SE: Kinnamon Reconnects with Past as Walk-On For K-State

Kade Kinnamon’s journey to walking on to the K-State men’s basketball team started in 2015. In some ways, however, it began well before then.

Kinnamon participated in an open gym session at K-State before practices began for the 2015-16 season. This led to more workouts in the spring and eventually a conversation with K-State head coach Bruce Weber. 

“He gave me the option. He said, ‘You can walk on if you want. I know you might want to go play other places, but the option is here if you want it,’” Kinnamon recalled Weber telling him. “I ended up staying here because I thought this would be the coolest opportunity, so I definitely took it and jumped right on it.”

For Kinnamon, who had opportunities to play on scholarship at lower collegiate levels, a few connections to K-State made the option of walking on too good to pass up. 

First, it allowed him to reunite with a former teammate and longtime friend in Dean Wade, selected to the All-Big 12 Newcomer Team last season. The two played together at St. John, where Kinnamon was part of two of the Tigers’ three-straight state titles.  

“It’s been a blast,” Kinnamon said of being on the same team with Wade again. “It’s just so much fun to be able to say that you played with someone in high school and then you played on a DI college team with him. You hardly ever see that. I really take it to heart and don’t ever take it for granted because it’s really special.”

“It’s been really cool,” Wade, who started playing with Kinnamon in the fifth grade, added with a smile. “The chemistry never left.” 

Also, Kinnamon’s final game at St. John — a 13-point win over Plainville for the 2A state title in 2014 — took place in Bramlage Coliseum, where K-State will host Pittsburg State in its first exhibition on Friday at 7 p.m. 

This time, curtains won’t hang from both goal sides and empty seats will be much harder to find. 

“It’s a lot different when at state basketball there’s only 3,000 fans and there’s 12,000 in Bramlage during the season,” Kinnamon said. “It’s a lot more fun when you’re wearing purple instead of white and blue in a big arena like that. I’m excited for it.”

Kinnamon started his college career at Seward County Community College, where he spent his only season injured. His early experiences with K-State sold him quickly on veering off the junior college route.  

“It’s just so much different. Here at K-State, the family atmosphere with all the fans, players and coaches, everybody is so nice,” he said. “That was the reason that made me stay here — everybody has your back all the time.”

Another change for Kinnamon, albeit an easier one, was switching his in-state allegiance from Kansas to K-State. 

“That’s a sticky situation,” the sophomore said, laughing. “My family grew up KU fans and when you’re in a household, you kind of do what your parents like. I grew up a KU fan and then I grew smart last year, came to school here and I really loved it.”

The hardest adjustment, Kinnamon said, has been accepting the role that comes with being a walk-on. 

“Coming from a really successful program — Dean and I — where we were two of the best players, it’s definitely been a major adjustment for me,” said Kinnamon, who finished as the all-time leader in assists and second in career steals for St. John, coached by his father Clint Kinnamon. “It’s definitely a little bit of an adjustment in itself, but I’m enjoying it and I definitely don’t take it for granted.”

As a walk-on, Kinnamon looks forward to helping K-State in any way he can.  

“It’s energy in practice. It’s shooting. If they’re struggling against a zone, I hope I could be able to bring something in,” he said. “You have to bring it every day, and I like to bring my energy and bring my focus.”