#7 Kansas St: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #7
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12 Conference
2009-10: 29-8, 11-5
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Frank Martin (72-32 at Kansas State, 72-32 overall)
Coach Frank Martin has turned Kansas State into a consistent contender in the Big 12. This year the Wildcats are hoping to take the next step and win the conference crown. Rival Kansas will have something to say about that, but there is no doubt that KSU is here to stay and will look to build on their Elite Eight appearance of a year ago.
Key Losses: G Denis Clemente, C Luis Colon, F Dominique Sutton
The Wildcats have plenty of talent returning, but there is certainly room for the newcomers. Freddy Asprilla had a tremendous freshman campaign at Florida International where he averaged 13.7 points and 9.2 rebounds. After spending a little time at a couple junior colleges, the 6-10 forward will add some depth to the frontcourt. Small forward Nino Williams was expected to go to prep school this year, but the transfer of Dominique Sutton gives KSU a need at small forward. Shane Southwell will also add some depth at that position. Juevol Myles will battle for playing time at the point guard position after spending one year at the junior college level. Myles could end up starting if he can keep the team under control. Fellow point guard Will Spradling rounds out this relatively impressive class.
Jacob Pullen is the obvious star of this team. After averaging 19.3 points and 3.4 assists last year, Pullen will win a ton of preseason and postseason accolades. Pullen is a superb outside shooter and knocked down three three-pointers per contest and shot nearly 42 percent overall. The question is whether or not Pullen should be running the point. Last year Clemente helped him out in that department. Can Pullen be as effective if he has to have the ball in his hands most of the time? If Pullen has to run the show, the Wildcats will need Rodney McGruder to step up his game. The 6-4 sophomore is a quality outside shooter, but he needs to continue being productive while seeing more playing time. Martavious Irving was a highly touted recruit, but failed to make much of a splash last year. With more of an opportunity to play, Irving could be in for a huge year. Nick Russell is yet another sophomore who did not play much last season. However, Russell is a candidate to play some minutes at the point and allow Pullen to play off the ball.
Curtis Kelly is to the frontcourt what Pullen is to the backcourt. Kelly, a former Huskie of Connecticut, averaged 11.5 points and a team high 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per contest during the 2009-2010 campaign. Kelly got into form during the second half of the season and is poised to put up even better numbers than he did last year. Jamar Samuels is one of the options to take over for Sutton at the small forward position. The 6-7 junior was a superb sixth man last year and is a fine do-it-all player. The issue in the frontcourt may be the depth. Jordan Henriquez-Roberts is the biggest player on the roster at 7-0 and 245 pounds and could see a bigger role this season. Victor Ojeleye is not big enough to play the five spot, but he could see some quality minutes at the three or four spots.
Who to Watch:
Wally Judge was a great recruiting pickup last year, but he started off very slow and only averaged 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds during his freshman campaign. However, Judge was playing his best ball late in the season and he should be ready to step into a starting role and become the major interior force that everybody expected him to be. If that is the case, Kansas State’s frontcourt will be just fine without Sutton and center Luis Colon.
Kansas State has just as much talent as they did last year and that is scary. Pullen and Kelly are a great inside/outside duo, but there are some very talented sophomores on this team who are ready to blossom and become major contributors. With this much talent on the squad, the Wildcats are poised to make another deep NCAA Tournament run.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jacob Pullen, Senior, Guard, 19.3 ppg
Rodney McGruder, Sophomore, Guard, 3.9 ppg
Jamar Samuels, Junior, Forward, 11.0 ppg
Curtis Kelly, Senior, Forward, 11.5 ppg
Wally Judge, Sophomore, Forward, 3.3 ppg
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