Kansas State’s basketball team is going to look different next season.
A lot different.
Two weeks after the Wildcats ended an up-and-down year with a 15-17 record, coach Bruce Weber announced Tuesday that leading scorer Marcus Foster had been dismissed from the team along with freshman reserve Tre Harris. The school also said starting point guard Jevon Thomas will transfer.
“Marcus and Tre have been unable to live up to the standards that we expect of our players,” Weber said in a statement. “It is a privilege to represent Kansas State University and there are consequences when players don’t live up to those expectations. Hopefully, they will learn from this experience and make the necessary progress to continue their basketball careers elsewhere.
“As for Jevon, he has worked diligently to succeed in our program both athletically and academically. He has made tremendous strides during his time at K-State, but he’s come to the decision he wants to be closer to home. We wish him the best as he moves forward in his college career.”
Foster’s departure leaves the biggest void.
In his first season, Foster posted the best season of any K-State freshman since current NBA player Michael Beasley, leading the Wildcats to 20 wins and a NCAA Tournament appearance while averaging 15.5 points. He was an all-Big 12 second-team selection, and entered his sophomore year as a preseason all-conference selection. He spoke confidently about the season ahead, proclaiming that K-State had enough talent to reach the Final Four.
Then everything went south.
As a sophomore, Foster’s production dropped dramatically. His poor play led to poor body language, and Weber removed him from the starting lineup at the start of Big 12 play. Foster became a distraction at times, receiving a three-game suspension during a pivotal stretch in the schedule. He was arguably the most disappointing player in the conference.
He finished the season as K-State’s leading scorer, averaging 12.5 points, but much of that was due to a hot start as a three-point shooter. He was held scoreless in the final game of his K-State career, a Big 12 Tournament loss to TCU.
Foster did not return a text message or phone call seeking comment.
After the season ended, he blamed himself for the subpar year.
“I just didn’t go hard every day like I should have,” Foster said. “I tried to go hard late in the season, but it was too late.”
He also vowed to return to K-State and play with renewed purpose.
“I definitely want to go hard from the beginning,” Foster said. “Somebody I am going to use as motivation is Rodney McGruder. He went hard every game and made his teammates better. That’s what I want to do.”
He will not get that chance, at least at K-State.
Thomas and Harris will also seek new beginnings elsewhere. On top of the departures of seniors Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson, K-State is losing 43.5 points per game from a team that averaged 63.8.
Thomas exits following a rocky season in which he led the Wildcats with 102 assists and averaged 4.5 points while starting 25 games, but also had to talk his way back onto the roster earlier this month when Weber briefly kicked him off the team before a road game against Texas.
Coaches were high on Thomas when he arrived, saying he had the talents to replace Angel Rodriguez, a former starting point guard who transferred to Miami at the conclusion of his sophomore year. But Thomas’ development was slowed when the NCAA granted him partial eligibility as a freshman, requiring that he sit out games and practices during his first semester. Weber often referred to Thomas as a freshman this season, saying he was robbed of crucial developmental opportunities.
Harris departs after a frustrating freshman season in which he averaged 3.8 points in 21 games, including one start. He was a surprise addition to Weber’s recruiting class, committing in the fall without so much a Rivals page or ranking to his name. Few knew who he was, but K-State coaches liked his outside shooting abilities.
Early on, he showed those skills by sinking threes in nonconference games. He scored a career-high 14 points in his debut against Southern Utah. But his playing time evaporated once Big 12 play began. He did not play in eight consecutive games. A string of three-pointers against Texas and TCU offered hope, but he did not register more than 5 minutes of action in K-State’s final four games.
Thomas and Harris did not respond to messages seeking comment. Weber did not return phone calls.
On Twitter, Thomas wrote that he gave his all for K-State no matter the circumstances.
The exits leave Weber with holes to fill on his roster, but he was expecting departures. He already has one guard lined up to replace Thomas and Harris. Kamau Stokes, a three-star point guard from Baltimore, committed to K-State following the Wildcats’ final home game against Iowa State.
Stokes will join forward Dean Wade, center Dante Williams and guard Barry Brown as incoming freshman next season.
They will all be tasked with replacing a group that formed K-State’s core this past season.
To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KellisRobinett.