Sneed returns to lead as K-State's senior star

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Preseason honors can serve multiple purposes. One of those is unintentional motivation.

And when Kansas State senior forward Xavier Sneed saw he was just an honorable mention for the 2019-20 Preseason All-Big 12 Team, it seems like he got a little bit of fuel.

"Y’all done reallly woke up a savage," Sneed tweeted after the Big 12's announcement. "It’s up for all y’all."

However, that doesn't seem to compare to the adversity he already faced previously this year.

Sneed declared early for the NBA Draft, but withdrew from it just a little more than an hour before the deadline, ending a tiring process. He said he participated in three NBA pro day events and also did two other workouts.

"The stress, the pressure he went through," K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. "You could see he was mentally drained when he got here at the start of the summer."

"That was a very different process," Sneed said. "Getting from plane to workout, plane to workout. I took it all in, learned a lot and got a lot of great information."

That will certainly help him for his professional future. But Weber wants his star senior to focus on the present and enjoy his final collegiate season.

"I want him to smile, I want him to be happy," Weber said. "If he's happy, talking, enjoying it, I think he can be a very good player and one of the better players in the league."

Already considered to be one of the better defenders in college basketball, Sneed's on-court offensive growth will need to make a jump to help pick up the scoring void left by the Wildcats' star senior trio from last season: Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade.

Those three accounted for about 53% of KSU's points last season. Sneed himself has averaged about 10 points per game for his career, shooting 41% from the field and 34% from three.

While Weber wants the athletic wing to be more efficient and consistent, Wildcat guard Cartier Diarra has ideas on how all of Sneed's numbers can improve to where they need to be for a leading role.

"Being more versatile," Diarra said. "He was just more of a catch and shooter, rebounder and defensive guy last year. He knows he needs to drive to the basket, he's a big body."

And that will carry more than just needed in-game improvement. There's a major leadership responsibility to carry with the departure of that famous aforementioned trio.

But that's exactly whom Sneed has turned to for advice on how to lead.

"I've been getting feedback from Barry, going to Barry, asking Dean how they did it," Sneed said. "Take it day by day. Everyone is going to follow you and they know you're doing the right thing. When that comes along, everybody else is going to fall in line."

"We're going to need it, especially during those tough times where we're down," Diarra said. "We're just coming out sluggish, we got to be able to pick it up and turn a switch."

Just like the one Sneed will need to flip to carry Kansas State.