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TangCats Open Season With Lone Exhibition Contest

We finally get a look at all the new Wildcats.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Basketball Tipoff William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been quite a while since we’ve last seen Kansas State basketball. Since that time, we’ve gotten an entirely new coaching staff and basically an entirely new roster. So we figured we’d pop in early today with a look at all the shiny new pieces coming to Bramlage Coliseum this season.

So of course this off-season the move was made to part ways with 2-time Big 12 champion head coach Bruce Weber after a three-year run of some of the worst seasons of basketball in K-State history following the title in 2019. It was painfully obvious a change needed to be made, and it finally happened.

Hired to replace him was Jerome Tang, the long-time assistant from Baylor who had been with Scott Drew from the very start of his tenure in Waco. Tang has instantly regained fan support and engagement, especially from the students, even before a single second has ticked off the clock on the court. In his first season in Manhattan he’s also brought in a heavy-hitting staff, as he’s joined by Ulric Maligi, Jareem Dowling, and Rodney Perry on the bench.

Maligi spent the last three seasons as an assistant for Chris Beard, first at Texas Tech and then followed him to Texas. He was also on the bench from Texas A&M’s run to the Sweet 16 in 2018. Dowling spent the last five seasons at North Texas under former Baylor assisnt Grant McCasland as they rebuilt the Mean Green into CUSA contenders. Perry has spent much of his career in and around Missouri and the KC Metro, and is the co-founder and former head coach of the MOKAN Elite AAU program, and was the first head coach at the newly formed Link Academy in Branson that has already seen multiple high-level recruits come through.

That staff brought in ten new athletes to Manhattan, plus held on to Ish Massoud and Markquis Nowell from last season and Weber-recruit Taj Manning. So your 2022-23 roster looks like this:

  • G #1 - Markquis Nowell - 5’8”, 160 - SR
  • F #3 - David N’Guessan - 6’9”, 215 - JR - Virginia Tech
  • G #4 - Tykei Green - 6’4”, 205 - SR - Stony Brook
  • G #5 - Cam Carter - 6’3”, 190 - SO - Mississippi State
  • F #11 - Keyontae Johnson - 6’6”, 230 - SR - Florida
  • G #12 - Anthony Thomas - 6’7”, 190 - SO - Tallahassee CC (JUCO)
  • G #13 - Desi Sills - 6’2”, 200 - SR - Arkansas State
  • F #15 - Taj Manning - 6’7”, 220 - FR
  • C #20 - Jerrell Colbert - 6’10”, 235 - SO - LSU
  • G #21 - Nate Awbrey - 6’3”, 190 - SR - Manhattan Christian College - Walk-on
  • C #23 - Abayomi Iyiola - 6’10”, 220 - SR - Hofstra
  • G #24 - Dorian Finister - 6’5”, 190 - FR
  • F #25 - Ismael Massoud - 6’9”, 225 - JR
  • F #35 - Nae’Qwan Tomlin - 6’10”, 210 - JR - Chipola College (JUCO)
  • G #43 - Peyton Ackerman - 5’10”, 150 - FR - Walk-on

By class that breaks down to:

  • 5 seniors (6 inc. walk-on)
  • 3 juniors
  • 3 sophomores
  • 2 freshmen (3 inc. walk-on)

15 guys on the roster, with only two having played for K-State last season is a lot, but five of the new guys have high-major experience, and seven with NCAA D1 experience. A lot of what’s available looks good on paper, but didn’t do a lot at their previous school for whatever reason, like youth or injuries, but there’s still a lot of optimism both inside and outside the program regarding the roster makeup and the development of the guys during the offseason.

It’s also a new roster that’s built for the future, but one that could easily win right now, especially with the addition of Keyontae Johnson. Johnson was once the preseason SEC Player of the Year and was expected to enter the NBA draft following the 2020-21 season, but he collapsed during a game against Florida State in December of 2020 with a medical condition that saw him miss the remained of that season as well as all of last season. He’s finally been cleared medically, and if he’s fully ready to go he could easily be one of the best players in the conference. But it may be a slow start for him to the season as the staff tries to ease him back into competition.

Expect to see a lot of rotation both tonight and into the early part of the season, as they continue to fine-tune the lineups and get the rust shaken off.

We’ve got an 7:01pm CT tipoff between the Cats and Washburn at Bramlage Colisuem tonight being aired on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Ben Boyle (play-by-play), Stan Weber (analyst), and Lina Sattarin (sideline reporter) on the call. You’ll also be able to hear the game online at and on parts of the K-State Sports Radio Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Matt Walters (analyst) calling the action over there.

Go Cats!