Kansas State’s hopes for an improved basketball season took a hit Wednesday, four months before the team plays its first game.
Cartier Diarra, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard expected to help the Wildcats off the bench in the 2016-17 season, will miss the entire year after undergoing knee surgery.
In a news release, K-State coach Bruce Weber said Diarra injured his knee in a practice leading up to the team’s August trip through Europe in which it will play a series of exhibition games against foreign teams. Diarra will likely redshirt while he recovers from surgery and begin his college playing career during the 2017-18 season, with four years of eligibility remaining.
“We are obviously disappointed for Cartier,” Weber said in a statement. “He had worked extremely hard to get this point and had shown a lot of promise in workouts since joining our team in June. However, the focus now is on Cartier and his recovery. The good news is that he has only touched the surface of his potential on the basketball court, and we look forward to seeing how he comes back from this setback.”
Diarra was expected to help K-State’s back court as a reserve, behind starting point guard Kamau Stokes and alongside returning guards Barry Brown and Carlbe Ervin. He flashed athleticism and scored in many different ways during practice.
A former dancer, Diarra only began playing organized basketball in high school. When Weber last spoke with media in late June, he was high on Diarra’s potential.
“He’s a very physically gifted basketball player, and he has a chip on his shoulder,” Weber said then. “He wants to get better. I think we were very fortunate to get a player of his caliber.”
Weber also spoke confidently about the upcoming season last month, expressing cautious optimism that K-State should be an improved team. His main concern: health. K-State battled injuries in each of the past two seasons. Diarra’s knee surgery extends the injury woes.
Diarra should still help the Wildcats when he recovers, but they will have to get by without him next season.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett