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Wichita State must replace Early, but bulk of stars from historic run return next season

Bowling Green Coach hired  Basketball-1.jpg

FILE - In this March 2, 2013 file photo, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall, right, and associate head coach Chris Jans, left, yell instructions in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Creighton in Omaha, Neb. Bowling Green State University has hired Jans as its new head coach, replacing the fired Louis Orr. Jans has been Wichita State's associate head coach since 2011-12. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) (The Associated Press)

Wichita State's season came to a conclusion long before even Kentucky coach John Calipari thought it deserved, at the hands of his Wildcats in a thrilling NCAA tournament game.

Yet in the aftermath of the loss on Sunday, two things became clear: The Shockers had put together a season to remember and they're poised to do it again.

After making the Final Four a year ago, they became the first team to start 35-0. They won their first Missouri Valley tournament title since 1987. They went toe-to-toe with Kentucky.

They also return several key players next year. Cleanthony Early will be the biggest loss, but stars Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton will all be back.

That means the ride might not be over just yet for Wichita State.