Clemente Finds New Home in Manhattan

Editor's Note: The following story appeared in Friday's edition of Kansas State Official Sports Report and was written by OSR's Mark Janssen. Official Sports Report has been honoring Kansas State's five senior basketball players this week with each having a unique story from their Wildcat career. Saluted in Senior Day games Saturday will be Kari Kincaid and Ashley Sweat from the women's team, and, Chris Merriewether, Luis Colon and Denis Clemente from the men's side. We hope you have enjoyed their reflections on their days as a Wildcat.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Denis Clemente has accomplished so much as point guard of the Wildcats.

With 944 points, he's the third highest scorer in Kansas State history, which has helped the Wildcats to 46 victories in the last two seasons. He's been a second team All-Big 1 2 performer and recipient of the league's Newcomer of the Year Award.

So, what is Clemente most proud of in his two-year Wildcat stay?

"I'm going to be the first one in my family to ever graduate," said Clemente, a social science major. "That means a lot to my mom (Raquel Perez). It will mean a lot to both of us that she will be here for Senior Night. "

When pressed on his biggest basketball accomplishment, Clemente breaks into a wide smile as he says, "The 44 points (against Texas last year). All day long that's a high. A Big 12 record . 44 points."

A native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Clemente came to the United States as a 15-year-old, playing two years at Calusa Prep in Miami, where he had his No. 15 jersey retired after averaging 33.5 points per game.

Electing to stay close to home, Clemente first attended the University of Miami, where he played 61 games with 28 starts and av eraging 5.5 and 9.8 points per game as a freshman and sophomore, respectively.

It was with the Hurricanes that Clemente said, "My best sport could have been baseball. I think I could have started at shortstop for them."

Instead, he transferred to Kansas State, and after sitting out the 2007-08 season, he became K-State's starting point guard and the Big 12's best first-year player by averaging 15.0 points.

Now a senior, Clemente is contributing 16 points per game for the No. 5-ranked Wildcats, which has included nine games of at least 20 points, including a 30-pointer against Iowa State.

"All of this proves that hard worked has paid off," Clemente said of the Wildcat team ranking. "Right now it's just a number because we want No. 1. Sometimes it's not about the number, but it's all about how you get to a certain number."

A certain number achieved in a home arena - Bramlage Coliseum - that Clemente refers to as ". amazing. Oh man, does that place get crazy. There are so many people there just to cheer for you. It's been the time of my life."

Kansas State has also been the place where Clemente said, "I learned to understand myself. This has been a dream come true. I hope there's more dream to come. It's become my family. These guys are brothers to me."

Clemente gave a reflective pause before adding, "I wish I was a freshman again. It's been a cool experience."

And it has all come in a place that Clemente now calls home.

"I love this town. I came with no English to the middle of nowhere wondering how am I going to make this fun," laughs Clemente. "But the people have made it fun. I hope my name stays here and that people are proud of me."

In the future, Clemente hopes for an opportunity in the NBA, but if not, he'll pursue a career overseas.

"We'll take it step by step and see what happens," said Clemente.