Hoops Recruiting: OSU Targets Ping

Add a new name to the list of players that Sean Sutton hopes to bring in with his first official class as head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Illinois Central College's 6-foot-10, 230-pound Shang Ping, originally from China, told GoPokes.com that he expects to visit Oklahoma State in October. Read the story to find out about Ping and how he ended up in the United States.

Ping is definitely an interesting story. Born and raised in China to two former professional basketball players, he arrived in the United States late in 2004 to attend a prep school in Massachusetts. But he was not happy there and decided to move to Peoria, Ill., where he had some friends living.

"By the time he got (to the prep school) he was about three months behind everybody else. He was too far behind and didn't like it," said Illinois Central College coach Tony Wysinger. "He had some friends living in the Peoria area so he moved here."

Wysinger got a telephone call one day from a friend during the Christmas holiday in 2004. "A friend of mine called and said that there was a kid playing down at the RiverPlex, a rec center here in Peoria, and I needed to come watch him play," said the coach.

"I went down there and watched him play, and then I started looking around to see if somebody was playing a joke on me," said Wysinger, who was half expecting Ashton Kutcher to come running out and tell him he'd been Punk'd.

But it wasn't a joke, and soon enough Wysinger had convinced Ping to enroll at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, Ill., where he watched the remainder of the 2004-05 season from the sideline before joining the Cougars last season as a freshman, averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds while earning all-region and all-conference honors.

Ping's play did not surprise Wysinger. "In doing some individual workouts with him I knew what he was capable of doing on the court."

In one of his first games for the Cougars the 6-10, 230-pound Ping was easily the best player on the floor, finishing with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

"He had his best games against teams that tried to man us. Teams that didn't regularly use the zone, started zoning us," said Wysinger, who said that Ping averaged 22 points in games against man-to-man defenses. "It forced us to make some adjustments, and in some games we didn't make good adjustments."

Wysinger said that Ping is not your typical foreigner (soft) in the low post. "He's probably the meanest player I've ever had. I say that and I mean it," he said. "He never backs down from anything or anybody. That has been the one surprise with him. People test him and lose every time. If someone throws an elbow, he says, ‘OK, if that's how you want to play,' and he'll play the same way.

"He's a natural three. We play him at five and the four, but his natural position is the three because he can step out and hit the outside shot," Wysinger continued.

The Illinois Central College coach says Ping's strengths as a player are many. "He's a post presence, both on the defensive end and the offensive end (of the court). I'd also say his toughness, and that includes mental toughness too. He's a bright kid. He's got a 2.7, almost a 2.8, grade-point average, and he will graduate on time (next May)."

Ping, though, is not the finished product. He needs to improve "his free-throw shooting (where he only made 40 percent as a freshman)," Wysinger said. "I know he can shoot the three-point shot (he made three in one game last season) so I don't know why he can't make his free throws. The areas he needs to improve are his free-throw shooting and he needs to get better at rebounding."

Ping, who will be 22 on Dec. 23, told GoPokes.com in an email this week that he plans to visit Oklahoma State in October. He took an official visit to Pacific on Labor Day weekend, and also plans to visit Butler, TCU and Wisconsin, according to Wysinger.

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