Kansas State Wildcats

K-State Basketball: Replacing Stars With Promising Transfers

K-State Head basketball coach Jerome Tang is still slowly, but surely, making waves in the recruiting world. Derrion Reid, a 2024 Top 40 player, is on campus in Manhattan for a visit Tuesday. While that may bode well for the 2024 season, putting together a full roster for the 2023 season remains a priority. Tang showed last year that he was in no rush to put a complete roster together, and 2023 is proving to be no different. He still has two open scholarships remaining on this fall’s roster. Two transfers have committed to K-State since the end of the season, senior Tylor Perry from North Texas and junior Arthur Kaluma from Creighton.

Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson were the glue that kept K-State together last season, and their chemistry from the very beginning of the season sustained the team throughout the year and got the Wildcats to the Elite 8. Replacing the production from those two will be difficult, if not impossible. Looking ahead to the 2023-24 basketball season, I expected a big drop-off from last season. But Perry and Kaluma coming in to replace Nowell and Johnson got me to think differently. And a dive into the numbers makes me think that K-State might not have much of a drop-off from what they accomplished last season.

 

Tylor Perry, a 5’11” point guard, led North Texas to the Conference USA regular season title and the championship of the NIT. He was the 2023 Conference USA Player of the Year and was voted the NIT’s most outstanding player. All of this sounds good, but what about his production in the regular season? And how does that production compare to the great player he is replacing, Markquis Nowell? I looked at the numbers to compare what both players did in 2022-23, and they are eerily similar. Check it out…

Tylor Perry 2022-23 statistics

Games – 36

Points Per Game – 17.3

Assists Per Game – 2.1

Field Goal Percentage – 43.7%

Three-Point Field Goal Percentage – 41.3%

Free Throw Percentage – 87.2%

Markquis Nowell 2022-23 statistics

Games – 36

Points Per Game – 17.6

Assists Per Game – 8.3

Field Goal Percentage – 38.6%

Three-Point Field Goal Percentage – 35.5%

Free Throw Percentage – 88.9%

 

Perry and Nowell both played in 36 games and averaged almost the same number of points per game. Perry shot better from both two-point and three-point range, while Nowell had substantially more assists per game. But remember, Nowell broke school, and Big 12, assist records last season. Their free throw percentage is almost identical as well.

Can Perry’s game translate well from Conference USA to the Big 12? That is the question, but it sure looks like he has the tools to make the loss of Nowell seem not so dramatic.

Creighton transfer forward Arthur Kaluma was sought after by many high-profile programs, like Alabama, Kentucky, and Baylor. He decided to come to K-State. If you told me three years ago that in 2023 K-State would win a recruiting battle against John Calipari and Kentucky, I would have told you that you’re nuts. But I digress. What kind of numbers did Kaluma put up compared to Keyontae Johnson? Check it out…

 

Arthur Kaluma 2022-23 statistics

Games – 37

Points Per Game – 11.8

Rebounds Per Game – 6.0

Field Goal Percentage – 42.3%

Three-Point Field Goal Percentage – 31.1%

Free Throw Percentage – 73.6%

Keyontae Johnson 2022-23 statistics

Games – 36

Points Per Game – 17.4

Rebounds Per Game – 6.8

Field Goal Percentage – 51.6%

Three-Point Field Goal Percentage – 40.5%

Free Throw Percentage – 71.5%

Keyontae Johnson was the most naturally gifted basketball talent to play at K-State since Michael Beasley. Finding someone to replace his production and what he brought to the floor each night will be nearly impossible. However, Kaluma grabbed six rebounds per game, which comes close to the 6.8 that Johnson put up, and had a little better free throw percentage than Johnson. Kaluma did not put up the points, nor did he shoot as well from the field, but he is also two years behind Johnson in his development as a basketball player. Could his numbers get there? Perhaps. It will be interesting to watch.

The bottom line is that I am much more optimistic about the 2023-24 Wildcat basketball season than I was before the signing of these two players. With returning players Cam Carter, David N’Guessan, and Nae’Qwan Tomlin, along with a great freshman group, and players that redshirted last season, like Jerrell Colbert, I am not sure there will be much of a drop-off at all. In fact, we could see the 2023-24 Wildcats “elevate” off what they accomplished last season.

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