Kansas State Wildcats
Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #4 Big 12
2006-07: 23-12, 10-6, 4th
2006-07 postseason: NIT
For better or worse, the one year Bob Huggins era is over at Kansas State. Coach Frank Martin takes over the program and hopes to build on the Wildcats NIT berth last season. With a little help from the Huggins recruiting classes, Coach Martin has a heck of a lot of talent to work with. This is a young team and as long as they can play anywhere near their potential, it will be a team that reaches the NCAA for the first time since 1996.
Cartier Martin did not even start every game, but that does not change his importance to last year’s team. Martin led the team with 17.1 points per game and added 4.4 rebounds. The 6-7 forward was the best long range shooter on the team and the most consistent free-throw shooter. The second most prolific shooter, Lance Harris, has also run out of eligibility. Akeem Wright was not the typical guard. He did not hit many outside shots, but he led the team in rebounding and that says more about the frontcourt than it does about Wright. However, this year Kansas State will not need to depend on the perimeter players to get on the glass as much as last year. Guard Jermaine Maybank provided some experience off the bench last year. Center Jason Bennett did not have as much experience, but he too played an important role as a backup. Bennett was slated to take over the starting center position, but will be transferring instead. Delivez Yearby, Serge Afeli and Ryan Patzwald will not be returning to the team after seeing limited action last season.
Wildcat fans could not care less about who is out as long as Michael Beasley is in. The 6-10 power forward is an amazing scorer inside and out. A Kevin Durant like impact is possible and so is a Kevin Durant one and done before splitting for the NBA. Beasley will be starting from day one and will likely be the go-to scorer before long. Fellow forward Ron Anderson will not likely see much playing time this year, but the 6-8 forward has plenty of potential after drastically raising his stock late in the recruiting process. On the wings, Andre Gilbert, Dominique Sutton and Fred Brown will compete for minutes. Gilbert flew under the radar during his junior college career because of a shoulder injury that limited his play. When healthy, Gilbert’s versatility to score, rebound, pass and steal will be enough to give him the opportunity to make a significant contribution. Sutton is a superb athlete and will be one of the best finishers and transition players in the conference before his days in Manhattan are over. He has some work to do on his shot, but if rebounding becomes a problem, Sutton will definitely help. Jacob Pullen is more of a scorer than a point guard, but he can, and will, do both. If he can adapt to the level of play and solidify the point guard position, KSU will be in good shape for years to come, even if the stars of the class are not around for four seasons.
Who to Watch:
Bill Walker only had a few games to show his stuff last year before he went down with an ACL injury. Walker started five games as a freshman and averaged 9.7 points per game. Not bad for a guy who was not eligible to play until halfway through last year. Walker was granted a medical redshirt last season, although it is quite unlikely he will be around long enough to use up all of his eligibility. The high flying athletic Walker does not have a great shot, but he is a great talent who will make his impact getting to the basket. It will be up to Blake Young and Clent Stewart to develop into consistent shooters in order to free up the paint. More importantly than shooting for Stewart is running the point and finding the dangerous scoring threats that will quickly be racing down the wings.
The most intriguing player to watch on the team is David Hoskins. The 6-5 forward is obviously undersized to play the four, but that is of little concern for Hoskins or Coach Martin. Hoskins was the only player to start all 35 games and ranked second in points and rebounds. At 230 pounds, Hoskins uses his body and athletic ability to get on the glass and outrebound taller opponents. Luis Colon averaged less than ten minutes per game, but the 6-10 center did start 16 contests. Colon showed flashes of his potential as a freshman and will become a solid player if he continues to improve.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Clent Stewart, Senior, Guard, 6.5 points per game
Blake Young, Senior, Guard, 5.3 points per game
Bill Walker, Freshman, Forward, 9.7 points per game
David Hoskins, Senior, Forward, 14.5 points per game
Michael Beasley, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season