Former Kansas State basketball star Jacob Pullen was once a harsh critic of current coach Bruce Weber, but that no longer appears to be the case.
“I have got the utmost respect for Bruce Weber and I love everything he is doing with this program,” Pullen said Friday following K-State’s Madness in Manhattan basketball event. “I support everything he is doing with this program.”
That is a drastic change from the words Pullen posted on social media six years ago when K-State hired Weber to replace Frank Martin as basketball coach.
Back then, Pullen wrote on twitter that Weber “didn’t think I was good enough to play at Illinois and I don’t think he is good enough to coach at Kansas State.”
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Those thoughts carried enough weight at the time that Weber was asked to comment on them at his introductory news conference. He responded by asking fans to give him a chance.
Fast forward to now, and Pullen is completely on board with the hire. The leading scorer in K-State basketball history changed his tune after watching the way Weber recruits, coaches and, most importantly, wins.
He had a thrill watching K-State win 25 games and reach the Elite Eight last season and thinks the returning players from that team have an opportunity to do even more this season.
“When I made the comments coming out of college, it was more so out of him not winning at Illinois,” Pullen said. “Then him getting the job, then Frank just winning and leaving. I was looking at it like I didn’t understand the direction we were going into.
“I’m from Chicago, and him being the coach at Illinois, I really wanted to go to Illinois as a younger cat, a younger guy, because Dee Brown went to my high school. Luther Head is from my neighborhood. Deron Williams was a great player. So me and a couple of my friends, we wanted to play together. We wanted to be sort of like that tandem, those three guys. But when he didn’t really recruit me and he was looking for Derrick Rose and stuff, I kind of took bitter to Coach Weber at that young age.”
Now a professional with experience in the NBA and several leagues overseas, Pullen has matured enough to realize he was wrong to react that way.
He thinks Weber has proven himself as a quality coach, and they now have a good relationship.
Weber has pushed hard for Pullen’s jersey to be retired at Bramlage Coliseum, and he told the crowd on Friday that it will happen “sooner than later.” Pullen says he is looking forward to the ceremony, whenever it happens.
But it might not be for a while. The timing has to be perfect. Pullen wants his former teammates and coaches to be in attendance, including Martin, Brad Underwood, Dalonte Hill and Matt Figger.
Without them, none of his success would have been possible.
But he wants Weber to be there, too.
“I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture,” Pullen said. “But now after seeing these guys, seeing him get through his own recruiting classes, them winning and stuff, I support it. I support wining, I support the purpose. If he’s winning, I support it … Winning cures everything and Coach Weber has shown his system wins, has shown he can get guys in from different cities and get them to play together. That’s what college basketball is all about.”