Freshman’s family pours in on his 20th birthday


Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State freshman Dexter Dennis celebrates after dunking the ball in the final seconds of the game against Tulsa on Feb. 2, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Not everyone turns 20 years old. Dexter Dennis knows that.

The Wichita State freshman has seen first-hand what can go wrong. At prep school, his roommate, Malcolm Nicholas, was shot and killed at 19 years of age.

So for Dennis, as he turned the page on another year, the meaning was all-the-more significant. Dennis celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday in front of a crowd of 10,000-plus as WSU hosted Tulane.

“Every time I reach a birthday, I think about my friend,” Dennis said of Nicholas. “A lot of people don’t get to see 20 years of life — it’s really a gift.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Dexter Dennis’ family sits in the stands during the game against Tulane at Charles Koch Arena. Dennis turned 20 on Feb. 9, 2019. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

More than 20 of Dennis’ relatives traveled from Baker, Louisiana, for Saturday’s game. Donning black jerseys with Dennis’ number zero, the freshman’s family filled a section of Charles Koch Arena. His mother, Dawn McQuirter, and others held posters recognizing his birthday.

“It was really special,” Dennis said. “My mom tries to come see me as much as she can, and for her to bring the whole family was really special.”

She brought 23 relatives in tow.

“It just makes you cherish those moments with your family even more, I appreciate this gesture,” Dennis said.

WSU won its fourth straight with Dennis playing a key role in slowing Tulane’s offense in the second half of play. The night ended with Dennis’ family joining the team in the locker room, singing together “Happy Birthday.”

“I’m blessed beyond measured,” Dennis said. 

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State guard Dexter Dennis focuses before the game against SMU on Jan. 30, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).