The Kansas State Wildcats are preparing to open the 2021-22 men’s basketball season against Florida A&M on Nov. 10. Here are some key points to consider as the season begins.
The Transfers can lead …
Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber was keen on getting former Missouri sharp-shooter Mark Smith to transfer to the Wildcats. After all, he had shot and missed at landing Smith twice. K-State went after Smith during his prep recruiting process when he chose Illinois, and again when he transferred to Mizzou.
But Weber isn’t selling the other transfers short, either. He also has former Wake Forest forward Ismael Massoud, former UALR guard Markquis Nowell and former Iona forward Jordan Brooks.
“I thought we did pretty well in the portal,” Weber said. “We added some experience, some shooting. That was our main goal.”
… but keeping Mike McGuirl was huge
Weber wanted Mike McGuirl to use his COVID year and return as a super senior. But he knew he couldn’t push too hard, either.
Fortunately, McGuirl didn’t keep the Wildcats waiting too long. He made his decision shortly after the Wildcats’ season ended. And retaining McGuirl’s services after a season in which he averaged 11.8 points per game last season is a boon to a team that is still relatively young.
“At first we had to talk with him a little bit,” Weber said. “But his dad, his coach, his family, they were very supportive in him coming back.”
The K-State youth movement continues
Kansas State started three true freshmen last season — Nijel Pack, Davion Mitchell and Selton Miguel. Now, all three may not start this year, since the Wildcats were able to add experience through the transfer market. But all three figure to be a part of the plan.
Pack was the Wildcats’ leading scorer last season with 12.7 points per game. Bradford is something in short supply in the Big 12 — a seven-footer (teammate Carlton Linguard Jr. is also seven feet tall). Miguel spent his offseason playing for Angola in Olympic qualifying.
“All three of them have grown so much this offseason,” McGuirl said. “Nigel’s worked on raising his talk as a leader. Selton improved all around in every way possible. And then Davion, he had a great freshman year and I’m looking forward to what he could do this year.”
‘He’s a dog’
While Smith has made an impression on Weber, one transfer has made a distinct impression on McGuirl — Nowell.
“He’s fiery, he’s a dog and he has a lot of confidence,” McGuirl said. “He works very hard. I mean, he’s in the gym before practice and after practice. He, not gonna shy away from big shots. When he’s hot, he’s really hot, and he can get in the lane to and create for others, so that’s another weapon for us.”
In his last 42 games at UALR, Nowell averaged 16.7 points per game. He’ll had a huge new piece on offense for the Wildcats.
Figuring out the frontcourt
Perhaps no area of the Wildcats has more questions around it than the frontcourt. Part of that intrigue is whether the Wildcats might start four guards. Weber easily could, if he went with Pack, McGuirl, Nowell and Smith. That would be the Wildcats’ best bet to create offense in the backcourt. In that case, Bradford would be the likely starter in a 4-1 alignment. But who rotates in? Weber has two options that haven’t quite proven themselves yet — Linguard and Kaosi Ezeagu. In a 3-2 alignment, Weber could start Bradford alongside Massoud, but the Wildcats are relatively thin at power forward with the season-ending injury to Seryee Lewis. The other options could be a player like Linguard, who is athletic enough to play outside, or freshman Logan Landers.
Heartland College Sports Big 12 Basketball Preview
Top 25 Returning Players: No. 25 Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua| No. 24 Christian Braun | No. 23 Rondel Walker | No. 22 Umoja Gibson | No. 21 Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe | No. 20 Nijel Pack | No. 19: Marcus Santos-Silva | No. 18 Mike McGuirl| No. 17 Jalen Bridges | No. 16 Kalib Boone | No. 15 Kevin McCullar | No. 14 Isaac Likekele | No. 13 Adam Flagler | No. 12 Jalen Coleman-Lands | No. 11 Sean McNeil | No. 10 Taz Sherman | No. 9 Matthew Mayer | No. 8 Jalen Wilson | No. 7 Courtney Ramey | No. 6 Mike Miles | No. 5 Avery Anderson III | No. 4 David McCormack | No. 3 Terrence Shannon Jr.
Challenge Series: Big 12-Big East Battle
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
2021-22 Kansas State Schedule
(all times central)
Nov. 10 Florida A&M, 7 p.m.
Nov. 17 Omaha, 7 p.m.
Nov. 22 vs. Arkansas, 8 [email protected]
Nov. 23 vs. Cincinnati or Illinois, 6/8:30 [email protected]
Nov. 28 North Dakota, 4 p.m.
Dec. 1 Albany, 7 p.m.
Dec. 5 Wichita State, TBA
Dec. 8 Marquette, 8 p.m.-#
Dec. 12 Green Bay, 4 p.m.
Dec. 19 at Nebraska, 5 p.m.
Dec. 21 McNeese State, 7 p.m.
Dec. 29 Morgan State, 7 p.m.
Jan. 1 at Oklahoma*, 7 p.m.
Jan. 4 Texas*, 7 p.m.
Jan. 8 at West Virginia*, 1 p.m.
Jan. 12 TCU*, 8 p.m.
Jan. 15 Texas Tech* TBD
Jan. 18 at Texas*, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22 Kansas*, 3 p.m.
Jan. 25 at Baylor*, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29 at Ole Miss, 3 p.m.#
Feb. 2 Oklahoma State*, 8 p.m.
Feb. 5 at TCU*, 7 p.m.
Feb. 9 Baylor*, 7 p.m.
Feb. 12 at Iowa State*, TBA
Feb. 14 West Virginia*, 6 p.m.
Feb. 19 at Oklahoma State*, 1 p.m.
Feb. 22 at Kansas*, 8 p.m.
Feb. 26 Iowa State*, 1 p.m.
March 2 at Texas Tech*, 8 p.m.
March 5 Oklahoma*, 3 p.m.
March 9-12 Big 12 Tournament, Kansas City, Missouri
@-Hall of Fame Classic, Kansas City, Missouri; #-Big East/Big 12 Battle; #-Big 12/SEC Challenge; *-Big 12 games.