#89 Kansas State Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview


Kansas State Wildcats


2017-2018 Overall Rank: #89

Conference Rank: #10 Big 12

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Kansas State did just enough to sneak into the NCAA Tournament last season. The Wildcats finished the regular season with a 20-13 record, including an 8-10 mark in Big 12 play. They had to go to Dayton to face off against Wake Forest in one of the play-in games, but KSU emerged victorious and moved on to face Cincinnati. They did not play well against the Bearcats, but the NCAA Tournament appearance is certainly something Coach Bruce Weber and Kansas State can build off heading into the 2017-2018 season.
2016-17 Record: 21-14, 8-10
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bruce Weber
Coach Record: 100-68 at Kansas State, 413-223 overall
Who’s Out:
Coach Weber basically went eight players deep last season and four of those players are gone, including Wesley Iwundu. The 6-7 forward averaged 13.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists during his senior season. He was also one of the better defenders in the Big 12 and could score from everywhere on the floor. The other starter lost is D.J. Johnson. He averaged 11.3 points per game and was second on the team in rebounding with 5.7 behind only Iwundu. Johnson was also by far the best shot blocker on the team and that is where he may be missed the most. The frontcourt also loses Isaiah Maurice, who was dismissed from the team following his freshman season. Carlbe Ervin II was a junior college All-American, but never developed into anything more than a backup point guard and quality defender off the bench for K-State. Little used Dante Williams, Austin Budke and Zack Winter will also not be returning for 2017-2018.
Who’s In:
In total the Wildcats have eight newcomers who are eligible to play this season. The biggest need is in the frontcourt where Coach Weber hopes the experience of Madwo Sallah and Makol Mawien will make an impact. This team needs a starter at the five spot and they may have found it with Sallah. He is a graduate transfer from Mt. St. Mary’s who averaged 6.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks last season. Sallah does not need to do much scoring for the Wildcats, but they will need him to play solid defense and be tough on the glass. Mawien spent one season at New Mexico Junior College He too is not going to score much, but he is a big body who can do the dirty work in the paint. Redshirt freshman James Love III and incoming freshmen Levi Stockard and Nigel Shadd will add more frontcourt options. Love III is the likely candidate to make an impact right away, especially with his shot blocking abilities. The backcourt adds junior college transfer Amaad Wainwright, redshirt freshman Cartier Diarra and incoming freshman Mike McGuirl. McGuirl has had an impressive summer and Wainwright’s experience is a big plus, but it is Diarra who should play a big role for this team right away. He is a quick 6-4 point guard who missed last season with a knee injury.
Who to Watch:
The newcomers should be able to fill in capably around the four key returning players. Kamau Stokes dished out 4.1 assists per game last season and added 11.7 points. He is a decent outside shooter, but shot selection is sometimes an issue. Despite shooting 36.4 percent from beyond the arc, Stokes hit just 35.6 percent of his attempts from everywhere on the floor. Stokes can get to the basket, but he needs to finish on occasion too. He will be joined in the backcourt by Barry Brown, who also averaged 11.7 points last season. Brown is a speedy 6-3 junior who is at his best when attacking the basket. Xavier Sneed will likely move into the starting small forward spot this season. The 6-5 St. Louis native averaged 7.1 points per game as a freshman. Sneed will need to be more effective on the glass this year though since the team’s top returning rebounder is Dean Wade who averaged just 4.5 per game. Wade is a good all-around scorer who can stretch the defense with his shooting ability.
Final Projection:
The potential problem with this group is in the frontcourt. Even with Iwundu, Johnson and Maurice, this was a bad rebounding team. Now Coach Weber is attempting to bring in some experienced frontcourt players to help fill the void. It remains to be seen how that will go. It is possible that Wade can spend some time at the three spot in an effort to increase the team’s size, but that may not be possible if the newcomers in the frontcourt are not ready to fill those minutes at the four and five spots. Playing with a smaller lineup is usually quite dangerous in the Big 12, but there are times when Coach Weber will be able to do it. And with the talent, experience and speed on the perimeter, he may have to find a way to do it more often than preferred. If the frontcourt pans out, Kansas State will be eyeing another trip to the NCAA Tournament, but they are likely a year away from that.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Kamau Stokes, Junior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Barry Brown, Junior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Xavier Sneed, Sophomore, Forward, 7.1 points per game
Dean Wade, Junior, Forward, 9.3 points per game
Mawdo Sallah, Senior, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.1 (199th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.8 (60, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.1 (76, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.1 (136, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (208, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.2 (119, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.4 (199, 6)
Rebound Margin: -1.1 (240, 8)
Assists Per Game: 14.9 (80, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.9 (164, 6)