Wichita State benefiting from Final Four ... with lots and lots of campers!
Wichita State has an elevated place in the men's basketball world after its impressive run to the Final Four in March. Witness the more than 750 youngsters attending the Shockers' summer camp this year.
I called Gregg Marshall on Wednesday afternoon, mostly just to check in. He was in his office when he answered and told me he was in between sessions of his latest summer camp that's drawn a record number of kids to the Wichita State campus.
Yes, a record number ... and by a wide margin.
Wichita State hosted 440 campers last year. That number has already eclipsed 750 this summer in an obvious response to the Shockers' historic trip to the 2013 Final Four.
"Without a doubt," Marshall told me. "The kids want to come and see Cleanthony Early and Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. They want to come and see the 'Final Four place.'"
It's been nearly three months since Wichita State became a "Final Four place" thanks to victories in the NCAA tournament over Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State. The Shockers eventually lost to Louisville, of course, by four points in the national semifinals. But by then, their elevated place in the sport was cemented, and it's all helped Wichita State nationally, locally and in a variety of ways.
Recruiting is one.
Revenue is another.
General school pride is another.
I was at a family reunion a few weeks back, the kind where you meet family members you never even knew existed. First day, within 10 minutes of arriving, I bumped into a couple wearing Wichita State Final Four shirts. Turns out, they were distant relatives from Kansas, and they could not have been prouder of those shirts. The husband (I think he's like my great uncle-in-law or something) had a hat to match. He wore it every day. And though I haven't been to Wichita specifically or Kansas in general since the Shockers made the Final Four, it seems clear that what happened three months ago has significantly changed the way this basketball program is perceived and embraced.
Don't believe me?
Give Gregg Marshall a call this afternoon.
That sound you'll hear will be a record number of summer campers.
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