Kansas State University

K-State’s other senior, Kamau Stokes, quietly having strong season for Wildcats

Kamau Stokes says K-State was a tougher team than Baylor

Kamau Stokes says K-State was a tougher team than Baylor
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Kamau Stokes says K-State was a tougher team than Baylor

If someone tried to compare Kansas State basketball players to Justice League super heroes it would be difficult to find a match for Kamau Stokes.

The titles of Batman and Superman would go to Barry Brown and Dean Wade. Makol Mawien seems like he could be Cyborg. And several players have enough athleticism to claim The Flash. But Stokes is lost somewhere in the middle.

The senior guard is too big of a contributor to be Aquaman or the Green Lantern, but he’s also not as popular as the team’s two primary stars. Such is life for the third member of K-State’s senior class. While Brown and Wade have pushed for Big 12 Player of the Year consideration, Stokes is quietly having a fine season of his own.

It can sometimes be easy to overlook his numbers (10.3 points and 3.5 assists), but his value is unmistakable as K-State prepares for a road game against Texas on Tuesday.

Stokes is coming off a season-high 20 points against Baylor. The Bears did everything within their power to limit Brown (13 points) and Wade (12 points), so Stokes stepped up and lifted the Wildcats to a 70-63 victory by draining three three-pointers, making seven free throws, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists.

“I am happy for Kamau,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “He had a good game and he has played well here. The zone (defense) for Barry is not his favorite thing to go against, but Kamau knows how to attack it. He did some great things.”

Much has been made of K-State reeling off eight straight conference victories since Wade returned to the lineup from a foot injury, but Stokes joining him at full strength has also been a key factor.

The Wildcats lost to the Texas Longhorns by 20 in their Big 12 opener when Stokes and Wade were out of the lineup. They need both to be at their best. The rematch should be much more competitive.

“I definitely could have helped, but I feel like my team could have won that game without me and Dean,” Stokes said. “They could have won that game, not easily. It would have been a dog fight for them to win, but they could have won. So now with me and Dean back it makes it even harder for them to guard us with more threats on the floor.”

Stokes has done a little bit of everything to help the Wildcats lately. He rarely leads the team in scoring, but he is always a threat to hit an outside shot and a reliable ball-handler. He is also consistent. Even his bad games are still pretty good.

That shows up in his overall production. Stokes ranks in the top 13 of all Big 12 players in five different statistical categories -- sixth in assists (3.5), sixth in assists-to-turnovers ratio (1.9), 10th in three-pointers (1.9), 11th in steals (1.3), 13th in minutes (31.7) and 25th in scoring (10.3).

Stokes is also on pace to join Steve Henson and Jacob Pullen as the only players in K-State basketball history to top 400 assists.

Not that he pays all that much attention to his stats these days.

“I just knew I had to come out and play,” Stokes said following the Baylor game. “I take that approach every game, no matter how many points I get, to come out and play and lead our team to a win and be one of the leaders on this team. That is the most important thing. Whatever I can do to contribute to a win, that’s what matters.”

Whichever super hero Stokes compares to, the Justice League couldn’t save the world without him.

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Kellis Robinett covers Kansas State athletics for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. A winner of more than a dozen national writing awards, he lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.