Leading up to the opening of the 2019-20 Big 12 Men’s basketball season Heartland College Sports will analyze each of the Big 12 men’s basketball teams. Today it’s the Kansas State Wildcats.
2018-19 Record: 25-9 (14-4 Big 12, regular-season co-champs)
NCAA: lost to UC Irvine, 70-64 (first round)
Top returning leaders: G Cartier Diarra (6.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg), F Xavier Sneed 10.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg), C Makol Mawien (7.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg), G Mike McGuirl (3.6 ppg, 1.5 rpg).
2018-19 seniors/lettermen lost: G Barry Brown Jr. (14.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.8 apg), G Kamau Stokes (11.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.4 apg), F Dean Wade (12.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg), F Austin Trice (1.9 ppg), F Patrick Muldoon.
Recruits signed: G DaJuan Gordon, 6-foot-4, Curie Metropolitan (Chicago, Ill.); PF Montavious Murphy, 6-9, Concordia Lutheran (Tomball, TX); PF Antonio Gordon, 6-9, 195, Eisenhower HS (Lawton, Okla.). None of K-State’s recruits were in the national Top 100, per 247Sports.com. But both Gordons were in the Top 5 among their state’s recruits, and Murphy was Top 20 in Texas. Additionally, DaJuan Gordon was the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year, Antonio Gordon was an All-State player in Oklahoma and Murphy was an All-State player in Texas.
Transfers eligible for 2019-20 season: G David Sloan, 6-foot, Louisville, KY (Logan College), Joe Petrakis, 6-foot-9, Wichita, KS (Dodge City College). Sloan was an NJCAA Honorable Mention selection last season. For his career he scored 16.1 points per game and dished out 10.2 assists per game. He led NJCAA in assists per game in each of his two season in junior college basketball. Petrakis is a walk-on and it’s hard to gauge how much he’ll contribute.
Transfers expected to sit out in 2019-20: None.
Looking ahead to 2019-20: If there’s a team that one should expect to take a downturn this season it’s Kansas State. But how big a downturn is the question. Losing Brown, Stokes and Wade hurts big time. The trio each had 1,000 or more points for their K-State career. Stokes, Diarra and Mawien are the only holdovers that would seem guaranteed a starting job from Day 1. Sneed hit some big shots coming down the stretch of last season and tested the NBA waters, mainly to find out what he needed to improve upon. Diarra was one of the more underappreciated players in the Big 12 last season and one of K-State’s most imposing defenders. Both will have to step up their respective games to lead an unproven roster behind them. Mawien is back, but he showed little improvement inside, in terms of scoring and rebounding, and needs to take a step forward. Players like McGuirl, Shaun Williams and Levi Stockard III should have spent this summer improving and preparing for more playing time. Give Weber credit for this recruiting and transfer class. Playing time isn’t out of reach for any of them this season, given that the roster behind Sneed, Diarra and Mawien is relatively unproven. Sloan seems like he could be a difference maker. The Wildcats don’t have anyone with his point-guard skills on the roster and that could put him in line to start and help K-State immediately. How this roster beyond Sneed, Diarra and Mawien respond to the opportunity to meaningfully contribute will make all the difference as to whether K-State can contend in the Big 12.
Media Day quote: “I wouldn’t say we’re as much a young team as we are a new team. We have to go through some growing situations as a new team trying to figure out roles, who is going to get the extra minutes, who is going to be the guy putting up the shots. I think my biggest fear is the gut-check part of games, the close games, who is going to make those plays. The last two, three years it went to Barry Brown, Dean Wade, Kam(au) Stokes stepped up, made shots. Now we have to have some other people do that. It will be interesting. It’s fun. We have a great group. They play their butts off.” — Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber.
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