Judge Works His Way Into Starting Five

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Wally Judge had a few choice words for the media this week: "Glad to finally be able to talk with you guys." The numbers of Wally Judge aren't off the charts, but his improvement has been steady enough to land a start in Kansas State's starting lineup for the last five games. Judge is the latest of transplants from the D.C. Assault AAU program that started with Michael Beasley.

The personality of Wally Judge came out with his first words: "Glad to finally be able to talk with you guys."

It's coach Frank Martin's philosophy to not let freshmen speak with the media until after the completion of the first semester. So, it was after Monday's practice that Judge greeted a handful of scribes with a slight smirk, a twinkle in his eye, and the words, "Glad to finally be able to talk with you guys."

While just introduced to the writers and talkers of sports, Judge started to truly introducing his talents to opponents in early-December when he earned a spot in K-State's starting lineup.

"It's been a process of adapting to the speed of the game," said Judge of being a non-starter for the first seven games of his K-State career, to being a starter in the last five games. "In high school, you just get it and go without much thinking. This game is faster, but at the same time, you have to slow down to see what's going on around you."

That's true even when you come into a program as a 5-Star recruit and McDonald's All-American.

While looking fancy on a resume, Judge was the first to say, "It's great to have accolades, but at every level you have to step up. You can't live with what you've done in the past.

You can't just step into a program thinking that people are going to respect you. You have to earn your stripes like you did in high school."

Judge was ranked among the Top 20 in the nation overall and among the Top 10 power-forwards. At Arlington (Fla.) Country Day High School, he helped the Apaches to 50 wins in the final two years, which included averages of 18.5 points and 17.1 rebounds as a senior.

During the summer, Judge was a member of the DC Assault program, which also produced Wildcats Michael Beasley, Rodney McGruder, Jamar Samuels and Dominique Sutton.

While his basketball skills weren't fully appreciated until after his sophomore year of high school, Judge said it was a time when not only his game developed, but also his attitude.

"I was taught to never stay complacent," said Judge. "If I was a McDonald's All-American … goof, but now go be the MVP. After McDonalds, it was time for college … now try to be the Freshman of the Year. It was stressed to be even better than the award you just received. It was always stressed to progress your game."

Judge says it's an approach that "… made me what I am today."

He added, "I never thought I'd come in and be ‘the man' of the team right away. I just knew if I would work hard, I would gain respect."

Martin is one who has gained respect of Judge's style: "He doesn't pout, he doesn't complain and he doesn't go crying that we're coaching him too hard. He understands how it's going to be. He didn't choose us (KSU) because it was going to be easy. He chose us because he knew we could coach him to be a better player."

Judge didn't start early, and his minutes were limited. As Judge says, "It was a test from coach Martin to see where my head was. He wanted to see if I was coming in with a huge ego."

As Judge's game progressed in practice, so did his game minutes until he was given a chance to start against Washington State. It's now five games later and Judge is still starting with modest numbers of 4.5 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Judge's high was at Alabama when he made 6-of-7 shots from the field, plus all three free throws for a career-high 15 points. His rebounding high was earlier in the year with eight against Dayton.

While shooting a nifty 54 percent from the field (19-of-35), it's a modest 52 percent from the foul line (16-of-31). While Judge is one of the team leaders in blocked shots with nine, he also has a bothersome 12 turnovers.

"Wally is getting a better understanding of what we're trying to do," said Martin. "The most important thing a freshman has to do is get used to playing with the speed and the strength that the college game is played with."

Must of that adjustment was on the defensive end. As Martin said, "Wally is really hard on himself. He has a tough lime letting the last play go. If he's late on a rotation, he can't forget that mistake. Dominique (Sutton) had that same problem of forgetting the last play."

As for the rest of the season, Judge says, "My only goals are to stay aggressive and personally get better. All I want to do is contribute to team wins."

It's the way he's been taught by Martin, and his teammates.

"Coming in," Judge said, "I thought my main guy would be Curtis Kelly. We're still cool, but the guy who has pointed me in the right direction has been Jacob. He's the one who has stressed keeping my head. He's all positive with me, whether it's after a good game or a bad game. He's stayed on me to get better."

Purple Pride Top Stories