Wichita State's Landry Shamet steadily climbs draft boards

NBA.com Global on Jun 15, 2018 08:12 AM
Wichita State's Landry Shamet steadily climbs draft boards
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15: NBA Draft Prospect, Landry Shamet poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Combine circuit on May 15, 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Chris Dortch, NBA.com

It’s fair to say Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall is one of the more demanding coaches in college basketball. He expects perfection from everyone, but especially his better ones. That’s why Landry Shamet earned the nickname “One a Day” early in his career.

It’s also why he’s about to become a first-round pick in next week’s NBA Draft.

Shamet came to Wichita State in 2015 as a 6-foot-4 scoring guard, the highest-rated recruit in Marshall’s then nine years as coach. Shamet arrived with every intention to play with the Shockers’ future NBA backcourt of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker.

But a stress fracture suffered three games into his freshman season forced Shamet to take a medical redshirt. If Shamet couldn’t play with VanVleet and Baker, at least took notes on their every move in their final season.

“I went there to play with those two guys and to contribute to a great team,” Shamet said. “Who knows what would have happened if I’d played? But sitting on the bench [after his injury], I had a different perspective. As a freshman, you get to play through your mistakes. Once I had that aspect taken away from me, I had to adjust.

“The amount of information I gained from just watching Fred and Ron was incredible. How they approached every day. How they handled situations. One game I focused on Ron’s on-ball defense and how he fought through every screen. Another game I watched how Fred went through his progressions and how he made decisions. But the biggest thing I learned was pace. Nobody ever sped Fred up. Ron was the same way.”

Armed with those observations, Shamet -- who in his redshirt freshman season became one of the country’s best 3-point shooters -- was ready when Marshall asked him to switch to point guard in 2017. The WSU staff had recruited Shamet with every expectation he could handle the point.

“Initially you had to really like his size and his ability to handle the ball and be a legitimate scoring point guard,” says former assistant coach Steve Forbes, now East Tennessee State’s coach. Forbes recruited Shamet, but never coached him.

“There are not very many 6-4 guys out there that can play the one and score the ball like he could. Those things jumped out at us, along with his athleticism. Once you got to know him, you learned he was very focused at a young age. He had tremendous work ethic. He wanted to be a great player.”

Shamet’s thick skin allowed him to accept being coached hard. That came in handy playing for Marshall, who didn’t want Shamet switching to the point at the expense of his offense.

“We just harped,” Marshall says. “We still need you to score. Any time you have an open jumper, you better burn it. We need you to be aggressive off the bounce. Only now, you’re also our facilitator. Lucky for us, he’s very cerebral, and he already knew [the point guard position] like the back of his hand. But there were adjustments he had to make.

“Early on, he’d have a beautiful floor game, but there always seemed to be one mistake that didn’t fit.”

Former WSU assistant Greg Heiar remembers those mistakes. “There’d be a pass he’d throw five rows up into the stands,” says Heiar, now an LSU assistant coach. “And then the next day, we’d go into film, where coach Marshall would point it out. ‘There’s your one mistake.’ ”

Shamet laughs at the recollection of those film sessions.

“They’d call me ‘One a Day’” Shamet said. “Like the vitamin. That was my nickname. Whether it was practice or a game, we’d be in film, and coach Marshall would say, “it’s like you’re a vitamin. You’ve got to make one stupid or bad play a day.’ But that was one of coach Marshall’s best qualities.

“He expected as perfect a game as you could play. We could beat a team by 20 and the next day in film, he’d say to us, ‘you think you’re an [NCAA] tournament team? Well, you’re not.’ We were never comfortable. We could never get complacent at Wichita State.”

In his first season, Shamet made the All-Missouri Valley Conference first team and was the league’s freshman of the year. Marshall’s daily highlights of Shamet’s miscues had a positive effect -- Shamet finished 13th in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.00) and third among freshmen, just behind UCLA’s Lonzo Ball (3.08).

Just as important -- and as Marshall demanded -- Shamet’s offense didn’t suffer. He shot .439 from 3-point range and set a team freshman record for 3-poiners in a season (72).

A switch to the tougher American Athletic Conference last season didn’t slow down Shamet. Nor did another stress fracture that required surgery to repair and cost him an offseason’s worth of workouts. Shamet led the AAC in assists (5.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5) while ranking 13th in the NCAA in 3-point percentage (.442).

Defenders found it hard to check him because, with his elite athleticism, Shamet was just as likely to attack the rim as shoot a 3-pointer. His true shooting percentage was 65.5 percent, 30th in the nation (per kenpom.com).

It wasn’t any surprise that after the season, Shamet thought he was ready to enter the Draft. Marshall couldn’t disagree.

“Fred and Ron, those two jokers are as tough and cerebral and big-time winners as you can find,” Marshall says. “Landry’s not far behind them in those categories. Right now, he might not be as tough and strong. But he’s more bouncy and longer, probably faster.

“He came here as a jump shooter. That’s what he does best. But he developed into a lead guard, a guy who can run a team and distribute the ball. In terms of the kind of person he is, he’s a very smart and personable kid. You just can’t find a better person and representative for your program. He’s going to do all the right things.”

Little wonder that, when asked to provide an NBA comparison of himself, Shamet doesn’t hesitate.

“Ideally, I’d like to be like [former Virginia star and 2016-17 Kia Rookie of the Year] Malcolm Brogdon,” he says. “As far as being a two-way threat, offensively and defensively, being an intelligent, cerebral player. That’s what I’d like to be.

“I think a strength of mine will be walking in the door being able to play the one or the two, and someone who’s going to give you effort on a consistent basis.”

After seeing a higher level of athlete this season, Heiar thinks Shamet could have done the same things in the SEC he did in the AAC or MVC. And, he’s certain Shamet’s versatility will lead to a lengthy NBA career.

“I think he’s a multi-position player,” Heiar said. “He can play both guard spots at the next level. He’s a better defender than people give him credit for, and he’s going to continue to get stronger and stronger because of the resources he’s about to have.

“But, and this is also huge, he’s been coached. He’s been coached right. He’s been coached how to win, and he’s been coached on both ends of the court. That’s one of the biggest bonuses playing for coach Marshall. You don’t pick up short cuts or bad habits when you’ve been under him for three years, like Landry was. He’s a kid that’s ready to do good things at the next level.”

Chris Dortch is the editor of the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. You can email him here, follow him on Twitter and listen to the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Hour.

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