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Kansas State’s Turnaround is Linked with Transfer Portal Success

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Having struggled in the Big 12 over the past three seasons and finishing below .500 in conference play, Kansas State is finally finding success again under first-year head coach Jerome Tang.

Currently, the Wildcats boast a 17-3 record while opening 6-2 in the Big 12 including a win over Tang’s former program defeating Baylor 97-95 in overtime at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

While this flourishing program might prove a surprise to many with Kansas State selected to finish last in the 2022-23 Big 12 Preseason Poll, it hasn’t been astonishing for Tang who spent his first offseason in charge assembling a stacked class of transfer talent.

It all starts with Keyontae Johnson who joined the Wildcats following five seasons spent at Florida earning a 2019-20 All-SEC selection. 

While it was expected Johnson would retire from basketball after collapsing on the court back in Dec 2020 and being diagnosed with heart inflammation, his medical clearance and subsequent transfer has been instrumental with the former top-100 prospect averaging a team leading 18.3 PPG and 7.5 RPG.

Additionally, former Little Rock transfer Markquis Nowell – a hold over from prior to Tang’s hiring – has seen vast improvements under the new head coach averaging 17.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and a career-high of 8.3 APG which is the second-most in the nation.

Rounding out this portal grouping has been Desi Sills who previously played at Arkansas State, Mississippi State transfer Cam Carter, and former Virginia Tech Dutchmen David N’Guessan.

All three have played crucial roles in Tang’s scheme so far with Sills averaging 8.6 PPG as a veteran sixth man, Carter having started all 20 games as Nowell’s backcourt mate, and N’Guessan averaging career-highs with 7.2 PPG and 4.7 RPG despite battling injuries.

And yet, all of this fails to mention Nae’Qwan Tomlin who transferred to K-State after three seasons at the JUCO level and is now averaging 10.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and a team-leading 1.1 BKPG. The former No. 7 ranked JUCO product has been a huge hit for Tang after winning the 2022 NJCAA Region 8 Tournament’s Most Valuable Player and in his first season at the DI level he’s one of four players to start all 20 games for the Wildcats.

Under Tang, this is a Kansas State team that’s building success through the transfer portal and they’ll once again get the opportunity to showcase this at the 2023 SEC/Big 12 Challenge where the Wildcats will welcome the Florida Gators to Bramlage Coliseum this Saturday, January 28.

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