K-State to Open Cayman Islands Classic with Rhode Island

More on the Cayman Islands Classic |  Bracket (.pdf)


MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will take on Rhode Island to conclude the first round of the 2022 Cayman Islands Classic on Monday, November 21, as tournament organizers announced the complete bracket for the tournament on Wednesday (June 22).

The fourth annual Cayman Islands Classic will run from Monday-Wednesday, November 21-23, 2022, at The John Gray Gymnasium, just minutes away from world famous Seven Mile Beach in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. The Islands are located in the western Caribbean Sea about an hour away from Miami.

K-State and Rhode Island will meet for the first time in their respective histories in the final game of the first day of the tournament at 7:30 p.m., CT on Monday, November 21. LSU and Illinois State will meet in the opener at 11 a.m., CT followed by Akron and Western Kentucky at 1:30 p.m., CT. Mountain West foe Nevada and AAC member Tulane will open the evening session at 5 p.m., CT followed by the Wildcats and Rams.

The K-State/URI winner will advance to face the winner of the contest between Nevada and Tulane on Tuesday, November 22 at 7:30 p.m., CT, while the two remaining teams will play at 5 p.m., CT.

In the opponent bracket, the winner of the first game between LSU and Illinois State will play the winner of the second game between Akron and WKU on Tuesday, November 22 at 1:30 p.m., CT, while the two remaining teams will open the second day of the tournament at 11 a.m., CT.

The winner of each bracket will face off in the championship game on Wednesday, November 23 at 7:30 p.m., CT. There will be three consolation games that will precede the title contest at 11 a.m., CT (seventh-place game), 1:30 p.m., CT (fifth-place game) and 5 p.m., CT (third-place game), respectively.

All-session passes for the tournament start at $250 and can be purchased through ticket partner Event Pro in the coming months. Questions can be directed to [email protected].

Those interested in travel packages can contact Sports & Entertainment Travel, the official fan travel provider for the Cayman Islands Classic, by visiting their website at www.CaymanIslandClassicTravel.com or reach them by phone at (877) 669-8903.

Like K-State, Rhode Island will be led by a first-year head coach as Archie Miller was announced as the Rams’ new coach on March 18 after spending the past year working out of coaching. Miller has won nearly 63 percent of his games in his head coaching career, which includes stints at Dayton (2011-17) and Indiana (2017-21).

Sophomore Ishmael Leggett (8.3 ppg., 3.1 rpg.) and senior Malik Martin (7.6 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) highlight the return of five players from a Rams’ squad that posted a 15-16 overall record, including a 5-12 mark in Atlantic 10 action, in 2021-22. Miller has brought in seven new players, including four transfers in Josaphat Bilau (Wichita State), Anthony Harris (North Carolina), Brayon Freeman (George Washington) and Brandon Weston (Seton Hall).

Led by fourth-year head coach Steve Alford, Nevada posted a 13-18 overall record, including a 6-12 mark in MWC play, in 2021-22. The Wolf Pack will be led by 7-foot junior center Will Baker (11.5 ppg., 4.9 rpg.) and sophomore guard Kenan Blackshear (8.1 ppg., 2.7 apg.) as well as five newcomers, including three Division I transfers.

Tulane went 14-15 overall, including a 10-8 in AAC play, in 2021-22 under fourth-year head coach Ron Hunter. The Green Wave are expected to return their top-3 scorers in Jalen Cook (18.0 ppg.), Jaylen Forbes (16.5 ppg.) and Kevin Cross (13.9 ppg.), who each earned American Conference honors a year ago.

K-State is 1-1 all-time vs. Nevada with the last meeting coming in a home win in 1993, while the Wildcats are 2-2 vs. Tulane with the last meeting coming in 2013 at the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival.

Both LSU (former Murray State head coach Matt McMahon) and Illinois State (former Ohio State assistant Ryan Pedon) will be led by new coaches, while Akron and Western Kentucky have ranked among of the most successful programs in the country. The Zips own the best winning percentage (71.4) in the Mid-American Conference the past three seasons under head coach John Groce, while the Hilltoppers are one of just 17 programs nationally to win at least 19 games in each of the last five seasons under head coach Rick Stansbury.

K-State is undefeated against Akron (3-0), Illinois State (2-0) and WKU (3-0) and has never faced LSU.

This will mark K-State’s first appearance in the Cayman Islands Classic, however, the Wildcats did win the championship in their last visit to a tournament in the Caribbean after defeating Eastern Kentucky (95-68), Penn (64-48) and Missouri (82-67) in the 2018 Paradise Jam in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

K-State was originally scheduled to play in the Cayman Island Classic during the 2020-21 season, but the tournament was first relocated to Florida then cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be the first time that organizers have put on the tournament since George Mason won the title in 2019.

Previous winners of the Cayman Islands Classic include Cincinnati (2017), Creighton (2018) and George Mason (2019). The Patriots knocked off New Mexico State, 68-64, for the 2019 title after defeating Old Dominion (60-53) and Nebraska (85-66) in the first two rounds. Other 2019 participants included Colorado State, Loyola Chicago, South Florida and Washington State.

K-State will be led by Tang, who was hired by the school on March 21 after a 19-year stint in helping build Baylor into a national powerhouse. The Wildcats are expected to return All-Big 12 honorable mention selection Markquis Nowell (12.4 ppg., 5.0 apg.) and junior Ish Massoud (6.8 ppg., 2.8 rpg.) in 2022-23.

In addition, the Wildcats have signed seven additional players for the upcoming season, including transfers Cam Carter (Mississippi State), Jerrell Colbert (LSU), David N’Guessan (Virginia Tech), Desi Sills (Arkansas State), Nae’Qwan Tomlin (Chipola College) and a pair of incoming freshmen Dorian Finister and Taj Manning.

Several aspects of the 2022-23 schedule have already been announced, including the home games with Wichita State and Florida in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, the return of the Wildcat Classic with Nebraska at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City and a road game at Butler in the Big 12/BIG EAST Battle.

Season tickets for the 2022-23 home schedule are currently on sale through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office by calling (800) 221.CATS as well as online at kstatesports.com.