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Turmoil at Kansas State continues with Wally Judge leaving

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

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Kansas State basketball was put back on the map by Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, and Wally Judge was expected to be the next guy to carry their torch.

A McDonald's All-American and ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 18 prospect in the 2009 senior crop, Judge headlined a deep recruiting class for coach Frank Martin.

Now, Judge is a college hoops nomad.

Martin announced the sophomore forward's departure from the program at his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon.

"Wally quit the team today," Martin said. "He's not happy. I kinda saw it coming because of some of his emotional situations. he just has not been enjoying it.

"He told me today that he thinks it is time for a change."

This ends what has been truly an up-and-down two-year run for the Washington, D.C., native in the Kansas plains. After averaging 3.3 points and three rebounds in 11.7 minutes a game as a freshman, the 6-foot-9, 248-pounder beefed up this off-season and was expected to be a break-out performer for K-State, who opened the season ranked No. 3 in the nation.

Judge started the Wildcats' first six games of the season, but then played in only one of their next four, with rumors swirling that he might be transferring after the fall semester. He decided to stay, and beginning with a 63-59 loss to UNLV on Dec. 21, averaged 22.7 minutes a game over the next six outings.

Then things mysteriously fell apart again, as he registered back-to-back DNPs, and played one minute in each of the two subsequent games. That led up to his finale for Martin's club on Saturday, fouling out with five points and two boards in 17 minutes in a 90-66 drubbing at Kansas.

At this point, Kansas State fans must be numb to this kind of stuff, as this season has been nothing short of a nightmare when compared to its grand expectations at the start.

The Cats are now 14-8 overall and just 2-5 in conference play. Their soap opera of a 2010-11 season now only seems to be spiraling further downward. Barring a complete reversal of fortunes in the win-loss column down the stretch run, K-State likely will find itself going from the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight to the NIT.

Obviously, the Wildcats aren't the first team to ever suffer from such a steep fall, but theirs is one of the most surprising cases in college basketball this season. There are no high-profile recruits like Judge on the horizon, and the team's two biggest names — Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly — will be lost at the end of the season to graduation.

As for Judge, he might have a brighter future than the program he's leaving behind, should he finds the right situation.

In 15.2 minutes a game this season, he averaged 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds, and has shown nice touch on his developing mid-range jumper. If he sits out all of next season, he'll have two years of eligibility remaining starting in 2012-13.

Mix in that he's a former McDonald's All-American — meaning an eternal shelf life in the D-I transfer world — and he should have plenty of high-profile suitors.

Ryan Greene covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.

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