Busting Brackets

Big 12 Basketball: Kansas State Wildcats season review

Mar 10, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bruce Weber reacts to play against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second half during the Big 12 Conference tournament at Sprint Center. Kansas won 85-63. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bruce Weber reacts to play against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second half during the Big 12 Conference tournament at Sprint Center. Kansas won 85-63. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

It was a rough year for Bruce Weber’s team in the Big 12 Basketball Conference, but youth will lead the way in ’16-17.

There’s a lot to improve on in Manhattan.

Related Story: Baylor Bears season review

The Kansas State Wildcats went 17-16 this season, finished with a 5-13 mark in Big 12 play and settled for just eighth place in one of the toughest conferences in the land. They also missed the postseason for the second straight year and there was some talk about Bruce Weber finding himself on the hot seat.

The Wildcats’ signature wins came at home over Texas Tech and Kansas. The team also managed to knock off depleted Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament, but fell to rival Kansas in the quarterfinals. But overall, there was very little to celebrate in Manhattan, Kansas this season.

Junior Wesley Iwundu was named to the Big 12’s Third Team and All-Defensive squad, while freshmen Barry Brown and Dean Wade were both on the All-Newcomer team.

Kansas State was picked eighth in the preseason and they landed squarely on that projection. Wildcat faithful knew it would be a tough season, so their struggles this year came as no surprise.

Final Season Grade: C

So, what’s next for Weber’s boys?

Players Gone:

G – Justin Edwards (12.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.8 spg, 32% 3pt)

F – Stephen Hurt (6.4 rpg, 4.4 rpg, 30% 3pt)

G – Brian Rohleder

Very little is gone from this team outside of Edwards. The four year starter did a little bit of everything both on offense and defense. Replacing his total production will be a team effort.

Hurt was a solid body who played gritty basketball underneath after transferring from Lipscomb, but there are more formidable and more promising forwards on the roster.

Rohleder was never a factor in his four seasons, but he was still another competitive body in practice.

Players returning:

G – Kamau Stokes (9.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 34% 3pt)

G –  Barry Brown (8.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.2 spg, 34% 3pt)

G – Zach Winter

G – Carlbe Ervin II (3.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.5 apg)

G – Mason Schoen

G – Ron Freeman

F – D.J. Johnson (9.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 61% FG)

F – Isaiah Maurice

F – Dante Williams

F – Pierson McAtee

F – Wesley Iwundu (11.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.7 apg)

F – Dean Wade (9.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.1 apg)

F – Austin Budke (3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg)

As you can see here, the vast majority of KSU’s roster returns for now. The projected starters for next year are Stokes, Brown, Iwundu, Wade, and Johnson.

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Dante Williams will get a look at center due to his 7’0″ height. The remaining rotation players at the moment are Ervin and Budke while the rest of the roster are likely bench fillers.

The positive to having so many bodies is that it pushes players harder because they will be hungry to steal more playing time for themselves. Don’t be surprised if one or two of these Wildcats transfer out due to the sheer number of bodies listed.

To tell the truth, I have no idea what to expect out of the vast majority of these guys. The probably starters are solid, but pretty much everyone else is a question mark.

Who’s new:

G – Cartier Diarra (6’3″, 185 lbs)

G – Brian Patrick (6’5″, 185 lbs)

F –  Xavier Sneed (6’5″, 190 lbs)

F – James Love (6’10”, 220 lbs)

The guy most likely to see playing time next season is Love thanks to his size. The only other frontcourt contenders standing in his way are Johnson, Wade, and Williams, so the forward from Florida might be a primary backup.

Diarra, Patrick, and Sneed are good looking wings, but it is hard to say how much they’ll see the court behind Brown, Stokes, Ervin, and Iwundu. It might be a year or two before any of these guys play much unless someone transfers.

The other players in the conversation for Kansas State are DeShawn Corprew (SF), Skyler Nash (SG), and JUCO forward Freddie McSwain. There are very few open scholarships though, so any remaining recruiting targets have to be factored against the number of guys currently rostered.

There is a lot of potential with so many unknowns that its hard to really peg the ’16-17 Wildcats before more developments occur.

Keep your eyes on this team as the summer progresses.

Final Numbers to know:

73% – the proportion of scoring returning to Manahattan for now. If Iwundu, Stokes, Brown, and Johnson can up their numbers just a little, this is a very respectable four-man core considering so little was lost outside of Edwards.

13 – the number of guys still listed on the roster, including walk-ons. Figuring out who matters beyond the five primary scorers from last season’s team is a major priority for Weber, especially with four new guys coming in to compete for playing time.

51% – Weber’s winning percentage since making the NCAA tournament in 2013-2014. Considering how close this team sits next to historical power Kansas, this percentage is starting to look worse as time marches on. The head coaches’  chair is getting warm and one more season around .500 might mean a new coach donning the purple and white.

If the core of this team can take a step forward, and the players who win the first three to four bench spots can pitch in even semi-consistently, then this team is probably NIT caliber. It is hard to know just how much Kansas State can improve on it’s eighth place finish when everyone in the Big 12 is just as eager to maintain their position or move up.

Next: Top 15 offseason transfers

I’m just as curious as many of you to see what happens to Kansas’ other power school, so stay tuned.