Junior Thomas Gipson and freshman Marcus Foster were named co-winners of the Rolando Blackman Team Most Valuable Player to highlight festivities at the annual Kansas State men's basketball banquet held Tuesday night at the West Stadium Center.
It marked just the second time in the eight-year history of the award that there were co-winners and the first time since Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen in 2010. In addition to their co-MVP trophy named, Foster was selected as the recipient of the Tex Winter Top Offensive Player Award and Dean Harris Newcomer of the Year Award, while Gipson was honored with the Bob Boozer Courage Award.
The team leader in seven categories, including scoring (15.5 ppg.) and double-digit scoring games (27), Foster capped off his impressive freshman season by earning recognition to the All-Big 12 Second Team and Big 12 All-Newcomer team. He joined Michael Beasley as the only true freshmen in school history to make one of the three all-conference teams, while he was one of just three Big 12 freshmen to garner a spot in 2013-14.
Foster was the second freshman to earn the Tex Winter Top Offensive Player Award, which honors the Hall of Fame head coach of the Wildcats from 1954-68 and dates to the 2006-07 season, and the first since Beasley. The Dean Harris Newcomer of the Year Award is the second oldest award, dating to 1975, and is named for the talented freshman from East St. Louis, Ill., who tragically died in 1974.
Gipson, who led the team in field goal percentage (56.2) and rebounding (6.5 rpg.), was one of two Wildcats named honorable mention All-Big 12. He also led the squad with four double-doubles, while he was second in scoring (11.7 ppg.) and double-digit scoring games (22). He was the second winner of the Bob Boozer Courage Award, which honors the two-time consensus All-American.
In addition to Foster and Gipson, seniors Ryan Schultz, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling, junior Nino Williams, sophomores D.J. Johnson and Brian Rohleder and freshman Wesley Iwundu each captured one apiece.
Southwell captured the Mitch Richmond Mr. Basketball Award after finding a way to contribute in nearly every way in 2013-14. He ranked first on the team in blocks (1.1 bpg.), second in rebounding (4.3 rpg.), assists (2.7 apg.) and steals (0.8 spg.) and third in scoring (9.9 ppg.) and minutes (27.0 mpg.).
An All-Big 12 honoree on the court as well as in the classroom, Spradling earned the Ernie Barrett Play Hard Award for the third time in his career after winning in 2011 and 2012. The team leader in both assists and steals, he leaves K-State ranking in the Top 10 in 10 career categories and is just the 25th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier. The award was established to honor the All-American beginning in the 2000-01 season.
Spradling and Southwell, who combined for 92 wins in their career, are just the fifth and sixth players in school history to participate in four consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
Schultz was named the winner of the Porky Morgan Most Inspirational Player Award, which is the program's oldest award and honors the longtime K-State Athletics Trainer from 1950-80. A walk-on from Wichita, Kan., he played in 28 games in his two-year career, including 15 games in 2013-14.
Williams was chosen as the recipient of the Ed Nealy Most Improved Player Award, which goes to the player who makes the most improvement from one season to the next. The junior, who started the team's final eight games, averaged 6.2 points on 50.3 percent shooting with 3.5 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game. He came into the season averaging 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 49 games played in his three-year career.
Rohleder earned the Keith Amerson Academic Award for the third consecutive season. The walk-on from Wichita, Kan., maintains a 4.0 GPA in mechanical engineering. The award is named for Amerson (1989-91), whose determination to reach his potential on and off the court set the standard for future student-athletes.
Johnson was the fifth recipient of the "Never Broken" Award given by the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery regiment at Fort Riley. The team has had a relationship with the unit for the past seven seasons, sharing experiences both on campus and on base. He played in all 33 games in 2013-14 with five starts, averaging 3.5 points on 51.1 percent shooting with 3.5 rebounds in 13.9 minutes per game.
Iwundu became the first freshman to capture the Jack Hartman Top Defensive Player Award, which honors the school's all-time winningest coach. A starter in 32 of 33 games in his first season in a Wildcat uniform, he averaged 6.7 points on 46.1 percent shooting with 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 23.6 minutes per game.
Kansas State enjoyed yet another stellar men's basketball season in 2013-14, as the Wildcats collected their school-record eighth consecutive 20-win season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season. The squad, which posted a 20-13 record and 10-8 mark in Big 12 play, expects to return nine lettermen in 2014-15 as well as transfers Brandon Bolden and Justin Edwards and signees Tre Harris and Stephen Hurt.
2013-14 Kansas State Men's Basketball Team Awards:
Fort Riley Never Broken Award: D.J. Johnson
Ernie Barrett Play Hard Award: Will Spradling
Keith Amerson Academic Award: Brian Rohleder
Dean Harris Newcomer of the Year Award: Marcus Foster
Bob Boozer Courage Award: Thomas Gipson
Porky Morgan Most Inspirational Award: Ryan Schultz
Ed Nealy Most Improved Award: Nino Williams
Jack Hartman Top Defensive Player Award: Wesley Iwundu
Tex Winter Top Offensive Player Award: Marcus Foster
Mitch Richmond Mr. Basketball Award: Shane Southwell
Rolando Blackman Most Valuable Player Award: Marcus Foster and Thomas Gipson