Newcomers Being Counted On

Kansas State has its share of returnees with Jacob Pullen, Ron Anderson, Dominique Sutton, and others, returning for the 2008-09 basketball year, but newcomers will also be asked to do their share.

The rookies to the 2008-09 Kansas State basketball team don't have quite the pizzazz as ... oh, say a guy like Michael Beasley brought to the Wildcat Nation last year, but several new 'Cats are being counted on.

Denis Clemente, a 6-foot-1 guard, will compete for court time at the point with Jacob Pullen. Or, the two might be called on to play together.

Clemente worked with last year's K-State team after transferring from the University of Miami where he averaged 9.8 points on 43 percent shooting in 2006-07.

"Both have tremendous experience playing a difficult position at a high level," said K-State coach Frank Martin of Clemente and Pullen. "They are both high-octane guys and both are very good offensive players."

Of Clemente, Martin said, "He's as fast as I've ever seen with a basketball. He gets from A to B in a hurry."

And yes, Martin said Wildcat fans will see both dynamos on the floor at the same time: "Absolutely. If they're willing to defend, they can play together. The rule is simple around here. If you don't defend, you don't play."

At off-guard, Buchi Awaji, a 6-3 transfer from California's Citrus College, ranked as the No. 32 player in the juco ranks last year after scoring 1,021 points during a two-year career.

Awaji first attended Florida International for one redshirt season after his graduation from Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

"He has a 40-inch vertical, which is highest on the team," Martin said. "He's an older guy who understands the game. He doesn't play like a young kid. He plays under control and understands what's coming at him."

Inside, 6-8 Jamar Samuels and 6-10 Abdul Herrera are being counted on to contribute. Samuels, a native of Washington D.C., arrived at K-State last December from The Patterson (Prep) School in North Carolina, where he averaged 22 points and nine rebounds per game.

"He plays like a junk yard dog," Martin said. "He competes at such a high, high level. He's added about 30 pounds and he just battles to chase the ball down. He's just a highly competitive young man."

At the center, Herrera, a native of Miami, Fla., is making the move from Hutchinson Community College where he averaged 6.3 points per game.

With Herrera, who has missed early practices due to injury, joining Luis Colon and Ron Anderson, Martin said, "Not many programs have three big guys who can run like our guys do."

K-State's first showing will be Sunday, Nov. 9, when it hosts Washburn in an exhibition game.

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