The 30 Most Influential NCAA MBB Teams of SLAM’s 30 Years: ‘08 Kansas State  

To celebrate SLAM’s 30th anniversary, we’re spotlighting the 30 most influential men’s college teams from our past 30 years. Stats, records and chips aren’t the main factor here, it’s all about their contribution to the game’s cultural fabric.

For the next 30 days—Monday through Friday— we’ll be unveiling the full list here. We’ve also got an exclusive retro collegiate collection, out now, that pays homage to each squad’s threads. Shop here.

Word to SLAM 117. Michael Beasley was the freshest of them all in ‘08 when he was suiting up for Kansas State. At the time, “Be Easy” was ranked No. 1 in rebounds and described by former SLAM “scribe” Bonsu Thompson as having “sticky fingers, small forward hops, Chris Brown body control plus gluttonous appetite for food off the glass…” (you can read the original cover story in the SLAM Digital Archive, fyi). Beasley didn’t hold back when describing his own game, either: “Once I step on the floor, I’m superhuman. I feel unstoppable.” 

And he was. Averaging a double-double of 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds, Beasley was hungry for a Big 12 championship, and a natty. He was ultra-competitive against, well anyone, too, telling us in his own words, “…as soon as somebody get to runnin’ they mouth, that’s when I turn it up.” On a team led by first-year head coach Frank Martin, the Wildcats were young— ranked second and third in scoring were freshman forward Bill “Henry” Walker and guard Jacob Pullen—and restless to win. In the season-opener, they beat Sacramento State by almost a 30-piece and, by January, went on a six-game winning streak. The potential was all there: Beasley’s scoring prowess, coupled with the team’s tenacious defense and unselfish ball movement, became the hallmark of their approach.

In fact, Beasley felt like the only thing he needed to really improve upon was “making it look so easy”—a testament to his confidence and the star role he embraced. While his postseason ambitions didn’t come into fruition—the Wildcats eventually lost in the second round to Wisconsin—he did take home individual accolades including a consensus first-team All-American selection, USBWA National FOY, the Pete Newell Big Man Award, Big 12 Player of the Year, the list goes on. He went on to take his talent to the League and was selected No. 2 in the same ‘08 NBA Draft that his teammate, Walker, was drafted in in the second-round.

That ‘08 season would be remembered not just for the wins and losses but for the electrifying moments and the promise it held for the continued success of the program. It was just the beginning…

Photos via Getty Images.

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