MANHATTAN — Kansas State knows how to throw a basketball-themed party.
On Friday, the Wildcats hyped the upcoming season at Bramlage Coliseum with a public celebration that featured everything from scrimmages and a dunk contest to pump-up videos and new banners.
The event, dubbed Madness in Manhattan, attracted an estimated crowd of 5,500 that cheered throughout the evening affair.
Fans also took plenty of photos of the new landscape. As fun as it was to watch the K-State basketball teams in action, the biggest hit of the evening might have resided in the rafters. For years, the Wildcats have honored their achievements by painting them on the upper walls of the arena.
Final Four berths, conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances are now listed on purple-and-white banners that give Bramlage Coliseum a new look and feel.
K-State has held basketball kickoff events sporadically in the past, but it used this one as a recruiting tool. Marvin Clark a 6-foot-7 small forward who plays for Sunrise Christian Academy and the Mokan Elite AAU program, was in attendance on an official visit. So was Tre Harris, a 6-foot-5 combo guard, from Edwardsville, Ill.
Of course, basketball took center stage once Bruce Weber led the Wildcats onto the court.
The action started with a dunk contest, which Maine transfer Justin Edwards won easily. The junior newcomer brought the crowd to its feet with a 360-degree wind-mill jam, by throwing one down after catching a pass off the backboard, and by leaping over a teammate for a dunk.
Edwards will sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules, but he once again electrified the crowd with an off-the-backboard dunk in the team’s casual scrimmage.
Defense was virtually non-existent during the 15-minute scrimmage, and points came almost exclusively off of dunks and three-pointers, but the team’s athleticism was noticeable.
Shane Southwell showed off his scoring prowess by throwing down dunks and hitting fade-aways. Freshman Marcus Foster and junior Thomas Gipson also looked good around the basket.
Henriquez headed to NBDL — Former center Jordan Henriquez will play for the Houston Rockets’ developmental team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, this season, according to a K-State spokesman. Henriquez spent much of the preseason with the Rockets.
The spokesman also said that former wing Rodney McGruder has a standing offer to join the Oklahoma City Thunder’s NBDL team in Tulsa, but he is still assessing his options. The Thunder waived McGruder from their main roster on Friday.