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As hurricane churned up East Coast, Cleanthony Early got extended sales pitch from Wichita St

  • 627066337b1e310b2e0f6a70670033e4.jpg

    Wichita State's Cleanthony Early dunks the ball during practice for their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Louisville, Friday, April 5, 2013, in Atlanta. Wichita State plays Louisville in a semifinal game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Tim Donnelly) (The Associated Press)

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    Wichita State's Cleanthony Early hands out balls during practice for their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Louisville, Friday, April 5, 2013, in Atlanta. Wichita State plays Louisville in a semifinal game on Saturday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (The Associated Press)

As Hurricane Irene churned along the East Coast, flight after flight got canceled and Cleanthony Early remembers thinking to himself, "I'm stuck in Kansas."

The talented forward from upstate New York was on a recruiting visit to Wichita State at the time. The first two days had gone well, though, and he was starting to think that he might someday play for the Shockers.

Then he wound up stuck there for three more days, and he came away convinced.

The rangy 6-foot-8 forward with the versatile inside-outside game spurned overtures from Baylor, Alabama and Missouri to commit to coach Gregg Marshall's rapidly improving program.

The gamble paid off and now Early will be playing in a national semifinal Saturday night when the Shockers take on Louisville.