Last week Jug of Snyder discussed the departure of Michael Orris and the potential for Alvin Ellis to assume his scholarship. The Wildcats were struck another blow yesterday when forward Adrian Diaz announced his intention to leave Manhattan and play closer to his native home of Miami.
Diaz had hoped to play a more prominent role with the Wildcats his sophomore year after averaging 10 minutes and 3.2 points as a freshman. However, Bruce Weber decided to go a different route and Diaz only played seven minutes this year while averaging 2.7 points. He also averaged almost one less rebound per game, falling from 2.3 in 2011-12 to 1.6 this season. Diaz only played one minute in three Big 12 tournament games and was not featured in the season-ending loss to La Salle in the NCAA tournament.
With the departure of senior forward and starter Jordan Henriquez, there would appear to be room on the court for a 6’10”, 230 lbs. player. However, Diaz may have sensed that Weber had plans to call on other teammates first. Fellow sophomore Nino Williams was sensational against Oklahoma State and logged significant playing time behind presumed starter in 2013 Thomas Gipson. Another forward, 6’8″ freshman D.J. Johnson, appeared extremely raw but showed promising development as the season wore on and contributed eight points in 15 minutes against Texas in the Big 12 tournament.
With the departure of Rodney McGruder this spring, it’s unknown whether K-State would attempt to run a four guard line-up like the one featured this year. Yet despite the likelihood of the line up going bigger, Diaz still faced the prospect of being the big man out. Among the incoming class is true center Neville Fincher, ranked the #29 center in the nation. However, the final piece of scrawl on the wall may have been Weber’s press conference following the team’s loss to La Salle. Weber praised Diaz, noting that, “he has got all the other stuff, his understanding of the game and his skills are good. I hope he can make a big step. There’s no doubt that would be big.” However, Weber also noted that the only way for Diaz to play meaningful minutes is through a lot of development over the summer and possibly a redshirt season.
For a player that arrived on campus as another celebrated recruit from South Florida compliments former coach Frank Martin, the idea of spending their junior season donned in red may have been too big a pill to swallow.