MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State men’s basketball team held their annual media day on Wednesday afternoon (October 16) inside the Ice Family Basketball Center, as eighth-year head coach Bruce Weber and the team previewed the 2019-20 season that tips off next week with the first exhibition game.
The Wildcats, who have posted consecutive 25-win seasons for the first time in school history and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, return nine lettermen in 2019-20, including four (Xavier Sneed, Makol Mawien, Cartier Diarra and Mike McGuirl) with starting experience. The team also welcomes five newcomers, including a heralded freshman class of Antonio Gordon, DaJuan Gordon and Montavious Murphy, as well as a junior college All-American and national assists leader David Sloan.
Earlier in the day, Sneed received several accolades, as he was named one of 20 preseason candidates for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as well as a preseason honorable mention All-Big 12 selection by the league coaches. Sneed is the Wildcats’ top returner in nearly every statistical category, including scoring (10.6 ppg.), rebounding (5.5 rpg.), assists (1.9 apg.), steals (1.4 spg.) and minutes (30.7 mpg.). He became the 31st 1,000-point scorer in school history in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, while he needs just 40 rebounds to become just the 15th Wildcat with at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career.
In addition to Sneed, the Wildcats return the trio of Mawien, Diarra and McGuirl as well as senior Pierson McAtee, juniors James Love III and Levi Stockard III and sophomores Nigel Shadd and Shaun Williams.
Mawien, who has started all 71 games in his career, enters his senior season with the fifth-highest career field goal percentage (56.1; 204-of-364) after averaging 7.0 points on 52.6 percent shooting with 4.9 rebounds per game in 2018-19. Diarra tallied double figures in 5 of his last 7 games played, a span in which he averaged 11 points on 49 percent shooting, including 50 percent from 3-point range. McGuirl, who played a pivotal role in the run to the Elite Eight as a true freshman in 2017-18, saw action in all 34 games a season ago with a pair of starts.
Stockard, regarded as one of the team’s most improved players, returns after connecting on 55.6 percent from the field in 32 games as a sophomore in 2018-19. McAtee received a scholarship in the off-season after walking on for the past three seasons, while Love and Shadd are finally healthy after struggling with injuries for most of their careers. Williams played in 30 games as the team’s lone freshman a season ago.
The team must replace one of its most prolific senior classes in school history of Barry Brown, Jr., Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade, who accounted for 4,533 points in their respective careers, the third-most by a trio in Big 12 history and the most in school history.
K-State plays the first of two exhibition games at Bramlage Coliseum on Friday, October 25 against Emporia State at 8 p.m., CT before hosting Washburn on Wednesday, October 30 against Washburn at 7 p.m., CT. The regular-season opener will be Tuesday, November 5 against NCAA Tournament foe North Dakota State at 7 p.m., CT.