2008-09 Kansas State Basketball Preview: #98
Kansas State Wildcats
Overall Rank: #98
Conference Rank: #10 Big 12
2007-08: 21-12, 10-6, 3rd
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
Kansas State enjoyed a successful season, including their first NCAA Tournament win since 1988. But, at least for a while, that is as good as it is going to get. Six players started over a dozen games during the 2007-2008 campaign and five of them are gone. Coach Frank Martin is bringing in some talent, but the youth and inexperience will keep this group from another NCAA Tournament for now.
Obviously the biggest loss is Michael Beasley. After scoring 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds as a freshman, Beasley was the second overall pick in the NBA Draft. The Wildcats will not have a player like Beasley again in a long, long time. Bill Walker added 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds, ranking second on the team in both categories. Clent Stewart and Blake Young were not always consistent, but they were experienced guards who could handle the ball. Andre Gilbert and James Franklin have also wrapped up their careers in Manhattan.
Obviously there are a lot of holes to fill and the newcomers will have to do their part. Guard Denis Clemente, a transfer from Miami, averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 assists two years ago with the Hurricanes and could immediately step into a starting role. Bushi Awaji scored over 1,000 points during his two years at Citrus College in California and will bring that scoring prowess to Kansas State. He is a decent shooter from beyond the arc and his experience will at least move him into an important role off the bench right away. Jordan Henriquez, Jamar Samuels and Abdul Herrera will add depth up front. Herrera, who spent a year redshirting at Cincinnati before playing at USC-Aiken in South Carolina and Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, is a decent scorer around the basket and he uses his 6-11, 255 pound frame quite well on the glass.
Who to Watch:
The returning forwards have some big shoes to fill. Dominique Sutton missed the first few games of his freshman campaign for academic reasons, but his inauspicious beginning had a happy ending. By the end of the season Sutton was starting and showing off his potential. He should be starting all year this time around and he will be given the opportunity to be much more than a roleplayer. Ron Anderson’s freshman campaign worked the other way. The 6-8, 245 pound forward started six of the team’s first eight games before being relegated to the bench. He still ranked behind just Beasley and Walker in rebounding despite his limited minutes. If he can add a little more offense to go along with his rebounding, Anderson can fend off Herrera as the starter at the five spot. Luis Colon and Darren Kent are upperclassmen who could play a bigger role this year.
Jacob Pullen is the team’s top returning scorer after averaging 9.7 points per game as a freshman. He also led the squad with 3.2 assists per contest. His shooting was inconsistent at best during the 2007-2008 season, but the 6-1 guard has the ability to hit the outside shot. A year in the program should help. Pullen’s ability to score and handle the ball will be very important this year and he should split time between the point and off-guard positions. Fred Brown’s freshman campaign was not as solid as Pullen’s, but the 6-3 guard did hit 37.7 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Only Beasley shot better than that and Brown could emerge as a dangerous scoring threat off the bench this year. Yet, the backcourt better get help from Clemente and Awaji or there will be a serious lack of depth on the perimeter and the young Wildcats will not even get close to repeating last year’s success.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Denis Clemente, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jacob Pullen, Sophomore, Guard, 9.7 points per game
Dominique Sutton, Sophomore, Forward, 3.3 points per game
Jamar Samuels, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Ron Anderson, Sophomore, Forward, 3.3 points per game