WICHITA (TNS) — A former player for Gregg Marshall believes he just helped deliver one of the best-kept secrets in the recruiting class of 2018 to Wichita State.
Dexter Dennis is a 6-foot-5, 200-pound wing who has not been evaluated by a major recruiting service yet. He has no stars, but Wichita State feels like it landed a major recruiting victory when Dennis signed his letter of intent on Saturday morning, picking the Shockers over major-conference contenders in Kansas State, Georgia Tech and Mississippi.
And it started with a phone call from Believe Prep coach Tyson Waterman to Marshall, his former coach at Winthrop, that brought Marshall and assistant Donnie Jones to the Athens, Tenn., school and soon a scholarship offer.
"I said, 'Coach, you better warm up the jet, baby, because we got something down here in Tennessee that you need to come see,'" Waterman said. "I felt very good about giving him first dibs on (Dennis) because of our relationship. Coach Marshall is a hell of a coach and I can't wait to see him turn Dexter into something vicious."
Dennis said he was sold after the in-person visit from Marshall.
"He flew down on a private jet to come see me, so that was pretty crazy," Dennis said. "He let me know they always sell out their home games and Wichita State fans really love their players. It felt like a no-brainer because I know me choosing Wichita State would make me a better player, simply because of Gregg Marshall."
After WSU signed five recruits in the fall, Dennis was the first spring commitment for the Shockers. Waterman believes Dennis is an "immediate impact guy, no question about it" for WSU on the wing, where he will compete for playing time with returners Austin Reaves, Markis McDuffie, and Rod Brown along with incoming recruits Erik Stevenson and Chance Moore.
Marshall still has two available scholarships to fill out his 2018 class, but he was ecstatic to land the first piece of the spring in Dennis.
"We feel Dexter has the raw talent and athleticism to be, not only a fine collegiate player, but eventually a guy who could play at the highest professional level," Marshall said in a statement. "He can shoot from deep, attack the rim, and has a ready-made Division I body walking in the door."
Dennis didn't attract much attention when he was a high school player in Louisiana, where he played for small-town teams in Southern Lab and Baker and didn't play for a big-time AAU team in the summer. He almost attended a junior college before Waterman convinced Dennis to take the prep school route and play at Believe Prep this season.
"Honestly, I don't even know why (he went unranked)," Dennis said. "I just play the game and I'm not really big into worrying about rankings or anything like that. Coach Marshall is known for taking those under-valued players and turning them into who they really want to me. I feel like I'm the next one."
Waterman said Dennis averaged around 23 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists for a successful Believe Prep team. He said he started calling him Jesus Shuttlesworth, an ode to Ray Allen's character in the 1998 movie "He Got Game."
"He's a quiet storm," Waterman said. "He's very exciting and he's a dynamic athlete. When he gets in the open court and he gets that step in the lane, then there's going to be a body. He can really shoot the basketball too. He came here to do this prep year and he really developed and turned into one of the best players in the country."