February 13, 2014
By Mark Janssen
To most Kansas State basketball followers, these Wildcat teams of 2013-14 are squads of the future. They are teams that will only improve, mature and get better with time.
Bruce Weber's gang starts a pair of freshmen in Marcus Foster and Wesley Iwundu, plus brings the likes of Nigel Johnson and Jevon Thomas off the bench for meaningful minutes.
The Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Week following his 34-point performance against Texas on Saturday, Foster has played well beyond his years by leading the team in scoring at 15 points per game, plus tops the squad in field goals, 3-pointers and free throws.
Deb Patterson's team is also led by a true freshman in Leticia Romero, who like Foster, has dominated the statistical line of all players with her 14.5 scoring average, 5.8 rebounds per game, plus 103 assists and 37 steals.
On some of these frigid days in the last few weeks, K-State Sports Extra went digging through the record books just to see where the seasons of Foster and Romero would rank in Kansas State history for a freshman player.
MR. BEASLEY THE BEST OF THEM ALL
The best freshman in Kansas State basketball history is a pretty easy pick: Mr. Michael Beasley with zero argument.
The 2007-08 numbers for the 6-foot-10 Wildcat rookie are not only freshman records for scoring, but for all classes in Wildcat history: 26.2 points per game overall, 28 points for Big 12 Conference games, 13 games of at least 30 points and three games of at least 40 points.
Throw in his 12.4 rebounds per game and 54 blocked shots, and it's easy to see why he was in the top two in the balloting for 2008 National Player of the Year and the No. 2 player chosen in the NBA Draft.
So what Wildcats complete the top-10 class of all-time K-State freshmen? Remember, freshmen didn't become eligible until 1971-72.
- Norris Coleman (1985-86): Averaged 21.8 points on 52 percent shooting, plus controlled 8.0 rebounds per game
- Curtis Redding (1976-77): Contributed 16.0 points and 6.8 rebounds during a 24-win Big Eight Championship season
- Mike Evans (1974-75): Averaged 17.0 points when he played in the same backcourt with Chuckie Williams with the duo leading the Cats to 20 wins, which included two in the NCAA Tournament
- Bill Walker (2007-08): Averaged 16.1 points and 4.1 rebounds playing in the shadow of Beasley
Coming off the bench will be the pretty nifty group of:
- Rolando Blackman (1977-78): Scored 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds
- Marcus Foster (2013-14): Averaging 14.7 points and 3.8 rebounds
- Ed Nealy (1978-79): Nearly averaged a double-double with 10.2 points and 8.2 rebounds
- Jacob Pullen (2007-08): Completed the three-freshman starting lineup (Beasley and Walker) with a 9.7 scoring average
- Steve Henson (1986-87): Scored 7.5 points while serving as point guard on a team led by Mitch Richmond, Coleman and Will Scott
Honorable Mention Candidates: Tyrone Adams in 1978-79; Askia Jones in 1989-90; Jamar Samuels in 2008-09; Dean Harris in 1973-74; Ayome May in 1995-96
WECKER? OHLDE? KOEHN?
Some of the best years of Kansas State women's basketball came between 2001-02 and 2004-05.
The four-year period included seasons of 26, 29, 25 and 24 wins. Ironically, the mini-era started in 2001-02 when three freshmen - Kendra Wecker, Laurie Koehn and Megan Mahoney - took to the court and advanced to the NCAA's Sweet 16.
The group went 3-3 in their final three seasons in three more NCAA Tournaments, plus won a Big 12 title in 2004.
As freshmen, the trio combined to average 42.4 points and 17.2 rebounds plus connected on a whopping 178 three-pointers, while a sophomore talent named Nicole Ohlde roamed the paint adding another 17.2 points and 8.1 rebounds.
While it would be easy to say that Wecker, who most consider the greatest player in K-State history, had the most outstanding of all freshman seasons in Wildcat history, here's to say that's not so.
In that 34-game season, the 5-foot-8 Koehn set freshman records that still stand today. That's a 17.6 scoring average, that's 122 three-pointers, and that's 94 free throws made. She also had 85 assists and 36 steals for the record-setting 26-8 Wildcats.
If one chooses Wecker, there would be good reason. The powerful 5-foot-10 talent averaged 16.4 points, snagged 8.4 rebounds, plus had 97 assists, 60 steals and 20 blocked shots.
Both players earned Third Team All-Big 12 honors for the team that defeated Kent State and Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament before falling to No. 15 Old Dominion in the Sweet 16 round.
Rounding out the top five are:
- Nicole Ohlde (2000-01): Averaged 17.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game
- Leticia Romero (2013-14): Averaging 14.5 points per game, 5.8 rebounds, 103 assists and 36 steals... She is the only freshman in K-State history with 300-plus points, 100-plus rebounds and 100-plus assists.
- Brittany Chambers (2009-10): Posted 12.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 80 assists and 65 three-pointers
Rounding out the Top 10
- Brit Jacobson (1994-95): 13.6 points, 5.1 rebounds
- Nadira Hazim (1987-88): 11.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 79 assists, 67 steals
- Diana Miller (1987-88): 10.1 points, 7.0 rebounds
- Shalee Lehning (2005-06): 7.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 189 assists and 60 steals for the 24-10 WNIT Postseason Champions
- Meghan Mahoney (2001-02): 8.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 157 assists, 53 steals with 27 3-pointers for the NCAA Sweet 16 club
Honorable Mention Candidates: Mary Jo Miller in 1988-89; Ashley Sweat in 2006-07; Eileen Feeney in 1976-77; Marlies Gipson in 2005-06; Kim Woodlee in 1997-98.