- The backcourt tandem of Denis Clemente
and Jacob Pullen
each won three awards, including a share of the Rolando Blackman Team Most Valuable Player trophy, to highlight festivities at the annual Kansas State men's basketball banquet held Wednesday night before a sold-out crowd of 400 fans on the floor of Bramlage Coliseum.
Clemente was named the winner of the Porky Morgan Most Inspirational Player and the Mitch Richmond Mr. Basketball Award, while Pullen was selected the Tex Winter Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year and Jack Hartman Defensive Player of the Year. Other award winners included Curtis Kelly as the Dean Harris Newcomer of the Year; Chris Merriewether as the first recipient of the "Never Broken" Award given by the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Riley; Wally Judge with the Ernie Barrett Hustle Award; Luis Colon and Victor Ojeleye with the Keith Amerson Academic Award.
One of the top transfers in school history, Clemente was named the Team MVP for the second straight season, while he earned the Most Inspirational and Mr. Basketball Awards for the first time. He led the team in three categories in 2009-10, including minutes (34.7), field goals (213) and assists (154), while he was second in scoring (16.6 ppg.), double-figure scoring (34), 20-point games (11) and 3-point field goals (88). In addition to earning second team All-Big 12 honors for the second straight season, he was selected to the NCAA West Regional and Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship All-Tournament teams. He finished his career with 1,093 points, which ranks third by a transfer in school history behind Mitch Richmond (1986-88) and Willie Murrell (1962-64). He concluded his senior season ranking in the Top 10 in six school single-season categories, including first in minutes played (1,284), second in double-digit scoring games (34), third in assists (154) and fourth in 3-point field goals (88).
A multiple All-American his junior season, Pullen earned the Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year honor for the second year in a row, while he is a first-time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year. He paced the squad in eight categories, including scoring (19.3 ppg.), double-figure scoring (37), 20-point games (16), 3-point field goals (110), free throws (203) and steals (67). One of four players in school history to top 700 points in a single season, he finished in the Top 10 in seven single-season categories, including setting school records for double-digit scoring games (37) and 3-point field goals (110). Pullen was named a third team All-American by The Sporting News, to the Lute Olson All-America team by CollegeInsider.com and an honorable mention pick by The Associated Press. He was also a consensus first team All-Big 12 selection, while he joined Clemente on both the NCAA West Regional and Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship All-Tournament teams.
A transfer from Connecticut, Kelly had a dramatic impact in his first season at K-State, pacing the squad in four categories, including rebounding (6.2 rpg.) and blocked shots (2.0 bpg.), while ranking third in scoring (11.5 ppg.). One of three players to start all 37 games, he tallied a team-leading four double-doubles en route to earning a spot on the All-Newcomer team by the media that cover the Big 12. He also shattered the school single-season record for blocked shots with 74, surpassing the record of 59 held by Gerald Eaker (59; 1995-96).
Apart of the winningest senior class in school history with 95 wins, Merriewether is the first winner of the "Never Broken" Award given by the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Riley. The team has had a relationship with the unit for the past three seasons, sharing experiences on both campus and on base. A former walk-on who earned a scholarship the past two seasons, Merriewether averaged 0.8 points and 1.4 rebounds this past season in just under nine minutes per contest. He was also twice named first team Academic All- Big 12. He is the first men's basketball player to serve as President of the Student-Athlete Association Council (SAAC) at K-State.
Judge, who saw action in 36 games with six starts this past season, was selected as the 10th winner of the Ernie Barrett Hustle Award. He averaged 3.3 points on 43.8 percent shooting with 3.0 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game. He showed his tremendous potential in the Wildcats' run in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 5.5 points on a team-best 66.7 percent shooting from the field with 5.5 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game. He had a near double-double in the win over BYU on March 20 with eight points and team-high eight rebounds.
Colon and Ojeleye shared the Keith Amerson Academic Award, which goes to student-athletes that excel in classroom. A four-year letterman for the Wildcats, Colon will graduate from the university in May with a degree in social science. He saw action in 119 games his career, which ranks as the sixth-most in school history. He averaged 2.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in his career, including 2.9 points and 3.8 rebounds his senior season. A second-year walk-on, Ojeleye was a first team Academic All-Big 12 selection this past season. He appeared in 21 games this past season, averaging 1.4 points and 1.3 rebounds in 6.0 minutes per game.
Kansas State finished the 2009-10 season with a school-record 29-8 overall record and earned its first trip to the Elite Eight in 22 seasons. The team concluded the year with their first Top 10 ranking since 1973 when the Wildcats finished No. 7 in both major polls. The squad posted their highest-ever seed (No. 2) in the NCAA Tournament and won three games at the "Big Dance" for just fourth time in school history and the first time since 1988. K-State finished in a tie for second place in Big 12 play with an 11-5 mark and was the runner-up at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The 29 wins shattered the previous school-record of 25 set by the 1950-51, 1958-59 and 1987-88 squads, while the 11 conference victories and second-place finish were the highest of the Big 12 era and the highest since the 1987-88 season.
2009-10 Kansas State Basketball Team Awards:
Rolando Blackman Team Most Valuable Player: Denis Clemente/Jacob Pullen
Mitch Richmond Mr. Basketball Award: Denis Clemente
Porky Morgan Most Inspirational Player Award: Denis Clemente
Tex Winter Outstanding Offensive Player Award: Jacob Pullen
Jack Hartman Defensive Player Award: Jacob Pullen
Dean Harris Newcomer of the Year: Curtis Kelly
The "Never Broken" Award: Chris Merriewether
Ernie Barrett Hustle Award: Wally Judge
Keith Amerson Academic Award: Luis Colon/Victor Ojeleye