One of the memorable performers from the 2021 NCAA Tournament will play for the Wichita State men’s basketball team next season.
Joe Pleasant, an Overland Park native who made two free throws with 1.2 seconds left to secure a 14-over-3 upset in Abilene Christian’s win over Texas, announced on his social media on Wednesday evening that he will transfer to Wichita State.
“I really liked their playing style, the competition, the culture of the team, the style of the coach and I guess it’s really nice to be closer to home,” Pleasant told The Eagle. “I really liked my conversations with coach Brown and how he was concerned about not just me as a basketball player, but me as a person.
The 6-foot-8, 220-pound junior fills a pressing need for WSU following the departure of starting power forward Trey Wade. As a first-time transfer, Pleasant is expected to be immediately eligible for the Shockers and compete for minutes with sophomore Clarence Jackson at power forward.
He will give WSU a veteran presence with 57 career starts under his belt at Abilene Christian, where he averaged 10.5 points on 46% shooting from the field, drilled 46% (20 of 43) of his threes and led the team in rebounding at 5.5 per game as a second team all-Southland Conference performer this season. He also averaged 11.0 points as a sophomore starter.
Pleasant is also used to winning, dating back to his high school days at Blue Valley Northwest. In his three seasons at Abilene Christian, the team finished with a combined 71-23 record and won the Southland Conference tournament championship and played in the NCAA Tournament in 2019 and 2021.
“I think I can bring a lot of different things to the team,” Pleasant said. “I bring a little bit of shooting to play the four and a lot of toughness to the position. I’m willing to put in the work. I want to win and play hard. Winning is just ingrained in me. I’m going to do everything I possibly can on the court to try to help my team win. I’m excited to take this next step in my basketball journey and grow as a person and as a player.”
It will also be a return to his home state for Pleasant, an Overland Park native who won a pair of Class 6A championships at Koch Arena in 2017 and 2018 under coach Ed Fritz at Blue Valley Northwest.
Pleasant told The Eagle that he picked the Shockers over East Carolina and Howard, while Clemson made a late run at him too. WSU assistant coach Lou Gudino was the lead recruiter in bringing Pleasant back to the Sunflower state.
“It’s kind of funny how life comes full circle like that,” Pleasant said. “I remember the environment and looking around at how big the arena was. I have some good memories there playing with my teammates.”
Coming up clutch in postseason tournaments is nothing new for Pleasant. After being the best player on the Huskies’ state title team his senior year, Pleasant scored 11 points and hit the game-tying and game-winning free throws with 1.2 seconds left in this year’s NCAA Tournament to knock off No. 3 seed Texas.
“It was definitely a crazy experience, like one of those things that you always dream of when you’re a kid,” Pleasant said. “Everyone hopes they get that one moment when they hit the big shot in the NCAA Tournament. To be able to win that game for my team was definitely a cool experience.”
Pleasant is the third member of WSU’s 2021 recruiting class, joining 6-foot-10 sophomore center Matthew McFarlane and 6-foot-1 junior guard Qua Grant. Both Grant and Pleasant signed a financial aid agreement to make it official and when McFarlane follows suit, then WSU would have three scholarships remaining in its 2021 recruiting class.
With seniors Alterique Gilbert and Trey Wade and two centers from last season’s roster expected to move on, WSU’s Isaac Brown has addressed WSU’s three biggest needs with the three commitments in his first recruiting class as head coach.
McFarlane, a Colby Community College product, is an intriguing addition to WSU’s rotation at center, while Grant, a two-time Division II All-American, and Pleasant, a two-year starter at power forward, are ready-to-go options who can help replace the production lost with the exits of Gilbert and Wade.