Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
CANCUN, Mexico Malcolm Armstead once had Iowa fans more interested in his services than how the real Hawkeyes performed on the basketball court.
At Chipola (Fla.) Junior College in 2008-09, Armstead took his team to the national junior-college tournament, where it finished third. Armstead, a point guard, and his teammate Torye Pelham tried to package themselves together for colleges, including Iowa.
Former Iowa assistant Chad Walthall now the head coach at Minnesota State-Moorhead recruited Armstead and Pelham hard. But the school and the players never could get hooked up.
"At the time I was supposed to set up a visit with Iowa," said Armstead, now a senior guard at Wichita State. "My roommate that was going to go with me, but I think he had something else going on so we didn't really get to schedule the visit. Once we had left in the summertime, we were trying to do a package, but at the end of the day we didn't get the visit done.
"I talked to (Walthall) a lot. He was a good coach in terms of the person off the floor. Me and him had a good connection but in the end, I didn't choose that situation."
Pelham followed his junior-college coach, former Kirkwood Community College player Greg Heiar, to Southern Miss. Armstead instead opted for Oregon, where he played for one season. He averaged 8.6 points and 4.4 assists a game but he wasn't happy in Eugene. He left for Wichita State, where he joined Heiar joined former Kirkwood coach and Fairbank native Chris Jans as an assistants.
"It was the best decision. Coach Marshall, Coach Jans, Coach Heiar, all those guys were here and it was a winning program," Armstead said. "I told them I had one year, and I wanted it to be a special year. I told them I'm willing to pay my way to come here and be a part of something special."
Armstead sat out last year as a transfer and had to pay his own way to college. He earned a scholarship this season and is the Shockers' starting point guard. He has started all five games and averages 6.4 points and 3.6 assists per game. Armstead scored 17 points in Wichita State's Cancun Challenge semifinal win against DePaul on Tuesday.
Wichita State (5-0) hasn't skipped a beat thus far despite replacing all but one starter from last year's Missouri Valley Champion team. Last year the Shockers started out 2-2 before rolling to eight straight wins and a 26-6 finish.
"It goes with the coaches," Armstead said. "The intensity in which we practice, the way they prepare us and get us in tune and focused, it's kind of hard to fall off when you've got coaches that's going to better you every day and challenge you every day."