When asked to name the player who has most surprised him after a few months of offseason practices, Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber didn’t mention any of the usual suspects.
No need for him to single out Rodney McGruder or Jordan Henriquez. Weber knew how good they were long before he moved to Manhattan.
Instead, Weber went with someone he didn’t see much of last season.
“You know who has played really well?” Weber said. “Omari Lawrence. I think he has been the surprise of the summer.”
Surprise? Shock may be a better word. Lawrence, a junior guard who transferred to K-State from St. John’s after a redshirt year in junior college, played so rarely in his debut season with the Wildcats that some fans might have trouble recognizing him. (He’s the one on the left in the above picture, by the way).
Though he played in nine games, he only saw time at the very end of blowouts. His season totals: 20 minutes, six rebounds, five points and two assists. Not much for a new coach to go by there.
But every player responds to a coaching change differently. It seems Lawrence has responded very well to Weber after struggling under former coach Frank Martin.
Weber said Lawrence has lost almost 20 pounds from the end of last season, and is putting his new 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame to good use.
“He dropped a lot of weight and came in with a good attitude,” Weber said. “He gave himself the chance to be in good shape. He has a better motor, he’s active and that’s all been good. He’s very committed right now. When he’s coming away from workouts you can tell he’s really putting the time in. I’ve seen a lot of good things from him.”