Locker Room Chats | Part 4
Finally, today's Sports Extra marks the fourth and final story of the series. Today, K-State Sports Extra chats with sophomores Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Nigel Johnson.
Foster, a 6-foot-3 guard from Wichita Falls, Texas, finished the 2013-14 season with 513 points (averaging a team-leading 15.5 per game) and led the Wildcats in scoring in 17 games. He quickly became the player head coach Bruce Weber called the team's "go-to-guy" and quickly stole the hearts of Wildcat fans nation-wide.
During the 2013-14 season, Foster earned two Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week honors along with two Phillips 66 Big 12 Freshman of the Week Honors. He put away a game-leading 34 points in the Wildcats' 74-57 win over Texas on Feb. 8, 2014, marking the most points scored by a Wildcats since Jacob Pullen's 38 points against Wisconsin on March 19, 2011, and the most by a K-State freshman since Michael Beasley scored 39 points against Kansas on March 1, 2008. His 33 starts tied Beasley for most starts by a freshman in school history.
"He was in the gym more than anybody last year," said Weber at the 2014 Big 12 Media Day earlier this month. "The big thing now is to keep that drive. With him, like a lot of guys that have success early, are you still hungry? Are you pushing for more? That will be the key to his season, I would say."
Foster concluded his freshman year by being named to the 2013-14 All-Big 12 Second Team and to the 2013-14 All-Big 12 Newcomer Team. Heading into his sophomore season, Foster was named to the 2014 Preseason All-Big 12 Team.
Iwundu, a 6-foot-7 forward from Houston, Texas, also played a key role in the Wildcats' success last season as he saw action in 33 games and started 32 - the second most starts (behind Foster and Beasley) by a true freshman in school history. He averaged 6.7 points per game on 46.1 percent shooting (71-of-154), including 41.2 percent (7-of-16) from the 3-point range. He averaged 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and ranked second on the team with three double-doubles during his freshman campaign.
"He is a year older, he understands what it's about," said Weber on Iwundu. "His big thing now is, since we have more weapons than we had last season, is finding his nitch in the whole scheme."
Johnson, a 6-foot-1 guard from Ashburn, Virginia, played the best game of his Wildcat career at the 2014 Phillips 66 Big 12 Quarterfinals where he put away a season-high 17 points against No. 16 Iowa State on March 13, 2014. Last season, Johnson saw action in 30 games and scored points in the double-digits four times. He averaged 4.1 points per game on 36.9 percent shooting (41-of-11) along with averaging 1.6 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 0.8 steals in his 13.8 minutes per game.
Working well with fellow sophomore guard Jevon Thomas, Weber said he expects the duo to bring added energy to the court this upcoming 2014-15 season.
"Both of them are quick, athletic, and pressure the basketball, push the basketball with Nigel probably shooting, and Jevon penetrating," said Weber. "So hopefully, we have a good mix between the two."
With practices already underway as the team prepares for a new year, the Wildcats return nine lettermen, including five players with starting experience from a squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a school-record fifth consecutive season in 2013-14.
"For a coaching staff, it is a fun time of the year," said Weber before the start of practice Oct. 3. "You are trying to figure things out in your system, hopefully, it is a fun time for the players, too... It is all a build up one day at a time. People always talk about how habits are taught in a month, and we will have a month of practice habits before we play that first game. Hopefully we make some progress."
The 2014-15 Wildcat basketball season tips off in Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 11, with an exhibition game against Washburn followed by a matchup with Southern Utah on Nov. 14. For the full 2014-15 season schedule, click here.
K-State Sports Extra highlighted this year's newcomers with features throughout the summer. To view those features, click the below links:
Season tickets for the upcoming men's basketball season are a hot item with bench tickets completely sold out and fewer than 750 cushion and chairback seats remaining for the 17-game home schedule. Mini-plans and the non-conference single-game tickets are also on sale with single-game tickets for the nine-game Big 12 slate set to go on sale in early December. For more ticket information, call 1-800-221-CATS, visit the K-State ticket office in Bramlage Coliseum, or visit www.kstatesports.com/tickets.