Xavier Sneed filling the stat sheet for K-State basketball

Wildcats try to rebound from loss against Southeast Missouri State

Sophomore forward Xavier Sneed led Kansas State in five statistical categories in the game against Tulsa. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

MANHATTAN — Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber has made numerous references to his postseason meeting with Xavier Sneed at the conclusion of his freshman year last March.

 

Sneed had a productive season, but he and Weber knew there was untapped potential.

“We came back from the NCAA (Tournament) and he said, ‘I understand, coach. I know what it’s about now,’ “Weber recalled.

What did Sneed learn?

“There were a lot things, like seeing where to be on the court and how to do it,” Sneed said this week. “There were a lot of things that clicked for me coming out of last year. I’m trying to build forward on that.”

Sneed, a 6-foot-5 wing, has gone from first man off the bench to starting small forward for K-State, stepping into the role vacated by NBA Draft pick Wesley Iwundu.

“He did a great job at that spot,” Sneed said of Iwundu, who made his first NBA start Wednesday for the Orlando Magic. “He forced a lot of match-up problems and forced people to guard him, which led to other people being open.

“That’s what I’m trying to do this year. At the three-spot, I feel I can do a lot of things to help the team win.”

Weber was fond of calling Iwundu a “stat stuffer” and Sneed displayed that knack in the Wildcats’ loss to Tulsa last Saturday when, for the first time that K-State could find in its records, one player led the team in five categories: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 blocked shot (Iwundu, and others, led the team in four categories with no blocks).

“He has elite athleticism,” Weber said. “Right before the game I said something to him and he said, ‘I got you, coach.’ He went out and did it: Eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, a blocked shot. He was very active and that’s what we need all the time.”

Sneed averages 11.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists for K-State (8-2), which plays Southeast Missouri State (6-4) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.

“He’s an all-around great player,” Wildcat junior forward Dean Wade said. “His transition from last year to this is crazy. He’s been in the gym a crazy amount of hours. It’s going to pay off for him.

“He still has everything he had last year — a crazy amount of energy and flies around and is athletic — but this year I think he knows what’s going on more. He understands how to run the offense and how to play. Not that he didn’t last year, but he has more of an understanding of how to score easier. He’s bulked up and he’s more athletic than he was last year.”

One area that needs more attention is rebounding, from Sneed and the entire team.

“He can definitely help with the rebounding dilemma,” Weber said. “He should be a five- or six-guy average, not a two- or three-guy. His focus and commitment has been great. Sometimes you have to go through it as a freshman to learn and grow and that’s what he’s done.”

Sneed believes he should be averaging around eight rebounds a game.

“We’re missing two key rebounders from last year in D.J. (Johnson) and Wes,” he said. “Somebody has to pick it up in that area and it starts with me.

“That has been a key focus for our whole team this year. For me, I’ve had a couple of outings where I haven’t had a lot of rebounds so I need to continue to improve on that.”

Less than halfway through his sophomore season, Sneed has a high ceiling for improvement in all areas of his game.

“One of these games he’s going to have a huge game,” Wade said. “He had a good game when he had 21 (points at Vanderbilt), but he’s going to have a real big game sooner or later like we see in practice.”

In their next-to-last game before starting the Big 12 schedule, the Wildcats will try to bounce back from the 61-54 loss to Tulsa against Southeast Missouri State. The Redhawks have won four in a row, the past two over UMKC and Southern Illinois.

“That’s a game we felt we should have won,” Sneed said. “We’ve had a couple of good practices since then. We’re keeping our energy up and looking forward.”

SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE AT KANSAS STATE

Tipoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan

TV/Radio: FSKC/WIBW-AM (580)

Line: No line

Next: K-State at Washington State, 10 p.m. Wednesday, Spokane, Wash.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Southeast Missouri State (6-4)

P Player … Ht. … Cl. … Pts. … Reb.

F Milos Vranes … 6-7 … Sr. … 6.7 … 5.1

G Denzel Mahoney … 6-4 … So. … 19.0 … 4.5

G Ledarrius Brewer … 6-5 … Fr. … 12.9 … 3.1

G Daniel Simmons … 6-2 … Sr. … 12.0 … 3.7

G Jonathan Dalton … 5-10 … Jr. … 4.4 … 5.6*

Kansas State (8-2)

P Player … Ht. … Cl. … Pts. … Reb.

F Dean Wade … 6-10 … Jr. … 13.0 … 6.6

F Xavier Sneed … 6-5 … So. … 11.4 … 3.4

F Makol Mawien … 6-9 … So. … 5.8 … 3.4

G Barry Brown … 6-3 … Jr. … 14.3 … 2.9

G Kamau Stokes … 6-0 … Jr. … 14.9 … 4.0*

*Assists


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


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