Desi Sills is a man of faith, but admits that God can occasionally work in “mysterious ways.” The senior guard played at one of college basketball’s highest levels for one of the coaches’ rising stars – Eric Musselman – while playing for Arkansas in 2019-20. But then the path changed for Sills.
Iyiola babies was a teammate of Sills at Arkansas in 2019-20. before rejoining him at Kansas State for his final year of eligibility in 2022-23. Iyiola did not play a single game with Sills during their time together at Arkansas due to the now-outdated transfer law. Iyiola spent the next season at Arkansas, but a knee injury sidelined him for most of the season.
“The first time I tried to transfer, I got hurt,” Iyiola said of his time at Arkansas. “I don’t have the chance to prove, to show what I can do. So it’s a lot for me to come here. It’s like a dream come true.”
Both Sills and Iyiola moved on to lower levels of college basketball. Sills stayed in his home state, transferring to Arkansas State. Iyiola arrived at Hofstra, his second time playing college basketball below the major level after starting his career at Stetson in 2017.
Tykea Greene he couldn’t enjoy the luxury of playing at the high major level like Sills and Iyiola did during their time in the SEC. Ali Greene, who began his career in Manhattan in 2018, enjoyed peak levels of success playing for Stony Brook in the 2021-22 season.
Then in 2022-23. three players united in a place far from home, and in what will soon become one of the biggest stories of the 2022-23 college basketball season, when they transferred to play for the first-year Kansas state coach Jerome Tang.
On Wednesday night, all three players will participate in their final home game as college players when Kansas State hosts Oklahoma at Bramlage Coliseum. Throughout the season, the three players had varying levels of impact on a Kansas State team that went from being picked to finish last in the Big 12 before the season started to a likely No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament , according to many projections.
SIlls had the biggest impact on the performance of three players this season for Kansas State. He spent most of the season off the bench as Kansas State’s sixth man. But he has started the last three games for Kansas State and the Wildcats are 3-0 in games Sills starts, and his insertion into the lineup appears to have helped Kansas State snap a four-of-five contest streak.
“I’m just going to bring energy, effort and enthusiasm every night,” Sills said of his role this season with the Wildcats. “Whatever I can do to make the players win — whatever I can do — I can do it.”
Iyiola was trusted into the starting lineup for nine games in the middle of the season due to a foot/ankle injury David N’Guessan held late in Kansas State’s non-conference slate. But he’s also had contests where he’s played little to no minutes this season, which is similar to Greene, whose athleticism is a good tool off the bench for rebounds.
A trio that — at times — has limited influence on the field, still found ways to influence the win overall. In recent games, Iyiola has provided K-Stat with quality energy off the bench and good effort. This is the same Iyiola his teammates see routinely.
Babies are a big part of us, Greene said. “He brings us that toughness. He is everything to us as a team. Even though there have been bad nights, he will still do what he has to do. Even in training, he talks to us and gives us energy to go into the next game.”
“My number one goal is to come here and win, my goal is to win the Big 12,” Iyiola said of his goals at Kansas State, which are still within reach, but Kansas State would need losses against other schools in the league. “But more importantly, I want to compete because the first time I got a chance to go to the NCAA tournament, I think I tore my ACL.
“So I got a chance to experience it, but I never got on the floor. So to get here, I’m doing everything I can to help my teammates. I just want to do everything I can to win.”
Greene hasn’t played as much this season as he probably would have liked. He played less than 9.0 minutes per game in Big 12 play this season. But he agrees with the role in the team.
Anything I can do to help the team win, Greene said. – That’s all that matters.
Greene made that clear to Tango earlier this season in Big 12 play when he met with the head coach and expressed that he would be willing to guard the opposition’s best players and take on assignments he hadn’t done before this season.
“My favorite moment is winning, of course,” Greene said. “And being out there with my brothers. My second favorite moment is going to the lap after a win and bathing all the fans and taking pictures, signing autographs. That’s special.”
Wednesday night’s senior ceremonies will be the first Tang has experienced as a head coach. He said after the Wildcat’s win over Oklahoma State on Saturday that he didn’t know what the emotions would be. But the hugs he has with the three transfers that helped establish everything he wants his program to be about will make things memorable for everyone involved.
“I have crazy faith like coach Tang says,” Sills said. “Crazy faith is unbelievable and my ultimate goal was to come here and try to get to the NCAA tournament. I knew what coach was bringing, I knew we had the right pieces and if we come together, we’re together. From the coaching staff to the players, everybody we are as one