KANSAS CITY, Mo. — College basketball is finally here.
Almost every Division 1 program tips off on Monday, and that includes Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri.
Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats are the only of the three to face a fellow high-major program on opening night. Jerome Tang’s squad will be in Las Vegas to battle No. 21 Southern California (USC) in the Hall of Fame series.
The Trojans have a ton of buzz around them thanks to Lebron James’ son Bronny deciding to play college basketball there. The freshman had a heart scare over the summer when he went into cardiac arrest, so he will not be suited for Monday’s matchup with K-State.
K-State forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin also won’t be playing this game as he deals with legal issues. College basketball insider Jeff Goodman posted Monday morning that Tomlin could return “fairly soon, as long as his legal situation is resolved.”
In that same post, Goodman reported that K-State incoming transfer guard Ques Glover will miss 6-8 weeks with a knee injury.
With Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson at the next level, K-State guards Tylor Perry and Cam Carter are expected starters along with an incoming transfer forward from Creighton, Arthur Kaluma.
It’s unclear how much they will play, but the Wildcats have three freshmen they’re excited about in Dai Dai Ames, RJ Jones and Macaleab Rich. Sophomore Taj Manning played at the Mission, Kansas high school Bishop Meige, and should see time in the rotation.
K-State and UCS will tip off at 9 p.m. CT on TNT inside the T-Moble Arena in Las Vegas. The Wildcats are coming off an Elite Eight run that earned Tang the Naismith Coach of the Year Award in just his first season at the helm in Manhattan.
The preseason No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks invite North Carolina Central into Lawrence for a 7 p.m. showdown. Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson were two of the best players in college basketball last year and are now in the NBA.
Transfer center Hunter Dickenson headlines KU’s 2023-2024 roster with returners Dajuan Harris, Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams looking to win back-to-back Big 12 regular season championships.
The No. 4 point guard in the class of 2023, Elmarko Jackson, will be another Jayhawk to watch. It will be interesting to see how much playing time he and fellow frosh guard Jamari McDowell get Monday night against a mid-major opponent.
The Jayhawks are past the NCAA investigations involving Adidas and Silvio De Sousa, and now have to serve a three-year probationary period. As a consequence, they also lost wins from their 2017–2018 season, which dropped them from being the winningest program in the country.
Fortunately for Bill Self and KU, they will not be barred from postseason play, keeping national championship aspirations still alive in the 2023–2024 season.
They will face the now-winningest program in college basketball, No. 16 Kentucky, next Tuesday for the team’s first high-major opponent of the year.
Missouri’s first game is against Arkansas Pine Bluff at 7 p.m. in Columbia. Head coach Dennis Gates looks to build off of a successful first season, where they got to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010.
Missouri has some locally grown talent to look out for. Aidan Shaw didn’t see a lot of time as a freshman in Columbia, but the Blue Valley High School standout has a chance to step into a larger role in year two.
Another Tiger and Kansas City native is Indiana transfer Tamar Bates who played his high school ball at Piper in KCK.
Caleb Grill is an Iowa State transfer who was born and raised in Wichita. He was one of the Cyclones’ best players last year when healthy.
Missouri hopes he and Bates make an impact, along with transfers John Tonje (Colorado State) and Curt Lewis (John A. Logan CC), to help make up for losing scorers like Kobe Brown and D’Moi Hodge. Lewis comes from the same junior college returner Sean East played before East averaged over seven points per game for Mizzou last year.