Its That Time Again! JNixon's Countdown to the NCAA Season: Top 35 Teams (#35)
Hello and whats up to everyone. Time to get the countdown started for this college season. Without further introduction:
#35: Kansas State Wildcats
Guards- The top players figure to be Jr. Will Spradling and Soph. Angel Rodriguez. Spradling is an overachieving 6’2 170 lb guard who is a nice spot up shooter, an effort defender and a heady player on the court. He is good at making simple passes and is very effective in a quick read, half-court style offensive setting. He also is willing to do “little” things like take charges and get on the floor for loose balls. Spradling, however lacks athleticism and quickness, and can be a stiff ball-handler who struggles to deal with quick handed guards when they pressure the ball. Quick guards often beat him off the bounce too. He can play on or off ball, but he slid off ball more often as Rodriguez emerged. Rodriguez is a 6’1 185 lb guard who has very solid quickness and is a good natural talent. He really opened eyes with his passing ability in the drive and dish at times, where he really excels. He also showed a nice floater in the lane at times. Rodriguez played well for a Fr. guard under Frank Martin, who is a tough guy to play as key a role as he did for a young player, and still clearly has upside. It was impressive seeing him play his best in pressure packed games. He needs to become a better jump shooter, as he struggled from 3 and he also didn’t pick his spots great, forcing drives and passes, and showing little ability with his mid-range game when slashes to the rim and 3-pointers weren’t available. Rodriguez also is a good ball thief, but he must be careful about reaching. Rodriguez can also play on or off ball, but he looked a lot more comfortable as a PG last season. Look for him to become one of the better guards in the Big 12 next year. Depth comes from Fr. Michael Orris, Jr. Omari Lawrence, and Sr’s. Martavious Irving and Jeremy Jones. The 6’2 190 Orris is a fundamentally sound guard who followed new Coach Bruce Weber from Illinois. He’s a smart player with a body for Big 12 play, already. He’s limited athletically though. The 6’3 Lawrence is a big bodied guard who defends. The 6’1 210 Irving has the most experience of any of the guards, and has always been a very good on-ball defender. He’s built like an NBA running back and can be a good spot-up shooter. He’s not a shot creator though or a guy who is gonna score much. The 6’2 170 Jones got inconsistent PT last year, but he’s a very good jump shooter who doesn’t do much of anything else. This is a deep core who will be one of the better committees in the Big 12 next year.
Wings- The crown jewel here is 6’4 Sr. Rodney McGruder, a 2nd Team All-Big 12 performer last year. McGruder, one of the most underrated players in the nation, has grown up and improved a lot every year. McGruder is a very willing teammate who does a bit of everything for K-State, and rebounds about as well as you can ask from a 6’4 player ( 5 rpg for the 2nd straight year). His best trait is his jumper, he’s extremely effective as a shooter with his feet set. He has some ability to straight-line slash, and is a threat to score off backdoor plays. He’s not a very good ball-handler or shot creator, but he moves well without the ball. He also rarely looks rattled and is a tough player. Look for him to be around a 15 ppg scorer for a 2nd straight year. Jr. Shane Southwell is also returning. The 6’6 Southwell is arguably the best passer on the team. He is a long wing who does a bit of everything on both ends. He still needs to work on his jumper and handle though, as he is often a nonfactor as a scorer. 6’5 220 wing Nino Williams looks great in the uniform and is a naturally talented player, but he still is maturing and didn’t play much last season. He needs to improve his defense. This core also is experienced, and it has nice size. McGruder’s presence makes them that much stronger as well.
Frontcourt- Jamar Samuels left unceremoniously last season, missing the tournament loss vs Syracuse and steadily declining in effectiveness in his last 2 seasons. The group is very deep still though. KState will look for production for wide body PF Thomas Gipson. Gipson started his Fr. year with a bang, but fizzled in the conference slate. At 6’7 270, he is a man’s man down low and looks to seek out contact. He has wide hips and seals easily down low due to it. Usually effective around the rim and has a developing jump hook. Gipson lacks athleticism and isn’t very quick, and that can lead to him having trouble getting his shots off when guarded by length and he is a bit foul prone on defense. Gipson seemed to wear down last year, and should monitor his conditioning. He probably will never be a 30 mpg player. Still, as he develops he could be a load to handle down low. Look for him to only improve, expect 11 or 12 ppg and 6 rpg from him. 5th year Sr. C Jordan Henriquez-Roberts is a 7 footer who has been great at times over the past 2 years. He’s a very long player and he has filled out his frame a good bit since he 1st arrived as a 210 lb guy, being a legit 250 now. He has an effective jump hook over his left shoulder offensively. He is still awkward in his movements, shouldn’t be relied on a lot offenisvely and can get caught not controlling his weight when he screens (leading to bad offensive fouls), but he is a good rebounder on both ends and is one of the better shot blockers in the nation (2.4 a night last season). Look for him to be around 9 ppg, 7 rpg and 2 bpg as a Sr. Soph. 7 footer Adrian Diaz surprisingly didn’t redshirt last year and showed some potential when he got the chances to play. He’s developing, in terms of skills and his physical ability, but he is a long guy who showed some offensive ability. Diaz actually can shoot with range out to 22 ft., but he probably wont showcase it much. He will back up Henriquez. 6’8 Sr. PF James Watson did little last season. There is talent here, and depth.
Overall- KState moves past the Frank Martin era, but there is still ample experience here. The tough coaching Martin provided helped accelerate some of the players development, but also cause tentative play from some of the other players. I think the new coaching style of Weber will play more to these guys strengths and allow them to be a bit looser on the court. They have the pieces to really challenge for the Big 12 crowd in a very wide open league. Look for KState to be a 2 and out or 1 and done team in the tournament.
I missed this!
Me being an ignorant russian idiot you are one of my top sources of information about the not top-10 NCAA teams and players, thank you
I think KState finishes the season ranked about at 20... There's a lot of talent on this team.
I hope so, I really hope they can be a top team. The experience could push them to be alot higher than I have them ranked. I admit. Im a KState fan, Im just scared to put huge expectations on a Bruce Weber coached team. He has let me down alot lol
Good to see a new countdown list.
Off-topic....where yah been JNixon? Was starting to wonder if youo were still posting around here. All of our arguments aside, it's good to see you back in action bringing us our countdowns everyone loves to read.
Thank you sir! I just been busy getting my life together, I been trying to focus on school and work. That kinda thing. But Im back now, I gotta watch more basketball though. Im rusty, just lucked up and started my countdown with a team I know inside and out lol
I have the LIU Blackbirds at #35, KSU should be a lot better than 35.
Jordan Henriquez is very underrated: he'll average more than 9 and 7. In his last 6 games he averaged 15.3 Pts 10.8 Reb and 3.5 Blk. He'll work his way into the discussion as one of the best big men in the country next season if he keeps producing like that.