Three or four years ago, Denis Clemente couldn't have pointed to Kansas State University on the map. Today, he holds ownership to one of the best individual games in Wildcat history. Saturday in an 85-81 overtime victory over nationally ranked Texas, Clemente scored 44 of the Wildcat points. Forty-four points on 6-of-6 shooting from 3-point range and 12-of-12 from the foul stripe.
As Clemente said, "The basked seemed like an ocean."
Clemente had a modest eight points at the half, but added 36 … that's 36 … second-half points, which included KSU's first 17 points of the second half.
The only Wildcats to ever score higher in a game were Askia Jones (62), Chuckie Williams (47), Mike Wroblewski (46) and Bob Boozer (45). Texans were maybe surprised, but K-Staters were not.
"I go against him in practice," said guard Fred Brown, who would end up hitting the game-winning trey in overtime. "Once he gets going, it's hard to stop him."
Coach Frank Martin said, "It's up there with the best performances that I've been associated with."
It was after Clemente's mid-week game of 15 points and seven rebounds against Missouri that Martin said, "Little by little, he's taken this team under his wing. He's doing an unbelievable job of leading this team.
"He's telling me what to run," Martin said. "That tells me he's doing his job. He knows what's going on."
Clemente, who like Martin is a native of Puerto Rico, made his way to the USA at the age of 16 and gave an affirmative, "Yeah, yeah," when asked if leadership came natural.
"I'm not bossy, but I like to communicate what needs to be done. I used to do that with my brother," Clemente said, flashing a smile. To become K-State's leader, Clemente has had to conquer the language barrier.
"He speaks the language (English), but at times he's just embarrassed to speak the language," Martin said. "But he has a strong will to win, and he's making people understand what he wants."
Again, Clemente grins as he says, "They can feel me when I say something. They understand." Making baskets, however, is a universal language understood those who speak Spanish as a primary language, or, those with a Texas drawl.
Clemente now leads the K-State team in scoring with a 14.2 average, plus has boosted his once 21 percent shooting through the first four Big 12 games, to 45 percent today.
In Big 12 play, the 6-foot-1 junior is averaging 18.1 points and nearly four assists per game.