Let’s continue our look at the top players in the history of this year’s NCAA Final Four teams. Today, Wichita State is up.
In recent years, the Shockers, who play their home games in Charles Koch Arena, have been a high-quality mid-major team. But back in the day, they were, at times, indisputably a national power house.
During the 1964-65 season, for example, Wichita State was briefly ranked number 1 in the country. That team was the Shockers’ only Final Four entrant until this year.
There is no shortage of great Wichita State players, but there is a bit of shortfall at the point guard position (current player Malcolm Armstead may be their best point guard ever) and among true centers. In addition, I needed to include a few players I never saw in action. Their numbers speak louder than my observation could have.
Warren Armstrong (1965-68)
At 6-2, Armstrong could play just about any position. He’s second on the Shockers’ all-time assist list and seventh on the all-time rebounding list. Armstrong was a three-time all-conference selection. As Warren Jabali, he had a successful career in the ABA.
Cleo Littleton (1951-55)
Almost 60 years after graduating, Littleton is still the Shockers’ all-time leading scorer. He was one of college basketball’s first Black stars, and the first player west of the Mississippi to score 2,000 points in a season. Littleton is also one of the program’s two two-time All Americans.
Dave Stallworth (1962-65)
“Dave the Rave” is the other two-time All American. The star of the 1964 Final Four team, Stallworth ranks third all-time at Wichita State in points, fifth in assists, and eighth in rebounds. Stallworth excelled for the New York Knicks early in his NBA career. A heart attack suffered on the basketball court caused him to miss two season, but he returned to become a key reserve on the Knicks 1970 championship team.
Antoine Carr (1979-83)
He’s fourth on the schools’ all-time point list, ninth in rebounds, and first in blocked shots. Carr was conference player and an All-American his senior year. He averaged 17 points per game on 55 percent shooting during his four-year career at Wichita State
Xavier McDaniel (1981-85)
Can you say stud? The X-Man has 300-plus more rebounds than any other player in Shocker history, and he ranks second in all time points, just 12 behind Littleton. As a senior, McDaniel became the first Division One player ever to lead the nation in scoring (27.4) and rebounding (15.0).
Aubrey Sherrod (1981-85)
Sherrod was considered at least the equal of Michael Jordan as a shooting guard coming out of high school. He never quite lived up to his billing, but stands seventh on the Shockers’ all-time scoring list. He is also sixth in assists and fourth in steals.
This New York City playground legend could play any position. He led the Shockers in scoring for three years and in rebounding twice. His senior year, Johnson averaged 22.2 points per game. For his career, he averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds.
Paul Miller (2002-06)
Miller was Missouri Valley Conference player of the year in 2006. That season, he led Mark Turgeon’s outfit to the regular-season MVC championship and an at large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Cliff Levingston (1979-82)
Along with Antoine Carr, Levingston made up the “bookend” forward pair that led Wichita State to the Elite Eight in 1981, beating Kansas in the Round of 16 to get there. ALthough the Shockers missed the Final Four, Carr and Levingston combined for 41 points in a loss to LSU. An All-American in 1982, Levingston ranks fourth all-time in rebounding. By leaving a year early, Levingston missed out on his chance to put up the numbers that might get him on my first team.
Robert Elmore (1973-77)
The Shockers’ second leading all-time rebounder behind McDaniel. He’s also second all-time in blocked shots behind Carr.
With our remaining scholarships, we had better add a point guard. Who better than Toure’ Murray, who finished his career last season? He’s the school’s all-time leader in assists and second in steals. Randy Smithson of the 1981 Elite Eight team, who later coached the Shockers, would also be a good choice. So would Tony Martin from the same era.
Let’s also add Terry Benton, a fierce rebounder from the late 60s/early 70s (his fifth on the all-time list and twice had 24 in a single game), and Greg Carney, an outstanding guard from the same era who averaged 20 points per game and is tenth on the all-time scoring list.