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Men's Hoops Preview - Kansas State vs. (12) Iowa State

Its Senior Day as the Cats bring in the Cyclones for our final home game of the 2014-2015 season.

It's Senior Day. Shawn is getting his picture on the page.
It's Senior Day. Shawn is getting his picture on the page.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas State Wildcats (14-15, 7-9 Big 12) lace 'em up, dance in the tunnel, and get ready for last time in the Octagon of Doom this season. Today, the Iowa State Cyclones pay a visit, still hanging around for a shot at a Big 12 regular season title. Hilton Magic was nowhere to be found in ISU's last outing, where they dropped a 79-70 contest to visiting Baylor. This was Scott Drew's first win - ever - in Ames.

Even if you are living under a rock, you know what happened the last time K-State took the court.

70-63 Cats, in front of a national audience on ESPN's Big Monday programming.

The win by #EMAW - as confounding as it was predictable - sent KU back east dreaming of chicken wings and toupees, and brought Iowa State to a tie in the loss-column in the Big 12 standings. Iowa State proceeded to take that gift, went outside, and light it on fire.

Thanks guys. 'preciate ya.

OK - so back to this game today. I'm going to do something a bit different - it's Senior Day, so let's talk a bit about our three graduating seniors: Nino Williams, Thomas Gipson, and Shawn Meyer.

Nino Williams

Nino Williams came to us from St. Louis via Leavenworth, KS. In 2010, Nino was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Kansas by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, was the #20 small forward by Rivals, and named to first team All-6A and second-team All-State his senior year.

Williams' freshman year was injury plagued, where he received a medical redshirt for the season. His redshirt freshman season (2011-2012), Nino played in 12 games, and registered his best game against Oklahoma, posting 12 points and 9 rebounds in only 15 minutes.

Season Stats: 2.2ppg, 33%FG, 77%FT, 2.1rpg, 0.3apg, 0.1bpg, 0.2spg, 6.2mpg

His sophomore year, Nino started seeing the floor a bit more, playing over 12 minutes a game and appearing in 34 games. He actually started the first handful of games that year, but was moved to the bench in favor of the four-guard lineup the team went with. Even with the change in play style by K-State, Nino was outpaced by only fellow senior Thomas Gipson and team leader Rodney McGruder in games played. His big game of the season came against a ranked Oklahoma State team, posting 17 points and 5 boards. Nino earned Big 12 Honor Roll accolades in the fall and again in the spring, majoring in Social Science.

Season Stats: 4.2ppg, 46%FG, 70%FT, 3.3rpg, 0.5apg, 0.1bpg, 0.4spg, 12.5mpg

Nino became more important to the team his junior year, serving as a viable option along side Will Spradling and Shane Southwell. Nino played in all 33 games, including starting the final 9 games of the season after Paradox sustained an injury. Williams finished 10th in the league in offensive rebounds with 45 in Big 12 play. Nino had a couple of good games against Baylor - finishing with 20 points, 8 rebounds in 45 minutes in a double-overtime loss in Waco, then 15 points and 10 boards against Baylor in a 2-point home loss. Nino found time to graduate with his bachelor's degree in Social Science after the season.

Season Stats: 6.2ppg, 50%FG, 72%FT, 3.5rpg, 0.6apg, 0.1bpg, 0.5spg, 16.3mpg

Finally, we come to this year. Nino sustained a minor injury that kept him out of the first couple games, but as the season ramped up, so did Williams. We didn't see the senior leadership from Nino that we were hoping for early on, but looking back at the season so far as a whole, he's certainly grown into that role. Nino's posted double-digit scoring efforts 16 times this season, including four contests with 20+ points. He's also posted 8 rebounds or more in 7 games, and chalked up two double-doubles, going for 14 and 12 in a home win versus Bradley, and most recently, a 14 and 10 in the road loss at TCU. Nino currently leads the team in rebounding, and is second in scoring behind Marcus Foster. Nino's continuing his education, studying for a master's degree in Conflict Analysis and Trauma Studies.

Season Stats: 11.5ppg, 48%FG, 82%FT, 5.2rpg, 1.0apg, 0.2bpg, 0.6spg, 27.0mpg

Thoughts: Nino's been a player that's had to grow into his skin a bit. After only appearing in 15 games his first two years, Nino became a regular fixture in the rotation as a junior and stalwart on the floor his senior year. In the grand scheme of things, Nino is undersized at 6-5 to play that 4-spot on the floor, but he don't care. He's been able to develop a mid-range jumper and the ability to block out bigger players to become an effective and influential player his senior year. Longer teams that play man-to-man have given him problems, but in general, teams don't respect his ability to step out and hit the 17-footer - and he's happy to make them pay for it. His conditioning has probably limited his overall effectiveness, but while he can keep his breath, the guy plays all-out. He's a great example to have on your team - a guy that works at parts of his game he can take advantage of, and sticks his nose in and gets dirty continually.

Thomas Gipson

Thomas Gipson hails from the Dallas area, playing his high school basketball at Cedar Hill HS in Cedar Hills, Texas. Gipson was named to first team All-5A in Texas amongst other accolades. Through his recruiting process, he was named a top-35 power forward by both Rivals and ESPN, and the #17 prospect in Texas by TexasHoops.com.

Big Gip got off to a great start in his K-State uniform in 2011-2012, playing in all 33 games and starting 22 as a true freshman. Gip earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors in December after posting an average of 19 points, 11 rebounds in games against West Virginia and North Florida. His big game of the year game against North Florida, where he came up with 23 points, 12 rebounds. Gip was named to the Big 12 Honor Roll in his first semester, majoring in Family Studies and Human Services.

Season Stats: 7.0ppg, 49%FG, 54%FT, 4.7rpg, 0.8apg, 0.3bpg, 0.2spg, 17.5mpg

His sophomore year played out much like his first, with a bit better efficiency. Gip played in all 35 games - the only player other than McGruder to do so - and started 14 times. All of Thomas' stats bumped up slightly, as he was used in very much the same vein as his freshman year. Gip posted double-digit scoring 14 times, and 8 or more rebounds on 4 occasions. HIs big game of the season came in a 20-point blowout of Texas Tech, posting 20 points and 8 boards. Gip was named to the Big 12 Honor Roll in the spring.

Season Stats: 7.9ppg, 52%FG, 62%FT, 5.0rpg, 0.4apg, 0.3bpg, 0.5spg, 18.7mpg

After his sophomore year, Gipson was invited to play on the Athletes in Action team for a handful of exhibition games in Lithuania for the summer.

Similar to Nino, Gipson's junior year is where he made a bit of a leap. Becoming a full-time starter after the departure of Jordan Henriquez, Gip played in 31 games, starting 28. Gip worked his way into Big 12 awareness, finishing the season in the top-20 of the league in offensive rebounding, total rebounding, and scoring. He went for four double-doubles on the season, including a big game against a top-10 Oklahoma State team with 10 points, 11 rebounds. Seventeen games saw Thomas posting double-digit scoring efforts, and he went for eight boards or more 10 times. His best game of the season came in a home win against West Virginia, coming up with 20 points, 6 boards, and 3 assists. Gip also put in a lot of effort on his shooting from the charity stripe, and his 56.2% FG shooting was the highest since Curtis Kelly posted a 56.5% season, and the second-highest in the last 15 seasons. Gip was named to the Big 12 Honor Roll in the spring, and finished with Honorable Mention honors for All-Big12 by league coaches.

Season Stats: 11.7ppg, 56%FG, 70%FT, 6.5rpg, 0.6apg, 0.5bpg, 0.4spg, 26.5mpg

And...here we are - Thomas Gipson's senior season. Thomas has seen a bit of a drop in his effectiveness from a statistics perspective, but with Foster's on-again/off-again adventure through the season, Gip had found himself the primary focus for other teams often this year. Gip's played every game this year, tallying 16 double-digit scoring outputs. Surprisingly, Gip hasn't come up with a 10+ rebound game this year. Gip leads the team in total minutes played, FT attempted, FT made, blocked shots, and offensive rebounds. His big game of the year so far came in Allen Fieldhouse, where he posted 17 points, 9 rebounds in a loss to the Jayhawks. Gip was named to the preseason All-Big12 third-team by Athlon Sports.

Season Stats: 11.1ppg, 54%FG, 76%FT, 4.9rpg, 0.4apg, 0.6bpg, 0.5spg, 28.3mpg

Thoughts: Gip's been a hoss since he stepped foot on campus. Coming in at 6-7 and nearly three bills on the scale his freshman year, he showed immediately that with a big frame, you don't necessarily need to be tall to handle duties on the inside...when you're not necessarily the focus of the opposition. Gipson has worked very hard through his career at K-State, dropping some pounds to become a 265-pound boulder of a human. He's also worked at his footwork and movement, developing a softer touch around the rim and the ability to work his way through taller defenders. And drawing as many fouls as Thomas has, he's focused on getting a reliable stroke from the free throw line, where he's shooting nearly 80% this season. He's been plagued by some attitude issues, where he can get down and start to commit cheap fouls or maybe not put out quite as much "smart" effort. Overall, Gip has been a great find for K-State, a fan favorite for many, and a solid player in K-State history.

Shawn Meyer

Shawn comes from Rolla, Missouri via Blue Springs South High School, where he earned several all-conference accolades during his junior and senior seasons. He broke the school's single-game scoring record with 36 points, and maintained a GPA better than 3.5 throughout his four years.

Meyer walked on as a freshman, finding the floor in 4 games for a total of 6 minutes. Shawn snared a rebound in his first appearance against Maryland-Eastern Shore, and made a bucket against Howard in the waning minutes of a 82-46 blowout.

His sophomore season saw a little more action from the bench, appearing in 11 games and logging 12 minutes. In his first game of the season against USC Upstate, Meyer wanted to give the scorekeeper something to write down. He went out and managed to somehow grab a board, commit 3 fouls, and turn the ball over 2 times in two minutes. He also picked up a bucket in the minute he logged against Baylor. He was also named to the Big 12 Honor Roll in the spring, majoring in Organizational Communications Studies.

Meyer found his way into 13 games his junior year, picking up 18 minutes of court time. He was able to be maybe a bit more assertive in his play, and started accumulating a few more stats. Shawn grabbed a board against Long Beach State, tallied 2 poings and an assist in 3 minutes against Central Arkansas, hit the only 3 of his career against Tulane, his first free throw of his career (and a board) against George Washington, and picked up another board against TCU. He was also named to the Big 12 Honor Roll in the spring.

Finally, Meyer is finding his way toward graduation still in support of the team. He's seen the floor 8 times this season, with 12 minutes overall. Meyer picked up a rebound and assist against Nebraska-Omaha, a steal against Savannah State, and went 1-3 from the charity stripe against Baylor just two games ago.

Thoughts: Walk-ons and the ne'er-used players, while they don't earn the notoriety of the main stars and role players, are very important to the team. They lace 'em up every day for practice, and give those other players someone to practice against. Not only do they end up learning K-State's offensive and defensive schemes, but they often have to learn the opponent's as well to prep the team in practice. They're still spending the time in the weight room...in the video room...and on the court. That's why it's impressive - to me - when a player like Shawn sticks it out for four years.

All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.