Western Pennsylvania isn't known as a hotbed for producing men's college basketball players. But there are a number of players from the district -- men and women -- who showed up this year among national statistical leaders in NCAA Division I and II.
There has not been a season in the past decade or so in which so many players from the WPIAL and City League were among national leaders.
• Akron's Zeke Marshall, a 7-foot senior and a McKeesport High School graduate, recently set a Mid-American Conference record for blocked shots in a season with 109. Heading into the MAC tournament, he was averaging 13 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.6 blocks a game. He was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Some scouts believe Marshall has an outside chance at being selected in the NBA draft, which has two rounds.
Marshall is one of two former WPIAL players starting for Akron (24-6, 14-2), the MAC regular-season champion. Senior guard Brian Walsh, a Moon graduate, is averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a game.
• Former Schenley standout DeAndre Kane, a junior guard at Marshall, headed into the Conference USA tournament this week tied for seventh in Division I in assists at 7.1 a game. Kane, playing point guard this season, also is averaging 14.9 points and 4.6 rebounds a game.
• Micah Mason, one of the best shooters in WPIAL history at Highlands High School, finished his freshman season at Drake fourth in Division I in 3-point shooting percentage. Mason made .506 (40 of 79) of his 3-pointers. He also started 10 games this year and averaged 5.4 points.
Now for some former girls players from the WPIAL and City League who were among the Division I national leaders:
• Shalonda Winton, a Westinghouse graduate who is a 5-11 senior forward at Cleveland State, finished the regular season as the No. 7 scorer in Division I, averaging 22.1 points. She is one of two players in the country to have two "triple-doubles" this year. She averaged 10.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists.
• Duquesne's Jocelyn Floyd, a graduate of Washington High School, led the country in steals at 5.1 a game.
• Markel Walker, who played at Schenley, was not among the Division I leaders in a statistical category, but she is having a big senior season at UCLA. She was an All-Pac-12 selection for the second consecutive season. She is averaging 11 points and leads the Pac-12 in assists at 5.8 per game.
Some former WPIAL players also had impacts on the Division II level:
Franklin Regional graduate Nick Novak, who led the WPIAL in scoring in 2009, finished his senior season at Pitt-Johnstown 12th in Division II in scoring at 21.9 a game. Novak finished his career second on Pitt-Johnstown's all-time scoring list with 2,023 points.
Pitt-Johnstown teammate Bill Luther, who starred at Hampton, was 15th in Division II in 3-point shooting percentage at 44.1 (75 for 170). Slippery Rock's Devin Taylor, a New Castle graduate, was 12th in rebounding at 10.0 per game.
In women's Division II, Seton Hill's Katie Gattuso ranked second in "double-doubles" with 21. Gattuso, a Seton-LaSalle graduate, averaged 17.6 points and 11.3 rebounds.
Three players from WPIAL Class AAAA champion New Castle have been selected to the Roundball Classic.
This year's Roundball will be April 20 at Geneva College. The event includes two boys all-star games of top WPIAL players and two girls games.
The boys rosters were announced this week and the girls teams will be announced next week. The three New Castle boys players selected are Shawn Anderson, Brandon Domenick and Antonio Rudolph.
Two other star players from the WPIAL in the Roundball are Montour's Devin Wilson and Shaler's Geno Thorpe. A few players from the City League and other districts also will play in the games.
The perfect bunch
New Castle (27-0) is trying to become the first boys team from the WPIAL to finish a season with a perfect record since Sto-Rox in 1983. In more than 100 years of WPIAL basketball, only 11 teams from the league have won a PIAA title with an undefeated record.
The first to go unbeaten was McKeesport in 1921 with a 24-0 record. The other 10 are 1925 Uniontown (31-0), 1949 Aliquippa (29-0), 1952 Avalon (29-0), 1955 Wampum (31-0), 1957 Sharon (28-0), 1964 Uniontown (28-0), 1965 Midland (28-0), 1967 Ambridge (27-0), 1978 Geibel (26-0) and 1983 Sto-Rox (32-0).
Three WPIAL girls teams have gone through a season undefeated. They are 1983 Mount Alvernia (34-0), 2009 Mt. Lebanon (31-0) and 2012 Seton-LaSalle (30-0).
Shai for the shot
Washington star running back Shai McKenzie is expected to be one of the top sprinters in WPIAL Class AA track. But how many standout sprinters do you ever see also throw the shot put? That's what McKenzie will do this spring.
"At the beginning of last season, I threw 47 feet. The shot put was my stronger event," McKenzie said. "I wasn't too fast at the beginning of last year, but I got faster at the end of the year and stopped throwing the shot put. But I want to throw it again this year."
McKenzie has more than two dozen scholarship offers in football. Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia are among the schools that have offered. Florida State, Oklahoma and Georgia offered in the past two weeks.
Gateway starts over
The Gateway school district apparently is starting over in its search for a football coach to replace Terry Smith.
The district advertised the position, interviewed candidates and former Baldwin coach Mike Silianoff reportedly was the leading candidate. But Gateway hasn't hired anyone and recently decided to once again advertise for candidates. The deadline to apply is today.
Silianoff is a Gateway graduate who was an assistant coach at Duquesne the past six seasons. He was Baldwin's head coach from 2003-06.
Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org