Browning on Basketball: First Shot
Basketball is my favorite sport. I like to write about the things going on in the court.
To tip off the “Browning on Basketball” series, I’ve got to start with a man who has taken Hilltopper basketball by storm in the last few months, and that is none other then newly hired Head Coach, Rick Stansbury.
The first full week of March was a fun one as WKU made its run to the Conference-USA semi-finals, but couldn’t overcome the dominance of Trey Freeman in a season-ending loss to Old Dominion.
Following the loss, head coach (at the time), Ray Harper had pure optimism for what the future would hold in what ended up being his final press conference as head man for WKU hoops.
Fast forward a few days ahead to March 17. The WKU Lady Toppers were hosting Dayton in their WNIT opener in Diddle Arena. The men’s squad had received invites to the CBI Post-season tourney, as well as the new Vegas-16 tournament, but declined. Meaning all of WKU basketball fan’s eyes were on the Lady’s outing.
Or, at least, it should have been.
Instead, news broke of the dismissal of three WKU basketball players, in addition to the resignation of Ray Harper just one hour prior to the WNIT tip.
The WKU faithful filed into Diddle Arena, some aware of the news and some receiving it when they walked through the doors. While the Lady Toppers won the outing, many Hilltoppers fans - including myself - didn’t leave Diddle Arena with victorious thoughts.
So the crisis had struck. WKU basketball, the school’s historic sport, was left without a coach and without a scholarship guard on roster for the 2016–17 season.
After leaving Birmingham not even one week prior with such hope and optimism for the next season, it had all changed with one news flash.
The days following left the thoughts of who would come to the remenants of the aftermath. Names bounced around, no one knew for sure. Then, the focus was honed in. Just 10 days following the resignation of Harper, a press conference was held to announce the man who was determined to bring WKU basketball back to its historic roots: Rick Stansbury.
Stansbury joked in his opening press conference, “I was trying to set up a pick-up game but I figured out that there’s no guards and no shooting guards. I have nobody to dribble up the court and shoot! I had a bunch of bigs and you know all those bigs want to dribble and shoot.”
Sure, he was joking, but his work was cut out for him. He had to recruit, and fast.
Months following the press conference issued very little knowledge of how the recruiting trail was going. Hilltopper faithful had to wait. But you know how the old saying goes, “good things come to those who wait.” And thus, it did.
The first name rolled around mid-May with Marty Leah, a 6–5 guard out of Australia joining the team for the upcoming season.
Shortly after, just 10 days later Stansbury provided three more names. Damari Parris, a 6–0 freshman guard out of Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to graduate transfers Que Johnson (6–6 G, Washington State) and Junior Lomomba (6–5 G, Providence).
The Towel Rack’s Tyler Mansfield caught up with the grad transfers last week at their first presser and Tyler was bold enough to say, “These guys are the real deal.” I suppose time will tell.
Now, back on track. Fast forward to June 29. WKU recieved a verbal commit from arguably the most talented player to every commit to the Tops in Mitchell Robinson out of Louisiana. Robinson is listed as a 5-star 7–0 Center for the class of 2017, and ranks in at No. 15 overall by ESPN, No. 10 overall by 24/7 Sports, and No. 11 overall by Rivals.
Scout.com’s Evan Daniel’s even went as far to say Robinson “might be a top five player.”
A video recap of Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels with WKU Insider publisher Jody Demling talking about Western…www.scout.com
On July 1, Stansbury conitnued his pursuiance of top 100 basketball recruits by offering 2017’s Jay Jay Chandler, per Evan Daniels. Chandler, a 6–4 point guard, is listed at No. 92 overall by 24/7 Sports.
So. In summary. WKU basketball went from one of the lowest points in program history, to achieving a 5-star commit as well as recruiting other top 100 recruits. Not bad, huh? All because of, Rick Stansbury.
I give that brief history recap of the last few months to make my main point of how much Stansbury has done for the program in just his first few months, and to give you some thoughts of what else is to come with Stansbury in charge.