K-State’s Xavier Sneed brings confident attitude into sophomore season

Kansas State forward Xavier Sneed averaged 7.1 points and 2.6 rebounds as a freshman for the Wildcats, averaging 18.3 minutes in 35 games (two starts). (2017 file photo/The Associated Press)

MANHATTAN — Xavier Sneed returned from a 10-day trip to the Central America country of Belize with a new outlook on his basketball game.

 

During the five-game exhibition tour with Sports Reach, the Kansas State sophomore was able to refine his game. More importantly, he gained a measure of confidence.

“It was big for me,” Sneed said. “I was able to work on everything I saw I from last year. Being able to work every day to get better will help me improve this year.”

K-State coach Bruce Weber noticed a change in Sneed’s mental approach, referencing the Dr. Evil character from the “Austin Powers” movie series.

“Dr. Evil was always trying to find his mojo,” Weber said. “Xavier came back with his mojo. He is playing with such confidence, but that’s part of growing up and maturing as a player. I expect him to have a really good year. He has to figure it out, but that’s what you do as a freshman and now you take off as a sophomore.”

Sneed, a 6-foot-5 forward, didn’t realize his new-found mojo was so evident.

“Everybody else said that, but I feel like I just came back with the confidence that I can do more on the court than I did before,” he said.

Sneed averaged 7.1 points and 2.6 rebounds as a freshman for the Wildcats, averaging 18.3 minutes in 35 games (two starts).

“It was great for me, being a true freshman coming in and getting some great minutes,” Sneed said. “I think I played about 18 minutes a game so getting that experience under my belt will really help me coming into this year.

“Coming into Division I basketball is going to be hard coming out of high school. It was a big jump for me but I feel like I had a solid year and I will have a better year this year.”

Sneed could take on a much bigger role with the chance to move into the starting lineup at the small forward position to replace NBA Draft pick Wesley Iwundu.

“He’s come back with a lot of focus,” said Wildcat point guard Kamau Stokes. “He’s shooting the ball very well and he’s more aggressive. That experience gives you confidence on the court.”

Sneed started strong last year only to back off somewhat once Big 12 Conference games began, which wasn’t too surprising to Weber.

“Xavier maybe gets not talked about as much because of Barry (Brown), Dean (Wade) and Kam but he had some nice moments last year,” Weber said. “He’ll tell you he hit a wall, the freshman wall or whatever you want to call it. Probably the Big 12 wall. When you play against the top teams every day, it takes a toll. He told me that now he understands what it’s all about and how hard you have to work.”

Sneed has put in the work to become a more confident, aggressive player.

“I think my ball-handling and just my confidence improved in Belize,” Sneed said. “Those two things came out just being on a different team and seeing what they wanted me to do. My confidence really grew from that.

“I felt like I settled a lot last year but this year I want to show my all-around game, being able to shoot and attack the hole and also play good defense.”


Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.


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