K-State Hosts Texas Tech on Legends' Weekend
K-State Hosts Texas Tech on Legends' Weekend
Jan. 14, 2011
21/20 Kansas State (12-5, 0-2 Big 12)
vs. Texas Tech (8-9, 0-2 Big 12)
Date: Saturday, January 15, 2011 | Tipoff: 12:30 p.m. CT
Location: Manhattan, Kan. | Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528) | Live Stats: www.k-statesports.com | Internet: ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com
Television: Big 12 Network (Mitch Holthus, play-by-play; Rich Zvosec, analyst; Doc Carothers, producer)
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst) |
Satellite Radio: Sirius 90/XM 231
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International ‘93) is 84-37 (.694) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school. Texas Tech - Pat Knight (Indiana ‘95) is 45-51 (.469) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school.
Series: K-State leads 13-12 (8-3 at home) | Martin vs. Texas Tech: 2-1 | Martin vs. Knight: 2-1 |
K-State vs. Big 12: 91-135
Last Time Out: K-State lost to Colorado, 74-66, at home on Wednesday, while Texas Tech dropped an 83-52 decision to Texas at home on Tuesday.
Rankings: K-State dropped to No. 21 in the AP and No. 20 in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 polls, while Texas Tech is not ranked in either poll.
Tickets: Sold out.
K-State looks to rebound Saturday vs. Texas Tech
No. 21/20 Kansas State (12-5, 0-2 Big 12) looks to rebound from consecutive losses to start conference play, as the Wildcats play host to Texas Tech (8-9, 0-2 Big 12) on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum. The game will highlight Legends’ weekend, as the university will welcome back close to 50 former players and coaches, including All-Americans Ernie Barrett and Jack Parr and Hall of Fame head coach Tex Winter. The lettermen will enjoy activities on Friday night with the currrent Wildcat team and coaching staff and then will be recognized at halftime of Saturday’s contest. The game, which will be the second in a six-day period, will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network with Mitch Holthus (play-by-play) and Rich Zvosec (analyst) on the Big 12 Network, while it will also be available on ESPN Full Court and on ESPN3.com.
K-State will look to continue its recent success against Texas Tech with wins in three of the last four meetings, including an 83-64 victory at the United Spirit Arena a season ago in Lubbock. Overall, the Wildcats hold a 13-12 edge in the series, including an 8-3 mark in games played in Manhattan. The Red Raiders have won 11 of 17 meetings since the start of Big 12 play, including a five-game winning streak from 2004-07.
The team will be back to full strength against Texas Tech, as senior Curtis Kelly is eligible to return from his six-game suspension due to NCAA rules violations. He has not played since the Florida game on Dec. 18, as he and fellow senior Jacob Pullen were declared ineligible on Dec. 20 by K-State after athletic officials confirmed the two had received impermissible benefits on the purchase of clothing at a local department store. Kelly, who joined Pullen on the coaches’ preseason All-Big 12 team, ranked third in scoring at 10.3 points per game before his suspension. He was named to several All-Newcomer teams as a junior in 2009-10. This will mark just the fifth game that the team has been at full strength this year.
The Wildcats is coming off a 74-66 loss to the surging Colorado Buffaloes on Wednesday, in which, the squad saw their late rally fall short for the second consecutive contest. The team is off to an 0-2 start to Big 12 play for the sixth time in eight seasons, including the second time under head coach Frank Martin. However, K-State has fared well in the third game in those instances with four of those units rebounding to win. The most recent occurrence came in 2006-07 when the squad bounced back from setbacks to both Texas A&M and Texas Tech to earn an 85-81 win at Missouri. The team also won their third game after an 0-2 league start in 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06.
For the second consecutive contest, K-State’s scoring droughts doomed its opportunities, as the team combined to go scoreless in 15 minutes of action to end their nine-game winning streak over the Buffaloes and give the squad their first win in Manhattan since Feb. 5, 2005. It was the first loss to Colorado by any member of the current team and the first under coach Frank Martin. The biggest drought came in the middle of the second half, as the Wildcats went scoreless for nearly seven minutes (6:57) between the 17:11 and 10:14 marks to see a 40-39 lead balloon to a 51-43 advantage for the Buffaloes. The team also went without a field goal in the last 3:54 of the first half, watching a 31-24 edge turn into a 33-all tie at the half, and then again in the last 3:55 of the second half when the Wildcats were trying to complete the rally. All told, the team shot just 40.4 percent from the field in the contest, including just 31 percent in the second half. In their five losses this season, the squad is averaging just 28.4 points after halftime on 32.1 percent shooting (42-of-131), including 14.9 percent (7-of-47) from 3-point range. The team also has just 17 assists (on 42 field goals) compared to 39 turnovers in the second half, while opponents have 29 assists to 32 turnovers. These five opponents are averaging 38.4 points on 50 percent shooting (61-of-122) in the second half.
It marks the second straight game that a scoring drought proved costly, as the Wildcats went nearly eight minutes without a field goal (eight consecutive misses from the field to go with five turnovers) during a critical stretch from the 10:12 to the 2:17 mark of the second half in the loss to Oklahoma State on Jan. 8. During that span, the Cowboys turned an eight-point deficit (41-49) into a 10-point lead (68-58). Like the OSU contest, K-State allowed Colorado to score 41 points in the second half on 53.6 percent shooting, including a perfect 6-of-6 from 3-point range, after earning a 33-all tie at halftime. After scoring just 28 points on 35.7 percent shooting in the opening half, Oklahoma State scored 48 points on 44 percent shooting in the second half, which included 24 points from the free throw line.
The game also proved disappointing, in that, Colorado was forced into twice as many turnovers (20) than its season average (10.6), while the Big 12’s best free throw shooting squad went just 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from the line. However, the smaller Buffaloes posted a 38-29 edge on the boards, which led to 16 second-chance points. The 29 rebounds were the fewest this season and the fewest since the Butler game during the NCAA Tournament. The team also posted a season-low 16 defensive boards. However, despite all the negatives, the Wildcats proved to keep their fight, using several runs in the second half to cut the edge to one possession on more than one occasion. During a near five-minute stretch from the 8:38 to the 3:56 mark, Pullen scored 11 of the team’s 20 points to cut the lead to 66-64. However, the squad would not connect on another field goal after Pullen’s lay-up at the 3:56 mark, as Colorado used two field goals and four consecutive free throws to cap the victory. Pullen led all scorers with a game-high 22 points, which included a team-high six assists, five rebounds and four steals in 33 minutes. It marked his third straight 20-point game since returning from his three-game suspension due to NCAA secondary rules violations and his sixth overall this season. He has led the team in scoring in 12 of his 14 games played, including a team-best 12 double-digit scoring games.
Sophomores Rodney McGruder and Martavious Irving also scored in double figures for the Wildcats with 12 points each. McGruder, who is the only player to start in all 16 games, posted double figures for the 11th time, including the fifth time in the last six games, while Irving tied his career-high with the 12-point effort. McGruder, just like Irving, connected on three 3-pointers in the contest, marking the 13th time has has hit on at least two treys in game this season. He posted a career-high seven baskets from long range in the win over UMKC on Dec. 23.
The Wildcats are ranked No. 20 in the USA Today/ ESPN Coaches and No. 21 in The Associated Press Top 25 polls released on Monday morning after starting the year at No. 3 for their highest-ever preseason rankings in both polls. The No. 3 ranking was the highest in an AP poll in
almost 50 years since the team ranked No. 3 on March 6, 1962. The squad fell out of the Top 10 on Dec. 20 for the first time in 13 consecutive polls since ranking No. 11 on Jan. 25, 2010. Overall, the school has appeared in 23 consecutive AP polls dating back to Dec. 14, 2009. K-State is 233-85 (.735) as a ranked team all-time in The Associated Press poll (which dates to 1949-50), including 0-1 (.000) as the 21st-ranked team.
The Book on Texas Tech
Texas Tech enters Saturday’s game with an 8-9 overall record after falling to No. 12/14 Texas on Tuesday by a score of 83-52. It was the worst loss of the season for the Red Raiders, which saw the Longhorns connect on 54.7 percent from the field, including 57.7 percent in the second half. The squad shot just 39 percent from the field, including 0-of-11 from 3-point range, while collecting just two assists to 13 turnovers. Kansas native Robert Lewandowski paced the Raiders with 13 points on 6-of-11 field goals, while Jararez Willis added 10 points off the bench. Since starting the season with a 4-1 mark, the team has won just four of their last 12 contests, including five by double figures. The squad is winless on the road this year with three losses in true road contests and two at neutral sites. The slide is surprising as Tech returns nine lettermen, including seven seniors, from a squad that posted a 19-16 overall record en route to the second round of the NIT in 2009-10.
The Red Raiders are averaging 73.9 points on 45.1 percent shooting from the field, including 32.8 percent from 3-point range, with 33.2 rebounds, 13.8 assists, 6.2 steals and 4.7 blocks per game. The squad is shooting a solid 72.5 percent from the free throw line. The Raiders are a balanced scoring team with 10 players averaging at least three points per game and four averaging in double figures led by senior Mike Singletary’s 13.2 points per game. He is connecting on 45.2 percent from the field to go with a team-best 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Another senior, Brad Reese, is second in scoring at 12 points with 1.4 steals per contest, while senior John Roberson is third at 11.3 points to go with a team-best 3.9 assists and 28 3-point field goals. Senior David Tairu also scores in double figures at 10.4 points per game on 47 percent shooting.
Texas Tech is led by fourth-year coach Pat Knight, who has guided the school to a 45-51 (.469) record since taking over for his legendary father, Bobby, on Feb. 4, 2008. Ironically, his first win came against K-State when his Red Raiders upset the Wildcats, 84-75, on Feb. 13, 2008. He was an assistant to his father at Indiana and Texas Tech from 1999 to 2008, earning the head coach designate role prior to the 2005-06 season.
Series vs. Texas Tech
This will be 26th meeting between K-State and Texas Tech on the hardwood and the 12th in Manhattan. The series dates all the way back to a 89-70 win by the Wildcats at Ahearn Field House on Dec. 6, 1955. The squads played eight times prior to the formation of the Big 12 in 1997 with K-State owning a impressive 7-1 record in those match-ups. However, Texas Tech has flipped its fortunes since the start of Big 12 play, winning 11 of 17 meetings, including a five-game winning streak from 2004-07. Although, the first two meetings in league play were vacated due to NCAA rules violations. The Wildcats have an 8-3 record against the Raiders in Manhattan, including a 4-3 mark in Bramlage Coliseum. The squad has won three of the last four meetings with Texas Tech, including an 83-64 win a season ago in Lubbock. K-State shot 47.5 percent from the field in the victory last year, including 52 percent in the second half, and got near career-game from Jacob Pullen. Pullen scored 28 points on 9-of-14 field goals, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range with five assists and three steals. Three other Wildcats posted double figures scoring with Curtis Kelly totaling 12 points and Jamar Samuels addding a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
‘Cats in January
Kansas State will look to continue its strong play in the month of January this season, where the Wildcats have won 23 of their last 35 games. The squad is 369-308 (.545) all-time in January with 21 wins in their last 29 games at home in the month dating back to the 2004-05 season. K-State has won 17 of its last 28 Big 12 games in January dating back to 2006-07, including a 9-7 mark at home. The squad has won four or more games in the month in each of the last six seasons (the team posted five in 2010), including a perfect 6-0 mark in 2007-08. The Wildcats have posted a winning mark in January 59 times in school history, including a streak of eight straight seasons dating back to 2004-05.
K-State has been solid defensively this season, holding its opponents to 64.5 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting, including 33.9 percent from 3-point range, while forcing them into 16.8 turnovers per contest. The Wildcats have held 12 opponents to 65 points or less, including nine of the last 12, while holding nine foes to under 40 percent shooting from the field. The team also holds an impressive 9.9 rebounding margin against its foes, which ranks fifth nationally. The squad is averaging 41.4 rebounds per game, including 16.2 offensive rebounds, while holding its opponents to 32.3 rebounds per game. K-State leads the Big 12 in offensive rebounds, while it is second in both overall rebounds and margin. The squad has paced in the league in offensive rebounds in each of Frank Martin’s three seasons as head coach.
Topping the Century Mark
K-State posted perhaps its best shooting game this season on New Year’s Eve, as the Wildcats tallied its first 100-point game of the season and the first since the Xavier game in the NCAA Tournament with a 100-76 win over North Florida. It was the first regulation 100-point contest since the Gardner-Webb game on Dec. 14, 2008 and the fifth overall by a Frank Martin-coached team. The team set season-highs for field goal percentage (57.4; 35-of-61), 3-point field goal percentage (58.8; 10-of-17) and free throw percentage (76.9; 20-of-26). The squad also set season-bests for points (100), field goals (35), assists (26) and points in a half (57) and field goal percentage in a half (60.6; 20-of-33). It was the most assists in a contest in more than two years since the Wildcats had 30 dimes against Gardner-Webb on Dec. 14, 2008. All this offensive production was even more impressive because it came without three starters, as seniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly sat out their third consecutive game due to secondary NCAA rules violations, while junior Freddy Asprilla was out due to illness.
Young ‘Cats Step Up
Even before the suspension of seniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly before the UNLV game on Dec. 21, the play of Kansas State’s freshmen and sophomores have played a major role in the team’s solid 12-5 start to the season. This nucleus has scored 660 of the team’s 1265 points thus far (52 percent), while posting 349 of 704 rebounds (50 percent), 145 of 254 assists (57 percent) and 54 of 111 steals (49 percent). The group boasts six of the team’s Top 10 scorers, while it includes three of the Top 5 rebounders and four of the Top 5 assists leaders. Twenty-six of the team’s 54 double-digit scoring efforts have come from sophomores and freshmen led by guard Rodney McGruder, who is second on the squad in double-figure scoring games with 11. He paces the team in 3-point field goals (41) and rebounding (6.5 rpg.), while he is second in scoring (11.9 ppg.), field goals (72), steals (15) and minutes played (28.7 mpg.). Fellow sophomores Wally Judge and Martavious Irving rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in scoring at 6.4 and 6.3 points per game, while true freshman Will Spradling is seventh in scoring at 5.4 points per game and second in assists (2.2 apg.) and free throw percentage (85.7). Judge has claimed two of the team’s three double-doubles (including two in the last five games), while Spradling is just the second rookie guard to earn a start under fourth-year head coach Frank Martin.
This group was even more impressive during Pullen’s three-game suspension (UNLV, UMKC and North Florida games), as the Wildcats averaged nearly 80 points per game (79.7 ppg.), including the school’s first 100-point game of the season, while connecting on 46 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. During this period, the team started three sophomores, one true freshman and one junior with three of the four double-digit scorers being either sophomores or freshmen led by McGruder’s 14.7 points per game.
One of the definite advantage of this year’s Kansas State squad is its depth and versatility. The Wildcats have played at least 10 players in each of its first 17 games, including a high of 14 against No. 18/22 Gonzaga (11/22), Texas Southern (11/26), Emporia State (11/29) and Alcorn State (12/6). The team has used this depth to its advantage, averaging 26 points per game off the bench, while out-scoring its 17 foes by a margin of 442-261. The squad has scored 20 or more points from the bench in 13 of 17 games, including a string of five straight games of at least 30 points from Nov. 16-26 for the first time under head coach Frank Martin, while it posted 40 or more points of production in back-to-back contests for just the second time under Martin and the first time since 2008-09. The Wildcats scored 86 points from the bench against Duke (45) and Texas Southern (41), which is the most in consecutive games since they totaled 104 points in games against Idaho State (45, 1/3/09) and Chicago State (59, 1/5/09). The team has seen 12 different players record 54 double-digit scoring efforts this season, including 17 coming off the bench from seven separate players. Junior Jamar Samuels leads the way with six double-digit scoring efforts from the bench.
Points Off Turnovers
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes. Since he became coach, the Wildcats have scored 2,275 points off of 2,023 turnovers in 121 games, an average of 18.8 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past four years have come off of offense generated from turnovers, including the current season, in which, the team has outscored its foes, 299-251. The squad has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in five games, including a season-best 33 points against Emporia State on Nov. 29. The team has pressured their foes into 15 or more turnovers in 12 games, including a season-high 26 vs. James Madison on Nov. 12. Before the North Florida game on New Year’s Eve, the Wildcats were one of just four schools (Louisville, Washington and Cincinnati) to force each of their opponents into more turnovers than assists in every game. The team’s streak of 17 consecutive games (which led the nation) holding a foe to more turnovers than assists ended on Dec. 31 when the Ospreys tallied 14 assists to just 11 turnovers. It marked the first positive opponent assist-to-turnover ratio since Kansas had 16 assists and 11 turnovers in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on March 13, 2010.
Pullen Moving Up the Charts
Senior Jacob Pullen is nearing several career milestone in the midst of his final season at K-State. In his return from a 3-game suspension to NCAA rules violations, he became the first Wildcat since Askia Jones in 1994 to eclipse the 1,700-point barrier in a career with his team-high 24-point effort vs. Savannah State on Jan. 3. His current total of 1,754 points in 118 career games ranks fourth all-time and is less than 100 points behind Rolando Blackman (1,844, 1977-81)and Askia Jones (1,834, 1989-94), who rank second and third, respectively. He has an outside chance (needs 361 points) to become the school’s all-time scoring champion, which is currently held by Mike Evans with 2,115 points from 1974-78. Pullen ranks among the Top 10 in 19 career categories, including 14 in the Top 5 in school history. Already the school’s career record holder for 3-point field goal attempted (718), he became the leader in 3-point field goals (now at 252) in the win over Emporia State on Nov. 29 with four treys, breaking his second-place tie with Askia Jones (237, 1989-94) and passing former leader Steve Henson (240, 1987-90). His next record could come in steals, where his 187 career thefts trail Henson by just three. With his six makes against Florida on Dec. 11, he became the first Wildcat since Bob Boozer (1956-59) to connect on 400 free throws in a career. He ranks second in free throws attempted (552), and assists (395), third in double-digit scoring games (88), minutes (3,392) and consecutive starts (82), fourth in starts (99) and field goals attempted (1,335) and fifth in field goals (540). In addition, he is the first player in school history to be named team captain three times.
Pullen Named Preseason AP All-American
Senior guard Jacob Pullen became the first Wildcat to earn preseason All-American honors from the Associated Press, as he was named first team selection by the organization in early November. Pullen, who has been selected to a number of All-American teams, was joined on the first team by North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson and Duke’s Kyle Singler. He was an honorable mention AP All-American as a junior after leading Kansas State to its first Elite Eight since 1988. He was already been named a preseason All-American by a number of media outlets, including to the first team by ESPN.com, Blue Ribbon Yearbook and The Sporting News, to the second team by Dick Vitale and to the third team by Athlon Sports. He was also selected a preseason Top 50 candidate for the Wooden Award, given to the nation’s top player by the Los Angeles Athletic Club, while he was named one of 50 preseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T on Nov. 16. Pullen is also a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, given to the nation’s top all-around senior basketball player.
McGruder Takes Off
Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been one of the team’s most consistent all-around players this season, averaging 11.9 points on 46 percent shooting, including 41.8 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.9 steals in 28.7 minutes per game. The only player to start all 17 games, McGruder also paces the team in 3-point field goals (41), while he is second in scoring, double-digit scoring games (11), field goals (72), steals (15) and minutes. He had a career day against UMKC on Dec. 23, setting highs in five categories, including points (24), field goals (eight), field goals attempted (14), 3-point field goals (seven) and 3-point field goals attempted. His seven treys tied 10 others players for the fourth-most in a single-game in school history, while he was the first to do it since Jacob Pullen had seven against BYU in the NCAA Tournament. Despite the presence of the school’s all-time leader in Pullen, McGruder has been the team’s best long range threat with at least two makes from 3-point range in 13 of his 17 games. All of 6-foot-4, he has also been the best rebounder, posting at least five boards in 14 contests, including a career-high 10 against UNLV on Dec. 21. He has led the team in department on eight occasions.
From Reserve to Starter
A reserve for much of his career, junior Jamar Samuels has made the most of his four consecutive starts against North Florida, Savannah State and Oklahoma State. The reigning Big 12 Sixth Man Award winner, he is averaging 12.5 points in the span on 51.4 percent shooting (19-of-37), including 50 percent (3-of-6) from beyond the arc, to go with 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 24.8 minutes per game. Pressed into the starting line-up against North Florida due to an illness by Freddy Asprilla, he earned his first start since the first game of his sophomore season with perhaps his best offensive day. He posted just his second 20-point game of his career, as he came up just one short of his career-high of 27 against Oklahoma State last season at the Big 12 Championships. He went 11-of-15 from the field against Ospreys, including 2-of-3 effort from 3-point range, to go with five assists in 23 minutes. He followed that up with an 11-point effort against Savannah State. For the season, he is averaging 9.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 23 minutes per game. He has eight double-digit scoring efforts, including six off the bench.
Here Comes the Judge
Sophomore Wally Judge has started to come into his own in the past five games, where he is averaging 11.4 points on 42.2 percent shooting to go with a team-best 8.2 rebounds per game. A starter in the team’s first seven games, he was hampered by personal issues for much of late November and December, but has seemed to have come out of it a stronger player. Pressed back into the line-up after the suspension of senior Curtis Kelly, Judge responded with his first career double-double against UMKC on Dec. 23 with 14 points and 11 rebounds in just 25 minutes. He turned in a career day against North Florida on Dec. 31 with a career-high 22 points on 6-of-9 field goals to go with a team-high nine rebounds in a career-best 30 minutes. He was also impressive from the free throw line, connecting on 10-of-13 shots, which marked not only a career-high but also the most by a Wildcat. He continued his strong play against Savannah State with yet another double-double with 13 points and a career-best 14 rebounds. He has 57 points and 41 rebounds in the past five games compared to just 32 points and 21 rebounds in his previous nine.
Coaching Staff Continuity
One of the main reasons that Kansas State has been able to win a school-record 72 games over the past three seasons has been its ability to not only keep head coach Frank Martin, who earned a new multi-year contract through the 2014-15 season during the off-season, but his entire staff, which includes associate head coach Dalonte Hill, assistants Matt Figger and Brad Underwood, director of operations Andy Assaley and strength coach Scott Greenawalt. K-State is one of just two Big 12 schools (other being Missouri) to have kept their entire staff together for the last four seasons. This has enabled the Wildcats to post 72 wins the past three seasons, which is the most by a coaching staff in their first three seasons and the most-ever by the school in that span. They are the first staff to post three consecutive 20-win seasons since 1979-82 and just the second group to guide K-State to the postseason in each of their first three seasons. The staff has also captured 30 Big 12 wins in last three years, which ties Jack Hartman’s staff from 1970-73 for the most in a three-year period. They have also helped make the K-State one of just two in the Big 12 to finish in the top-4 in the league standings and receive a bye at the Big 12 Championship each of the past three years.
Season Tickets Sold Out
With preseason expectations for K-State at a near all-time high, officials announced on Oct. 22 that all reserved tickets for the 2010-11 season have been sold. K-State has sold over 12,000 season tickets to the general public and students, surpassing last year’s total by over 750 tickets. The school has ranked among the nation’s leaders in attendance in three of the last four seasons, including ranking 31st with an average of 11,884 fans per game to 17 home games in 2009-10. The team also ranked fourth in attendance among Big 12 institutions and was second only to Kansas in sellouts with 14. In addition, the school enjoyed the nation’s largest average attendance increase with nearly 3,000 more fans per game. Three of the top-5 single-season attendance averages have come in the last four years.
Diaz, Gipson Sign with K-State for 2011-12
Head coach Frank Martin announced the signing of high school standouts Adrian Diaz (Miami, Fla./Hialeah-Miami Lakes) and Thomas Gipson (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill) to National Letters of Intent on Nov. 14. Both players are listed on the Rivals150 by Rivals.com with the 6-foot-7, 245-pound Gipson listed at No. 142 and the 6-foot-11, 220-pound Diaz checking in at No. 145.
An emerging post prospect, Diaz is currently a senior at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School in Hialeah, Fla. As a junior, he averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Trojans, which posted a 5-15 overall record and 3-7 mark in league play in 2009-10. He was named preseason honorable mention all-state by FloridaHoops.com. He will be the third member of his family to play college basketball, following his brothers, Eric, who played at Eckerd College, and Andres (Andy), who currently is a sophomore forward at North Florida. He received scholarship offers from a variety of schools, including Virginia Tech, South Florida and FIU, along with interest from Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Syracuse.
Rated as the 13th-best prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops.com, Gipson is currently a senior at Cedar Hill High School in Cedar Hill, Texas. As a junior, he led the team in scoring (16 ppg.) and rebounding (7.2 rpg.) en route to helping the Longhorns to a 28-4 overall record and a trip to the area round of the 2010 UIL (University Interscholastic League) Class 5A Tournament. The team ranked as high as No. 6 in the TABC Class 5A state poll before losing to Lewisville, 84-82, in the area-round playoffs. Gipson was a TABC first team Class 5A All-State selection and was co-MVP of District 7-5A. He helped Cedar Hill to the 2009 Class 5A state final as a sophomore where he averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He was named first team All-Area by the Dallas Morning News and was the District 7-5A Sophomore of the Year.