PERDUE HIGH ON CLEMENTE

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK. - K-State may be 27-7 and may be ranked No. 7, but do the Wildcats have any NBA prospects? Former NBAer and now ESPN analyst Will Perdue thinks with the right team, Denis Clemente could find a roster spot simply due to his blazing speed with the basketball.

Will Perdue is a 7-footer, but he's one that has a full appreciation for what the small-man can bring to a basketball team.

Players like 6-0 Jacob Pullen and 6-1 Denis Clemente, with each of those listed heights being a slight exaggeration.

"They're the best players on the team, yet they go out and score 50 out of the 84 points scored against Baylor," said Perdue, an ESPN radio analyst in reference to the Big 12 semi-final game last week in Kansas City.

"When other teams know they have to stop you, and yet you have players go out and score 50 points between them, that tells you that they're pretty good."

Thursday in an 82-62 NCAA Tournament win over North Texas, Clemente led the team with 17 points, plus handed out six assists, had three rebounds, two steals and even a blocked shot.

"I don't think there's another guard in the country that is as fast as Denis Clemente," said Perdue, the 1988 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year while playing at Vanderbilt. "He's always on the edge of being out of control, yet that's his game."

Plus, Perdue was impressed that Clemente had a 10-assist, 2-turnover game against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championships' quarterfinal game, and then became a scorer against Baylor with 24, and again going over his average with a 17-point performance against Kansas.

"He does a great job of running his team and getting guys in the right place," said Perdue. "But he can also go get his own shot through almost out of control creation."

A past professional and owner of four championship rings with the Chicago Bulls (3) and San Antonio Spurs (1), Perdue says of Clemente's future, "The thing he's going to have to do is prove that he can guard. He doesn't have to be a shut-down guy, but he has to prove that he can stay between the ball and the rim.

"Can he guard a Derrick Rose and make his shots difficult? Can he be quick enough defensively so guys can't just go around him and jeopardize a team's defense?" asked Perdue. "If he can prove he can do that, there's a spot for him."

In Thursday's game against UNT, Clemente showed he could defend as he held the Mean Green's leading scorer, Josh White, to 1-of-10 shooting and three points, or 12 under his season norm.

As for the rest of the Wildcat team, Perdue says he can see K-State advancing, but with concerns.

"When they play bigger teams and (Luis) Colon has to play, then it becomes a four-on-five game when K-State's on offense," Perdue said. "The only offense he seems to play is off offensive rebounds."

And he adds, "When they play a team that rebounds as well as they do, which is very good, they could be in trouble because they are not a great shooting teams. They have to go get offensive rebounds and not give away possessions, which only puts more pressure on their defense."


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