MANHATTAN, Kan. - Seldom will his name show up in the headlines, but K-State freshman Shane Southwell has been one of the pleasant surprises in the Wildcat lineup since the start of Big 12 play. While not a big scorer, or big rebounder, his presence in the backcourt has taken some of the pressure off of Jacob Pullen.

"I just try to do what I do," said Shane Southwell, who has been a fixture in the K-State lineup since the start of the Big 12 season. "I'm another ball handler, a passer, and I hope to hit the open shot if need be."

Southwell scores only 1.5 points per game for the total season and slightly better at 2.5 in Big 12 play, but his game has provided 22 assists, eight blocked shots and seven steals in those same games.

Plus, the 6-foot-6 freshman out of Rice High School in Harlem, New York, has been a screen setter for Pullen, who has become a constant 20-plus point scorer in Big 12 play.

For the total season, Southwell averages 11 minutes per game, but since the start of big 12 action his time on the court averages 18 minutes per contest.

"His growth has gone for a happy-go-lucky kid to someone who started practicing consistently well," said KSU coach Frank Martin. "I probably should have played him before, but I didn't because I wasn't doing my job the right way."

It was during the semester break that Southwell says, "There was a two-week span that I practiced very well and felt I was one of the better players on the court. Coach (Frank Martin) gave me a chance to start, and I'm trying to make the most of the opportunity." Southwell's arrival on the court started at the defensive end. As he says, "Coach doesn't care how good you are offensively, if you don't play defense, you're not going to play."

And at both ends of the court, Southwell smiles as he says, "It's taken a while to learn our schemes. It's been tough. If someone tries to tell you that they didn't have a period of adjustment, they're lying. That's especially true coming out of high school."

Part of the reason for Southwell's arrival at K-State was due to fellow Rice High graduate Curtis Kelly.

"I've known him since I was seven or eight," Southwell said of Kelly, who lived about five or 10 minutes away in the Bronx. "He was like a big brother to me. We also played in the same AAU program (Gauchos)."

Southwell defines Harlem as an "… urban culture with a lot of African Americans. It's a busy place where you're looking over your shoulder a lot."

So much so, that Southwell's mother, Susan, did her best to protect her son from the famed playgrounds of New York City.

"She preferred a more structured life on and off the court. If I went to the playgrounds, I'm not sure if I would be here right now," said Southwell. "It's a win-lose deal. The positive is that it makes you tougher to go against older people, but the negative is that it can trap you. You could end up with those same guys you're playing with also being your neighborhood thugs and you become trapped into being their friend."

At Rice, Southwell was ranked as the seventh best player in the city by He chose K-State over offers from South Carolina and Marquette, in part, due to knowing Kelly, plus the coach Martin-influence.

"From what others said, I knew he was going to get the best out of me every single day," said Southwell. "He's tough on everybody, but I received some good advice early, and that was that you can't look at how he expresses his message, but you have to read through all the yelling and cursing, and hear the message."

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