Wesley Iwundu has never been known for his jump shot, but he is ready for that to change.
The Kansas State senior wing is tired of watching defenders back away from him at the three-point line, respecting him only as a slasher capable of scoring near the rim. From now on, he wants to be a perimeter scoring threat, too.
Not an easy task for a career 45 percent shooter who made 6 three-pointers on 30 attempts last season, but Iwundu has a message for his doubters: “I’m getting a lot better.”
“The biggest thing on my scouting report is that I can’t shoot,” Iwundu said last week at a Catbackers event in Wichita. “I am making a big point this summer to work on my shot and improve my shot. I have to step up and make that a bigger part of my game.”
Shooting has been Iwundu’s primary focus since K-State’s season ended at the Big 12 Tournament. He has attempted hundreds of shots each day over the past month, and he has no plans to change that routine. Iwundu decided it was time to alter his shooting mechanics, and he won’t be satisfied until his muscles completely forget his old technique.
“I have changed my whole shot,” Iwundu said. “I have been in the gym countless hours with our coaches working a lot on my shot. I watched some video and realized that I was taking the ball over the left side of my body and kind of twisting it. Now I am working on keeping the ball above my right eye so it’s not blocking my vision as I shoot.
“It’s looking a lot better. I’m not going to say it’s completely there yet, but it is progressing. It’s feeling good.”
K-State teammate Carlbe Ervin thinks Iwundu’s new shooting stroke has already made him a more confident player.
“His shot looks really good,” Ervin said. “Even when it’s not falling, you can tell he’s bending his knees and releasing it in a much better way. His shot is straight now.”
Iwundu has some big goals for next season.
First and foremost, he wants to lead K-State in scoring for the first time. He was the team’s top defender and best all-around player last season, but his 11.9 points per game ranked second behind Justin Edwards. As a sophomore, Iwundu averaged 5.8 points, down from 6.7 as a freshman.
In order to make a scoring jump, Iwundu figures he needs to more than double his shooting percentage beyond the arc to 42 percent, and score from mid-range as well as he does at the rim.
If he can improve in those areas, he is confident K-State will contend for a high Big 12 finish and return to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence.
His coach agrees.
“He is a NBA prospect if he adds a jump shot,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “Since his freshman year when (NBA) guys would come and watch, they would grab us and ask about him. You watch the games now and it’s all versatile guys like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. They are 6-foot-7, they are long and athletic, they can play point, they can play three. That’s Wesley, a guy who does everything.
“I hope he can add a pull-up jumper. The three-ball is a bonus. Everything for him has been to the bucket or distributing. If he can add that pull up, no one can stop him.”
Kellis Robinett: @KellisRobinett