“I knew I only had one year left of eligibility to play, so it was a matter of finding a good situation,” Armstead explained. “I had a relationship with all the coaches, so I felt like that was the best thing possible for me to do.”
Just about all of them feel that way during this most sublime of postseason runs.
Many were castoffs or misfits, or were in situations that didn’t work out. Some were looking for a fresh start, others seeking a first chance after getting overlooked their entire lives.
It’s a far different group from that Wichita State team in 1981 that lost to LSU in the regional finals, and then sent Levingston, Antoine Carr and Xavier McDaniel to the NBA.
It’s also a different bunch than Louisville will trot onto the floor at the Georgia Dome.
Leading scorer Russ Smith picked the Cardinals over a handful of BCS offers, fellow starters Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva were four-star recruits out of high school, and sophomore forward Chane Behanen was rated among the top 25 prep players in his class by Rivals.com.
Indeed, the stars may be aligning for Wichita State during the NCAA tournament, but there weren’t a whole lot of them attached to their names when they were coming out of high school.
“We want winners. We want guys that really want to win, that want to commit themselves to something bigger than themselves,” Marshall said. “We want guys that are tough and athletic and can defend and rebound at a high level, and ultimately can put the ball in the basket.”
Evidently, he’s willing to go just about anywhere to find them.
Marshall remembers taking a recruiting trip with former assistant Chad Dollar when he was trying to land Hall, the energy incarnate for this year’s squad. Hall’s family lives in Chochran, Ga., about 120 miles from where the Final Four is going to be played.