K-State Q&A: Jerome Tang’s newest basketball additions, backup quarterbacks & more

The Kansas State men’s basketball roster is starting to take shape after a productive week of recruiting from Jerome Tang.

The Wildcats are up to 11 scholarship players with the recent additions of Cal-State Fullerton guard Max Jones, junior college forward Chimobi Ikegwuruka and Samford big man Achor Achor.

Just like that, fans can stop worrying about whether the Wildcats will be able to put a starting lineup on the court next season. In fact, there is quite a bit of potential in the locker room right now.

Bart Torvik now projects K-State as the No. 52 team in college basketball for the 2024-25 season. That is up significantly from where the Wildcats finished last season (No. 69) and where they sat before their latest three additions (No. 68).

Now, some will say the Wildcats should expect to do better than 52nd. And that’s fair. No. 52 nationally translates to No. 9 in the Big 12. Fans will be hoping for better results than that.

But remember, these are just projections. If your team is hovering around 50 then things look good coaching, quality development and excellent conditioning can push it to the next level. Last week, K-State didn’t look like it had a NCAA Tournament roster. This group should definitely be in the mix for a trip to the Big Dance.

Jones is a quality shooter who should add valuable depth to the backcourt. Achor is talented and athletic. It’s unclear how they will adjust to playing in the Big 12 after spending years at the mid-major level, but they definitely bring potential to Manhattan. Ikegwuruka is a project, but I like his highlight reel. He seems worth a roll of the dice.

Tang can still add more talent to the mix with two open scholarships.

But his main job next season will be molding this group into a cohesive unit. He never accomplished that feat last season. Maybe things will be different next year.

We can all start looking forward now that he has a roster to work with.

Now, it’s time for another K-State Q&A. Let’s dive right into your questions. Thanks, as always, for providing them.

Why did the football team want to bring in a new backup quarterback? I thought the coaching staff was high on Jacob Knuth. - Andrew B. via e-mail.

Chris Klieman and his coaching staff do like Jacob Knuth, but he is only a sophomore and he has never taken a college snap before.

Everyone is hoping for Avery Johnson to take the vast majority of QB reps this season. But if something happens to him and the Wildcats need to turn to someone else in a meaningful situation it might be hard to trust Knuth to do all that much. Maybe he would come in and throw for 300 yards. Maybe he would throw three interceptions. He is an unknown.

Connecticut transfer Ta’Quan Roberson is not.

He has four years of college experience and he started at UConn last season.

Think of him as an insurance policy.

He should also be able to provide some stiff competition for Knuth as they practice this season. They should make each other better. I imagine he will also be helpful to Johnson in a supportive role. K-State simply doesn’t have much experience at QB. Even Johnson has only started one game at the position. Bringing in a veteran backup makes sense, even if he isn’t expected to start and the Wildcats like what they have in Knuth.

Do any of these portal athletes actually go to school or have a degree major chosen? Graduation rates used to be one measure of the coach’s success but I haven’t heard about that lately. - William H. via e-mail.

It is kind of funny that the NCAA invented the term “graduate transfer” as a way to reward players who had fulfilled their scholastic duties and were looking to learn even more. Back in the day, the idea was that the NCAA should let a player transfer to a new school and play there immediately so long as the player was going to pursue another degree in a particular major that wasn’t offered at his previous school.

That system got abused awful quick.

Now there are unlimited transfers. And you’re right. It can seem like some of these players aren’t taking any classes. But they most definitely need to earn enough credits each year to remain eligible to compete. So academics are still involved. They just aren’t the priority for some student-athletes.

I’m sure that rubs some people the wrong way. But if we’re being honest I feel like a great deal of student-athletes would simply major in basketball or football if they could. And there really shouldn’t be anything wrong with that.

What do you make of the current chaos in the ACC, and how do you predict it will strategically impact the Big XII 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years from now? In a potentially related question, as currently authorized by the Board of Regents, are K-State and KU legally, financially, and/or practically bound to reside within the same athletic conference? - Kirk Z. via e-mail.

Well, the biggest thing I wonder about is what may happen if Clemson, Florida State and maybe North Carolina find a way out of the ACC. They are going to need a new conference to call home if that happens.

I’m sure they would all prefer landing spots in the Big Ten or SEC, but will those conferences want to bring them on?

There is certainly a possibility that the Big 12 could once again go into expansion mode and bring them all onboard (plus Duke, Louisville or NC State to give the conference a nice, even 20 members). I already think the Big 12 has too many members, but adding those four would still be a no-brainer. Maybe they could split into East and West divisions or pods and have a merry old time.

I suppose the fear is that those three breakaway, join the Big Ten/SEC and then those conferences look to raid the Big 12. There was some online speculation last week that Kansas could become a coveted team by the SEC in that situation.

Even though I think that idea seems a bit far-fetched, I will say there is no reason why KU and K-State have to remain in the same conference. That would be everyone’s preference, of course, and I hope that happens.

But if KU or K-State gets an opportunity to upgrade leagues it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to hold that athletic department back by forcing it to remain tethered to an in-state rival.

Otherwise KU, K-State and Wichita State would all be in the Missouri Valley Conference together.

The only protocol I know of that has been put in place by the Board of Regents is that both universities are supposed to keep them in the loop should they consider switching conferences.

Of all the new facilities at K-State sports, which one is the most important to their respective sport, and which one is the most underrated? -@pastorcshane via X.

Personally, I think the indoor practice facility that the football team has gotten to call home for the past two years is the crown jewel of all the athletic facilities that have recently been built on campus.

I say that for two reasons.

1. The Wildcats needed a modern indoor facility within walking distance of the locker room. The old one was a dump and a pain for players to access.

2. It was built at the exact right time. Now that NIL has taken over as the top priority in college sports, nobody cares about facilities anymore.

I would actually argue that facilities have always been overrated. When was the last time you heard a recruit say he picked a school because it has a nice weight room or a lounge area? Has it ever happened? As long as you can offer student-athletes the “coach” version of facilities I think they are fine, especially now that NIL is a thing. Nobody needs “first class” facilities.

On the flip side, everyone needs NIL money to offer players. A good tight end will work out in an outdated gym if he’s getting paid $1 million to do it.

But I digress ...

K-State didn’t even have an average practice facility before the current one was built. So it’s an important upgrade.

The most underrated facility is probably the new volleyball arena. Most fans probably don’t care anything about it, but the volleyball team sure enjoys playing there. It sure beats playing inside a building without any air conditioning!

You didn’t ask, but might I also add one facility project that I would selfishly like K-State to pursue in the future? How about updating the media/interview room at Bramlage Coliseum. The current media workroom is the size of a half bathroom and the interview room is literally a storage closet.

Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg remarked last season that the interview room hasn’t changed since his playing days at Iowa State in the early 1990s.

Handicap Carla Bernat’s chances at the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship. -@shanekrull1 via X.

There’s no reason why she can’t string a few good rounds of golf together and finish inside the top 20 or maybe even the top 10 at the NCAA championship.

Not knowing a ton about her game, it’s hard for me to predict how she will play on a 6,330-yard course in California. But she went 7-under par in the NCAA Regionals and she finished in third place there.

Her scoring average this season is 70.32. So she is clearly a very skilled golfer. If she keeps putting up scores like that she will represent the Wildcats well.

Last week you mentioned the canceled Vandy football home & home. Is that something that will still happen & being worked on or just wishful hoping? -@garretts_myth via X.

Sadly, I think K-State bringing Vanderbilt to Manhattan is nothing more than wishful thinking ... even though the Commodores technically still owe the Wildcats a game.

K-State played at Vandy all the way back in 2017, the return game was called off because of the pandemic in 2020 and the Commodores still don’t appear on any of the Wildcats’ future schedules in 2024.

You do the math.

That series appears to be over and done with.

There was writing in series contract that said Vanderbilt would have to pay K-State around $1 million to get out of its trip to the Little Apple but there was also a “force majeure” clause that stated both parties would be relieved from playing games in case of something unexpected happening like COVID.

I’m guessing Vanderbilt used that as an excuse to get out of playing at K-State and never gave the game another thought.

That has probably happened to many nonconference games across the country.

Too bad, playing Vandy at home would give K-State an excellent opportunity to beat up on a SEC team.

I suggested the possibility of reviving the game last week because I think it would be cool. I suggested playing the game in Kansas City because maybe then Vandy would consider it. Heck, they could even play again in Nashville so long as the game was at the Titans’ stadium. There would be a ton of purple there.