K-State Set For First Road Trip Sunday at Virginia Tech

Freshman Thomas Gipson is averaging 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in last three games.

Dec. 3, 2011

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Game 5
Kansas State (4-0) at Virginia Tech (5-2)
Sunday, December 4, 2011 * 4:35 p.m. CT * Blacksburg, Va. * Cassell Coliseum (9,847)

Game Information
Television: ESPNU
Jon Sciambi (play-by-play); Hubert Davis (analyst)
Channels: n/a
HD Channels: n/a
Internet: ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Dave Riggert (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 117/XM 190 (home radio only)
Live Stats: www.k-statesports.com/multimedia
Live Audio: www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday
K-State vs. Virginia Tech: 1-0 (W, 73-57; 11/16/2010)
vs. ACC: 7-10 (0-2 on the road)

The Game
Kansas State (4-0) will make its road debut on Sunday, as the Wildcats make their first-ever trek to Blacksburg, Va., to take on Virginia Tech (5-2) at historic Cassell Coliseum.  The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU at 4:30 p.m. CT with Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and Hubert Davis (analyst) on the call.  The Virginia Tech athletics department will be staging a Whiteout at Cassell Coliseum with the Hokies wearing special Nike white Throwback uniforms.  The game will also mark the start of Jimmy V Week on all of ESPN’s networks as they highlight those battling or affected by cancer in an effort to raise money for more research.  

Big Stretch
After playing just two games in a 17-day stretch, the Wildcats have now started a span of four games in 11 days, including three in an eight-day period.  The stretch began on Thursday night at home, where the squad ran their non-conference winning streak at Bramlage Coliseum to 37 games with a 69-56 win over George Washington.  Following Sunday’s game, K-State will play a neutral site game with former coach Bob Huggins and future Big 12 foe West Virginia (4-1) on Thursday, Dec. 8 at the Wichita Wildcat Classic at INTRUST Bank Arena.  The team doesn’t return home until Sunday, Dec. 11 when they play host to North Florida.

The Opponent
Virginia Tech enters Sunday’s game with 5-2 record after dropping a 58-55 decision at Minnesota in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Wednesday night.  The Hokies opened the year with three straight wins against East Tennessee State (64-53), Monmouth (91-46) and Florida International (78-63) before dropping a 69-58 decision to Syracuse in the semifinals of the NIT Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 23.  The squad wrapped up the tournament with a 59-57 win over Oklahoma State then came home to beat St. Bonaventure, 73-64, on Nov. 27.  Under longtime coach Seth Greenberg, the Hokies are averaging 68.3 points on 44.6 percent shooting (158-of-354), including 41.2 percent (49-of-119) from 3-point range, to go with 35.7 rebounds, 14.3 assists, 5.9 steals and 5.1 blocks per game.  Much like K-State, Virginia Tech is strong on the defensive end, allowing just 58.6 points on 38 percent shooting, including 21.6 percent from 3-point range.  Junior Erick Green leads a balanced attack at 16.5 points on 51.6 percent shooting, including a team-best 57.7 percent from beyond the arc, with 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 32.3 minutes per game.  Senior Dorenzo Hudson adds 12.3 points on a team-best 32.6 minutes per contest, while freshman Dorian Finney-Smith is a presence down low with team-bests in rebounds (9.7 rpg.), assists (3.0 apg.) and  blocks (1.1 bpg.).   

Last Meeting: K-State 73, Virginia Tech 57
K-State won a battle of ranked teams last season, as third-ranked Wildcats posted a 73-57 win over the 22nd-ranked Hokies at a sold-out Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 16, 2010.  A balanced scoring effort proved to be the difference over the much-hyped duel between senior guards Jacob Pullen and Malcolm Delaney, as four players scored in double figures led by Pullen’s 13 points.  Rodney McGruder nearly added a double-double with 13 points and nine boards, while Jamar Samuels (13 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) and Jordan Henriquez (10 points, 8 rebounds) were pivotal off the bench.  The Wildcats won despite shooting 40.6 percent from the field, including 30.4 percent from 3-point range, compared to the Hokies’ 48.8 percent shooting.  Delaney led Virginia Tech with a game-high 22 points to go with five assists and three steals, while Dorenzo Hudson added 12 points. 

Series
This will be just the second meeting and the first since last season’s 73-57 win in Manhattan.  The Wildcats are 7-10 against the ACC, including a 0-2 mark on the road.  This will be the first regular-season visit to ACC country since Dec. 11, 1959 when K-State dropped a 66-59 decision at N.C. State.  The school also lost to the Wolfpack, 59-39, in the 1998 postseason NIT.  This could be the first of two meetings with the ACC this year, as the Wildcats could face Clemson in the second round of the Diamond Head Classic in late December.  Head coach Frank Martin is 1-1 against the ACC with a loss to Duke coupled with the Virginia Tech win.

On the Road Again 
Kansas State hits the road for the first time in 2011-12, searching for the program’s first win on an ACC campus.  The squad has been solid away from home under head coach Frank Martin, posting a 20-17 (.545) record in true road games, including a 4-1 (.800) mark in non-conference road contests.  The Wildcats have won two straight on the road dating back to last year (including handing No. 7 Texas its lone home loss) and have won three in a row in non-conference action dating back to a 75-70 setback at Oregon on Dec. 7, 2008.  The four wins have come at Cleveland State (69-59) on Nov. 22, 2008, UNLV (95-80) on Dec. 12, 2009, Washington State (63-58) on Dec. 3, 2010 and Loyola Chicago (68-60) on Dec. 11, 2010.  Martin’s 20 road victories are all the more impressive considering that K-State won just 24 (against 96 losses) in the previous 11 seasons from 1996-2007 prior to his arrival.  If you take out the six road wins during the Huggins’ era (in which Martin was on staff), you would have to tally all the wins from 1995 to 2006 to get more than 20 (22 compared to 95 defeats).

In December
K-State has been solid in the second month of the season under head coach Frank Martin, posting a 21-5 (.808) overall record in December since 2007-08, including a stellar 14-0 mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  The Wildcats have also won 22 consecutive games at their home venue in Manhattan in the month with the last loss coming to Rutgers, 76-66, on Dec. 28, 2004.  Overall, the team is 34-1 (.971) in December at Bramlage Coliseum the past nine seasons (2002-10).     

The Race for 100  
Head coach Frank Martin will be going for his 100th career victory at Kansas State on Sunday at Virginia Tech.  He would become just the fourth head coach in school history to eclipse the 100-victory plateau and the first since Jack Hartman (295-169; 1970-86) did it in midway through the 1975-76 season.  Other 100-win coaches include Naismith Hall of Famers Jack Gardner (147-81, 1939-42, 1946-53) and Fred “Tex” Winter (261-118, 1954-68).  Martin has a chance to win 100 games faster than all but Winter, who notched his 100th win in his 142nd game as head coach midway through the 1958-59.  Hartman won 100 games in 149 games, while Gardner did it in his 170th game in his second stint as head coach in 1950-51.  The 2009-10 Big 12 Coach of the Year, Martin is the first Wildcat head coach to post a 20-win season in each of his first four years and joined Lon Kruger as the only head coaches in school history to guide teams to the postseason in his first four seasons.  The three NCAA Tournament appearances in a four-year span are the most since the squad went to four consecutive tournaments from 1986-90.

Second Half Surge
Just four games into the season, it appears that Kansas State should start its games in the second half.  The Wildcats are averaging 44 points on 53.5 percent shooting (61-of-114) from the field in the second half compared to just 32.8 points on 36.4 percent shooting (43-of-118) in the opening half.  This was no more evident against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Nov. 22, as the team scored 56 points after halftime on 65.6 percent shooting (21-of-32) compared to 36 points on 37.9 percent shooting (11-of-29) in the first half.  The squad has statistically been a better defensive team in the second half, as opponents are averaging 26 points on 27.8 percent shooting (30-of-108), including 15 percent (6-of-40) from 3-point range after halftime compared to 32.5 points on 37.4 percent shooting (46-of-123), including 45.2 percent (14-of-31) from beyond the arc, in the first half.  There is also a marked difference from first to second half from the free throw line, where the Wildcats are hitting at 71.4 percent (40-of-56) after halftime compared to 60.3 percent (35-of-58) in the opening half.  In addition, the squad has reduced its turnovers in the second half, averaging 6.3 miscues after the break compared to an 8.3 average in the first half. 

K-State’s top three scorers - Rodney McGruder, Will Spradling and Thomas Gipson - also are better in the second half with Spradling (10.0 ppg.), McGruder (9.3 ppg.) and Gipson (6.5 ppg.) all averaging better than six points after halftime.  The trio have combined to score 103 of their 154 combined points (67 percent) this season in the second half.  In particular, Spradling has tallied 40 of his 51 points after halftime, including all 15 vs. Loyola Chicago and 12 of 14 points vs. George Washington.

Impressive Night on the Boards 
K-State had quite the effective game on the boards against George Washington on Thursday, totaling a season-high 50 on the night, including 33 on the defensive end.  Three Wildcats registered double-digit rebounds, including a season-best 13 by freshman Thomas Gipson, a career-best 11 by junior Jordan Henriquez and 10 by senior Jamar Samuels.  Gipson had his first double-double (and first by a Wildcat freshman since Michael Beasley had one against Wisconsin in the 2008 NCAA Tournament) against the Colonials with a team-high 17 points, while Samuels recorded his sixth career double-double with 10 points.  It marked the first time in more than 11 years that three players tallied double-figure rebounds with two having double-doubles. The last time came in an overtime win over Tennessee State on Nov. 28, 2000 when three players - Kelvin Howell (11 points, 14 rebounds), Larry Reid (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Travis Reynolds (14 points and 14 rebounds) - registered double-doubles.

No Blowouts 
Aside from a 42-point win over Maryland-Eastern on Nov. 22, K-State has already proved to play in close games this season.  In the first two games, the Wildcats have had to rally back from a 15-point deficit against Charleston Southern on Nov. 11 then pull away from Loyola Chicago in the second half on Nov. 14 after leading 28-23 at halftime.  The 18-point combined margin of victory was the fewest through the first two games since the Wildcats combined for 13 in wins against North Dakota State (70-61) and Denver (60-56) to start the 2004-05 season.  Despite the big win, the UMES game was tied 23-all with 6:16 left in the first half before a big run opened the game up.  The contest against George Washington on Thursday was again tight with K-State holding a 39-37 edge with 16:11 left before a pivotal 10-0 run broke the game open in a 13-point victory.    

Points off Turnovers 
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes.  Since he became head coach in 2007, the Wildcats have scored 2,601 points off of 2,333 turnovers in 142 games - an average of 18.3 points per game.    Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past five years have come off of offense generated from turnovers, including the current season, in which the team has outscored its foes, 65-51.  This was no more evident in the win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Nov. 22, as the Wildcats converted 18 miscues into a 26-3 edge in points off turnovers.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 18 turnovers per game, including a season-high 22 by Charleston Southern in the season opener.  

Closing on 1500
Kansas State is closing in on a milestone as a program, as the Wildcats are just nine victories shy of 1,500.  The school currently stands at 1,491-1,056 (.585) in 108 seasons, which ranks 41st all-time in NCAA Division I history.  K-State would become the sixth current Big 12 program (West Virginia already has more than 1,600) to eclipse the milestone, following Kansas (2,041), Texas (1,643), Oklahoma (1,531), Oklahoma State (1,522) and Missouri (1,506).  The Cowboys and Tigers earned their 1,500th victories last season.  The Wildcats could become the seventh team to top 1,500 wins this season, joining St. Joseph’s (1,502), Ohio State (1,501), Michigan State (1,498), Washington State (1,497), Tennessee (1,491) and Iowa (1,490).

Quite the Run 
After playing two close games to start the season, K-State finally was able to coast to a 42-point victory against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Nov. 22.  However, it was a close contest between the teams in the first half with the score knotted at 23-all with 6:16 remaining and just a 36-29 lead for the Wildcats at the break.  From this last tie at 6:16 mark of the first half, the squad used quite the run - 69-27 - between the halves to gain the big victory.  During this run, K-State connected on 61 percent (25-of-41) from the field, including 42.9 percent (6-of-14) from 3-point range, and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the free throw line, while holding UMES to 23.5 percent (8-of-34) from the field, including 15.4 percent (2-of-13) from long range, and 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from the free throw line.  In the second half alone, the Wildcats shot 65.6 percent (21-of-32) from the field.

Comeback ‘Cats
K-State opened the season on Nov. 11 with a come-from-behind victory over Charleston Southern, 72-67, before a sold-out crowd at Bramlage Coliseum.  Down as many as 15 points in the second half, the Wildcats used a 19-4 run over an 11-minute span early in the half to tie it at 60-all at the 4:35 mark before taking over the lead for good with 2:24 left.  The 15-point deficit overcome for victory (52-37) was one of the biggest in recent history for K-State, as it ties for fifth currently behind a pair of 17-point deficits in wins against Bradley (47-30) on Nov. 25, 1995 and California (38-21) on Dec. 29, 1995 and two 16-point deficits in wins against LaSalle (57-41) on Jan. 5, 1994 and New Mexico (30-14) on Nov. 23, 2005.  The 14-point deficit at halftime (49-35) ties for the largest overcome for victory since a 98-90 overtime win against Arizona State on Nov. 24, 1998 at the Maui Invitational.  It was also the largest deficit overcome at home since the 1995-96 season behind the Bradley game on Nov. 25, 1995.

No Senior Starter
The starting line-up of juniors Martavious Irving, Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez, sophomore Will Spradling and freshman Thomas Gipson against Charleston Southern on Nov. 11 was unique in that it marked the first time since 1983-84 that K-State opened a season without a senior starter.  It marked the first career starts for Irving and Gipson, while only McGruder was a starter in last season’s opening win over James Madison on Nov. 12, 2010.  Including the UMES game on Nov. 22, McGruder has now started 37 consecutive games dating back to that JMU contest, while Spradling now has nine starts to his credit.  Gipson joined a special group by becoming the first true freshman to start an opener since three rookies - Ron Anderson, Michael Beasley and Jacob Pullen - earned the starting nod against Sacramento State on Nov. 9, 2007.  With Southwell replacing Irving in the line-up against Loyola, the Wildcats got even younger with two juniors, two sophomore and a freshman.

Samuels Returns
The Wildcats received a big boost against Maryland-Eastern Shore with the return of senior forward Jamar Samuels, who sat out the exhibition and the first two games due to violations of team rules.  Through two games, he is averaging a solid 11.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 25.5 minutes per game, including consecutive double-figure scoring games.  The 2009-10 Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year was strong in his first game of the season, posting 12 points, three rebounds, one assist and one steals in 25 minutes of action.  He followed up that effort with his sixth career double-double in the win over George Washington with 10 points and 10 rebounds.  One of two seniors, Samuels’ experience will be big asset to a youthful squad having played in 105 games in his career with 26 starts.  He is averaging 9.3 points on 48.4 percent shooting in those games with 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.  He is 19 points shy of becoming the 23rd player to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier, including the third under Frank Martin.  
 
Immediate Impact
True freshman Thomas Gipson has made quite the impact just a few games into the 2011-12 campaign.  A 6-foot-7, 275-pound forward, he ranks in the top-2 in both scoring (12.8 ppg., second) and rebounding (7.3 rpg., second), while connecting on 52.8 percent (19-of-36) from the field in four starts.  He has been even better in the last three games, leading the Wildcats in scoring against Loyola Chicago (19), Maryland-Eastern Shore (13) and George Washington (17), while averaging 16.3 points on 55 percent (18-of-33) shooting with 9.7 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game.  In his last outing against the Colonials, Gipson became the first freshman since Michael Beasley in 2007-08 to collect a double-double with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and 13 rebounds.  He came close to the feat against UMES with 13 points (on 5-of-8 field goals) with nine rebounds.  After struggling in the season opener with Charleston Southern (two points, zero rebounds), he broke out against Loyola Chicago on Nov. 14, recording a season-best 19 points to go with seven rebounds (including a 12-point, 6-rebound effort in second half).  Although he struggled statistically, he still became the first true freshman to start an opener since the three rookies - Ron Anderson, Beasley and Jacob Pullen - earned the starting nod against Sacramento State on Nov. 9, 2007.

Coming Through in the Clutch
Sophomore Will Spradling has solidified the starting point guard spot so far this season, averaging 12.8 points on 43.8 percent shooting with 2.5 assists and 2.0 assists in four starts.  He has registered double figures in three of the four games, including 15 each against Charleston Southern (15) and Loyola Chicago (15).  His 15-point outings in the first two games were just two points short of his career-high of 17 against Baylor on Jan. 24, 2011.  Following his 14-point effort against George Washington, the Wildcats are now a solid 9-1 when he scores in double figures. 

Spradling has also come through in the clutch, scoring 40 of his 51 points this season in the second half, including all 15 against Loyola Chicago and 12 of 14 points against George Washington.  He is averaging 10 points on 45.5 percent shooting after halftime this season compared to just 2.8 points on 40 percent shooting in the first half.  He has also converted on 15-of-17 free throws in the second half, while six of his eight assists have come after the halftime break.  He has also continued to demonstrate his toughness by taking nine charges through four games, including three each in three games.  He ranks second behind only Jamar Samuels (33) in charges taken, including 30 in 38 career games.

Ojeleye to Serve as Big 12 SAAC Vice-Chair in 2011-12
Senior Victor Ojeleye was recently elected by his peers to serve as Vice-Chair of the Big 12’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) during the 2011-12 athletics season.  A two-time first team Academic All-Big 12 selection, Ojeleye saw action in 24 games as a junior in 2010-11, averaging 1.8 points on 46.2 percent shooting with 1.6 rebounds in 8.0 minutes per game.  He scored in 10 games, including a season-high 12 points against North Florida on Dec. 31, 2010.  A double major in accounting and finance, Ojeleye earned the inaugural Dr. Gerald Lage Award from the Big 12 in 2010-11, which is given to student-athletes who have earned 100 or more hours of credit with a cumulative 3.8 GPA.  He also has been named to the Fall and Spring Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Rolls each of the past two years, including a perfect 4.0 GPA during the Spring 2011 semester. 

K-State Announces the Additions of Chatkevicius, Upshaw
K-State elevated the talent of its front court on Nov. 21, as coach Frank Martin announced the additions of high school standouts Laimonas Chatkevicius (pronounced Lie-MOAN-us Shh-CAVE-VEE-us; Klaipeda, Lithuania/South Kent [Conn.] Prep) and Robert Upshaw (Fresno, Calif./San Joaquin Memorial) for the 2012-13 season.

“Once again our assistants, as they have done every year since we have been here, did an unbelievable job of identifying the right people for our program and organizing the recruitment and being diligent in their efforts to land two guys that we had targeted since the summer,” said Martin.  “We are extremely excited about two guys that were right at the top of our list.”

A 7-foot, 275-pound center, Upshaw is rated among the Top 50 high school players for the Class of 2012, including a ranking of No. 43 on the Rivals150 by Rivals.com and No. 49 on the ESPNU100.  He is also ranked among the Top 50 by CBSSports.com (40) and MaxPreps.com (44).  In addition, he is regarded as one of the top centers in the nation, ranking eighth at the position nationally by Rivals.com and 10th by ESPN.  Upshaw is also rated the fourth-best high school prospect in the state of California by ESPN.  
 
Upshaw is a rising senior for head coach Pat Geil at San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, Calif., which also produced 7-foot twins Brook (New Jersey Nets) and Robin Lopez (Phoenix Suns) as well as guard Quincy Pondexter (New Orleans Hornets).  He did not play as a junior in 2010-11 due to California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) transfer rules after leaving Edison High School for Memorial.  Upshaw helped Edison win 41 games as a freshman and sophomore, including 25 victories in 2008-09.

A 6-foot-10, 230-pound center, Chatkevicius is currently playing his senior season at South Kent Prep Academy in South Kent, Conn., for head coach Kelvin Jefferson.  South Kent played their first games this past weekend against La Jolla and St. John’s Military at the National Prep School Invitational in New Haven, Conn.  A native of Klaipeda, Lithuania, Chatkevicius came to the U.S. in the summer of 2009 to experience high school basketball before playing his junior season in his native country.  He also played as a member of Kansas City’s Spiece MoKan AAU organization this past summer for head coach Matt Suther. 

Chatkevicius played in three games for Lithuania during the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championships in Hamberg, Germany.  The Lithuanian team posted a 4-1 record and finished in the tournament behind champion Team USA and Poland.  The squad also finished second in Group A to Team USA.  He played 15 minutes in the 102-66 loss to Team USA on July 3, finishing with two points and three rebounds.  Chatkevicius also played his club team Klaipedos SM as both a sophomore and junior in Lithuania.  He averaged 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in four games in 2009-10 and 3.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in four games in 2010-11.        
 
‘Cats Picked 6th in Big 12 Preseason Poll
Kansas State was selected to finish sixth in the preseason 2011-12 Big 12 Conference coaches’ poll released by the league office in early October.  The Wildcats received 39 points to earn sixth place in the new 10-team conference configuration, just 12 points behind fifth-place Texas (51) and six points ahead of seventh-place Oklahoma State (33).  The coaches were deadlocked on the preseason favorite with Kansas and Texas A&M each garnering 73 points, however, the Jayhawks did receive five of 10 first-place votes.  Baylor (63) and Missouri (61) followed the preseason duo in third and fourth-places, respectively, while Texas and K-State rounded out the top 6.  The rest of the poll included OSU, Iowa State (27), Oklahoma (15) and Texas Tech (15).  The sixth-place prediction is the lowest since K-State was picked eighth prior to the 2008-09 season.  The Wildcats, who tied Texas A&M for third place in the Big 12 in 2010-11, are one of only two teams to finish in the league’s top-4 and receive a bye at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship each of the past five seasons.  With only 10 teams, the top-6 will earn a bye in the 2012 event with the lower four seeds playing on the first day.  Of note, coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.

Martin Announces Staff Promotions 
Looking to maintain the program’s momentum and consistency, head coach Frank Martin announced coaching staff promotions in early June, including the elevation of Lamont Evans as a full-time assistant.  In addition, he also promoted Brad Underwood to associate head coach and assistant coach Matt Figger to recruiting coordinator. 

Evans has played a pivotal role in the development of the program the past three years, beginning as an undergraduate manager in 2008-09 the continuing as a graduate manager from 2009-11.  During this span, he helped K-State post a 74-31 (.705) record, which including three trips to the postseason highlighted by consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011.

A native of Eleuthera, Bahamas, Evans came to the U.S. at the age of 5, eventually settling in Deerfield Beach, Fla.  He played his first two years of college basketball at Seminole (Fla.) Junior College in Sanford, Fla., and St. Catharine College in St. Catharine, Ky., before enrolling as Drake in 1999.  He played two seasons for the Bulldogs, appearing in 42 games from 1999 to 2001.  For his career, he averaged 8.0 points on 41.5 percent shooting with 5.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.  He spent seven years playing professionally, including stops internationally in Slovenia, Germany, Finland, Belgium and Venezuela.

A former Wildcat lettermen, Underwood is in his 24th season as a college coach, including his sixth at K-State.  He received much acclaim last season, as Martin took his suggestion of adjusting the offensive scheme to the “pinch-post” in early January.  Figger is in his 19th season as a coach, including his fifth at K-State and assumes the recruiting coordinator position.

McGruder, Spradling Compete in Europe
Junior Rodney McGruder and sophomore Will Spradling both competed for all-stars teams in Europe this past summer.  Spradling played for Athletes in Action’s tour of Macedonia and Kosovo in Eastern Europe from May 25-30, while McGruder played with the East Coast All-Stars during their trip to the Four Nations Cup in Estonia in early August.

Spradling, playing alongside Big 12 brethren Cory Jefferson and A.J. Walton of Baylor and Jordan Juenemann and Jeff Withey of Kansas helped the AIA squad to a 6-1 record, including the tournament championship against Poland.  He was named the most valuable player and to the All-Tournament team.  He scored 20 or more points twice in the tournament, including a team-high 23 in the team’s only loss to Poland (May 24) and a team-best 25 vs.  the Bulgarian U20 National Team (May 27).  He posted 14 vs. Bulgaria Select (May 26), while he had eight points and four assists vs. the Kosovoan National Team (May 31).

McGruder was named to the Four Nations Cup All-Tournament, as the East Coast All-Stars finished third in the event behind Estonia (2-1) and Georgia (2-1) and ahead of fourth-place Sweden (1-2).  He was the only All-Star named to the all-tournament team after averaging 13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals in the three-game tournament.  He hit the game-winning shot in the win over Sweden (August 5) before pouring in 22 points and 14 rebounds in the 98-81 loss to Georgia (August 6).