Kansas State Basketball: Predicting Wildcats Stat Leaders for 2014-15 Season
Although Kansas State has plenty of talent coming back, including leading scorer and freshman sensation Marcus Foster, the Wildcats also lose a few crucial players, including Will Spradling and Shane Southwell.
Spradling led the team in both assists and steals, while Southwell was the team's leader in blocks. That means K-State must replace two guys who led in three of the five major statistical categories.
The team does, however, return its leading rebounder in Thomas Gipson, who pulled down 6.5 boards per game last season.
Take a look at who is projected to lead the Wildcats this year in each of the five major categories: points, rebounds, steals, assists, blocks.
Points: Marcus Foster
This one was easy.
Marcus Foster, one of the nation's best freshman a season ago, was far and away the team's scoring leader last year, averaging 15.5 points per game. His closest competition was Thomas Gipson, who averaged 11.7.
Foster's best showing last year came over the course of three days, when he poured in 34 points in an upset over Texas on Feb. 8, then 20 points two days later in a win over Kansas.
While Foster should undoubtedly lead the team in points, he may face pressure from Justin Edwards off the bench, a transfer from Maine who led the America East in scoring two years ago.
Rebounds: Thomas Gipson
Thomas Gipson, the only other returning player to lead a team in one of the five stat categories last year, will almost surely lead the team in rebounds this coming year.
Although a bit undersized at just 6'7", Gipson slimmed down last year but kept the same type of toughness that made him one of the Big 12's best big men. He finished 2013-14 averaging 6.5 rebounds a game, with his highest single-game total being 13 in a late-season game against Oklahoma State.
The Wildcats get a much-needed dose of height this year with the additions of Brandon Bolden and Stephen Hurt to the roster. But Gipson is a bona fide leader in Manhattan and will likely see more floor time than any other big man on campus.
Steals: Nigel Johnson
Nigel Johnson, a point guard from Virginia who saw spurts of playing time for K-State last season, is the team's leading returner in steals.
A defensive specialist of sorts, Johnson is in contention to become the starting point guard for the Wildcats following the departure of Will Spradling. Johnson had seven games last year with multiple steals, including two in the season finale against eventual national runner-up Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.
Johnson will likely see the floor a lot more in his sophomore campaign, so you've got to figure his steal numbers will go up as well.
Assists: Jevon Thomas
If there's one player who plays selflessly enough to lead his team in assists and not care about anything else at K-State, it's point guard Jevon Thomas.
A rising sophomore who plays with reckless abandon, Thomas at times was one of the biggest injections of energy K-State had in its arsenal. He wasn't eligible to play until after the fall semester ended, so Thomas spent most of the year behind the eight ball to at least some degree.
But now a full summer and early fall of workouts will catch Thomas up and should put him on even footing with the rest of the team.
A high-energy player who has a tremendous ability to drive to the bucket and find the open man either down low or on the perimeter, Thomas should lead K-State in the assist department in 2014-15.
Blocks: Wesley Iwundu
Although Wesley Iwundu plays the 3-spot, he was still fourth on the team last year in blocks.
A freshman last season, the 6'7" Iwundu has an enormous wingspan that, at times, can make shooters think they have more room to get off a shot than they actually do.
Now with a year of experience under his belt, you have to think nearly all of Iwundu's numbers will go up as he continues to develop his athleticism. That will almost surely lead to a big jump in blocks.