The 2013-14 edition of the Wichita State Shockers were one of the best teams in recent memory in college basketball, by far.
While the Shockers ultimately fell to the Kentucky Wildcats in the Round of 32, that was their only blemish of the year. They finished the season with a record of 35-1, running the table in the regular season before falling in the NCAA Tournament.
Gregg Marshall’s squad had the likes of seniors Cleanthony Early, Nick Wiggins, Chadrack Lufile, and Kadeem Coleby, and a slew of young stars who were household names later in their careers. Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet were both sophomores at the time, while Tekele Cotton was a junior, and Shaquille Morris was only a freshman.
After graduation, the senior class went separate ways. Early was drafted by the New York Knicks, and Lufile was drafted by the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the third round of the NBA D-League Draft. The Canadian big man played just nine games for the Skyforce due to a torn ACL.
Now, his basketball journey has brought him back to where it all started.
On Wednesday, Lufile signed a contract to play in the NBL Canada, joining the expansion Cape Breton Highlanders for the 2016-17 season.
As a senior at Wichita State, the 6’8” forward averaged 5.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per contest. He was a key piece in the Shockers’ front court rotation, adding size and strength on both ends of the floor.
While playing for the Skyforce, Lufile tore his ACL midway through the season, forcing him to miss over two seasons worth of action when all was said and done.
Now that he’s back healthy, Lufile is excited to get things started with the Highlanders.
“This probably the best route for me to go,” said Lufile, in an interview with the NBL Canada. “I’m playing at home, I’m comfortable with some of the guys, and I’ll be able to blossom and get back to where I need to be.”
Lufile will be a well-known player in the Cape Breton community. His brother, Meshack Lufile, played five years of basketball for the Cape Breton Capers in the CIS.
Meshack Lufile won the Atlantic University Sport title during his time with the Capers, and newly-signed Highlanders Shaquille Keith and Jimmy Dorsey were a part of that team.
The signing of Chadrack Lufile is a big addition for the expansion Highlanders, and Cape Breton President Tyrone Livingston is excited about the potential for Lufile in the system.
“He has NBA size,” said Livingston. “He has a high skillset that any basketball personnel would love to work with.”
Lufile is one of many key acquisitions for the Highlanders over the off-season, as they gear up for their debut season in the NBL Canada.
They’ve also inked Morgan Lewis, who was the first ever player selected in an NBL Canada Draft, and Jarryn Skeete, who played collegiate basketball for the Buffalo Bulls, among several other players.
– T. Bennett