‘It will be hard to leave this place’: Echenique goes out strong in final regular-season victory over Tulsa


Marshall Sunner

Wichita State players embrace senior Jaime Echenique as the clock expires during the game against Tulsa on March 8 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Before Jaime Echenique walked off of Devlin Court for a final time, he stopped at half court. Echenique got down on both knees, leaned forward, and kissed the floor.

He got up and walked off the court to a standing ovation.

“It will be hard to leave this place,” Echenqiue said after the final home game of his college career. “I was trying to hold it in. It’s so hard to leave a place that you love so much.

“It’s been an amazing two years.”

Echenique left his mark in his final game against Tulsa, tallying 13 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Once again, the Colombian’s presence down low forced the Golden Hurricane to double-team throughout the game, which opened up the shooters on the perimeter. As a team, the Shockers shot above their team average per game, knocking down 47.4% of their shots.

But Echenique’s ability on the floor wasn’t what stood out to Head Coach Gregg Marshall on Sunday. It was the big man’s enthusiasm and character.

“What a special young man,” Marshall said of his senior. “He’s sacrificed a lot. He hasn’t seen his family in five years.”

Echenique’s journey has been unique. From being in a gang for protection in his home country to getting a chance with a junior college, Echenqiue has always fought forwards. And Marshall helped develop him into one of the program’s most effective centers.

“Jaime has had a tremendous year, and his impact on our team is probably as good of an impact as we’ve had for a big guy in 13 years, so I’m really happy for him,” he said.

He also credited his team’s grit for getting Echenique one final win on his home floor. Marshall said beating Tulsa was a way of honoring his lone senior.

“Just the way the guys rallied, you know. We’ve played here and there, but today, it didn’t matter,” Marshall said. “On his senior day, we honored him with that effort.”

As for Echenique, he said he has many takeaways from his two years at Wichita State — but the memories stand out the most. He said he will cherish both the good and the bad that he and his teammates have been through.

“We’ve been through downs, ups, and middles together. We faced adversity together,” Echenique said. “We just kept fighting for each other and pushing each other to figure things out. The adversity definitely made us closer, and I think everyone was just pushing for each other.”

Echenique and the Shockers will look to keep their postseason hopes alive when the American Athletic Conference Tournament starts this week. WSU, being the four-seed, receives a first-round bye in the tournament, so they will play on Friday against the winner of the Tulane-UConn game. Tip off will be at 2 p.m. inside Dickies Arena.