Coming into this season, freshman hype dominated most of the college basketball headlines; however, Kansas State’s Marcus Foster certainly wasn’t one of those recruits on the national radar. The Wichita Falls, Texas native made his presence known this week and has been named NetScouts Basketball’s National Player of the Week for games through February 9th because of his performance in an upset over Texas.
“I just relaxed and stayed with my shot and got myself going on defense first,” Foster told Kellis Robinett of The Kansas City Star. “It’s just one of them days. Today, I was on that magic level.”
His “magic level” resulted in a career-high 34 points (13-16 FG, 5-8 3FG) along with three rebounds and three assists in a 74-57 win against Texas. Rated a three-star recruit out of high school by every major recruiting service, Foster wasn’t considered one of the elite freshmen in the 2013 class, but he’s proven to be a big-time performer. He’s averaging 18.3 points and five rebounds per game in six contests against ranked opponents this year.
The 6-foot-2 guard has been streaky throughout this season, but is improving as the year goes along. Although he may not be NBA ready right now, Foster should be a good one to follow.
With games against Kansas and Baylor coming up this week, it will be interesting to see if Foster can carry the momentum as a giant killer. He’s the team’s leading scorer and will be looked upon to carry the offense going forward.
Elsewhere within the conference, Melvin Ejim broke the Big-12 single-game scoring mark and recorded two double-doubles this week as Iowa State notched a pair of victories. The native of Toronto, Ontario has been named NetScouts Basketball’s International Player of the Week for games through February 9th.
The senior forward started the week with 22 points and 13 rebounds in Iowa State’s first win in Stillwater since 1988. The 98-97 victory at Oklahoma State could very well be the game of the year by the end of the season. Ejim later exploded for 48 points on an astounding 20-of-24 shooting to go with a career-high 18 rebounds as the Cyclones cruised to an 84-69 victory over TCU.
“It was teamwork,” Ejim said of his 48-point showing in an article by Roger Kuznia of Sporting News. “These guys just did a great job finding me in transition and getting me the ball in places where I could score. They made really selfless plays. We were just giving up the ball and luckily, I was on the receiving end.”
Ejim is averaging 19.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season and has been a key part to the daunting Iowa State frontline. Although he’s only 6-foot-6, Ejim is a good rebounder due to his energy and aggressiveness. Ejim is especially key on the offensive glass, averaging 2.7 offensive rebounds per game, which results in extra possessions.
He has also shown improvement in his ability to stretch the floor, shown in his 38 percent mark from three-point range. Ejim has plenty of athleticism and length, which was on display in multiple alley-oop finishes against TCU, and helps make up for his smaller size for his position. He may be considered a ‘tweener’ for the NBA, but his energy and hustle could give him an opportunity to earn a roster spot in the offseason. If not, Ejim should have a stellar career at any other professional level.
After a tough January schedule that resulted in four losses for the Cyclones, Iowa State has won three in a row (including two against ranked opponents). The experienced Iowa State squad is looking like a Final Four sleeper with Ejim leading the way.
Cameron Schott is a Correspondent for NetScouts Basketball. Thanks to Kansas State Athletics for the Foster photo.