With four players having already left the program by way of either a transfer or dismissal, Kansas State announced Friday morning that a fifth player will be moving on.
Freshman Malek Harris, who played in 27 games as a freshman after arriving on campus as a top 100 prospect, has been dismissed from the program with head coach Bruce Weber announcing the move. Harris is the third player dismissed from the program, joining guards Marcus Foster and Tre Harris, with Jevon Thomas and Nigel Johnson having decided to transfer.
Harris averaged 2.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in just over 12 minutes of action per game, and in Kansas State’s Big 12 tournament loss to TCU he scored ten points in 17 minutes of action. Harris also had some disciplinary issues during his time in Manhattan, as he (along with Foster) was suspended in early February for a violation of team rules. Harris missed three games as a result of that suspension.
With the departure there’s an even greater need for Kansas State’s six newcomers (one junior college transfer, five freshmen) to produce in 2015-16. The Wildcats’ most productive returnees are guards Wesley Iwundu and Justin Edwards, and they’ll need to lead the way if Kansas State is to have any shot at rebounding from a disappointing 2014-15 season.
Having lost three of their last four games, Kansas State could use a positive spark as they look to work towards a berth in the NCAA tournament. However the news delivered by the program just before Wednesday’s game at Texas Tech won’t help matters, as it was announced that sophomore guard Marcus Foster and freshman forward Malek Harris have been suspended for a violation of team rules.
“Our players have expectations and there are consequences when you don’t live up to those expectations,” Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber said in the release. “Hopefully, they will learn from this experience and make the necessary progress to rejoin our team.”
This is a disappointing turn for Foster, who prior to this season was expected to build on what was an outstanding freshman season. Foster currently leads the team in scoring with an average of 14.0 points per game, but he was benched for a significant portion of Kansas State’s conference-opening loss to Oklahoma State. Foster rebounded from that with a 23-point outing in a win over TCU.
Foster is a player the Wildcats need to be fully engaged if they’re to hang with the best teams in the Big 12, so this disciplinary action clearly isn’t a positive development. Without him on the floor, players such as Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson to do even more from a scoring standpoint. Harris is averaging 2.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 13.5 minutes of action per contest.
Sandburg High (Illinois) forward Malek Harris, a four-star recruit regarded as No. 80 overall in the Class of 2014 by Rivals, will sign with Kansas State. He announced his decision through his Twitter account on Sunday afternoon.
The commitment wasn’t a well-kept secret. Several weeks ago, a report surfaced that Harris had verbally committed to Bruce Weber. A conflicting report stated Harris had scheduled to make his decision known on Mother’s Day.
The 6-foot-7 Harris had originally picked Marquette, though, when Buzz Williams left for Virginia Tech in March, he decommitted.
Harris becomes the third commit in Weber’s class, joining shooting guard Tre Harris and junior college power forward Stephen Hurt. Also suiting up next season for the Wildcats are transfers Justin Edwards (Maine) and Brandon Bolden (Georgetown). Both of whom sat out last year due to NCAA rules.
Kansas State returns Marcus Foster, Thomas Gipson, Wesley Iwundu and Nino Williams from last year’s team that finished fifth in the Big 12. While K-State graduates Will Spradling and Shane Southwell, second on the team in boards per game, it adds one of the nation’s best rebounders. Harris gives the front court some versatility with his ability to play the three and the four, and defensively, he can matchup with several positions.
Kansas State reached the NCAA tournament this past season, being bounced in the Round of 64 by national finalist Kentucky.