Wildcats ready to start season against Western Illinois

Senior forward Wesley Iwundu takes the ball to the basket during the K-State game against Washburn in Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 4, 2016. (Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

The Kansas State men’s basketball team will officially tip off its season tonight when the Wildcats take on the Western Illinois Leathernecks in Bramlage Coliseum.

K-State is coming off exhibition wins against Pittsburg State and Washburn. Both were comfortable wins and great opportunities to get some kinks out before the team started playing games that count.

“It was good,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “We got an opportunity to get a lot of guys some minutes and get a little game conditioning and now you build up to the real thing, that’s what you’ve been working for.”

The Wildcats likely starting lineup against the Leathernecks will consist of sophomores Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown at the guard positions and seniors Wesley Iwundu and D.J. Johnson along with sophomore Dean Wade at the forward positions.

K-State is headed into the season with high internal expectations but low external ones. Big coaches predicted this Wildcats’ team to finish eighth, the same spot they finished a year ago when they struggled.

“I feel like it’s very disrespectful to be picked ninth or eighth when we have the most guys returning,” Brown said. “I mean it’s just motivation and just a sign to prove a lot of people wrong.”

Western Illinois is coming off of a disappointing 10-17 season. The Leathernecks started their season off well with an upset win over Wisconsin but the season went all downhill from there. They do have a talented scorer in Garret Covington. Covington earned All-Summit League Second Team Honors and averaged 17.9 points per game.

“We gotta be ready to play,” Weber said.”We can’t take them for granted. Covington is a big time scorer, I think 15 or 16 (points per game) in his career so he gives you that versatile kinda forward, a test for (Iwundu) for (Wade) for (Xavier Sneed) depends on who guards him.”

The Wildcats and Leathernecks will tip off at 8 p.m.

Wildcats sign recruits, expect another

Coach Weber announced the signing of 6-foot-2-inch guard Mike McGuirl and 6-foot-9-inch forward Nigel Shadd. McGuirl is from Manchester, Connecticut, and is a three-star recruit according to Rivals. Shadd is from Chandler, Arizona, and is also a three-star recruit. The Wildcats are also expected to sign another three-star recruit, Levi Stockard, a 6-foot-8-inch forward from St. Louis, Missouri, in the coming days.

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