MANHATTAN — The attention that follows a college basketball player after a sensational freshman season became evident to Marcus Foster during a recent trip to his hometown.
Everywhere the Kansas State guard went in Wichita Falls, Texas, he felt like a celebrity.
"It’s crazy back home," Foster said. "I can’t go anywhere without someone asking me for an autograph or a picture. It’s funny. I was really known (in high school) but I wasn’t famous. I was just another guy who was good at basketball. Now I am famous when I go back home. It is pretty cool. I like it a lot."
Good thing, because his notoriety is about to grow.
Coming off a year in which he established himself as the best K-State freshman since Michael Beasley, averaging 15.5 points and 3.3 rebounds, Foster is ready to take on another big challenge. Wednesday, he will join 29 of the nation’s top college players, including Kansas forward Perry Ellis and Wichita State guard Ron Baker, at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas.
He hopes the four-day camp goes as well as his recent stint at the Nike Guards Academy, where NBA players and renowned coaches complimented his play.
"It is something I really wanted to be a part of," Foster said, "to be able to go up against (James) and see some things and learn a lot and go up against some of the best college players in the country."
Foster has already proven himself at the college level. He was the Wildcats’ top scorer and top overall player on a team that won 20 games and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
He is expected to be the top sophomore in the Big 12.
Not bad for a guy who entered his college career hoping to average five points.
"It is the opposite this year," Foster said. "I have high expectations for next year, not for just myself but for my team. We are all holding ourselves accountable ... if you are going all out then you can go to the Final Four and win an outright Big 12 championship. We are holding ourselves accountable so we can make sure we achieve those goals."
Foster hopes he can help pave the way to such improvements. He has plenty to work on.
Looking back on his freshman season, he lamented turning the ball over 73 times compared to 84 assists, and he regrets not taking better care of his body. His freshman campaign peaked in February, and then fatigue set in.
So he has focused on two main areas this offseason: ball-handling and conditioning — he’s a lean, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds.
He wants to contribute as both a point guard and a scorer next season, creating lineup diversity and staying on the floor as much as possible.
"If I want to better my future I am going to have to be a point guard," Foster said. "But for me next year I am really going to be more of a combo, because I am still going to have to score the ball a little bit. With the motion offense, I think I will be able to do a little bit of both.
"… One thing I have been working on is I was always keeping my head down and I wasn’t looking for my teammates. Now, when I attack, I keep my head up and look for my teammates and to score. I think I can definitely add that to my game this year."
He won’t lack motivation.
"I feel like people are still sleeping on me, even though I had a great year," Foster said. "I am just going to keep on showing people how good I really am and how I want to stay on top."
Bolden, Edwards to compete internationally — A pair of K-State transfers will compete internationally as part of the Athletes in Action Tour through Estonia and Latvia in August. Forward Brandon Bolden, from Georgetown, and guard Justin Edwards, from Maine, will join a team of college players and take on pro competition in exhibition games from August 1-14. Both players sat out last season as transfers, and are eligible to play this upcoming season. K-State teammates Thomas Gipson and Jevon Thomas took part in the same tour last year.