Location: Manhattan, KS
Conference: Big 12
Last Year’s Record: 22-12
Key Returners: Denis Clemente (15.0 ppg), Jacob Pullen (13.9 ppg), Jamar Samuels (8.3 ppg)
Top Newcomers: Wally Judge, Curtis Kelly-Tr, Rodney McGruder, Nick Russell
Strengths: Denis Clemente is back to lead a Wildcats’ team that is looking to build on recent success. He, along with Jacob Pullen comprise one of the best backcourts in the Big 12. They averaged almost 30 points-per-game last season and that number is expected to rise. They played the bulk of the minutes last season too, but now it looks like help is on the way. Freshmen Nick Russell and Rodney McGruder join the fray to sure up the backcourt while Wally Judge should provide an added punch from his forward position.
Weakness: The Wildcats were the worst free-throw shooting team in the Big 12 last season. Shooting just 65%, it’s no wonder why the Wildcats finished a marginal 9-7 in league play. Clemente and Pullen are solid from the line, but it is a huge drop-off from there. Jamar Samuels, the next best returning scorer, could only muster 57% from the line. This is an issue that the Wildcats will have to conquer if they want to show that good basketball in the state of Kansas isn’t only played in Lawrence.
Outlook: This squad has the right mix of newcomers and experience to be successful this season. A top-20 recruiting class and one of the best backcourts in college basketball should spell the second trip to the NCAA tournament for the Wildcats in three years.