New K-State basketball coach Jerome Tang has been one of the busiest coaches in the Big 12 this year, almost having to rebuild the Wildcats’ roster from scratch upon taking over the team from Bruce Weber.
That new group of players at Kansas State, mixed with the returning pair of Ismael Massoud and Markquis Nowell, have Tang excited about Year 1 under his reign.
“I’m excited to be here, I know our guys are, too,” Tang said. “We’ve got a great group of young men who fit what the K-State family is about.”
That group of new players, 11-men strong, is led by Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson, the 2020 SEC preseason player of the year. Johnson collapsed during a game in Dec. 2020 and hasn’t played since, but has since been medically cleared to return to play.
He could be one of the focal points for a team that was picked to finish last in the Big 12 preseason poll.
“I can’t comment on Keyontae’s health things in the past but I can tell you that he’s very healthy right now,” Tang said. “He’s doing a great job and hasn’t missed any time at all at practice. And he’s getting in better shape and he competes at a very high level. So, I’m looking forward to him continuing to get better.”
K-State is coming off arguably the worst three-year stretch in program history, posting a 34-58 overall record with zero NCAA tournament appearances in the final years of the Weber era. Tang comes to Manhattan from one of the most successful programs in all of college basketball in recent years, Baylor, where he was a long-time assistant to coach Scott Drew.
The Wildcats have one exhibition tune-up against Washburn scheduled for Nov. 1, followed by their regular-season opener against UTRGV on Nov. 7.