Junior Rodney McGruder followed up his most valuable player performance at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with his first Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week award on Monday.
McGruder helped the Wildcats (10-1) capture their first regular-season tournament since 2006 with wins over Southern Illinois (83-58), Texas-El Paso (78-70) and Long Beach State (77-60) and their first ranking of the season. He averaged 15.0 points on 64 percent shooting (16-of-25), including 44.4 percent (4-of-9) from 3-point range, in the tournament with 6.0 rebounds in 24.3 minutes per game. He scored in double figures in two of the three contests, including a career-best 28 points in the championship game with the 49ers on Sunday.
McGruder opened the tournament with 13 points in a victory over the Salukis on Dec. 22, as he connected on 4-of-7 field goals to go with six rebounds, one block and one steal in 28 minutes of action. He also went 3-of-4 from the free throw line. He struggled from the field against the Miners in game two on Dec. 23 with just four points on 2-of-7 shooting, but did grab six rebounds in the eight-point victory.
With the tournament title on the line, McGruder came through with his best effort as a Wildcat, as he paced all players with a career-high 28 points against Long Beach State on Christmas Day. He went a near perfect 10-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, to go with a 6-of-7 effort from the free throw line. He also added six rebounds and a steal in 25 minutes. The 28 points surpassed his previous high of 24 against UMKC on Dec. 23, 2010, while it was his 20th career 20-point game and his third this season.
Remarkably, by making 10-of-11 field goals, he posted one of the best shooting nights by an individual in school history. Only Joe Wright (11-of-11 vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 23, 1985) and Eddie Elder (11-of-11 vs. Colorado on Feb. 23, 1985) had a better field goal percentage in a game in school history when attempting more than 10 shots. A perfect shooting effort (with a minimum of five attempts) has been done eight other times at K-State.
McGruder paces four Wildcats in double figures with a team-high 12.4 points per game on 44.1 percent shooting to go with 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 30.1 minutes per game. He is the third Wildcat to receive a weekly award this season. Senior Jamar Samuels was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 5, while freshman Thomas Gipson was the league's Rookie of the Week on Dec. 12.