May 13, 2020 1:52 PM

K-State Men’s Basketball Notebook – McGuirl, Gordon and the Wildcats’ Next Chapter

Posted May 13, 2020 1:52 PM

During an offseason when so much is uncertain, it makes sense that Mike McGuirl and DaJuan Gordon don't even agree on who has the better Air Jordan collection or video game skills.

McGuirl and Gordon spoke to the media this week about staying focused on hoops, while social distancing and what next season could have in store for the Wildcats. 

Sneakers and NBA2K were also discussed.

"Talking about Jordans," McGuirl said. "I would like to say that my Air Jordan collection is much better than DaJuan's."

Returning Talent 

It's no secret that K-State will look to their freshman and sophomore class to play a major role in 2019-20, but the importance of the returning Wildcats can't be discounted. 

The only senior on next year's squad, McGuirl will be in a position to build on a season in which his shooting improved dramatically. Dialing in from distance at a .398 clip, McGuirl led K-State in three-point percentage despite never finishing among the top five Wildcats in that category before last season. 

"Me being the only senior, I will be a leader, but we have a lot of good, young guys," McGuirl said. "DaJuan and same with Montavious [Murphy] and Antonio [Gordon]. They've been here for a year. They know really what it's going to take."

Gordon was a standout from Bruce Weber's 2019-20 freshman class, finishing third on K-State in minutes while making an immediate impact on the defensive end of the floor. 

Put on your basketball nerd glasses and take a look at these advanced defensive stats.

Gordon finished his freshman season in Manhattan third on the Wildcats in steal percentage and defensive box plus/minus, which estimates how many defensive points per 100 possessions a player was responsible for over an average player. 

Always working.

"What I learned most about myself last year is I can play under pressure against any big competition," Gordon said. "I just have to be patient and keep working and wait my turn. The biggest challenge is coming in next year and taking a bigger role, even though I don't think it's a challenge because I've taken that role before."

Meeting the New Guys

When you've got the nation's 14th-ranked recruiting class (Rivals.com) headed to Manhattan, it's easy to feel good about some of the pieces arriving in purple next season. 

"I know we have a lot of good, young talent coming in, and older talent as Rudi [Rueadale Williams] is coming in as a junior. We have a lot of good players coming in, a lot of good kids, and we've all been in group chat, text and Snapchat," McGuirl said. "We're all talking, getting along really well and getting to know each other as much as we can through all of this."

Five freshmen in the newest class will give Weber a young core to build around as Nijel Pack, Davion Bradford, Selton Miguel, Luke Kasubke and Seryee Lewis arrive in Manhattan. 

"My senior year I played against [Lewis] before he moved schools," Gordon said. "We're both from Chicago. Just growing up playing against him and getting to know him on the court, going to basketball games with him…me knowing Seryee is pretty cool."

Rudi Williams and Carlton Linguard will give the Wildcats a pair of experienced JUCO players alongside UTEP transfer Kaosi Ezeagu.

Putting the Puzzle Together

Coming off a disappointing 2019-20 season, K-State's roster next season will feature a combined 56 starts at the Division I level (Ezeagu started eight games at UTEP).

"No pressure at all. A lot of motivation. A lot to prove," McGuirl said. "I mean, I'm not too worried about having a whole new team and people leaving. People have to do what they have to do, but I'm really happy with what we've got, and I couldn't be more happy, more excited."

Putting together a starting five and rotations that give K-State a chance to compete in conference play will be one of the biggest storylines to watch heading into next season.

With opportunities for starting minute available at point guard and in the front court, K-State fans won't need to wait long for a look at this highly-touted recruiting class in action. 

Just don't expect the returning Wildcats to sit back and let the new guys have all the fun.

"I don't think we want to put [last year] in the past. It just wasn't our best year," Gordon said. "When the hard times come, that can motivate us to keep pushing and to know that we don't want to have a losing season again, to keep pushing and to know we want to win."

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May 13, 2020 1:52 PM
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