Amaad Wainright plans to wear purple to Kansas State’s football game against Baylor on Saturday, but his biggest cheers of the afternoon might be in support of the Bears.
That’s what happens when you play basketball for K-State and your older brother plays tight end for Baylor.
“It’s going to be hard, because I am going to be rooting for both of them,” Wainright said. “Hopefully it’s a good game and he scores a touchdown.”
K-State fans need no introduction to Ishmail Wainright. The Kansas City native surprisingly joined Baylor’s football team after four productive seasons with Scott Drew on the basketball court. He started 76 games for the Bears, helping them reach four consecutive NCAA Tournaments and twice play in the Sweet 16.
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Amaad Wainright expected his brother to take a shot at professional basketball when his college hoops eligibility expired in March. But he chose to remain in school and give football a try.
At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, he has enough size to succeed on the gridiron. Many college basketball players, including former Baylor star Rico Gathers, have made it to the NFL as tight ends. Ishmail Wainright wanted to see if he could do the same.
“Football was his first love,” Amaad Wainright said. “Ever since he was little, he played quarterback. But he ended up changing once he got to high school and fell in love with basketball.”
He appeared to make a quick transition back to football when he caught a 23-yard touchdown pass in Baylor’s spring game and cracked the starting lineup earlier this season.
But it is unclear what, if any, role Ishmail Wainright will have against K-State on Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium. He played in each of Baylor’s first two games and started against Texas-San Antonio, but he hasn’t been on the field since. He has reportedly been out with an undisclosed illness.
Amaad Wainright has confidence in his brother, and thinks he will make a big impact at some point this year. At the least, he is looking forward to spending time with him before the game. After all, it was Ishmail Wainright’s success on the basketball court that provided extra motivation for his little brother to earn a scholarship from K-State.
A 6-foot-4, 200-pound combo guard, Amaad Wainright spent last season at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. He played well, averaging 14.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists, but he wasn’t sure if that was enough to help him fulfill his dream of playing in the Big 12 like his brother.
He orginally signed with North Texas, but received his release from the school following a coaching change. Then K-State coach Bruce Weber watched him play and offered him a scholarship. He committed almost immediately.
“My brother was my inspiration,” Amaad Wainright said. “But it started before that with Marcus Denmon. When he went from Kansas City to Missouri, I knew I wanted to play in the Big 12. Everyone looked up to him, especially me.”
Amaad Wainright should help K-State off the bench this season, adding valuable depth in the backcourt. He has the skills to make plays for the Wildcats, but he has only been on campus since late August. And Weber admits he is playing catchup compared to the newcomers that arrived in June.
K-State has been a big adjustment from junior college.
Still, he has high hopes for the upcoming season.
“I want to help this team by doing everything it takes to help us win, especially when it is a close game,” Amaad Wainright said. “If someone gets in foul trouble, I will be there to pick up the slack.”
He says K-State is even better than he expected, and watching his brother play football is an added perk. But he does have one regret: he won’t get to play against Ishmail Wainright on the hardwood this season.
“I wish it would have happened,” Amaad Wainright said. “I have never lost a game playing him one-on-one.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett