SE: The Guy: Wesley Iwundu
Wesley Iwundu wasted no time when reporters asked what a “good” stat line should look like from him this season.
“16 points, 8 rebounds, five assists,” he said without hesitation.
And don’t, he reminded, forget his defensive presence.
“I still have my game on defense too,” he added. “I’m ready to hold the best player on the other team. Whatever I have to do for us to win and to put our team in a good position, I’m ready for it.”
Iwundu is ready to step up and do it all – a position that has surged him into the spotlight.
One of just five returning scholarship players for the K-State men’s basketball team, the junior guard from Houston, Texas, enters the 2015-16 season with a new pressure on his shoulders.
“He needs to be a stat stuffer,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said at the team’s media day earlier this month. “If we are going to be successful and he is going to be successful, he has to have that (stat) line filled up every game. He is very capable; he has the athleticism, he has the length and he has worked on his scoring. If he does those things, it is going to help us. I think he has embraced it.”
This season, Iwundu is looked at as the guy. He’s the one who will be looked at to help the team through tough situations. He has to score and defend and rebound and lead.
His role is to do it all.
“He came in as one of the ‘other guys,’” continued Weber on his top player. “He was never a star in high school or even recruited until senior year. He didn’t get that attention, so this is a little different for him, but I like what he has done the last two or three weeks. He has really stepped up.”
Last season, Iwundu played a key role in 31 of the Wildcats’ contests where he averaged 5.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. His defensive presence was a major factor in the Wildcats’ success throughout the entire season as duties often included covering the opposing team’s best players.
And who could forget his performance in K-State’s upset victory over No. 12/13 Iowa State? Iwundu scored the team’s final four points in that game including a steal and game-winning dunk in the game’s final seconds, surging K-State to its 70-69 victory.
“Everybody is kind of looking at Wes to be ‘the guy’ this year, but I think he’s doing a good job of just being Wes and not letting the pressure get to him,” said senior Brian Rohleder. “He’s still doing what he does well. He’s still working hard, being the guy giving us energy on the court. He’s doing great. Wes is going to do great this year. You feel good when you know a guy like him is on your team.”
During the offseason, Iwundu has improved in all facets of his game. He’s a versatile player, and, along with gaining some weight – he came to K-State at 175 pounds and is now weighing in at 210 – Iwundu has gained additional strength and skill on the court.
Fans had their first glimpse of this bigger, stronger Iwundu at the Wildcats’ opening Purple vs. White scrimmage on October 18, in Bramlage Coliseum. Iwundu led the K-State with 12 points, three assists and two rebounds in the open practice.
“I’ve been working with my strength and conditioning coach and I’m doing a lot of footwork, a lot of strength work,” explained Iwundu. “Consistency is a big word that I want to add to my game. I feel like I’ve been missing that over the past few years, so that’s something I’m definitely working on to come out and be an impact in every game and fill every stat on the stat sheet.”
With Iwundu’s new role comes a new opportunity. He has the opportunity to take a team filled with youth, newness and question marks and help it surprise the critics.
And, according to his teammates, there’s no better guy for the job.
“He’s developed not only as a player but as a person too,” said Rohleder. “Wes is a great guy. His offensive game has just improved each year. His shooting has gotten a lot better. He’s just one of those guys who can do it all. He can shoot it from the outside but also finish at the rim and do all the things in between. We’re all really excited for Wes; I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
The Wildcats tip off the 2015-16 season this Friday at 7 p.m., against Emporia State in the first of two exhibition games at Bramlage Coliseum. The Cats will host Maryland-Eastern Shore on Friday, Nov. 13, for the first game of the regular season.
Fans can purchase tickets in a variety of ways, including toll free at (800) 221.CATS (2287), online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets and in-person at the Athletics Ticket Office located in Bramlage Coliseum.
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