Five KSU Seniors Play Final Game In Bramlage
Five Kansas State seniors will be saluted Saturday as they play their final game in Bramlage Coliseum when the Texas Longhorns come calling for a 4 p.m. tip-off.
The lineup includes three starters in Jarrett Hart, Tim Ellis and Frank Richards, plus walk-on reserves Blake Bauer and Josh Eilert.
"These are guys who hung in there with us and continued to try to get this program turned around," said fourth-year coach Jim Wooldridge. "The guys had some success, yet at times were challenged, but they overcame the odds and kept fighting."
All five players have been with the program the last two years going 13-17 as juniors and now owning a 13-13 record heading into Saturday's game against No. 10-ranked Texas.
The day will especially be meaningful for Jarrett Hart, who will be playing before his father, Everett Johnson, for the first time in his life.
"He has never seen me play a game of basketball at any level," said Hart, a native of Little Rock, Ark. "He (his father) lives in Atlanta and we keep in contact, and he's supported me when I needed it, but he's just never seen me play."
Hart says that won't mean extra pressure as he just wants to "... go out and have fun doing what I've been doing."
The Wildcats' 6-foot-5 guard says he had hoped to win more after transferring from Arkansas-Fort Smith, but he still has good memories.
"My biggest memory will be going to Oklahoma to play," said Hart, who started his career with the Sooners in 1999-2000 before transferring to a junior college. "Just to go back to play before the crowd that used to be for me was special. We didn't get the win, but going into their place and playing in front of my old coach will be something I will remember."
Hart has had several brushes with the law during his two years having had to deal with brief suspensions in each of his two years.
"I'm proud that I fought through the adversity," said Hart. "People have heard about the things I've done wrong and probably developed an image of me, but I've bounced back from that and I think I've shown them who Jarrett Hart really is. I think they respect me for that."
Hart has enjoyed three 20-point games this year, which includes a career high of 21 against Iowa State and 20-pointers against Missouri and Texas Tech.
Ellis, a 6-5 native of Seattle, Wash., and transfer from College of Southern Idaho, recently enjoyed one of the hottest runs in recent history when he had consecutive games of 25, 18, 20 and 25 points against Colorado, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Nebraska, respectively.
While the game-winning tap-in at Nebraska this year is a high, he adds, "I'll always remember the shot that tied the game and sent it into overtime against Oklahoma last year. I've never heard Bramlage be more loud and they were cheering for you."
Like Hart, Ellis expected more wins than the team has secured the last two years, but he says, "We've been so close in so many games, but something always goes wrong at the buzzer."
Ellis says he hopes to play more basketball professionally before putting his degree in social science to work."
As for leaving a mark at K-State, Ellis said, "I hope they remember my hustle. I hope they remember I was always scrapping with all I've got. He's always in the game. He's not a player you hear about one game, and then don't see him for a couple games. He was always there and played hard."
A third transfer to the Wildcats was Richards, a 6-2 native of Rockford, Ill., and transfer from Olney Central Community College.
"My last season hasn't gone like I wanted, but I've enjoyed my time," Richards said.
Richards says he can't remember any one moment or single game as a memorable high, but said, "It's just been fun to play at this level in this conference."
Twenty years from now, he said, "I will always remember our fans. That will be a good memory."
Bauer is a 6-2 product from Clay Center. He has seen action in four games this year. Eilert is a 6-7 native of Osborne, and transfer from Cloud County Community College. Eilert has played in four games, scoring two points against Birmingham-Southern in the season opener.
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