Kelvin Sampson was about to leave his postgame press conference when he realized he had something else to say.
“That kid is the best player I’ve seen this year."
Landry Shamet and Wichita State had just beaten Sampson's Houston Cougars by eighteen points. Shamet had scored eighteen himself, on 6-8 shooting.
Sampson didn't stop there.
"They don’t make them like that very often," he said. "Love his demeanor, love his poise. You give him the ball and he’ll make you a better coach. They better appreciate him around here.”
He then got curious.
"What year is he?" Sampson asked the press room.
A redshirt sophomore. Sampson shook his head and smiled.
"Yeah, you might not see him here much longer," he said.
Mark it down: Jan. 4, 2018. The day Kansas City native and former Park Hill Trojan Shamet got every last bit of praise he has long deserved.
"To get recognition like that, it kind of makes you pinch your arm," Shamet says. "Like, is this real?"
Shamet is a mid-season finalist for the Wooden Award, given to the nation's best Division 1 player. He leads Wichita State in scoring and - before a recent shooting slump - has been among the nation's most efficient offensive players this year.
One NBA front office member has told KCTV5 that Shamet could be a mid-to-late first round pick if he declares for the NBA Draft. Another scout, former Mizzou forward Jarrett Sutton, sees a lengthy future.
"He has a chance to play ten years in the NBA," Sutton says.
This was not always the expectation.
"People can say I'm the best player in the country and this and that," Shamet says. "I'm still going to feel overlooked."
Shamet was a finalist for the DiRenna Award his senior year, given to Kansas City's best prep player; he did not win.
He was listed as a top-100 recruit in the country his senior year; he felt he should have been higher.
He received scholarship offers from Missouri, Kansas State and Illinois among others; his favorite team since boyhood never called.
"KU was never in the picture," Shamet says, his widening smile impossible to hold back.
A self-perceived underdog attending Wichita State? It made too much sense.
"I knew in time he would be a very fine player," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall says. "It was just a matter of how long it would take. And it didn't take very long."
Marshall remembers the "joy" he felt in recruiting Shamet and his family, playing games of shuffleboard in his living room with Shamet's uncle.
"We're still undefeated, by the way," Marshall says.
Melanie Shamet raised Landry as a single mother, with help from her parents, brother, sister and aunt. She worked nights at Harrah's Casino to make ends meet.
Landry Shamet has told his mother he wants to make the NBA, in part to repay her for all the time she has spent investing in his life.
"It's kind of surreal hearing that," Melanie Shamet says.
Melanie Shamet was a star volleyball player at Park Hill and went on to play collegiately at Boise State. She wanted athletics to be a part of her son's life, but ever since he was dribbling a basketball at two years old, he never needed much convincing.
"One day when he was about twelve, he told me 'You don't get me, I'm going to the NBA,'" Melanie Shamet says. "I said, I understand son, but it's like a ladder, one step at a time, let's get through high school and go to college first."
Landry Shamet arrived in Wichita with high expectations, but a foot injury sidelined a promising freshman campaign, leading Marshall and the Shockers to give him a medical redshirt, cutting his season short.
He never got to play with Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker, two of the biggest reasons he attended WSU. But he still got to learn.
"It was one of the biggest blessings I've had," Landry Shamet says. "Just getting to learn and watch."
After a breakout season as a sophomore - featuring a 20-point performance in the NCAA Tournament against DeAaron Fox and Kentucky - Landry Shamet broke his other foot during a summer camp. Again, he had to rehab, but this time he returned for the start of the 2017-2018 season. By early January, he was setting career highs in nearly every category, with the Shockers once again ranked in the nation's top 20 teams.
"When they need a bucket or they need a play, he's the guy," says Jarrett Sutton. "And he's one of the best point guards in the country."
The NBA is the next step for Landry Shamet, provided he stays healthy. If he were to reach his projection and become a mid-to-late first round pick, he would suddenly join the likes of some of the greatest players Kansas City has produced, from Larry Drew and Anthony Peeler, to - more recently - Earl Watson, Kareem and Brandon Rush and Alec Burks.
Landry Shamet says representing Kansas City is a big part of his drive. He doesn't get to come home often, but he relishes every opportunity.
"That drive on I-35 when you see downtown is probably one of the coolest moments for me," he says.
The next stop figures to be the NBA and beyond.
"Every mother wants her child to chase his dreams, " Melanie Shamet says. "And hopefully, to achieve them."
Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.). All rights reserved.