Former SUNY Sullivan standout Cleanthony Early is off to a great start for Division I Wichita State, helping to lead the Shockers to a 10-1 record and a top 25 ranking earlier in the season.
Former SCCC star has arrived at Wichita State
Story by Ken Cohen
Former SUNY Sullivan standout Cleanthony Early is no longer a rookie coming off the bench for the Wichita State basketball team. He is a starter, team leader and its second leading scorer.
And now with three of the Shockers’ top players sidelined with injuries, including top scorer Carl Hall, Early will be asked to carry the 10-1 team through the start of conference play. He is already sounding like the go-to-man.
“We’ve got to go hard now,” Early said prior to Wichita State’s game against Charleston Southern. “We’ve got to make sure practice is better and the intensity is better. We’ve got to make sure we’re not missing a step.”
Wichita State coach Greg Marshall doesn’t like to speak about individuals, but rather includes Early in the type of player he prizes.
"I think it [our success] has to do with culture, but I also think it has to do with the character of guys we recruit,” said Marshall. “You don't read about our guys in the news. If there's a high school player who has a little bit of trouble and there's a player who isn't as talented but will work hard, who do you think I'm going to get? All of our guys work hard and they buy into the system, they're not selfish."
Early’s numbers suggest he is fitting in nicely with Marshall’s plan. In addition to averaging 13.4 points per game, he is pulling down 5.6 rebounds per game and is the team’s leading free throw shooter at 88 percent. He also has seven blocks and six steals on the season.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was ceratinly impressed with Early after watching him pour in 25 points in a Wichita State victory over the Hawkeyes in November.
“We knew Early was a great player, but he just hadn’t been shooting it from 3 very well, McCaffery said. “Marshall gave him the green light and he took advantage.”
Early said he just needs to keep everything at the right speed.
“When I slow down, I can normally find my groove,” said Early after leading the Shockers with 16 points in an easy victory over Norther Colorado.
SUNY Sullivan coach Kevin DeVantier stays in touch with Early on a regular basis, mostly through texting. He says Early is “doing a tremendous job and working hard at improving every day.” He also noted that the Wichita State coaching staff is extremely proud of him. DeVantier says he reminds Early to stay focused and be mindful of his grades.