The college basketball season recently started and the Division I teams in Kansas have a lot to look forward to this season.
Wichita State has just as much, if not more to look forward to than the power programs from the main conferences. Ever since the Shockers Final Four run in the 2013, they have had a dominating reign in the Missouri Valley Conference winning the conference the past two seasons with limited competition. The undefeated regular season in 2013-14, and beating KU to advance to the Sweet 16 last year have been a few of the main highlights since then. They are on top of almost every single preseason Missouri Valley standings and they are in the top 10 of most of the polls. Seniors Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker are back for their last year to lead the Shockers, along with head coach Gregg Marshall and his new contract. The Shockers have four freshmen who are expected to have important playing time. They also added a graduate-transfer, Anton Grady, who is expected to start, and another transfer, Conner Frankamp, who will be eligible for the second semester. WSU starts conference play on December 31.
The team WSU beat in the NCAA tournament last year, KU, has very high expectations as well. The Jayhawks are coming off their 11th straight Big 12 championship and are looking to make that 12 in a row this season. They bring back everybody except Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre and brought in two five stars, Carlton Bragg and Cheick Diallo, and a four star LeGerald Vick. KU is at the top of most Big 12 preseason standings and are in most top 10’s. They have not made it past the round of 32 in the tournament since 2013, where they lost in the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks once again have one of the toughest schedules in the nation and begin play in the always tough Big 12 on January 2.
The season doesn’t look quite as bright for K-State. The Wildcats lost three seniors to graduation and five players to transfer, including leading scorer Marcus Foster. Because of the massive losses, head coach Bruce Weber had to find a lot of freshmen to fill in the open spaces. They also added junior college transfer Carlbe Ervin and the most notable incoming freshman is St. John native Dean Wade. He played against Skyline in all four of his high school years.
“It’s pretty cool that we got to play against a DI athlete that is making a difference at that level,” senior Brady McComb said.
K-State’s young team will be lead by seniors Justin Edwards and Stephen Hurt, and junior Wesley Iwundu. KSU is at the bottom of most Big 12 preseason standings so they are flying under the radar to start off the year. They had a rough year last year where the Wildcats completely missed out on postseason play for the first time since the 2005-06 season and then the huge roster turnover started taking place. The Wildcats open up conference play on January 5.
This season has a bright future for the Kansas schools as they look for conference championships and a good seed in March Madness.