Martin Announces Signing of Awaji, Herrera

Note To Broadcasters: Correct pronunciation is BOO-chee Ah-wah-GEE


MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State head coach Frank Martin announced today the signing of junior college standouts Buchi Awaji (Citrus (Calif.) College; Los Angeles, Calif.) and Abdul Herrera (Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College; Panama City, Panama) to National Letters of Intent.


Awaji comes to Kansas State after playing two seasons at Citrus College in Glendora, Calif., while Herrera played the past season at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kan.  The duo are the first players to sign with the Wildcats for the 2008-09 season.

“We are pleased to welcome the addition of Buchi and Abdul to our basketball program,” said Martin.  “Both add tremendous experience to the roster after having played at the Division I level in their basketball careers.  They know what it takes to succeed at this level.  Buchi is a scorer who was the best player on the best junior college team in the state of California, while Abdul brings us tremendous presence on both offensively and defensively at the rim.” 

A 6-foot-3, 175-pound shooting guard from Los Angeles, Calif., Awaji helped the Fighting Owls to a 35-1 overall record and to their first-ever California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship in 2007-08.  He was named the most valuable player of the state tournament after averaging 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists during the team’s three-game championship run.  He collected double-doubles in the final two games, including 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the 72-67 win over Fullerton in the title contest.  He was named first team all-state and co-most valuable player of the Western State Conference South with teammate Darren Moore.  He is rated as the No. 32 player in the junior college ranks by


The only player to start in all 36 games, Awaji averaged 16.5 points on 54.9 percent shooting (219-of-399), including 40 percent from 3-point range (58-of-145), with 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals in 26.6 minutes per game in 2007-08.  He ranked in the top-5 in nearly every team category, including first in scoring, field goals made and attempted, 3-point field goals and minutes.  He was also second in field goal percentage, free throws made (99) and attempted (138) and rebounding. 


Awaji scored in double figures in 31 of 36 games this past season, including 12 20-point contests.  He poured in a career-high 31 points on 9-of-15 shooting in a 115-110 overtime win over Bakersfield College on Dec. 30, while he posted a career-high 13 rebounds in the semifinal win over L.A. Trade Tech on March 15.  He led the team in scoring in 17 games and in rebounding on seven occasions.    


Awaji averaged 12.5 points on 42.2 percent shooting (154-of-365), including 32.1 percent from 3-point range (45-of-140), with 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists in 19.9 minutes per game as a freshman in 2006-07.  He ranked among the top-5 in most categories, including first in steals and second in both scoring and rebounding.  

Awaji tallied 1,021 points during his two-year stint at Citrus, becoming the first player under head coach Rick Croy to top 1,000-point plateau in a career.  He connected on 48.8 percent (373-of-764) of his field goals in his two-year career, including 36.1 percent (103-of-285) from 3-point range.

Awaji transferred to Citrus College after redshirting his freshman season at Florida International in 2005-06.  He prepped at Loyola High School in Los Angeles, Calif., where he was named first team all-conference and team most valuable player as a senior.

A 6-foot-11, 260-power center from Panama City, Panama, Herrera comes to Kansas State after playing one year at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kan., for head coach Ryan Swanson.  He helped the Dragons to a 23-9 overall record and a second-place finish in the Western Division of the Jayhawk Conference in 2007-08.             


Herrera averaged 6.3 points on a team-best 62.5 percent shooting (70-of-112) for the Dragons this past season with 5.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 12.9 minutes per game.  He ranked second on the squad in blocks, third in rebounding and fifth in scoring.  He scored in double figures in six contests, including a season-high 16 points against Dodge City Community College on Feb. 13.  He also collected one double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds against Garden City Community College on Feb. 27.  He posted a season-best six blocks against Pratt Community College on Feb. 16.


Prior to transferring to Hutchinson, Herrera played one season at Division II South Carolina-Aiken in 2006-07 for head coach Vince Alexander.  Although he saw action in just three games due to injury, he averaged 10.3 points on 38.7 percent shooting (12-of-31) for the Pacers with 7.3 rebounds in 24.0 minutes per game.  His highlight of the season came in an upset win over rival USC Update on Jan 3, 2007 when he posted 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting with 14 rebounds in 36 minutes. 


Herrera attended South Miami High School in Miami, Fla., where he averaged 17.7 points, 12.1 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in guiding the Cobras to the Class 6A Regional Finals as a senior.  He was honorable mention Class 6A All-State in 2005 by the Florida Sports Writers Association as well as a member of the Miami Herald’s All-Dade County second team.  He was rated as the 74th-best player by, including ninth at his position, while he was ranked as the 12th-best center in the nation and 14th-best player in the state of Florida by as a senior. 


Herrera was recruited out of high school to Cincinnati by then assistant coach and current Wildcat coach Frank Martin, where he was redshirt as a freshman in 2005-06 under then head coach Andy Kennedy.  He also received scholarship offers from Boston College, Illinois, Ohio State and St. John’s.


Awaji and Herrera join Miami (Fla.) transfer Denis Clemente as new players who will be eligible for the Wildcats this coming season.  The squad could return up to nine lettermen from a team that posted a 21-12 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1995-96 season.