Kansas State forward Isaiah Maurice has been dismissed from the program by head coach Bruce Weber, the university announced on Thursday evening.
“There are standards of conduct that are required to be a member of our program, and there are consequences when those standards are not met,” Webber said in a statement issued by the school. “Isaiah did not meet his responsibilities, and unfortunately this is the result.”
Maurice, the 6-foot-10 big man, was going to be a redshirt sophomore this year. He missed the 2015-16 season after not being cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
He only averaged 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game this season but during the Wildcats’ push for an NCAA Tournament berth, he increased his production. During a five-game span, one that stretched into the Big 12 Tournament, Maurice averaged 7.2 points per game.
With Wesley Iwundu and D.J. Johnson both exhausting their eligibility at the end of the season, Maurice was projected to play a larger role on the frontline alongside rising junior Dean Wade.
March Madness 2017: Big 12 Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards
Big 12 Player of the Year: Frank Mason III, Kansas
Mason’s play this season makes him the no-brainer conference player of the year and perhaps the frontrunner for the national award. He’s averaging 20.5 points, 5.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and a sizzling 49.3 percent from 3-point range for the potential No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
Big 12 Coach of the Year: Bill Self, Kansas
There was a temptation to reward Brad Underwood for Oklahoma State’s turnaround, but it’s impossible not to recognize Self leading his program not only to a 13th-straight conference title, but doing it by four games in the country’s toughest league. Kansas may have the top talent in the league year in and year out, but Self’s presence on the sideline guarantees it comes together year in and year out. This season was no exception.
First-Team All-Big 12:
Frank Mason III, Kansas (POY)
Monte Morris, Iowa State: The nation’s leader in assist-to-turnover ratio is as consistent an elite presence on the floor as there is in the country.
Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State: The most dynamic and important piece of the country’s best offense, Evans averaged 18.7 points per game.
Josh Jackson, Kansas: Mason is Kansas’ MVP, but Jackson is the Jayhawks’ most difficult matchup and is a likely top-five NBA draft pick.
Johnathan Motley, Baylor: The big man doubled his rebounding output this season to average a double-double of 17.5 points and 10 rebounds per game.
The thought was coming into the year that the Big 12 would be down this season, but for the fourth-straight year it ranked as the country’s best conference by KenPom. Another thing that didn’t change was Kansas winning the league, making it 13 in a row for the Jayhawks. The league isn’t going to send a huge number to the NCAA tournament this season, but make no mistake, the conference’s round-robin schedule was a grind, making it all the more impressive Kansas cleared the league by four games.
The Jayhawks are clearly the class of the Big 12, winning the conference by its largest margin since 2010. Kansas isn’t invulnerable at the Sprint Center, as the rest of the league has more than enough firepower to threaten them, but there’s no argument that makes anyone else the favorite.
And if they lose?: West Virginia
The Mountaineers should have swept Kansas this year. They rocked them in Morgantown, but blew a late lead in spectacular fashion in Lawrence later in the season. Their Press Virginia style seems to seriously bother the Jayhawks, and it could make for a raucous title game.
Baylor: The Bears went 2-4 against the top-four of the conference, but their length and the talent of Johnathan Motley makes them an intriguing matchup
Iowa State: The Cyclones have won six of their last seven and three members of their core — Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas — who have won two Big 12 tournament titles in their career. They’ve also have claimed wins against each of the other top teams in the league this year.
Sleeper: Oklahoma State
The Cowboys opened the Big 12 slate with six-straight losses, but then won nine of 10 before ending the season with losses to Iowa State and Kansas. Their defense is porous, but their top-ranked KenPom offense, led by point guard Jawun Evans, makes them a legitimate threat to reel off three wins in three days.
The Bubble Dwellers: One
Kansas State: Most projections have the Wildcats just on the bad side of the field of 68 line, which means they’ll probably have to score a win against Baylor in the quarterfinals to move the needle. Depending on what happens around the rest of the country, that one more win could be enough to earn a berth.
Defining moment of the season: Kansas erasing a 14-point deficit in the final three minutes at home against West Virginia. This is Peak Phog Allen.
CBT Prediction: Kansas
VIDEO: Svi Mykhailiuk beats Kansas State on a “walk off”
Third-ranked Kansas got the aid of a favorable whistle – or rather a silent whistle – as Svi Mykhailiuk went coast-to-coast to break a tie game at the buzzer when his layup, which came after three steps without a dribble, gave the Jayhawks a 90-88 win over Kansas State on Tuesday night.
Kansas was expected to waltz to a 13th-straight Big 12 title this season, but Mykhailiuk’s footwork in the final seconds was something else entirely. It was an obvious travel as he took three steps to get from outside the 3-point line to into the paint. Three steps, no doubt. Not allowed.
Certainly, missed calls are going to happen throughout a game, and the final seconds aren’t immune from that fact. Officials blow calls at the end of games all the time. Rarely, though, do they miss something as black and white as Mykhailiuk’s walk.
Allowing players to decide the game by allowing an extra degree of physicality is a mostly accepted part of the game, like it or not. Players get away with that all the time at the end of close games. Rarely do they get away with an extra step as egregious as Myykhailiuk’s. There was no judgement call there. There wasn’t really anything to parse, rather than just counting to three. The whistle needs to sound.
That finish draws an even brighter spotlight because for years rival Big 12 programs have grumbled about the Jayhawks getting an overly-friendly whistle at Allen Fieldhouse. Given that Kansas has won 12 Big 12 titles under Self while losing just five conference games there over that span, it’s definitely not surprising to hear those complaints and find people looking for comfort in conspiracy theories.
The reality is Kansas wins a lot at Allen Fieldhouse because Kansas is almost always the best team on the floor and the best team on the floor almost always wins at home, especially when that venue hosts over 16,000 fans and is generally considered one of the most hostile environments in the country. They get calls at home like everybody gets calls at home. If they get a few more than most, I’m more than willing to attribute that to the fact they’re often the faster, more athletic and aggressive team, which lends itself to getting the whistle to bend your way.
But endings like Tuesday’s aren’t going to quiet any complaints for the rest of the league. Gasoline meet fire, really.
What the ending also does is overshadow the fact that Kansas State put together a fantastic effort against Kansas, at least on offense. They shot 50.8 percent from the floor and had five players score in double figures. The 1.22 points per possession they scored were the most surrendered by the Jayhawks since the 2014-15 season, per Brian Goodman of Rush The Court. That’s incredibly encouraging for a K-State team that hasn’t been particularly potent offensively and certainly didn’t have a win on its resume coming into the game that would suggest they could knock off Kansas in Lawrence.
The 1.22 PPP posted by the Wildcats is the second-most by a Kansas opponent since the start of the 2014-15 season.
Kansas State’s depth in its backcourt has already been trimmed.
The Wildcats lost freshman Cartier Diarra to a season-ending knee injury, the school announced Wednesday. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder suffered the injury during a workout earlier this month.
“We are obviously disappointed for Cartier,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said in a statement. “He had worked extremely hard to get this point and had shown a lot of promise in workouts since joining our team in June. However, the focus now is on Cartier and his recovery. The good news is that he has only touched the surface of his potential on the basketball court and we look forward to seeing how he comes back from this setback.”
The injury, of which Kansas State did not specify the nature, required surgery Wednesday.
While Diarra wasn’t expected to play major minutes for the Wildcats, he was being counted on to play a reserve role for them. Losing any player he was counting on to contribute is significant for Weber, who is coming off two disappointing season and needs to placate a fanbase that just saw a successful alum, Brad Underwood, hired by Big 12 foe Oklahoma State. Kamau Stokes will carry the load in the backcourt for Kansas State, but the Wildcats really could have benefited from Diarra providing productive minutes off the bench.
Three months before the start of practice, and Kansas State already has gotten its first bad news of the season.
Looking Forward: Which programs are set to step backwards as we head into 2016-17?
The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone. Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season. The coaching carousel, which ended up spinning a bit faster than initially expected, has come to a close for all of the major programs.
In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2016-17 season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some programs on the decline heading into next season.
Wichita State: It’s hard to see the Shockers take too much of a tumble given how good a coach Gregg Marshall is and their superiority to the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference, but the graduations of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker mean the end of an era. Those two were the constants of a Final Four team, then a 35-0 squad, followed by a Sweet 16 and finishing last March in the second round. There’s still talent in Wichita and they are still going to be the heavyweights of the Valley, but the dominance and national prestige that came with VanVleet and Baker may have also left with them.
UNLV: Things haven’t exactly been at a highwater mark in Las Vegas in awhile, but the Running Rebels appear to continue to sink. First, they fired coach Dave Rice in the middle of the season, which is never received well in coaching circles, exactly the place you need to go to, you know, hire another coach. The Rick Pitino pipedream never materialized, and then Mick Cronin couldn’t pull the trigger despite giving life in the desert a serious look. That left UNLV with Little Rock’s first-year coach Chris Beard, until an ugly debate regent debate to approve his contract preempted an exit to Texas Tech just a week after taking the job. New head coach Marvin Menzies was hired with just two scholarship players left in the program. All of that messiness is a terrible sign for the current health of a once-mighty program.
Iowa State: The news for the Cyclones this spring has been almost universally positive, starting with point guard Monte’ Morris deciding to not even test the NBA draft process and return for a senior season in which he’ll be the Cyclones’ focal point. ISU also will be getting Naz Mitrou-Long back after the sharpshooter was granted a medical hardship waiver. But the reality remains that the Cyclones lost one of the best players in program history in Georges Niang and have been enjoying the most successful run in program history. Some sort of slide is likely — and has been expected — as a result. But coach Steve Prohm and ISU may have enough talent to return to the NCAA tournament for a school-record sixth time and forestall any setback.
North Carolina State: It really looked like Mark Gottfried was going to get things rolling in a big way following the 2014-15 season in which the Wolfpack went 22-14, had a good core returning and recruiting booming. But Trevor Lacey turned pro (only to go undrafted), Kyle Washington transferred and NC State stumbled to a 16-17 record last season. Now, Cat Barber is leaving to go pro and Abdul-Malik Abu may do the same or follow the Martin twins into the transfer, and suddenly the forecast in Raleigh isn’t so sunny even with Dennis Smith Jr. in the fold.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers traded a coach who won two Big East titles, went to the Sweet 16 twice, the Elite Eight once and only missed the NCAA tournament twice in 13 years for a guy that Vanderbilt was pushing out the door. Not great. Even if things had gotten stale for Pitt fans with Jamie Dixon, the results he achieved are hard to argue. Few believe that Kevin Stallings is the answer to jumpstart the program back to where Dixon had it during the first years of his tenure, especially as the ACC continues to be a monster to navigate.
Kansas State: The Bruce Weber era in Manhattan started out with a bang, as he tied for a Big 12 title in his first year taking over for Frank Martin, but it’s been backsliding since, capped with a 17-16 (5-13 Big 12) campaign this past season. He couldn’t make it work with the most talented player (Marcus Foster) he’s had there, and there hasn’t exactly been a line of high-level recruits making their way to Manhattan. And if that wasn’t bad enough, KSU fans had to watch Oklahoma State hire former Wildcat assistant Brad Underwood while their administration gave Weber a stay of execution.
Ohio State: This is probably the trickiest inclusion, as Thad Matta’s track record would suggest that last year’s NIT appearance was merely a slip on the path to a return to the top of the Big Ten. The trouble, though, is that seeing four members of a heralded five-man 2015 recruiting class all decide to transfer is a major red flag. The Buckeyes do welcome another strong class to Columbus this fall, headlined by Derek Funderburk, but there are some visible cracks in the facade.
Sunday afternoon Kansas State landed its second verbal commitment in the Class of 2016, as 6-foot-9 power forward James Love made his pledge to the Big 12 program. News of Love’s commitment was first reported by Hoopseen.com, with Love confirming via Twitter shortly thereafter.
Love joins small forward Xavier Sneed in Kansas State’s 2016 recruiting class to date. The Wildcats will lose a member of its front court rotation at the end of the 2015-16 season in center Stephen Hurt, and Love gives them an active and athletic forward moving forward.
Love attends American Heritage School in Miramar, Florida, and his decision came on the heels of his official visit to Kansas State this weekend.