Spring basketball banquets are a time for players and coaches to reflect on the season that was, and Kansas State did plenty of that on Tuesday, but the Wildcats also looked ahead.
K-State certainly figures to be an improved team. How much depends on a flurry of offseason factors. Though the Wildcats will surround Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu, Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson — a core of returning starters — with more athleticism and size, they will lack experience.
Coach Bruce Weber is high on transfers Justin Edwards and Brandon Bolden, who sat out this season, as well as incoming recruits Stephen Hurt and Tre Harris. He is expecting big things from all four of them next season, but all four are unproven at the Big 12 level.
Foster, who is coming off an impressive freshman season in which he averaged 15.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists, said he expects Edwards to lead K-State in scoring next season. It is a possibility. Edwards, a Maine transfer, led the America East in scoring with 16.7 points as a sophomore.
“Not many people have seen him,” Foster said. “He is going to be able to get loose and score and have an amazing year.”
Weber chuckled at the thought of Edwards surpassing Foster so quickly, but he does think Edwards will bring a new dynamic to K-State’s lineup. Edwards excelled in preseason scrimmages. He can play shooting guard or small forward. He could take pressure off everyone on the wing.
“The first thing you will see is that his jumping ability is off the charts,” Weber said of Edwards. “He has gained somewhere between 16-20 pounds, all muscle. The thing we didn’t really expect is that he really shoots the ball well, especially from the three-point line.
“He was a tough opponent on the scout squad. A lot of the TV people who prepped the day before, the first thing they would say was, ‘Dang, that guy is good.’
Bolden also received positive reviews. The 6-foot-11 Georgetown transfer is a skilled shot-blocker, capable of playing power forward or center.
“Brandon is as talented as anyone we have,” Weber said. “He can run very, very fast and he can jump very, very high.”
But Bolden has barely played since leaving high school. Hurt, a touted junior college big, will face a similar transition next season. His minutes were down this season at Northwest Florida State College.
K-State handed out several awards at its banquet on Tuesday. Marcus Foster led the way with three awards. He won top offensive player and top newcomer honors and shared MVP honors with Thomas Gipson.
• New recruit?
The Wildcats have one open scholarship to use for the 2014 season. Weber said he has been recruiting a number of players, and he is hopeful he can land a commitment in the next 10 days. He said he wants to add a tall, versatile player capable of playing either forward position. One option appears to be Malek Harris, a four-star small forward from Orland Park, Ill. Harris is the nation’s No. 77 overall player, according to Rivals. He recently decommitted from Marquette and will take an official visit to K-State, according to his Twitter account.
• Schedule update: K-State is close to finalizing its nonconference schedule for the 2014-15 season, and it moved a step closer on Tuesday. The Athens Banner-Herald reported that K-State and Georgia are close to a home-and-home series. An open records request revealed that the Bulldogs have signed a contract to visit Bramlage Coliseum on Dec. 31 next season with a return game scheduled for Dec. 22, 2015. The deal won’t be complete until K-State signs the contract.