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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Wildcats in the Pros: NFL combine stars, Dean Wade’s NBA spectacular

K-State football alumni show out at the NFL combine alongside other players taking the next step in their pro careers
Logan Wassall
Forward Dean Wade shoots a contested jumper in K-State’s 74-67 win over Kansas on Feb. 5, 2019. Wade scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds to break an eight-game losing streak in the Sunflower Showdown.

Dean Wade, Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers

Wade, a fifth-year pro, had arguably the best performance of his career Tuesday night. The former undrafted signee recorded a career-high of 23 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter, capped off by a game-sealing dunk. 

The St. John, Kansas native was celebrated courtside by Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce postgame, along with future hall-of-fame brother Jason Kelce. As a Kansas native, Wade is a big Chiefs fan, and said after the game that moment with Travis Kelce was special.

Wade said Travis Kelce was trying to recruit him to the NFL. 

“[Travis] said if basketball didn’t work out for me and I wanted to be a backup tight end, I got good hands,” Wade said. 

Wade averages 20 minutes per game this season, tallying 5.5 points and four rebounds per game. He has successfully fulfilled his role as a positive contributor for the Cavs, who place third in the Eastern Conference. 

Ben Sinnott, TE, NFL Combine

Sinnott put on a show throughout his NFL Combine experience, sending his draft stock to new heights. Ranked fourth among tight end prospects by NFL Draftbuzz, he set a 40-yard dash time of 4.68, but impressed the most with his 40-inch vertical jump. 

Sinott received a raw athletic score of 9.75, ranking 29th out of all 1116 qualifying tight end prospects since 1987. 

The dual full back and tight end prospect is projected by BleacherReport to be a fifth-round pick; however, his performance suggests he could be selected earlier.

Cooper Beebe, OL, NFL Combine

Beebe, a two-time consensus All-American at K-State, also put on a show at the combine, eliminating any doubts of his athleticism. 

The 322-pound offensive lineman ran a 40-yard dash time of 5.03 and notched a broad jump of 9-foot-1-inch. His raw athletic score of 9.49 ranked 74th among 1421 guard prospects since 1987. 

One of the remaining pieces of “The Beef” from last year’s offensive line, senior guard Hadley Panzer, said seeing Beebe perform well inspires him.

According to BleacherReport, Beebe is projected as a second-round pick and ranks sixth-best among interior offensive linemen in the 2024 draft. 

KT Levestson, OL, NFL Combine

Another departing member of “The Beef” is Levestson. The 326-pound lineman played tackle at K-State, but could make the switch inside for a pro-career. He tallied a 40-yard dash time of 5.38 and a 9-foot broad jump distance. 

Khalid Duke, DE, NFL Draft

Rounding out the Wildcats at the combine was Duke, an edge rusher prospect. 

Four Wildcats were selected to the combine for the second consecutive year, which is the most since K-State had five participants in 2013.

Duke ran a 40-time of 4.79, but his 10-yard dash time of 1.62 impressed the most. 

Head coach Chris Klieman said all four players performed well in his book.

“It’s a great opportunity for those guys to be on that stage and perform at a high level,” Klieman said. “They’ve been preparing their whole life for that moment.” 

Keyontae Johnson, Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder/Blue

Johnson, a second-round rookie, found a home during his freshman campaign. The forward earned G-League All-Star Game honors after averaging 20.9 points per game and 6.2 rebounds so far this season. Only 28 players received an invitation to the contest. 

While the Thunder are a contender loaded with young talent, Johnson still found his way to limited time with the pro-team roster. He collected his first career NBA bucket Jan. 11 after playing 18 minutes and recording four points. 

Markquis Nowell, Guard, Free Agent

Nowell’s rookie campaign resembled Johnson’s until late. The undrafted signee also earned G-League All-Star game honors after nearly averaging a double-double with 15.3 points and 8.9 assists. 

Unfortunately, because of injuries, the Raptors waived Nowell on Monday. He was previously signed to a two-way contract which allows players to split time with an NBA and G-League team.

The two-way deal is the same type of contract Wade originally signed with the Cavaliers, and it is only available to two players on a roster.

Will Brennan, OF, Cleveland Guardians

Wade isn’t the only former Wildcat calling Cleveland their professional home. Brennan enters his third pro-season but is expected to make a jump in playing time. After logging just 20 games last year, Brennan will be in the mix for an everyday outfield role.

Through Spring Training, the lefty slugged for a .333 batting average with a home run and four RBI. 

A former eighth-round draft pick, Brennan will look to start in the opening day lineup on Thursday, March 28.

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