#66 Kansas State Men's Basketball Preview

Kansas State Wildcats

Overall Rank: #66
Conference Rank: #7 Big 12
Kansas State Logo
Kansas State Team Page

2010-11: 23-11, 10-6
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Frank Martin (95-43 at Kansas State, 95-43 overall)

Coach Frank Martin has done a great job keeping Kansas State as consistent contenders in the Big 12. That should not change this season, but replacing Jacob Pullen will not be easy. This is a very young team and forward Jamar Samuels, one of two seniors on the roster, will have to develop into a leader. The 6-7 power forward is an underappreciated scorer who averaged 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds a year ago. He can even step outside and knock down the mid-range jumper every once in a while. That ability has created opportunities for the rest of the team. While replacing Pullen will have to be a team effort, Samuels needs to turn into one of the leaders on the floor.

Who’s Out:
Pullen led the team with 20.2 points, 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals per contest during his senior season. He carried this team to the NCAA Tournament the last two years. If the offense was struggling, the Wildcats could always rely on Pullen to get things moving. Without him, new stars will need to be created. The loss of Curtis Kelly is big too. He averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds and started 22 of the 25 games he appeared in. He was a good athlete and a solid interior scorer and those skills will be missed. The Wildcats survived part of last season without the services of Wally Judge and Freddy Asprilla, so moving on without them is not too much of a concern in the short term. Nick Russell and Juevol Myles have also transferred. Losing some players as transfers will not hurt this team right now since they have enough talent to move on without them, but they were some talented players who would have added some much needed experience to this squad this year and in the years to come.

Who’s In:
Kansas State needs some experienced players coming in and they have quite a few in this large class. In the backcourt Coach Martin adds Jeremy Jones, Omari Lawrence and Nino Williams. Jones is a junior college transfer with a nice shooting stroke and the talent to handle the ball and get to the rim. Lawrence spent a little time at St. John’s and should provide some quality depth on the wing. Williams redshirted last season after suffering a couple of concussions early in the 2010 campaign. He is a big 6-5 wing who would have made an impact last season. With the need for a new scorer, Williams could easily find himself in the starting lineup by November. Incoming freshmen Shawn Meyer, Angel Rodriguez and Brian Rohleder add even more depth to the backcourt. The experienced newcomer up front is James Watson. The junior college transfer is pretty highly regarded and has a unique versatility to his game. He can hit the long ball on occasion, but the 6-8 Atoka, Oklahoma native spends most of his time inside the arc where he is developing into a fine scorer and rebounder. Freshmen Adrian Diaz and Thompas Gipson are both capable of contributing right away, but they will have a tough time finding too many minutes this year.

Who to Watch:
Replacing the production of Pullen will have to be a group effort by the backcourt. Will Spradling will take over the point guard duties. The 6-3 sophomore had a surprisingly successful freshman year, averaging 6.4 points and 1.9 assists. Spradling is a good shooter who can open up the offense. The opposition has to cover him on the perimeter or he will make them pay. Shane Southwell is another option at the point. At 6-6, Southwell is an intriguing option. As a freshman last season he started 17 games, averaging 1.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Pullen was not a true point guard so having another ball handler by his side, in this case Spradling or Southwell, made sense. With an inexperienced point guard taking over the starting job, keeping Southwell in the starting lineup may be a good idea until Spradling has proven himself. However, Southwell is not just there to be a secondary ball handler. He is there because he is one of the best defenders in the nation. Rodney McGruder will have to shoulder much of the scoring left behind by Pullen. McGruder is a superb outside shooter. Once he starts using his 6-4 frame to attack the basket, McGruder could average 15 points per game. Martavious Irving will have to battle it out with the newcomers for playing time off of the bench.

Final Projection:
Kansas State will have to play a little small at times, but Jordan Henriquez is ready to take over the starting job. The 7-0 forward physically will not be able to play 25 or 30 minutes per game, but he is a very productive player when he is on the floor. Last season he averaged 3.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 13.6 minutes per game. If he can keep that up, the frontcourt should be able to find enough depth from the newcomers to at least throw a couple big bodies out there for 40 minutes. If they cannot find the depth in the frontcourt, the Wildcats will struggle against the better, and bigger, teams in the Big 12.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Will Spradling, Sophomore, Guard, 6.4 points per game
Rodney McGruder, Junior, Guard, 11.1 points per game
Shane Southwell, Sophomore, Guard, 1.8 points per game
Jamar Samuels, Senior, Forward, 8.5 points per game
Jordan Henriquez, Junior, Forward, 3.7 points per game

Madness 2011 Men's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#130 Thomas Gipson

Check out another story about Kansas State basketball