Wichita State’s win over Kansas in March Madness to claim bragging rights in the basketball state featured all the best athletes in the Sunflower State. However, the greatest athletes ever were running star and Congressman Jim Ryun and baseball Hall of Famer George Brett.
We ran the Value Add Sports calculations on all returning athletes in the state and emailed sports writers and other experts in the state to help rank the 25 players to watch on a list we will update here.
While the world knows Brett from his Hall of Fame career, World Series win for Kansas City, and home run off of Goose Gossage in the pine tar game, Ryan holds the most remarkable feat as the first high schooler to break the 4-minute mile (see footage here of the second time he did it).
We had a little fun with President Obama’s bracket last year after Breitbart Sports picked Wichita State’s upset over Kansas in a game that the Jayhawks would never schedule.
This year Value Add Basketball has Kansas as a potential Final Four team and Wichita State slipping slightly, but both will be loaded. Fred Van Vleet and Ron Backer can beat anyone on a given day.
We do not have the stats to run the Value add equations on Division II players, but Emporia State has some players that would be high in the rankings if we did.
Emporia State Quarterback Brent Wilson (pictured) was injured in 4th game last year and missed the final seven games of the year. Still, he threw for 1,280 yards and ten TDs in the four games. As a sophomore he threw for 2,985 yards and 33 TD with just six INTs in ten games as he led the Hornets to the NCAA playoffs with a 9-1 regular-season record in 2013.
Emporia State track star Payson Maydew placed third at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships in the decathlon with 7,222 points. Lest you dismiss him due to level of competition, that was the 36th best score in all of collegiate track and field last year (NCAA D-I, D-II, D-III and NAIA). He has finished third in the decathlon the last two years, scoring 7,413 as a sophomore in 2014. He is also a first-team Academic All-American with a 3.81 GPA.
Finally, the women’s basketball team is led by junior Kelly Moten, the leading scorer for the Lady Hornets last year at 14.9 ppg as Emporia State finished 29-5 and advanced to the NCAA D-II Final Four. Moten was named Most Outstanding Player of the MIAA Tournament as the Lady Hornets captured their third straight tourney title. She was a first-team All-MIAA performer and member of the MIAA All-Defensive Team and was named to the NCAA Division II All-Central Regional Tournament Team.
K-State has had excellent football and basketball in recent years, and Wichita State and Kansas could both be exciting in March, but there is also a lot of action to watch at Emporia State this year as Wilson and Maydew wrap up careers and Moten has two more years to get the national title.
Here are the top 20 student-athletes to watch.
- Fred Van Vleet, Wichita St., Basket, PG
- Frank Mason, Kansas, Basket, PG
- Michael Cummings, Kansas Jayhawks, Foot, QB
- Payson Maydew, Emporia State, Track and Field, Decathlon
- Ron Baker, Wichita St., Basket, SG
- Kelly Moten, Emporia State, Women’s basketball, guard
- Brent Wilson, Emporia State, Foot, QB (pictured)
- Brady Johnson, Wichita State, Track/Field, 5,000m Run
- Ben Goodman, Kansas Jayhawks, Foot, DE
- Cheick Diallo, Kansas, Basket, PF
- Chase Pote, Wichita State, Track/Field, Javelin
- Kayla Morrison, Kansas, Soccer, Defender
- Sidney Hirsch, Wichita State, Track/Field, 3,000m Steeplechase
- Joe Hubener, Kansas State Wildcats, Foot, QB
- Tevin Shaw, Kansas Jayhawks, Foot, DBack
- Wesley Iwundu, Kansas St., Basket, PF
- Brent Arrington, Morehead St., Basket, SF
- Perry Ellis, Kansas, Basketball, PF
- Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas, Basketball, SF
- Anton Grady, Wichita St, Basketball, C