It was pretty easy to figure out why K-State was ranked eighth in the preseason Big 12 Conference coaches poll.
The Wildcats lost Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, one of the best duos in the history of the Big 12. Last year, Beasley and Walker scored more than half the Wildcats’ points and grabbed about half of their rebounds.
However, after watching the first few games, K-State has to feel a little better about replacing the Beasley-Walker tandem. Several players have improved their skills and their confidence.
It’s unreasonable to think K-State could replace that duo with only a couple players. However they have more than a couple players who look like they’re ready to step up.
Denis Clemente looks like the guy who some have called one of the fastest players in college basketball. It’s a pleasant sight watching him sprint the ball up the court rather than watching Clent Stewart slowly back the ball up the court.
Dominique Sutton looks much more assertive this year on the offensive end. It’s a far cry from when we saw him in the NCAA tournament against Wisconsin, clutching the ball while he was wide open. There was no chance he was shooting that ball.
Jamar Samuels, after redshirting in 2008, has established himself as a scoring threat. There are few players in the Big 12 who have his combination of height and athletic ability.
But the most improved player on the Wildcats roster might be Darren Kent. He is truly a different player. He’s finishing difficult layups that last year he would have awkwardly missed.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised that some of these guys actually have talent. I mean, there’s got to be a reason coach Frank Martin offered them scholarships.
As much as a blessing it was to have Beasley and Walker, their presence can make it difficult for other players to develop. Why take a big shot in a pressure situation when you can just dump it off to Beasley and let him do all the work?
Now that the two superstars are gone, other players are asserting themselves and developing their skills. Heck, even Luis Colon looks better this season.
I’m not saying the Wildcats are better off with their current team, but they won’t go to the Big 12 cellar just because Beasley and Walker left.
Jon Garten is a senior in print journalism. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.