Wichita State Basketball: Fred Van Vleet Carrying Team

By Demario Phipps-Smith
Robert Hanashiro USA-TODAY.
Robert Hanashiro – USA TODAY

There are good seasons and bad seasons for most collegiate athletes, but for some, when the stars align just right, there are great seasons. When an athlete achieves the accolades associated with an awesome season, his team usually benefits the greatest.

Sophomore point guard Fred Van Vleet is having a sensational year and has been carrying the Wichita State basketball team along with him. Not only are the Shockers (34-0) undefeated in the regular season, Van Vleet led the team to victory in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship over Indiana State with 22 points for the tournament title.

Van Vleet’s extraordinary efforts this year earned him the Sporting News All-America Third Team honor today. On the year, he has five postseason awards, including the Sport News all-team honor: MVC All-First Team, MVC All-Defensive team, MVC Most-Improved team and the Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year.

In the midst of other talented prospects, Van Vleet rises above his teammates with his ability to pull them all together as a cohesive unit. His willingness on the defensive side encourages his teammates to do the same. This is a player who could average near 20 points per game, but doesn’t because he is trying to win and make the smart basketball decision.

This is as solid a point guard as there is in this year’s NBA draft class. He averages just 12 PPG, but he shoots 45 percent from three-point range. Van Vleet is also a very skilled passer, as he is averaging nearly six assists on the year. His on-ball defense is a skill many NBA teams will also salivate over in a few months.

Playing in a small conference undoubtedly hurt his chances to make first team, but he is definitely in the class with the first team. Van Vleet may be the only true point guard in the draft, and he is gifted at it. The Shockers have an abundance of riches and Van Vleet is the crown jewel.

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