Shockers Video Staff Turns Recruiting Strategy into History Lesson for Fans

Ron Baker
Ron Baker’s defense is subject of Twitter breakdown compiled by the Shockers video staff. (Courtesy photo).

Joe Ragland excelled as an efficiency expert with no love for mid-range shots in 2011-12 for Wichita State. Teammate Garrett Stutz made 60 percent of his shots at the rim. Malcolm Armstead increased his scoring average each month during the 2012-13 run to the Final Four.

You can find all that information on Twitter (@Nick_JonesWSU), courtesy of Wichita State’s basketball video staff. A recruiting project turned into a history and highlight lesson for fans.

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As COVID-19 ended recruiting visits – and with Wichita State needing to restock its roster – the staff increased its video work to highlight the program and connect with recruits. Director of player development Nick Jones and video coordinator Jeff Chapman produced highlight clips of former Shockers such as Fred VanVleet, Landry Shamet, Ron Baker and others.

“We’ve had a lot of guys – Ron, Fred, Landry, Cleanthony (Early) – who played in the NBA,” Jones said. “One of the things we try to do is, obviously, use film to our advantage.”

Recruits could see how VanVleet and Shamet played guard for the Shockers on their way to the NBA. They could watch Baker fight through screens and disrupt offenses with his physical defense. Big men might see how Shaq Morris learned to seal off defenders to earn easy baskets, or how the Shockers used Markis McDuffie’s ability to score with both hands and draw fouls.

“With this virus going on, we can’t bring guys on campus, we can’t do our normal kind of recruiting visit,” Jones said. “We sent Fred, Landry to point guards we were recruiting, just to try to show them ‘Hey, this how guys have had success in the past here. This is our style of play. This is what we look for.”

The Shockers signed seven recruits in April, a group highlighted by guard Alterique Gilbert, a transfer from UConn, and junior-college guards Craig Porter Jr., and Trevin Wade and junior-college forward Clarence Jackson. That class will team with returners such as Dexter Dennis, Tyson Etienne and Trey Wade (Trevin’s older brother) in 2020-21 for the Shockers, who went 23-8 in the shortened season and were considered a possible NCAA Tournament team.

Wichita State, like most college programs, subscribes to Synergy Sports Technology, a video service which provides games, breakdown of plays and statistical analysis. Jones and Chapman get that process started scouting and recruiting by organizing and delivering video to coach Gregg Marshall and his assistants.

“I’m the wheel that gets everything going for video,” Chapman said. “Each coach has a different style of breakdown they want to watch, so I go on Synergy . . . and get it the way they like it. Convert so it records quickly, it fast-forwards quickly, it rewinds the way they like it.”

With the recruits engaged, the video staff decided to let the fans in on the highlights and analysis.

Jones Tweeted out Ragland’s shot chart from his senior season in which he led the nation in true shooting percentage (70.4) percent by focusing his shot selection on three-pointers (50.4 percent) and rarely taking two-pointers outside the lane. He compiled highlights to show McDuffie’s “diverse finish package” and Baker’s ball-screen defense.

“I went back and started watching more game film, certain guys I hadn’t seen,” he said. “I thought ‘Why not send make these and put them out on Twitter to show our brand, show our system, our philosophy.”

Due to ongoing concerns with the COVID-19 virus, the American Athletic Conference has suspended all spring sporting events until further notice.