ATLANTA — Being a child of the Internet generation and everything, Carl Hall felt first went to Google.
Searching for a new home after two seasons with two junior college teams, the 6-foot-8 forward needed a search engine after hearing about Wichita State. The Shockers were recruiting him, but Hall knew little about the area, except for some preconceived — if not incorrect — notions.
“When I first heard the word ‘Wichita,’ I’m thinking a small country town, people walking around with cowboy boots on, things like that,” Hall said Friday with a chuckle.
Clearly, Hall wasn’t alone. Guard Malcolm Armstead, also a JuCo transfer from Florida’s Chipola Junior College, said his mind went the pop-culture route when initially thinking of Wichita State.
“When I heard about Wichita State and found out that it was in Kansas, the first thing that came to mind was ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ like Dorothy,” Armstead said. “That was the only thing I really knew about it.”
The same went for Cleanthony Early, a junior forward from Middletown, N.Y.
“Yeah, I didn’t know much about it either,” Early said. “Carl pretty much hit it on the head. Had to do my research. I found out there were a couple good things I liked about the school. I took my visit and continued to like things I found out about the school.”
Okay, so the partnership got off to a rocky start, but it’s flourished ever since. The ninth-seeded Shockers face Louisville in Saturday’s Final Four at the Georgia Dome. Armstead is averaging 15.5 points per game in the NCAA tournament and figures to match up against the Cardinals vaunted back court of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.
Glasses and all, Hall has been an inside spark plug, swatting a combined 12 shots over the past three rounds. Since missing six three-pointers in the first round, Early has made 6 of 13 since, dropping 16 points on Gonzaga and 12 on Ohio State. All three will be needed if Wichita State hopes to topple Louisville, the odds-on favorite since the bracket was released on Selection Sunday.
Suffice to say, they’ve learned a few more things about Wichita too.
“I made my decision and I felt pretty good about it,” Early said, “and I still feel good about it.”