AfterShocks focus on smaller roster ahead of second TBT appearance

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Easton Thompson

Aftershocks’ Cleanthony Early jumps for the basket during their game against Sideline Cancer in the TBT tournament hosted at Charles Koch Arena.

Following a second-round exit in their 2021 TBT Debut, the AfterShocks have made some notable changes to their roster in their second appearance. 

“There’s really not even X’s and O’s (in TBT),” AfterShocks general manager Ron Baker said. “The teams that are good are the ones that force a bad shot and, literally, make two passes and go. Sideline Cancer, their team was extremely guard-heavy.”

With a greater focus on a guard-heavy roster, the AfterShocks have their roster officially set less than ten days away from their first game against the Ex-Pats inside Charles Koch Arena.

The Returners

The AfterShocks have remodeled this year’s roster and as a result, they only have three retuners — Conner Frankamp, Rashard Kelly, and Zach Brown — from their first appearance. 

Frankamp had the most success of the trio during 2019, scoring a team-high 23 points in their lone victory against Iowa United. Frankamp is now coming off a successful overseas season with UCAM Murcia in Spain. Frankamp averaged 15.7 points per game on 42.5% shooting in 25 games played.

Kelly started both of the games back in 2019, including a nine-point performance in the win against Iowa United. Kelly most recently averaged 12.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game with Gaziantep in Turkey. 

AfterShocks head coach Zach Bush said that because of the lack of natural big men in TBT, that Kelly could see some action as the center with more of a small-ball lineup.

“There’s not a ton of on-the-block, back-you-down basketball,” Bush said. “You go back to the games and watch Sideline Cancer, they have bigs who can really run, they block shots, they rebound. Get a little bit smaller, but a little bit more athletic and being able to move your feet. Darral and Rashard should be great with that.”

Brown is the latest addition to the AfterShocks, with his return announced last Friday. Brown came off the bench in both games in 2019, with his best game coming against Iowa United, where he recorded five points. Brown is coming off a successful season in Hungary, where he averaged 17.4 points per game with Naturtex. 

 

The Newcomers

The Aftershocks have added three more former Shockers to the roster this season, with all slated to make their TBT debuts this year. Markis McDuffie, Semajae Haynes-Jones and Darral Willis all missed out on the 2019 tournament, but will be returning to Wichita after a successful to start to their professional careers. 

Haynes-Jones and McDuffie led a young 2018-19 roster to a 22-15 record and a third place finish at the NIT. Since then, McDuffie has played two seasons overseas, most recently in Italy where he averaged 20.4 points per game with Piacenza. Haynes-Jones played in Georgia this past season, while averaging 20.2 points per game.

Willis graduated one year prior to McDuffie and Haynes-Jones and has played three years overseas. This past season, Willis played in Italy for Germani Brescia and averaged 10.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. 

Jaime Echenique was previously named to the AfterShocks’ roster and was slated to make his debut in 2021, but an injury permitted him from playing. 

 

The Big Names

Two of the biggest names on this year’s AfterShocks roster were set to play in 2019, but ultimately injuries kept them from participating. 

The biggest name on this year’s team is Toure’ Murry, who is the only AfterShock with any NBA experience. Murry played three seasons at the NBA level with three different teams before opting to go overseas. 

Murry played this past season with BC Lulea in Sweden, where he averaged 16.4 points and 2.9 assists per game. 

Baker said that Murry’s professional experience will be pivotal for the team’s success. 

“I think that maturity and having that experience in a tournament like this is huge,” Zach Bush said. “He can play multiple positions, he’s long, he can knock down the three with regularity. On top of that, he wants to be there. He loves this place, he loves this program. We’re definitely excited to have him as a person and player.”

Another popular addition for the WSU fanbase is that of Tekele Cotton. Cotton was a staple on some of the most successful teams in Shocker history and was known for his electrifying dunks and hard-nosed defense. 

Baker, who was a teammate of Cotton’s from 2010-15, said that it will be special to see him back inside Koch Arena.

“Seeing his goofy smile back in Koch Arena this go-around is going to be very special,” Baker said. “He was here in 2019 and he’s seen what the TBT was like. Other than Toure’, maybe, he’s probably the biggest add. Tekele was one of those players that didn’t really always get the credit he deserved. Tremendous defender. Could hit big shots. Could handle the ball.”

 

The Non-Shockers

Although they have never suited up in a Wichita State, the AfterShocks have added players from different schools for this year’s roster. 

Tyrus McGee is the biggest addition of the three and already has experience in Koch Arena during the TBT. McGee played for Iowa United in 2019 and led the way for them, scoring a game-high 24 points in the loss. McGee played his collegiate basketball for Iowa State and has played overseas for the past 10 seasons.

Bush said that McGee and the rest of the guards will key to the AfterShocks success this summer.

“I think you have to have great guards in this tournament, it’s a little like the NCAA Tournament. Your guards make you go. We feel really good with Conner and Tyrus, Semajae, Toure, Tekele. I think we have an incredible group of guards that make the right decisions and are unselfish.”

David DiLeo has also this summer following a four-year career with Central Michigan, where he averaged 11.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. DiLeo played this past seaso with former Shocker Conner Frankamp at UCAM Murcia in Spain this past season. 

The final non-Shocker, Damonte Dodd, came as a replacement for Echenique following his injury. Dodd is the lone center on the roster and played for Maryland during college. Dodd did not play anywhere overseas this past season.