MANHATTAN — Bruce Weber always has been a tireless recruiter.
That hasn't always meant that he was welcomed with open arms. Enticing top talent to Kansas State has its challenges.
But success on the basketball court also has a way of opening doors, and thanks to an Elite Eight run in the NCAA Tournament two years ago and a Big 12 championship last season, Weber is starting to reap the dividends.
"I would say we definitely have gotten (a) better reception, better attention," Weber said Wednesday during K-State's preseason media day. "But at the same time, the key to me is finding guys we can get, and obviously we've had some success."
Not only did Weber and the coaching staff bring in a top-50 recruiting class for this season — ranked No. 39 by Rivals and 54th by 247Sports — but the 2020 class looks even better. The Wildcats already have commitments from four high school players ranked among the top 150 by both recruiting services and the class currently sits at No. 10 with 247Sports and No. 12 with Rivals.
"We can't talk about (unsigned) guys, but before if you were top 50 they wouldn't even answer your call," Weber said. "Fifty to 150 would have to be a special situation, and then we had to find the other guys.
"Where now kind of that middle group, at least they're listening to us, talking to us (and) they may make visits or whatever it might be, so it's helped, there's no doubt about it. I'm happy with the coaches.
Freshman guard DaJuan Gordon, a 6-foot-4 guard from Chicago, is the top-rated player from last year's recruiting class, receiving four starts and checking in at No. 71 nationally in Rivals' assessments. And he's the first to admit that K-State was not even in his consciousness growing up.
"I know the Elite Eight was big," he said. "It was a big shock to my eyes, because when they made it to the Elite Eight two years ago, that was my first time really knowing something about Kansas State.
"But when I came here (for a visit), talked to them, I felt like I was at home with all the players and coaches. The coaches didn't try to over-recruit, they were just themselves, and that helped me."
Weber often has said that the biggest challenge is getting recruits to campus, which even with direct commercial flights into Manhattan can present logistical obstacles. Once they're here, the odds improve significantly.
That was the case both with DaJuan Gordon and Antonio Gordon, a 6-9 forward from Lawton, Okla., who also played with the MoKan Elite AAU team out of Kansas City.
"One of the big factors for me was, I wasn't really getting recruited that much until after my junior year, and then they were one of the first to start recruiting me," Antonio Gordon said. "They stayed in touch and recruited me a lot and texted me and really made me feel like I was special and important.
"That was really big because family is really important to us here and I came here on an unofficial visit during the summer and loved it. It felt just like an official visit and then my official visit (for a football game) just capped it off."
Antonio Gordon was not ranked in the top 150 by the recruiting services, but fellow freshman Montavious Murphy, a 6-9, 215-pound forward from Spring, Texas, was. Throw in junior college point guard David Sloan from John A. Logan College in Illinois, and the Wildcats should receive immediate help.
Then there is the current recruiting cycle, which ranks as the best in Weber's eight seasons at K-State.
The group is headed by four-star prospects Selton Miguel, a 6-4 wing from West Oaks Academy in Orlando, Fla., and Nijel Pack, a 6-4 guard from Indianapolis. They're joined by St. Louis three-star recruits Luke Kasubke, a 6-5 shooting guard from Chaminade High School, and 7-footer Davion Bradford, a center from Mehlville High, who gave his oral commitment last weekend.
But that doesn't mean it has been all sunshine and roses on the recruiting trail, Weber said.
"We had a kid out of Kansas City (and) I said, 'Who won the Big 12 last year?' I gave him three guesses and none of them was us, and he still doesn't know," Weber said with a smile. "So somebody's not doing their job in Kansas City, I would say."