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Freshman Backcourt Leads the way in Manhattan

Wildcats look to sustain success

Bruce Weber enters his second season in Kansas State looking to build off of the team's regular season conference championship last year.  That job could prove difficult given the departures of guards Martavious Irving, Rodney McGruder, and Angel Rodriguez.  For Weber and the Kansas State Wildcats to maintain their success, they'll have to rely on a number of key backcourt recruits that will fill the roles of the key departures from the 2012-13 season.

 
McGruder was the team's leading scorer last season and recently signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The player most likely to replace McGruder's scoring ability is Marcus Foster, a guard out of Wichita Falls, Texas.  Foster had a fantastic final season in high school, as he averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds, while winning the Texas 3A Player of the Year award.  While Foster's scoring is what stands out most to scouts, he spent time playing other positions in high school, offering a versatility that could prove key to the Wildcats this season.  
 
Rodriguez enjoyed a breakout season last year and was a key to the Wildcats' success, so his decision to transfer to Miami was a major disappointment to the team's coaching staff.  Point guard Nigel Johnson appears to have been recruited just as Rodriguez's absence was announced.  Johnson was a late recruit out of Riverdale Baptist, Maryland, and will be given a big opportunity to contribue early in the season. The 6'1 Johnson averaged 18 points a game in his senior year.
 
Freshman point guard Jevon Thomas is another player looked upon to fill the void left by Rodriguez.  Thomas was highly regarded out going into his senior year, having been connected to St. John's and the University of Dayton.  However, academic issues caused the NCAA to rule Thomas ineligible until December.  When Thomas does take the court, he looks to be a player to watch.  He averaged twelve assists in his senior year of high school, and is an early candidate to lead the Wildcats in assists average this year.  With some patience by the Wildcats, they could find themselves with a key playmaker in the 5'11 Thomas.  
 
The Wildcats know that it will be difficult to sustain the success of Weber's debut season.  The Big-12 looks to be formidable with both Oklahoma State and Kansas projecting as title contenders.  There is still hope in Manhattan though, with a young backcourt that could surprise a number of observers.