Wichita State basketball lines up two more recruiting visits to potentially fill roster

On the heels of a key recruiting win to land Georgia point guard Justin Hill in the transfer portal, Wichita State has already turned its attention to fill the final two scholarships for next season.

According to sources, Wichita State has lined up official visits for Saint Peter’s forward Corey Washington, beginning on Tuesday, and 7-foot Longwood center Szymon Zapala, beginning on Thursday.

Both players fill a position of need for the Shockers, who have an abundance of players at the three guard positions but a shortage of players who can play power forward and center.

Here’s what WSU fans need to know about Washington and Zapala and how they could potentially fit in for the Shockers.

Saint Peter’s wing Corey Washington will take an official visit to Wichita State beginning on Tuesday.
Saint Peter’s wing Corey Washington will take an official visit to Wichita State beginning on Tuesday.

What to know about Saint Peter’s transfer Corey Washington

Washington is a springy, 6-foot-6, 180-pound forward who could give WSU a stretch power forward presence like the majority of teams in the American Athletic Conference.

He has already racked up 47 career starts and blossomed this past season as a sophomore at Saint Peter’s, averaging a team-high 15.9 points and 6.3 rebounds in just 28.3 minutes per game. He shot 45.5% from the field and added a 3-point shot to his arsenal, knocking down 24 triples at a 30.8% clip.

But where Washington made his living was at the foul line, as his high motor and tenacious effort was a foul magnet and then he had the ability to shoot 78.8% on 5.8 attempts per game. Washington’s 150 foul shots attempted last season is 50 more than any Shocker shot last season.

That playing style is a testament to the Sherwood, Ark. native’s journey, as he had zero Division I scholarship offers coming out of high school and flew to Saint Peter’s with his own money to try out for the team. After making an impression during pick-up runs, Washington earned a spot and quickly became the team’s best player within two years.

His foul rate is likely to dip some playing in a much higher-rated conference, as the AAC was ranked No. 9 nationally by KenPom’s metrics compared to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference being ranked No. 25 nationally.

But Washington has a plus wingspan and athleticism that allows him to play a bit bigger than his size, evident by his above-average rebounding rates (his 18.5% defensive rebounding rate was just off WSU 7-foot center Quincy Ballard’s 19.3% mark last season). He also posted an above-average block rate and had the biggest defensive impact for Saint Peter’s, according to a metric tracked by Bart Torvik.

Another plus is that the Sherwood, Ark. native has experience of playing winning basketball. Saint Peter’s won the MAAC tournament this past spring to punch a ticket to the NCAA tournament. Washington scored 24 points with nine rebounds and four blocks in the championship game en route to MAAC tournament MVP honors, as well as being named an all-MAAC player.

His ceiling likely rests on how much he can upgrade his outside shot, but even without sniper status, Washington’s skill set would be welcomed on WSU. He would likely compete with returner Ronnie DeGray III for minutes at the power forward with both players capable of sharing the court together, as well.

Since entering the transfer portal, Washington has been contacted by Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, USC, Arizona State, DePaul, UAB, New Mexico State and Tulsa. He took an official visit to Tulsa this past weekend, which has been his only known visit before WSU.

Longwood center Szymon Zapala, a 7-footer from Poland, will take an official visit to Wichita State on Thursday.
Longwood center Szymon Zapala, a 7-footer from Poland, will take an official visit to Wichita State on Thursday.

What to know about Longwood transfer Szymon Zapala

The Shockers are looking to pair another 7-footer with rising star Quincy Ballard and Zapala is an intriguing one-year fit.

He has four years of college experience, although he hardly played in his three seasons at Utah State. It wasn’t until he transferred to Longwood when the 7-footer from Poland showed what he could do in extended playing time.

In less than 17 minutes per game, Zapala averaged 9.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks for a Longwood team that won the Big South Conference tournament and played in the NCAA Tournament this past season.

He might not be as explosive as Ballard, but Zapala showed a good knack for slipping out of screens and rolling hard to the basket in the pick-and-roll game. He made 62.9% of his 2-point baskets, thanks to a dependable back-to-the-basket game, feeds rolling to the basket and dump-offs when he was in the dunker spot.

His per-minute rebounding totals were stout against Big South competition, as Zapala ranked 33rd nationally (14.4%) in offensive rebounding rate and 90th nationally (23.4%) in defensive rebounding rate. In conference play, Zapala’s 29% defensive rebounding rate was No. 1 as he proved to be a vacuum for missed shots underneath the basket.

Like most 7-footers, Zapala was also a disruptive presence around the rim on defense. His 5.9% block rate was top-125 nationally, which could potentially give WSU 40 minutes of elite rim protection — something it didn’t have last season when Ballard came off the floor.

It’s possible WSU could experiment with Ballard and Zapala sharing the floor together, although last year’s trial run with Ballard and Kenny Pohto didn’t make it through the first AAC game before coach Paul Mills pulled the plug on it for good. It’s likely the two would split time at the center position.