Front Line: Newcomers to be Called To Duty

MANHATTAN, Kan.,- Like never before, Kansas State will have a grouping of basketball talent clogging the lane with height, bulk and most of all … talent. Coach Frank Martin will enter the 2009-10 season with no fewer than five Wildcats that he can shuffle in and out of the lineup.

Darren Kent graduated; Ron Anderson transferred; Luis Colon and Jamar Samuels return; Curtis Kelly, Wally Judge and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts are the collective "X factor."

Kansas State has a five-man cast that will compete for in-the-paint minutes, and each will be needed.

The 6-foot-10, 265-pound Colon started much of last year, and as Wildcat coach Frank Martin says, "I don't like the phrase, but he is who he is. That's just as true as it gets with Luis." Martin says his big man is in better shape than ever, and points to a "drastic improvement" between his sophomore and junior seasons.

"He improved between his freshman and sophomore seasons, but no one saw it on the court because he was playing behind two pros (Michael Beasley and Bill Walker)," said Martin. "But he had some very productive games for us last year that people saw.

"He's a guy who can defend the post … no one he guards is going to have a free lunch against him," Martin said. "His rebounding has improved, but he just needs to improve even more and become more consistent."

Colon has missed the last month of practice due to a broken bone in his hand, but is expected to return to full duty in the next two weeks.

Samuels, a 6-7, junior, "… played like a wild buck out there last year. He played with a wild enthusiasm and passion. He was in the wrong place half of the time, but he made up for his mistakes with raw athletic ability and energy," said Martin. "He's worked on his game and it is becoming a little slower for him through experience."

A native of the Bronx, N.Y., the 6-8 250-pound Kelly started his career at Connecticut where he played two seasons before transferring a year ago to K-State.

Martin calls his left-hander "… a high-skill guy who has an understanding of how to play. He can really pass it and he gives us a presence at the rim in blocking shots and scoring."

The prize recruit this year is the 6-9, 250-pound Judge, a native of Washington, D.C., and product of Arlington Country Day Prep School in Florida. A McDonald's All-American, Judge wan ranked among the top 20 players in the country by most recruiting services.

"He's a lot like Jamar when it comes to athleticism and playing with energy," Martin said. "He can run like the wind and plays with such enthusiasm. For a person of his age, he has a heckuva skill set that gives him the ability to play inside, but also step out and shoot from the outside."

Henriquez-Roberts is a 7-0, 245-pounder from Port Chester, N.Y., and The Winchendon School in Massachusetts, where he averaged 11 points, 9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. He plays with a 7-6 wing span.

"He's way ahead of where I expected him to be," said Martin. "He has good hands, can shoot it, and will force our guys in practice to learn how to play against someone with size and athleticism."


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