One of the strongest recruiting classes in the country got even stronger on Thursday, as Kansas State head coach Frank Martin announced the signing of highly-touted forwards Andre Gilbert (Mount San Jacinto (Calif.) College; Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and Jamar Samuels (The Patterson (N.C.) School; Washington, D.C.) to National Letters of Intent.
Gilbert and Samuels join a recruiting class that has already been judged by several analysts as the nation's best and includes consensus No. 1 high school recruit Michael Beasley (Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep/ Washington, D.C.), Fred Brown (Dwyer High/West Palm Beach, Fla.), Jacob Pullen (Proviso East/Maywood, Ill.) and Dominique Sutton (The Patterson School/Durham, N.C.). The duo are the first players to ink with the Wildcats since the introduction of Frank Martin as head coach on April 9.
"Andre is a multi-talented player who can defend anyone from a point guard to a power forward," said Martin. "He is a young man who is a diverse offensive player who has had tremendous growth as a player throughout his years away from high school. We are extremely excited about adding someone of Andre's caliber. He also adds tremendous experience as well as maturity to such a young team."
A 6-foot-7, 205-pound small forward from Brooklyn Park, Minn., Gilbert comes to Kansas State after playing one year at Mount San Jacinto College in San Jacinto, Calif., for head coach Patrick Springer. He helped the Eagles to an 18-14 overall record and 7-7 mark in the Foothill Conference. Fighting through a shoulder injury for most of the season, Gilbert played in just 14 games in 2006-07. He averaged 7.1 points on 35.7 percent shooting (35-of-98) with 7.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He placed in the top-5 in five categories, including first in assists, second in rebounds and fifth in both scoring and steals. Despite playing in just nine conference games, he was named honorable mention All-Foothill Conference, as he averaged 6.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists in league play.
Gilbert tallied four double-doubles on the season, including a near triple-double against Southwestern College on Nov. 17 with 12 points, a season-high 16 rebounds and seven assists. He posted a season-high 18 points on 5-of-11 field goals against Cerritos College on Nov. 16, while he registered double figures in three other contests. In addition, he collected a season-best eight assists and four steals against Desert College on Jan. 27.
Gilbert transferred to Mount San Jacinto after spending two seasons at South Dakota State in Brookings, S.D., for head coach Scott Nagy from 2004-06. After taking a redshirt as a freshman, he saw action in 20 games for the Jackrabbits as a sophomore in 2005-06, including 13 starts. Gilbert averaged 8.5 points on 39.1 percent shooting (66-of-169), including 34.4 percent (11-of-32) from 3-point range, with 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 30.2 minutes per game. He ranked second on the team in rebounds, steals and minutes, while he was third in blocks and fourth in scoring. He scored in double figures six times, including a season-high 17 points against Manhattan on Dec. 20. He also collected two double-doubles, including a 16-point, 13-rebound effort against Denver on Dec. 10.
"Andre can play multiple positions and he's a long athlete out on the perimeter," said Mount San Jacinto head coach Patrick Springer. "He's a really good character young man and he'd be a bonus in any program, but I feel like K-State is a perfect place for him."
Gilbert attended Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park, Minn., where he averaged 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 3 steals and 1 block per game for head coach Willie Jett. A team captain his senior season, he was unanimous all-Northwest Suburban Conference selection. He also participated in the Inner City All-Star game, where he was a slam dunk competition finalist.
A 6-foot-8, 210-pound power forward from Washington, D.C., Samuels comes to Kansas State after playing one year at The Patterson School in Lenoir, N.C., for head coach Chris Chaney. He helped the Bulldogs to a 36-4 overall record and a No. 3 national prep school ranking in 2006-07.
"Jamar is a young man that brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy as well as a tremendous talent package to our recruiting class," said Martin. "He is long and athletic and loves to play basketball. He is a stand-up young man that comes from a winning tradition on both the high school and AAU levels. We fully expect him to be an outstanding performer and contributor next year and for years to come."
While at Patterson, Samuels was a teammate of power forward Dominique Sutton, who signed with Kansas State in November and is rated among the top 100 players in the country by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. He also played alongside fellow Wildcat recruit Michael Beasley with the DC Assault.
"Jamar is a long and athletic player," said Patterson head coach Chris Chaney. "He is a very tough player and competes every day to be a better basketball player. This is a great opportunity for him to go to a program and play with guys like Mike (Beasley), Dominique (Sutton) and Bill (Walker). He will take a year to learn from them and be able to take over the next season. His best basketball is in front of him."
Prior to transferring to The Patterson School, Samuels played at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., where he averaged 22 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks per game as a junior. He averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks as a sophomore.
Martin also announced that junior-to-be forward Deilvez Yearby will transfer. As a result of his academic success, he has been granted a release from his scholarship and leaves Kansas State in good standing. Yearby saw action in 25 games in his two-year playing career, averaging 1.2 points and 0.7 rebounds in 3.6 minutes per game.
Sophomore-to-be center Jason Bennett will also leave the program. In keeping with Athletics Department policy, he will not be released from his scholarship due to academic issues. Should Bennett transfer to another Division I program, he will not be able receive athletics aid and must sit out a year of competition while attempting to earn the required credits to meet NCAA eligibility standards.
With the signing of Andre Gilbert and Jamar Samuels, Kansas State now has 12 scholarship players (one under the NCAA-maximum of 13) on its roster for the 2007-08 season.