Playmakers Galore

In past seasons, Kansas State has always had a decent support cast, but never the star-player, who could take it upon himself to go win a basketball game. That, however, was then, and this is now. With Michael Beasley, the Wildcats may have the best player in the nation. With Bill Walker, K-State has another first-team all-Big 12 player.

With the athleticism of Blake Young and Jacob Pullen, their playmaking ability comes in the form of steals that lead to points.

Quick, name the last true Kansas State playmaker to ever grace the court in Bramlage Coliseum.

A guy with the athleticism "and" the shot-making ability to make a bucket when a bucket was needed.

Cartier Martin and Askia Jones were shooters, but not playmakers; Jeremiah Massey had a bit of that ability inside; and, Cortez Groves and Elliot Hatcher had a hint of specialness.

But honestly, one has to journey back 20 seasons to Mitch Richmond for the last Wildcat, who could grab the ball and haul a team around on his back to victory.

Now, fast-forward to 2007-08. Michael Beasley? Just ask the fellows from ESPN that called Saturday's 75-54 Wildcat pummeling of Texas A&M.

"There's no question that he's the best freshman in the country, if not the best player in the country," said Steve Bardo. And has Terry Gannon seen better? "The short answer is, 'No.' There is nothing that he can't do."

Bill Walker? All the 6-foot-6 power-forward has done in the last five games is score 19, 22, 12, 31 and 27 points. Saturday, he stepped outside to hit five treys, and when the 6-9 Joseph Jones stepped out to guard him, Walker zipped past him for a dynamic slam-dunk.

"He's so athletic," said A&M coach Mark Turgeon.

At the secondary level are Jacob Pullen and Blake Young, who create havoc with their suddenness on defense, that lead to lay-ins or nifty passes to a slashing Wildcat.

Saturday, in a game where there were at least four 6-9, or taller, players on the floor at all times, it was the 6-2 Young, who scooted in for a game-high of nine rebounds to go with his eight points, and four assists.

"Blake's a hard-nosed kid," said KSU coach Frank Martin of his senior guard, who played a game-high 35 minutes. "Does he have the prettiest looking jump shot in the country? Probably not. Does he have kind of an awkward offensive game at times? Probably. But he's got incredible heart."

Pullen?

In his last three games, the 18-year-old backup point guard has eight points, four assists, two steals, zero turnovers against A&M; eight points, six assists, three rebounds, one turnover against Oklahoma; and, six points, five assists, two steals, one turnover against Savannah State.

"They have been very receptive to how we need to play together to win," Martin said. "You have to give credit to those kids who are committed to winning."


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