Today's Sports Extra will mark the first of a series introducing Kansas State's newest men's and women's basketball players for the 2013-14 season. The following is a comprehensive look at the men's newcomers, which includes five freshmen and two transfers.
By Kelly McHugh
Coming to Manhattan from coast to coast, second-year head coach Bruce Weber will welcome seven new players to the Kansas State men's basketball team in 2013-14.
From New York City to Los Angeles, this year's newest Wildcats are ready to hit the court of Bramlage Coliseum and play in front of 12,000-plus passionate fans.
Of the seven newcomers, two are transfers from other Division I schools in Justin Edwards (Maine) and Brandon Bolden (Georgetown).
"I wanted to get more exposure, better competition, and obviously at K-State I could do that," junior guard Justin Edwards said. "I can have that here. I'll have the ability to get better, work on my off year and just make progression. I know all the coaches are really good with players and great with player development, so that excited me to come here even more."
A native of Whitby, Ontario, Edwards is a well-rounded competitor on the court, who totaled 887 points, 312 rebounds and 96 steals during his two seasons playing for the Black Bears.
This past season, Edwards averaged an America East-best 16.7 points per game on 43.8 percent shooting as a sophomore with 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals in 32.8 minutes per game. He became just the fifth sophomore in America East history to lead the league in scoring and the first since 2007-08.
A native of Sumter, S.C., Bolden is a 6-foot-10 forward, who comes to Manhattan after helping the Hoyas to a 25-7 record and a tie for the BIG EAST regular-season title.
Along with outstanding height, Bolden says he will bring, "a lot of athleticism and diversity for a tall guy - shoot, run the floor, block shots," he said.
Highlighting five freshmen on the roster are Texas natives Wesley Iwundu and Marcus Foster.
Iwundu, from Houston, averaged 16.3 points per game his senior year at Westfield High School and was invited to the TABC (Texas Association of Basketball Coaches) All-Star Game in San Antonio. Foster, also invited to the TABC All-Star Game, averaged 27.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks per game his senior year - a team leader in almost all categories. He was among 40 high school players who were named All-American by PARADE magazine.
Iwundu said when it comes to college basketball, the fans doesn't get much better than those at K-State.
"I feel like the fans here bring a joy to sports," Iwundu said. "They are really supportive. Playing in front of a big crowd like them really gets me excited about basketball. I'm ready to put on a show for them."
The Wildcats also welcome freshmen guards Jevon Thomas from Harlem, N.Y., and Nigel Johnson from Ashburn, Va., and forward Jack Karapetyan from Los Angeles, Calif.
Thomas enrolled at K-State last January and spent last semester getting used to life in Manhattan. The 6-foot point guard came to K-State from St. John's Northwest Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., where he averaged 15 points and 8 assists per game.
Johnson comes to K-State from Riverdale Baptist School, where he averaged 17.9 points per game.
"I'm going to work hard to do whatever we can to help us win," Johnson said.
Johnson also said his hard work ethic and winning mentality come from his father, former NFL cornerback Sidney Johnson.
The final signee of the 2013-14 season was the 6-foot-7 Karapetyan. He decided to move from the busy city life of Los Angeles to Manhattan so he could focus strictly on becoming the best basketball player and student he could be, and he isn't stopping until he gets there.
"The goals I have for basketball while I'm at K-State are, I want to be the Big 12 Player of the Year, I want to be Freshman of the Year and I want to be on the honor roll for academics," Karapetyan said, not holding anything back. "Basically, I want to be a student-athlete and be respectful and thankful for everyone here because they're all helping us out."
Join us over the next month as we dive deeper into the stories of these seven new faces of the K-State men's basketball team, along with those from the women's squad.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.