MANHATTAN, Kan. | Kansas State celebrated more than the start of basketball season Friday night.
During the Wildcats' Madness in Manhattan event, athletic director John Currie unveiled plans for a long sought after training facility.
The approximately 50,000 square-foot facility, which will be built on the east side of Bramlage Coliseum, is projected to cost $20 million. It will provide both the men's and women's basketball programs an all-inclusive place to develop their game.
Approximately $12 million has been pledged to the project, which Currie has declared his top priority since arriving at K-State last year. The Wildcats are the only program in the Big 12 yet to begin construction on a basketball practice facility.
The goal is to break ground once fundraising reaches $15 million. Currie said he will remain aggressive in that area, and is hopeful K-State's goals can be reached before the end of the year.
"To be at a point where we can announce a campaign for the practice facility is a big step," Currie said. "It shows that we've had some really strong momentum from a number of private donors."
A few more big donations will make a strong statement in Currie's mind.
"We (will) look as good as anybody in the country," he said. "Right now, especially after what we went through last summer with the Big 12, K-State needs to put itself in a position where we're not at the mercy of others. We should be driving the conversation over time like we have done historically in basketball. Let's use this opportunity to firm that foundation."
The facility will feature two full-length basketball courts, new coaching offices, meeting rooms, a sports medicine area with hydrotherapy facility, a state-of-the art weight room, an atrium lobby and player lounges.
Designs of the facility were shown on video boards inside Bramlage Coliseum early into the basketball kickoff festivities, and were met with loud applause — from fans, coaches and players.
"A place where we can showcase the great history of this basketball program," coach Frank Martin said. "That's what that building is going to do."
Senior guard Jacob Pullen was so impressed by the designs that he joked former standout Michael Beasley would still be in college if he had a place like that to practice every day.
The news had everyone focusing on the future, but as the night progressed and the men's squad was introduced to a thunderous ovation from the estimated crowd of 7,000 that focus turned toward the upcoming season.
Students waited in line throughout the afternoon to get prime seats and ran to them as soon as the doors opened.
They watched both teams dance, go for highlight plays during relaxed scrimmages and cheered on their favorite players during dunk and three-point shooting competitions. Turns out Wally Judge is the most exciting dunker, and sophomore forward Jordan Henriquez-Roberts is capable of making five straight three-pointers from the corner.
The night was a good way to start things before K-State practices get much more serious. It is the preseason favorite to win the Big 12, and Pullen has been tabbed as the league's preseason player of the year. Expectations are high, and the Wildcats are embracing them.
Duplicating last season's run to the Elite Eight is not going to be good enough in their eyes.