Remember January? Specifically, remember how down, how utterly irredeemable the Kansas State Wildcats seemed on Jan. 31?
Frank Martin's team had been disappointing all season. The Wildcats' offense was ugly and stagnant, which led to losses in every nonconference game of note and four of the team's first five Big 12 games (including losses at Oklahoma State and at home to Colorado). Those failures were accompanied by a bevy of off-court problems -- including suspensions for stars Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly for receiving illegal benefits from a department store in Manhattan, Kan., and Pullen's poorly received proclamation that he would not play in the NIT -- and then, well, this: Sophomore forward Wally Judge, a former McDonald's All-American expected to play a large role in Kansas State's program in 2011 and beyond, decided to quit the team.
That was rock-bottom for Martin and company in 2011. Soon thereafter, Pullen put K-State on his back in a propulsive win over Kansas. The Wildcats made an impressive run into the postseason -- Pullen didn't play in the NIT after all -- and after a hard-fought Sweet 16 loss to Wisconsin, this team's redemptive story came full circle.
In other words, it was easy to forget about Judge. After all, Pullen and crew provided little reason for Wildcats fans to pine for the soon-to-transfer forward's services. But what happened to Judge? Where will he land now?
Turns out, the forward has narrowed his choices to three schools: Maryland, Rutgers and Washington. As Adam Zagoria reports, Judge has completed visits to the first two schools on that list, and he's still considering Washington but has yet to visit the school's Seattle campus. Judge grew up just a few minutes from College Park, Md., so he was able to sneak in some family time in his visit with the Terps. He also got to play in an open gym with the current Terps and get a feel for how he thinks Maryland coach Gary Williams would use his services if Judge decides to stay close to home:
As for how the Maryland staff would utilize Judge, he said, they would “basically put the ball in my hands and let me be the same player I was there coming out of high school. Allow me to step out and show my perimeter skills and be a face-up four man instead of a five man.”
No obvious reason was ever given for Judge's transfer. At the time, Martin chalked it up to "some emotional situations" and said that he understood the transfer because, in his words, "Why do something if you're not enjoying it?" Judge was struggling with his time at K-State, having begun his sophomore year in the starting lineup only to see his minutes wax and wane inconsistently throughout the early portion of the season.
But it's likely Judge's quote above -- which can be roughly translated as "I'm a peacock, you gotta let me fly!" -- gets at the core of his dissatisfaction at K-State.
Will Maryland, Rutgers or even Washington allow Judge to use his talents the way he sees fit? We'll see. In the meantime, the once-touted forward has some proving to do.
Wherever he goes, Judge wants to feel “comfortable” and “able to continue my life as being a good student but also progressing my basketball game and getting better and showing everybody that I’m not a bust.”