Wildcats Begin A New Era in 2006-07
Wildcats Begin A New Era in 2006-07
A new chapter in
“K-State is, history-wise, a lot like it was when I went to
Huggins takes over a program that could return up to four starters and nine lettermen from a team that produced a 15-13 overall record and 6-10 mark in Big 12 Conference play in 2005-06. The Wildcats finished in a three-way tie for seventh place in the league standings before falling in the first round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship to Texas Tech. The season included a 9-2 mark in non-conference play and recorded impressive wins over Big 12 co-champion Kansas and NCAA Tournament participant Texas A&M, however, the squad could not quite win the close game, ranking third nationally (with three other squads) with a school-record nine losses by five points or less.
Lance Harris (6-5, 190, Sr., Guard)
Akeem Wright (6-6, 190, Sr., Guard)
Clent Stewart (6-4, 195, Jr., Guard)
Blake Young (6-2, 180, Jr., Guard)
The Wildcats return a solid core of players to the backcourt, including a two-year starting point guard in junior Clent Stewart as well as a pair of experienced shooting guards in seniors Akeem Wright and Lance Harris. Huggins also added an immediate contributor in honorable mention junior college All-American Blake Young during the spring signing period, who ranked third nationally in scoring at 23.2 points per game.
Stewart returns for his junior season with ample experience running the point, as he has started 49 of the last 57 games for the Wildcats. Although not a prolific scorer (4.6 ppg.), Stewart demonstrated effective skills in running the offense, as he ranked 15th in the Big 12 in assists, including 11th in league-only contests, and 12th in assist/turnover ratio (1.49), including seventh in league-only games.
Young and Wright should also provide valuable minutes behind Stewart at the point in addition to their duties at shooting guard.
A 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard from
Regarded for his tenacious defense, Wright saw action in all 28 games for the Wildcats last season with 21 starts. He ranked among the top four in nearly every category, including second in minutes (28.5), rebounding (5.4 rpg.) and defensive rebounds (4.1 rpg.), third in starts, assists (2.6 apg.) and blocks (0.6 bpg.) and fourth in scoring (6.2 ppg.). Regularly assigned to the opponent’s best offensive player, Wright was a big reason the Wildcats posted its lowest opponent scoring average (63.9 ppg.) since the inception of the shot clock and 3-point line during the 1986-87 season and the second-lowest field goal percentage defense (39.8) in the last 38 seasons.
In addition to Young and Wright, Harris should give the Wildcats another viable option at the shooting guard spot. He averaged 10.7 points on 41.5 percent shooting last season with 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 25.6 minutes. Harris ranked second on the team in 3-point field goals (27) and double-figure scoring (14), while he was third in scoring, field goals and free throws.
Harris also provides the team significant experience, having seen action in 63 consecutive games, which ranks second on the team behind Cartier Martin’s 70.
Serge Afeli (6-9, 235, Sr., Forward)
Cartier Martin (6-7, 220, Sr., Guard/Forward)
David Hoskins (6-5, 225, Jr., Guard/Forward)
Darren Kent (6-10, 210, So., Forward)
Deilvez Yearby (6-6, 205, So., Forward)
Jason Bennett (7-3, 265, Fr., Center)
Luis Colon (6-10, 260, Fr., Center)
One of the biggest question marks entering the season is the status of returning All-Big 12 second team selection Cartier Martin, who was suspended indefinitely by the university in late May.
Just the third Wildcat in the Big 12 era to be selected to the coaches’ All-Big 12 second team, Martin paced the squad in nearly every category last season, including scoring (18.0 ppg.), rebounding (6.6 rpg.), field goals (161), 3-point field goals (50), free throws (132), free throw shooting (84.1) and minutes (32.8). His 18.0 scoring average was the highest by a Wildcat since 1993-94, while he became just the third player since 1990-91 to top 500 points in a single-season.
Martin ranked among the top 15 in eight Big 12 categories and was one of just three players (joining Texas A&M’s Joseph Jones as the only returning) to rank in the Big 12’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding, double-doubles, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. A decision on his status is expected by October.
Despite the indecision on Martin, there is some depth at the small forward spot with the return of two lettermen in junior David Hoskins and sophomore Deilvez Yearby.
A member of the league’s All-Newcomer team, Hoskins was the team’s second-leading scorer a year ago at 13.1 points per game, while he was second in double figure scoring games (20), field goals (123), field goalpercentage (50.8), free throws (119), steals (0.9 spg.) and offensive rebounds (2.4 rpg.). A starter in 21 of the team’s 28 games, he scored in double figures in 10 of the team’s last 13 contests, including a career-tying 25 points against Texas Tech in the Big 12 Championship.
Hoskins ranked among the top 20 in three Big 12 categories, including offensive rebounds (11th), free throw percentage (14th) and scoring (19th). He was the only player this past season to be named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week twice, earning the honor first on Nov. 28 and then on Dec. 12.
Yearby could provide some time behind Hoskins at the small forward spot after seeing action in 14 games as a true freshman. He averaged 4.3 minutes per game, but did see action in each of the last five contests.
Senior Serge Afeli and sophomore Darren Kent, along with freshmen Jason Bennett and Luis Colon, are the four candidates who will provide the competition for the Wildcats at the power forward and center positions.
As a true freshman,
At 7-foot-3 and 265 pounds, Bennett is the tallest player to ever sign with K-State and one of just five seven-footers in its history.
Rated as the 30th-best high school player, including the sixth-best center prospect, he was a four-year starter at
The 6-foot-10 native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, Colon averaged 15.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and a Miami-Dade County-best 4.5 blocks per game en route to guiding Krop High School to a school-best 29-4 overall record and a No. 1 ranking for the majority of the season. He earned numerous honors during his senior season, including honorable mention Class 6A All-State and first team
Five nationally-televised games, including a pair of regular season contests on ESPN on ABC for the first time in school history, highlight the 31-game regular season schedule for the Wildcats in 2006-07.
“We are obviously excited about the exposure all these television opportunities give our program,” said head coach Bob Huggins. “I think every kid in
The five national games equal the 1989-90 team for the most nationally-televised appearances in school history.
K-State will play its first game on ABC Sports in nearly 20 years on Saturday, Feb. 3 when the Wildcats face reigning Big 12 co-champion
In addition to the national telecasts,
“I think this will be a challenging schedule for our players,” Huggins said. “I think playing the four road games plus the games in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic and the contest with Xavier in
The non-conference slate will provide numerous tests for Huggins' first squad with eight games to be played away from Bramlage Coliseum, which ties four other squads for the most in school history.
The road schedule is highlighted by a pair of games at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic and a neutral-site contest against Xavier at U.S. Bank Arena in
The always-difficult Big 12 schedule begins for K-State on Saturday, Jan. 6, as the Wildcats open conference play on the road for the fourth consecutive season against NCAA Tournament participant Texas A&M at 7 p.m. The game marks the first league opener for the program in
The 11th annual Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship runs from Thursday, March 8 to Sunday, March 11 at the