K-State Q&A: What’s next for Arthur Kaluma? Will the Bat Cats make NCAA Regional?

It’s time for another K-State Q&A.

We are in a slow time for college sports, unless you are eagerly monitoring the House vs. NCAA settlement that could open the door for revenue sharing, but we still have a few good topics to cover when it comes to the Wildcats.

So let’s dive in to this week’s questions. Thanks, as always, for providing them.

I am holding out hope that Arthur Kaluma will exit the NBA Draft and play for Kansas State again next season. Am I crazy? What are the odds of this happening? -Garrett B. via e-mail.

I asked Jerome Tang about Kaluma earlier this week.

The K-State basketball coach said that Kaluma is currently focused on the NBA Draft and probably won’t make a final decision about his future until the very last minute. The deadline for college players to withdraw from the draft is May 29. So we should know whether he’s turning pro or staying in college within the next week.

Tang also added: “If he gets drafted that is a great thing for our program. If he comes back to school and we have a chance to get him that is something we are going to try and do.”

I asked a source close to both K-State and Kaluma what he thought about Kaluma returning to K-State and the response I got was: “There’s always a chance.”

From where I’m sitting, a return to K-State seems fairly low on Kaluma’s wish list. He would prefer to stay in the draft, even though he isn’t a projected pick. He participated in the G League scouting combine and is good enough to play at the pro level, even if he still has to work his way up to the NBA.

But if he returns to college his name is in the transfer portal for a reason. He will probably explore his options even if he is willing to listen to K-State. His NIL value will be bigger on the open market.

I would put his odds at returning to K-State around 15% — possible but not likely.

The Wildcats would be smart to re-recruit him if he is available, though. Kaluma is better than most remaining players in the transfer portal. College basketball statistician Bart Torvik would give K-State a bump from No. 54 nationally to No. 38 with Kaluma in the fold.

Football or men’s basketball ... Who had the better portal signings? -@BowTieMetal via X.

They could both turn out to be good in their own ways.

K-State football did an excellent job of addressing big needs in the transfer portal. Easton Kilty figures to play a ton, and maybe even start, at left tackle next season after coming in from North Dakota. Expectations are through the roof for former Colorado running back Dylan Edwards. Guys like New Mexico linebacker Alec Marenco and UConn quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson should round out the roster, even if they aren’t projected to be starters.

Chris Klieman is bringing in a well-rounded group that should make the Wildcats better next season.

Things are a little different for Jerome Tang and the men’s basketball team. The Wildcats lost all but three players on the hardwood, so Tang essentially had to rebuild the entire team.

He’s not done yet, seeing as how K-State has two open scholarships remaining, but the 11 guys he has lined up for next season are already projected to better than what the Wildcats were last season when they won 19 games and reached the NIT. I’m not as bullish on K-State basketball as Tang is right now, but this group definitely has potential.

Michigan guard Dug McDaniel was a big addition at the beginning of the transfer cycle. Samford big man Achor Achor was an important recent addition.

The Wildcats should be much more athletic next season. They should also shoot the ball better and commit fewer turnovers.

On paper, they look like they have an NCAA Tournament team. Can Tang mold a group of so many new players into a cohesive unit? That will ultimately decide how good or bad this transfer class turns out to be.

Do you think the baseball team will make the NCAA tournament? -@patemaw7 via X.

Yes, but it might be a nervous weekend for the Bat Cats.

K-State stands a good chance of making it into the NCAA Tournament, because coach Pete Hughes wisely lined up a difficult non-conference schedule for this team this season. It has an RPI around 40 and finished the regular season with 32 victories. That is usually good enough.

But the Wildcats also had a solid resume last season and got left out of the mix. So there are no guarantees.

Baseball America has K-State in its NCAA Tournament projection as a No. 3 seed as of Friday morning. But there isn’t much room for error. The Bat Cats are among the last four teams in the predicted field.

Personally, I don’t think an early exit from the Big 12 Tournament should be enough to send the Bat Cats to the wrong side of the bubble. Beating West Virginia on Wednesday could end up being quite helpful for them.

But there’s always a chance that “bid thieves” win their way into an NCAA Regional and create fewer spots for teams like K-State. Remember what happened with the men’s basketball team. When Jerome Tang & Co. exited the Big 12 Tournament it seemed like the Wildcats had an outside shot at earning an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. But then a string of upsets happened across the country and everyone knew the Wildcats were NIT bound on Selection Sunday.

K-State should hope like heck the same thing doesn’t happen this weekend.

I admittedly don’t know enough about the college baseball landscape to proclaim the K-State baseball team a lock for anything right now. But I do think it will sneak into an NCAA Regional.

What’s the most underrated food item and drink order in Manhattan? -@jmcparty83 via X.

The pepperoni bricks at AJ’s Pizzeria come to mind for food.

Those things are cheap and they are absolutely delicious. They are meant simply to be an appetizer, and they even bring them out before your pizza is done baking. But I could honestly eat them as the main course. My only complaint about them is that my kids gobble them up as soon as they hit the table, so I never get to eat as many as I would like. Maybe next time I should get a double order.

For the drink, I’m going to go with such an underrated item that it doesn’t even exist anymore. Anyone else remember the red sangria from Coco Bolos? Oh man, that thing was good. And if you were willing to order it on a Wednesday you could get an entire carafe for $5.

Alas, that restaurant is no longer in business, at least in Manhattan. Hopefully they still offer it at their other location in Overland Park.

The Pirate Nancy from Taco Lucha/So Long would be my runner-up. The regular old Nancy gets all the attention, but the Pirate Nancy (light beer with a splash of pineapple juice and Parrot Bay Rum) is far superior.