March 23, 2008

Was it Beasley & Walker's final game

OMAHA, Neb. -- Bill Walker thought Kansas State would go to Detroit. Michael Beasley thought San Antonio. Their season cut one game short of reaching the Elite Eight, the Wildcats won't make it to either NCAA Tournament destination. Following a season-ending 72-55 loss to sixth-ranked and third-seeded Wisconsin at the Qwest Center on Saturday, the pair of freshmen superstars faced a burning question: Would they decide to really go places and declare for the NBA Draft?

"As of right now, I'm a Kansas State Wildcat," Beasley said during the postgame news conference. "I haven't put any thought into what I'm going to do next year. As of right now, I'm still a college student."

Asked whether he could provide a timetable for when he might reach a decision, Beasley, the National Freshman of the Year and Big 12 Player of the Year, who had just completed one of the greatest freshman seasons in NCAA history and is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft, replied, "No."

"I mean, you're asking me these questions right after a big loss and I have had no time at all to think about my decision and I'm not going to start thinking or contemplating on what I'm going to do for another couple of weeks," he said.

An incensed first-year coach Frank Martin later followed, "Unbelievable. I can't believe people are asking the poor kid who's 18-years-old if he's going pro after he just got crushed after a loss. There are better times to ask that question. He's answered it every single time he's been asked all year and I don't know if you guys realize it, but he hurts because we lost today, because he cares about winning."

When Beasley returned from the formal news conference, he sat in front of his locker and the 19-year-old, who ended his season with a freshman and Big 12-record 28 double-doubles but also endeared himself to students and fans, admitted, "This was way better than I thought."

"To fight and compete with the guys like I've been doing all year," he said, "it's been way more than what I expected on and off the court."

Beasley scored 23 points and added 13 rebounds, and Walker had 18 points and five rebounds against the Badgers, who grew increasingly relentless inside the paint against the Wildcats' athletic forwards.

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