Perhaps no team in the country plays harder than Kansas State. With Frank Martin in charge, the Wildcat players really do not have a choice. It is what their head coach demands. Coming off their most wins in school history, the Wildcats are poised to be ever more dangerous this season.
Kansas State boasted one of the best backcourts in the country a year ago with Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen. Clemente is gone, but Pullen returns and will switch back to the point guard position after mostly playing off the ball the past two seasons. Pullen did run the offense quite a bit as a freshman and should be able to make that transition rather smoothly.
There is plenty of competition to see who will replace Clemente in the lineup. Sophomore Rodney McGruder should begin the year starting at the off guard, but Martavious Irving will also see his fair share of minutes off the bench. Nick Russell will likely figure into that mix as well, while newcomers Juevol Myles and Will Spradling add even more depth.
Length and versatility was a major asset of the frontcourt last season, and that will be the case once again despite the graduation of starting center Luis Colon and surprising transfer Dominique Sutton. Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels will return to start at the forward spots. Kelly was the team's leading rebounder, while Samuels is at his best when getting to the basket but also has a nice mid-range game.
Sophomore Wally Judge is a major talent, but coming off a somewhat disappointing freshman season and should be more of a factor this year at the four. Freshmen Shane Southwell and Nino Williams will compete for playing time behind Samuels.
There is good size to clog up the middle with JUCO transfer Freddy Asprilla coming in at 6-10, 285 pounds, and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts at 7-0, 245. Martin also has the luxury of going with a smaller lineup by playing Kelly and Judge at the same time.
For the first time in a LONG time, the Wildcats - not the Jayhawks - are receiving the most preseason pub in the state of Kansas. They are national title contenders and ready to top last season's record breaking season.
Player to Watch: Wally Judge, PF
Judge arrived in Manhattan as a consensus top-20 recruit but failed to live up to those expectations in his freshman season. He averaged just 3.3 points and three boards per game, but did become more reliable as the season progressed. Part of the reason for his rookie struggles was due to discomfort he felt in his back all season long. After offseason surgery, Judge feels healthy and should make a bigger impact as a sophomore.