long string. So did Carter. Lufile got the short string and, perhaps, a spot on the SI cover soon.