McGruder a candidate for Naismith

By The Mercury

Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder was named one of 30 candidates for the 2013 Naismith College Player of the Year Award on Tuesday.

McGruder becomes third Wildcat to be selected as a Top 30 candidate for the Naismith Award, joining Michael Beasley (2008) and Jacob Pullen (2010).  He is one of four Big 12 players named to the 2013 list, along with Kansas’ Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart.

The top 30 candidates were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances to this point in the 2012-13 season. 

In late March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will narrow down the list to four finalists. The Naismith Player of the Year will be awarded on April 7 in Atlanta.  The Atlanta Tipoff Club has presented the award every year since UCLA’s Lew Alcindor won it in 1969.

K-State fans will have the opportunity to vote for McGruder and help determine the Naismith winner when voting begins March 25.

McGruder leads the 13th-ranked Wildcats (23-5, 12-3 Big 12) in six categories, including scoring (14.8 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (21), 20-point games (eight), field goals (155), rebounding (5.4 rpg.) and minutes (32.2 mpg.).

McGruder is connecting on 44.3 percent (155-of-350) of his field goals, including 34 percent (38-of-113) from 3-point range, while knocking down 75.9 percent (66-of-87) of his free throw attempts.  He is averaging 15.7 points in Big 12 play on 47.5 percent shooting (84-of-177), including 39.1 percent (27-of-69) from 3-point range, to go with 5.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 34.1 minutes per game.

Four times McGruder has been named the Big 12 Player of the Week.

McGruder ranks in the Top 20 in five Big 12 categories, including field goals (1st), scoring (6th), minutes (8th), field goal percentage (14th) and rebounding (20th). He ranks sixth in scoring in Big 12-only games, while he is sixth in free throw percentage and minutes, eighth in 3-point field goal percentage, ninth in field goal percentage, 11th in steals, 12th in 3-point field goals made and offensive rebounds and 20th in rebounding.

With the win over Texas Tech on Monday, McGruder, along with fellow seniors Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving, became the winningest senior class in school history with their 97th victory.

The first Wildcat with 1,400 points, 600 rebounds and 100 steals in a career, McGruder ranks in the Top 10 of 13 career categories at K-State, including consecutive starts (95, 3rd), games (128, 3rd), 3-point field goals attempted (455, 4th), minutes played (3,439, 4th), double-digit scoring games (79, 5th), 3-pointers (175, 5th), 3-point percentage (38.5 percent, 6th), starts (95, 6th), field goals (519, 7th), consecutive games (104, 7th), points (1,443, 8th), steals (106, 8th) and field goal attempts (1,145, 8th).

K-State remains in a tie with No. 6/5 Kansas (24-4) for first place in the Big 12 with just three games left in the regular season.  The Wildcats begin the month of March in Waco, Texas to take on the Baylor Bears (16-11, 7-7 Big 12) on Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.

K-State will celebrate the accomplishments of its senior class in its final home game on Tuesday against TCU at 7 p.m.

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