Sometimes it seems like a player has been around forever. Today’s iteration of college basketball rarely sees players spend four years as a contributor on a college team. But when a player manages to play – and play well – for four years, he or she is an aberration.
Will Spradling is an aberration.
“He’s played a lot of games, a lot of minutes. I think sometimes people take him for granted, he just does so much,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “You can play him at the point, you can play him at the two. He plays great, he has great awareness on defense. He just knows what you’re doing ahead of time.”
In the 2010-11 season, Spradling’s freshman campaign, he was one of four players to see action in every game. The next year, he was one of two players to start every game. During his junior season, his stretch of 96 consecutive games and 62 straight starts was brought to an end, but he still managed 33 starts in 34 appearances. This season, he has started all 22 games so far. Barring injury, he will continue to start for the rest of the season.
The Overland Park native signed with the Wildcats as a junior in high school at Shawnee Mission South, and began to make an impact right away. He averaged 6.4 points points per game playing largely from the bench as a freshman. He quickly became known for his penchant for drawing charges as he led the team with 21.
As a sophomore, he transitioned into a starting role and saw his numbers rise. He put up 9.3 points per game, along with 2.8 assists. He once again led the team in charges drawn with 26. He also shot a team-high 82 percent from the free throw line, which has long been a point of trouble for the Wildcats.
Last season, he averaged 7.4 points per game. His free throw percentage rose to a team-high 86.4 percent, and he once again led the team with 14 charges drawn. His 2.41 assist-to-turnover ratio led the team and is tied for third highest all-time in K-State single-season history.
After finding such quick success, many thought that he might become an elite scorer, or an elite passer, but that is not who Spradling is. His game is not limited to excelling at one or two quantitative statistical categories, but rather doing what is asked of him game in and game out. He displays a high basketball I.Q. and is the floor general that every team needs.
“I just do whatever it takes to win, and that doesn’t meant that I have to go out and score every game,” Spadling said. “There’s games where I might not have put up the points and some other games where I did put up the points.”
Four years ago, when K-State was starting to rise in the world of college basketball, Spradling played a huge part in the continuation of that rise to prominence. That is where he sees his legacy as a Wildcat, and that is exactly where it will reside in the future.