Men’s Basketball Opens Practice Friday

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MANHATTAN, Kan.
– A veteran Kansas State roster that includes the return of six players with starting experience opens men’s basketball practice on Friday afternoon (September 30) at the Ice Family Basketball Center. 

The Wildcats will have 20 practices over the next month before hosting the first of two exhibition games on Friday, October 28 against Division II foe Pittsburg State. The squad officially tips off the 2016-17 season at 8 p.m., on Friday, November 11 when they play host to Western Illinois in the second game of a men’s and women’s doubleheader.

“This is an exciting day for players and coaches across the country with the start of a new season,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “For a coach, the next six weeks will be both a fun and challenging time as we begin to build a foundation for the season. I think we had a great off-season, both in the gym as well as in the weight room, in making improvement.”

Armed with a veteran roster, the Wildcats will look to build on a 10-day trip to Italy and Switzerland in August with the return of nine lettermen highlighted by All-Big 12 Third Team selection Wesley Iwundu and All-Newcomer honorees Barry Brown and Dean Wade. Overall, the squad returns five of their top six scorers from last season, along with nearly 70 percent of their rebounding, assist, steal and minute totals. 

Iwundu (11.9 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) is the team’s top returner in scoring, assists and steals, while rising senior D.J. Johnson (9.3 ppg., 5.2 rpg.) is the leader among three returning players (along with Iwundu and Wade) who averaged better than 4 rebounds per contest a season ago. Johnson had a breakout junior season in 2015-16, posting career-highs for scoring and rebounding while setting the K-State single season mark for field goal percentage (60.8; 107/176).

The Wildcats averaged better than 80 points per game in posting a 3-2 record during their European trip with sophomore Kamau Stokes averaging a team-best 10.8 points per game to go with 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per outing. Stokes missed the final 12 games of the season due to a knee injury after starting 20 of the first 21 games of his freshman campaign. Freshman Xavier Sneed, who scored in double figures in the first four contests, also averaged in double figures at 10.4 points per game to go with 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.

Wade (9.6 ppg., 6.2 rpg.) and Johnson (8.0 ppg., 6.8 rpg.) also enjoyed solid performances on the trip, while five other players averaged better than 5 points per game, including Brown (7.6 ppg.), senior Carlbe Ervin II (6.8 ppg.), redshirt freshman Isaiah Maurice (6.2 ppg.), freshman Brian Patrick (6.2 ppg.) and Iwundu (5.4 ppg.).

“We got a little bit of a jump-start to the season with the trip we took in August,” said Weber. “The goal right now is to build on that experience, so we can make the necessary improvements to have a successful season.”

Fans will be able to see the Wildcats in action on Saturday, October 8, as the team will host an open practice from 3:15-4 p.m., at Bramlage Coliseum prior to the home football game with Texas Tech. 

Single-game tickets for the 18-game home schedule, excluding the Kansas game, will go on sale to the public on Monday, October 3. Single-game tickets, along with a variety of season ticket packages and three mini-plans, can be purchased through the Athletics Ticket Office, including toll free at (800) 221.CATS (2287), online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets and in-person at Bramlage Coliseum.