Shockers earn AAC accolades before postseason berth

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Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower

Junior Dexter Dennis looks for a teammate to pass the ball to on March 5 in Koch Arena. The Shockers defeated the East Carolina Pirates, 70-62.

The men’s basketball program earned several conference accolades after posting their worst regular season record since the Shockers joined the American Athletic Conference in 2017. 

Junior Tyson Eitienne followed in the footsteps of his pre-season accolades after being named Third Team all Conference this season. 

Junior Dexter Dennis was named AAC Defensive Player of the Year. Dennis guarded the 1-4 spots throughout the season and had 24 blocks and 23 steals total this season. 

When Dennis started his career at WSU, he and his teammates were told by former Head Coach Greg Marshall that they needed to find another way to contribute to the team if they weren’t going to be significant contributors on offense.  

“Me and the freshman at the time kind of like agreed that you know defense, rebounding and getting the ball to Markis McDuffie and Samajae (Haynes-Jones) so that was our kind of thing,” Dennis said. “And over time the more you practice the more you try to perfect your craft the more you get better at things just like we did at the end of the year.” 

Dennis was one of the lowest on the stat book in terms of steals and blocks this season. However, the coaches in the conference added in other factors when selecting him as defensive player of the year. 

“I think a lot of people think that defense is just about blocks or steals which it kind of is to some degree but a lot of defense is just trying not to let someone get a shot off or just contesting,” Dennis said. 

Freshman Ricky Council IV transitioned from being named to the All-Freshman team last season to being named Sixth-Man of the Year. The Durham, North Carolina native averaged 11.7 points in 26.7 minutes per game. 

“He has the highest ceiling,” Eitienne said. “The only thing that can get in front of him is himself.”

Council IV said at the beginning of the season he predicated himself to be in the starting lineup. However, after finding out he wouldn’t be a consistent starter this season, he said he had to wrap his mind around just “putting the work in.” 

“At first I didn’t like it as honestly as I can say that,” Council said. “But I just kept working. I figured out that coming off  the bench wasn’t that bad. I was still playing starting minutes and I continued to work, and it paid off.”