July 27, 2013
This feature appeared in the July 26 edition of the K-State Sports Extra.
It’s going to be one of those Kansas State basketball years where program sales will be up.
Of the 13 scholarship Wildcats, seven will be new to the program – five freshmen, one sophomore and one junior.
It’s a group that second-year coach Bruce Weber says, “I think our fans are going to like the quickness and athletic ability of this class. As coaches, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with what we’ve been seeing. We’re seeing a lot of athleticism and explosiveness.”
Prior to this current recruiting period, the Wildcat coaching staff had been working with the team two hours a week broken down to half-hour skill development segment, and the rest of the time focusing on team development.
Including three walk-ons returning from last year, the class distribution has four seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen.
With the departure of senior 7-footer Jordan Henriquez and transfer of 6-foot-10 Adrian Diaz, a possible concern for the 2013-14 season will be depth of players that have length. Only Brandon
Bolden stands over 6-foot-8 on the roster, and he will not be eligible until 2014-15 after transferring from Georgetown.
That leaves only 6-foot-7, 275-pound Thomas Gipson and 6-foot-8, 250-pound D.J. Johnson as true in-the-paint projects.
“We’re going to miss JO’s shot blocking abilities, but if Thomas continues his progress and if DJ takes another step, we feel good about the position if we can stay injury free,” said Weber. “Then you add Shane Southwell (6-7, 210) and Nino Williams (6-5, 220), plus Jack Karapetyan (6-7, 215) and Wesley Iwundu (6-6, 190), we have six guys for those frontline positions.”
The most recent signee is Karapetyan, a product of The Cathedral School in Los Angeles, Calif.
“He was an unknown kid who played in a small high school in California and never played much AAU ball,” said Weber. “We liked how he played tough and believe he could be a diamond in the rough. He can bounce around and give us some toughness and versatility.”
That leaves the following cast for the perimeter positions: Marcus Foster (6-2, 180), Nigel Johnson (6-1, 180), Omari Lawrence (6-3, 220), Jevon Thomas (6-0, 180) and Will Spradling (6-2, 180). Maine transfer Justin Edwards (6-4, 190), who led the America East Conference in scoring as a sophomore in 2012-13, must sit out the upcoming season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Scouting the new Wildcats, Weber said, “We knew Marcus was good, but he came in playing at another level. He came in with a body that was already developed and plays with intensity. Justin has as good of a jumper as anyone in the country and will provide great competition while sitting out.”
Karapetyan is coming off a broken foot and has been limited in his on-court work, while Thomas must sit out the first semester due to NCAA regulations, but is working out on his own.
When eligible, Thomas is expected to challenge Spradling and Johnson at the point guard position.
LONG-DISTANCE ROAD TRIPS: A trio of Wildcat players will be traveling to Europe during the next three weeks.
From August 9 through August 15, Will Spradling will be with the Global Sports Academy for a five-game in seven-day trip to Belgium, and the Netherlands where the team will play in Amsterdam, Ghent and Antwerp.
Thomas Gipson and Jevon Thomas will play with an Athletes in Action team that will tour Lithuania from August 9 through August 17. The team will play three games in Vilnius and three in Klaipeda.