SE: Men’s Basketball Celebrates Senior Class

K-State men’s basketball (15-14, 4-12 Big 12) will celebrate its three seniors with a pre-game ceremony this evening before its Big 12 matchup with TCU (11-18, 2-14 Big 12) at 7 p.m., in Bramlage Coliseum. Seniors Justin Edwards, Stephen Hurt and Brian Rohleder will each be recognized for their impact on the program over the past few years before lining up on their home court one final time. 

“Your seniors’ last game at home is a special night,” said K-State head coach Bruce Weber yesterday afternoon. “I talked to our team about getting a win – for our sake, but also for (the seniors). You want to have a nice lasting memory of your last home game here. They’ve all been important members of our team and have had some nice moments along the way, so I’m proud of them. They’re all graduating and they’ve all been good K-Staters.”

Though each senior’s path to tonight’s senior day celebration has been different, the emotions of playing their final home competition will be the same.
Here’s a quick look at this year’s senior class: 

Brian Rohleder, a 6-foot-3 forward from Wichita, Kansas, walked on with the men’s basketball team in 2011 and has since made a difference both on and off the court. A mechanical engineering major, Rohleder has been named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll every semester and was also the K-State Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) President for two years (2013-15).    

Rohleder has played in a total of 66 games in his career, including one start. His hard work paid off last summer when Weber offered him a scholarship for his final year with the Cats. Rohleder said it was the most rewarding moment in his Wildcat career. 

Here’s what Rohleder had to say:
Emotions heading into senior night: “It’s kind of weird; I don’t know that it’s really hit me yet. It’s been a long time being here, and it’s going to be weird knowing that this is the last time I’ll be playing in this place. There are a lot of special memories here, so I’m going to try and make the most of it, go out on a good note and get the win.”

Favorite moment at K-State: “My personal favorite memory was probably getting the three charges last year against Savannah State, but as a team, it’s hard to top the back-to-back KU win – those were probably the most fun – then beating OU this year that was up there as well.”

What will he miss the most? “I’m going to miss everything, the whole experience. The daily grind can kind of wear on you, but I know about a month down the road once it’s all over I’m going to sit back and think, ‘Man I wish I could go back to practice, I wish I could step on the floor in front of the big crowd again.’ So nothing in particular, just the whole routine.” 

What’s up next? “I have a job already, so once I graduate I’ll head right to work. I’ll be going back to Wichita and will be working for Koch Industries as a design and project engineer.”

Here’s what Coach Weber had to say about Rohleder:
 “Brian comes with great energy every day. He works his tail off. He’s a great student-athlete role model who has been a leader of all the different groups in the athletics department and is always involved in something in the community. It’s great to have a young man like that come through your program. He already has a job right out of school, so all the things he’s done he’s being rewarded for it. Whatever he does in life, whatever he decides to do, he’ll be successful because his work ethic, his drive and his communication skills are really positive.”

Justin Edwards, a 6-foot-4 guard from Whitby, Ontario, came to K-State after playing two seasons (2011-13) at the University of Maine where he was among the Black Bears’ top players. At Maine, Edwards played in 58 of 60 games with 56 starts and averaged 15.3 points per game.

Though he had to sit out the 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules, once eligible, Edwards played in all 32 of the Wildcats games his junior year (2014-15). As a junior, he averaged 6.3 points per and 3.3 rebounds per game while leading the team with 37 steals. This year, his senior season at K-State, Edwards has made a huge impact on the court for the Wildcats as he’s currently averaging a team-best 12.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game with 52 steals and 84 assists. His 52 steals rank as the 10th-most in school history and are the most by a Wildcat since Jacob Pullen had 67 in 2009-10.

Here’s what Edwards had to say:
Emotions heading into senior night: “I’m just super excited. I’m not excited to leave, but I’m excited to get back and play in front of the fans in Bramlage. It’s one of my favorite things about playing here, playing in front of them. So I’m just excited to get out and play. I have some family in town, so it will be a fun time.” 

Favorite Moment at K-State: “Beating OU. Beating the No. 1 team in the country, not a lot of players can say that, so that was a huge memory for me. But just playing in front of these fans, that’s a huge thing I’m going to remember. At Maine I played in front of literally 200 people, so coming here, playing in Bramlage, it was just unreal to me.” 

What will he miss the most? “I think (I’ll miss) playing college basketball and being in the Big 12 Conference where every single game we play is in front of a lot of fans; it’s always a cool atmosphere. I’m going to miss that whole college atmosphere.”

What’s up next? “I’ll graduate in May, and I’m going to see how far the game of basketball will take me. I’m going to try and play as long as I can.” 

Here’s what Coach Weber had to say about Edwards:
 “Justin’s been in the gym – he was in there today, he’s in there every day – so he’s been putting in the time and really wants to do well. He’s become probably the best student of the game of all our guys. He wants to coach down the road, and at yesterday’s film session, he talked more than anybody. When he came here he knew nothing about the game, but now, he knows the game. That’s what you want when you have someone come through your program, that they learn about basketball and how to play.”

Like Edwards, Stephen Hurt, a 6-foot-11 forward from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is also a transfer as he came to K-State in 2014 from Northwest Florida State Junior College. Hurt began his collegiate basketball career at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where, after redshirting his first season, he played in 29 games as a redshirt freshman (2012-13) and was rated as the No. 2 scoring and rebounding freshman center in the nation.

Overall in his two seasons with the Cats, Hurt has averaged 5.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game and has dished out 32 assists, grabbed 22 steals and knocked down 15 blocks. 

Here’s what he had to say:
Emotions heading into senior night: “I’ll be really emotional; it’s been great playing here in Bramlage. The fans have been great. I’ve enjoyed playing for my coaches, my teammates, so it’ll be an emotional day, but we have to keep our mind focused on getting the win and keep this thing rolling before the Big 12 Tournament.”

Favorite moment at K-State: “That Kansas win last year, the court storming, it was a great experience. I guess that’s one of my favorites, but it’s been a long journey; it’s been a fun journey. I appreciate all the experiences I’ve had over the last five years, it’s been fun. I’m sad it has to end but excited to move on to the next part of my journey.”

What will he miss the most? “I guess not having as many worries. College is one of the best times of your life, and getting to the real world, you have to worry about money, house payments, crazy stuff like that. It’s crazy to think about it, it went by really fast, but I’m ready to move on to the next step in life, so it’s exciting at the same time.”

What’s up next? “I’m looking at playing professionally for as long as I can, as long as my body will allow me to. And then hopefully go into coaching somewhere, college, high school or prep school. I’ll walk in May, but I got my degree in December.” 

Here’s what Coach Weber had to say about Hurt:
 “He’s a great young man. We have not had one problem with him. He’s here every day, always on time, he works hard, he wants to win, he’s stayed motivated through the whole thing and we’re happy to have him as a part of our program.”

Tonight’s game will be aired on FOX Sports Kansas City with Ben Boyle (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call, while fans can also listen to the game on the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Matt Walters (analyst) calling the action. 

For ticket information, game notes and more on tonight’s men’s basketball game, please click here.