Austin Budke joined the Kansas State men’s basketball team as a walk-on, but he may soon become one of the program’s 13 scholarship players.
K-State coach Bruce Weber says Budke, a senior forward from Beloit, Kan., is deserving of the promotion.
“Obviously, Austin Budke is a person who would earn a scholarship if one is available,” Weber said Wednesday at a Catbackers banquet in Wichita. “He played pretty solid minutes for us and he is a great teammate.”
Will K-State have a scholarship to give Budke? Maybe.
At the moment, the Wildcats have one free scholarship to give to a walk-on or to use on a potential recruit. Weber is still mulling his options.
In past years, Weber has recruited late and signed players in the summer, but that approach hasn’t paid dividends. The final, summer addition of Weber’s first four recruiting classes all left K-State after a single season of low production. Michael Orris transferred to Northern Illinois and is now at South Dakota State, Malek Harris and Ron Freeman both transferred to junior colleges and Jack Karapetyan appears to have to stopped playing at the college level.
“Our good fortune on guys late has not been very good,” Weber said. “I think we have learned the lesson not to take somebody just to take somebody.”
Weber initially hoped to bring in a junior-college transfer when Freeman announced his transfer. K-State recruited Neosho County forward Freddie McSwain hard and made his final two, but McSwain ultimately committed to Indiana.
Since then, Weber has continued to recruit potential players with an eye toward next season. And he plans to keep looking through July. The best prospects have already signed with other teams, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t talented recruits available. If Weber comes across a special player, he will extend a scholarship offer. If not, he has a solid backup plan.
“We are still working and trying to call some kids,” Weber said. “There are a few still out there, but it is tough right now. If we find somebody, fine. If not, Austin as a senior will probably have the opportunity to get it.”
Budke, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward, saw action in all 33 of K-State’s games last season, averaging 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in 13.1 minutes. His best game came against Coppin State, when he finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Budke transferred to K-State after two seasons at Hutchinson Community College, turning down scholarship offers from a number of small schools to become a walk-on with the Wildcats. He grew up a K-State fan.
Should Weber decide to put Budke on scholarship, he hopes Budke responds the same way former walk-on Brian Rohleder did a year ago. After years of paying his own way and working behind the scenes, Rohleder emerged as a senior leader.
When Budke initially tried out at K-State, he did so expecting to play guard or small forward. But Weber quickly moved him inside, where he received regular minutes while K-State freshmen Dante Williams and Isaiah Maurice were unavailable. A former high school football player, Budke made a quick transition to the position.
Now he may be asked to make the transition from walk-on to scholarship player.
“It is a logical move for Austin,” Weber said. “We have got a lot of guys who are deserving. Zach Winter has done a great job. Mason Schoen has been with us a few years. We like Pierson McAtee. You have a mixture of guys who deserve scholarships. We have been fortunate that our walk-ons have helped us survive in practice the past few years with all of our injuries.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett