K-State Q&A: Thomas Gipson, Marcus Foster, Sunflower Showdown, football recruiting and a prediction for next season

It’s time for another K-State Q&A, so let’s jump right into your questions.

Thanks, as always, for asking them.

Of course. Kansas State has won three of the last 50 against Kansas, so logically the Wildcats have a better than three in 60 shot at pulling an upset Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. I actually think K-State has a better-than-normal shot of beating Kansas. Yes, the matchup is bad (the Jayhawks have Joel Embiid, Perry Ellis, Tarik Black and Jamari Traylor inside while the Wildcats have Thomas Gipson) and K-State hasn’t seen a loud road environment all season (Bruce Weber blared crowd noise during practice Thursday to try and simulate what the team will see in Lawrence), but Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Jevon Thomas don’t know anything about this rivalry. They haven’t been a part of the last seven losses at Allen Fieldhouse, where K-State repeatedly fell impossibly behind in the first half and lost big. That will help. If Foster can make outside shots and Thomas can make life difficult for KU’s point guards, K-State will have a chance. But Gipson, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling need to deliver, too. Can the Wildcats put together that type of all-around performance in their toughest road game of the season? It’s unlikely, but they have won 10 straight. It’s possible.

This game will be won and lost inside. How Gipson, Iwundu and D.J. Johnson handle the Jayhawks’ depth will be key. K-State hasn’t seen a front court like this all season. Gonzaga had skilled bigs, but Sam Dower only played half the game before hurting his back. The Bulldogs went small in the second half. Oklahoma State came to Manhattan without Michael Cobbins and also went small. TCU has size, but it had no idea how to use it. The combination of Embiid, Ellis, Black and Traylor is a totally different animal. If one of them gets in foul trouble, someone else is ready to come in. Gipson has to not only play well, but play well while avoiding fouls. He needs to play 35 minutes for K-State to be in this game. A year ago, he picked up fouls left and right at Allen Fieldhouse. He has to play better and smarter this time.

As usual, K-State is bringing in a recruiting class that will rank near the bottom of the Big 12. But the Wildcats have some nice commitments lined up. They are in much better shape than they were a year ago. Offensive lineman Dalton Risner looks like a future difference-maker. He just got done playing in a high-school All-American game in Orlando and will participate in another one in Texas next month. Running back Dalvin Warmack had a sensational high school career, and his Blue Springs teammates Kaleb Prewett and Elijah Lee were impressive, too. I’ve also heard good things about Aaron Sharp, a dual-threat quarterback from Texas, and C.J. Reese, a defensive end. Dvonta Derricott, a four-star linebacker from Garden City Community College, is the highest-rated player in the class. As long as he qualifies academically, he could make a big impact next season. We will have to wait and see who else K-State adds. That may ultimately decide how strong and deep this recruiting class is.

I expect K-State to be ranked in the 20-25 range when the preseason polls come out. Jake Waters, Tyler Lockett, Daniel Sams and B.J. Finney are all back on offense. Dante Barnett and Ryan Mueller are back on defense. The Wildcats will have plenty to replace, but that’s a nice core to build around for a team that won six of its final seven games this season.

Have a comment or future story idea for K-Stated?
E-mail: krobinett@wichitaeagle.com
Twitter: @KellisRobinett