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Foster seeks to gain attention outside K-State’s inner circle

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, at 9 a.m.

Long Beach State at Kansas State

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan

Radio: KQAM, 1480-AM; KWLS, 107.9-FM

TV: FSKC, Ch. 34

PLong Beach St.Ht.Yr.Pt.Rb.
FDan Jennings6-9Jr.14.712.0
FDavid Samuels6-7Jr.6.75.2
GKris Gulley6-7Jr.2.70.7
GMike Caffey6-0Jr.18.75.0
GMcKay LaSalle6-3Jr.7.32.0
Kansas St.
FD.J. Johnson6-9So.12.08.0
FNino Williams6-5Jr.6.04.0
GShane Southwell6-7Sr.7.04.5
GMarcus Foster6-2Fr.16.53.5
G Will Spradling6-2Sr.9.04.5

Long Beach State (1-2): Long Beach State opened the season with a win over Hawaii Pacific but then suffered a blowout loss to Arizona and a narrow loss to Loyola Marymount. Long Beach State, led by coach Dan Monson, has been one of the strongest teams in the Big West in recent years. It regularly plays a difficult schedule and won’t be intimidated by Bramlage Coliseum. But this is a down year for the team. Jennings is averaging a double-double. Both Long Beach State and K-State are playing in the Puerto Rico Tip-off next week. Monson said this game will be “a bonding experience” for both teams before they get there.

Kansas State (1-1): The Wildcats bounced back from an opening loss to Northern Colorado with a victory over Oral Roberts. Foster scored 25 points in that game. Johnson also played well and scored 12 points. Bruce Weber is hoping to get more from Will Spradling and Shane Southwell, who have both been quiet so far. There is a chance junior forward big man Thomas Gipson will return to the floor on Sunday. Weber said he is hopeful Gipson will be ready to play after missing K-State’s first two games and its exhibition with what he described as a head injury.

— Kansas State basketball coaches celebrated when Marcus Foster signed with the Wildcats last fall.

Much to their surprise, few others seemed to share their enthusiasm.

Rivals.com considered him a three-star prospect skilled enough to play in the Big 12, but not talented enough to be included in its top 150 database. ESPN.com and Scout.com didn’t offer much praise, either. Not even winning Texas 3A Player of the Year and being named a Parade All-American helped him climb up the recruiting rankings after his senior season at Hirschi High School in Wichita Falls.

But that didn’t shake Bruce Weber’s confidence in Foster, a 6-foot-2 guard.

“We were sitting back and laughing when people didn’t have him in the top 100,” Weber said. “We couldn’t figure that out.”

Foster has a long career ahead of him and plenty of time to prove his worth, but, so far, he is playing well above the modest expectations national recruiting experts placed on him.

During K-State’s last game, Thursday’s 71-63 victory over Oral Roberts, he led all scorers with 25 points and single-handedly kept the Wildcats in the game by scoring 10 straight points in the first half. He made four three-pointers, sank 9 of 12 shots and threw down a dunk in the final minutes. It was the most points a K-State freshman had scored since current NBA forward Michael Beasley spent one season in Manhattan.

When reminded that some might not have seen that productive outing coming, Foster followed his coach’s lead.

“I had the same feeling he did. I felt like I should have been in the top 100 coming out of high school but I was always overlooked,” Foster said. “I just sat back and decided that every time I had an opportunity to show people how good I was, I was going to show them how good I was. Every time I got overlooked I think that is fine with me. I just want to keep proving people wrong.”

Foster will get another opportunity at 3 p.m. Sunday when K-State returns to Bramlage Coliseum to face Long Beach State. But his entire freshman season will serve as a platform.

He thinks he was overlooked by recruiting experts, because he played multiple positions in high school — even center on occasion — and didn’t get much exposure living in Wichita Falls. But he hopes he plays well enough this season to be considered the most underrated freshman in the Big 12.

“I love being overlooked, because other people aren’t coming at me,” Foster said. “The top 100 guys, everyone wants a piece of those guys. But it’s not until they see me play that they say, ‘OK, we need to focus on this guy.’ They don’t come in prepared for me.”

Not only are the Wildcats looking to him to score, they are looking to him to be a leading scorer. He looked timid in the opener, scoring eight points, and Weber has pointed to that lack of production as a reason why they lost to Northern Colorado.

He looked fearless against Oral Roberts, and Weber credited Foster as the primary reason why they won.

“He is a good player,” Weber said. “There is no doubt about it. We are going to need him to score.”

Foster assumed he would compete for a starting spot right away, and maybe even be one of the team’s top players. Those expectations are rising every day. So is his confidence.

“Coming in I didn’t really think I would be an impact player, trying to score the way I did (against Oral Roberts). I didn’t think I would do that,” Foster said. “But now I see I can do that. Everyone is getting me the ball and telling me, ‘Yes, you can score. Yes, you can be our leading scorer.’ So now I am just going to covet that role.”

Reach Kellis Robinett at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

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