KUAD Recap, Box Score, Photos, Notes, Quotes
KC Star Photos
Radio highlights from the win over #kstate from Bob Davis and Greg Gurley
LJW Tait: The Day After
Pregame Party and Pep Rally Info
Join Kansas Athletics, the Williams Education Fund and the KU Alumni Association for a pregame party and pep rally at No Other Pub (1370 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64106) across from the Sprint Center in the Power & Light District.
Friday, March 11
3 p.m. - Pregame Party
4 p.m. - KU Pep Rally on main stage at Power & Light
KU Fan Postseason Info
KUAD: Kansas vs Baylor pregame notes
Not long ago, Kansas coach Bill Self had an official who calls games all over the country pay his team the ultimate compliment while simultaneously offering a somber warning.
''He said, 'When you're on, you're as good as anybody,''' Self recalled after watching his team dismantle Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament. ''And when you're off, you really fall off.'''
The top-ranked Jayhawks were decidedly on in their 85-63 quarterfinal victory Thursday.
…The biggest highlight may have come when Ellis soared for an alley-oop pass and slammed it down midway through the second half, sending the crowd in Sprint Center buzzing and giving Kansas a 55-37 lead.
Minus a few small complaints about the team’s rebounding, Self left the Sprint Center pleased with the way Kansas played, especially offensively.
The Jayhawks shot 57 percent from the field for the game.
Senior forward Perry Ellis led the Jayhawks in scoring with 21 points, but it was really the backcourt — junior Frank Mason III and sophomore Devonte’ Graham— that controlled the game.
Mason had 16 points, while Graham added 11; the duo combined for 15 assists, four steals and just three turnovers.
“The reality is, when Frank and Devonte’ play well, they drive us more than anybody else,” Self said.
With freshman forward Cheick Diallo held out due to a “mouthful of stitches,” fellow freshman forward Carlton Bragg Jr. got some extended minutes. Bragg — the freshman often seen celebrating his teammates' baskets, rather than his own — made the most of his time on the court.
Self, the KU coach, was fully aware of these factors, of course. And he had every intention of limiting his guards’ minutes Thursday.
There was one problem, though.
“It’s hard,” Self said, “to take those two little guys out.”
Mason finished with 16 points in 32 minutes, Graham added 11 points in 34 minutes and the top-seeded Jayhawks steamrolled the Wildcats 85-63, sweeping the season’s Sunflower Showdown and earning a semifinal date with No. 22 Baylor at 6 p.m. Friday.
Self, who after the game said he was mindful of minutes but “still played guys too many,” attributed much of the late playing time for his starters to foul trouble for Carlton Bragg and Jamari Traylor.
He added that using the guards in the final minutes of a 22-point victory was “not a risk.”
“Frank and Devonte’,” Self said, “can play all day long.”
…“I think they really like playing with each other,” Self said of Mason and Graham. “The one thing we haven’t done very well this year is create the kind of havoc defensively. Shorter (shot) clock may cause that, and they’re playing so many minutes, so you can’t just press all the time because they need to be in the game. But I thought today they both picked their spots, especially Devonte’, in getting deflections and creating havoc.”
“I was just letting it fly,” Bragg said. “Just being myself out there.”
After a teammate hit a 3, Bragg could be seen celebrating on the bench. Whether he is dancing or getting shot with a 3-point arrow from Devonte’ Graham, he is never seated after a teammate sinks a 3.
Following Bragg’s second 3 of the game, he got to celebrate on the court for himself, whipping out an imaginary 3-point pistol and firing it in the air.
Perry Ellis said Bragg’s energy on the bench doesn’t go unnoticed and makes him a great teammate.
Similarly, Ellis saw his minutes and production increase during the Big 12 Tournament as a freshman. Ellis’ minutes rose from 13.6 minutes to 18.6 minutes per game in his first postseason tournament and he scored 14.3 points per contest, 8.5 points higher than the mark he set in the regular season.
“I remember my tournament freshman year gave me a lot of confidence,” Ellis said. “He got out there today and got to knock down some shots.”
…In a game where freshman Cheick Diallo was expected to play heavy minutes, he remained on the bench with a swollen cheek. Self said Diallo got banged up in practice and his mouth was filled with stitches.
“I thought if we played Cheick today and he got hit, he may be done for the weekend and certainly done tomorrow,” Self said. “The game was going fine, so we decided to not do that.”
Self and the Jayhawks have defeated the No. 22 Bears (22-10, 10-8) seven straight times in the regular season but have dropped two of the last three Big 12 Tournament games against BU. That includes an 81-72 defeat in the 2012 semifinals that prevented a final tilt between Border War rivals KU and Missouri.
KU holds two victories over BU this season — a 102-74 rout on Jan. 2 at Allen Fieldhouse, and a 66-60 win on Feb. 23 in Waco, Texas.
One advantage in the Jayhawks’ favor may be their victory Thursday, which saw KU expose the K-State zone in what could serve as a good warm-up, as BU rarely goes man-to-man.
“It was great to get a chance to play against that a little bit today so we can have a little bit of an advantage tomorrow, you know?” KU guard Frank Mason said. “Not just playing against man the whole night, and we were happy with that.”
Still, Self isn’t counting on as much success against the zone of the Bears, who boast much more size and wingspan than the Wildcats.
“Their zone has always given us problems,” Self said. “It gives everyone problems at times, and certainly we didn’t attack it very well the last time. So with the short turnaround, I hope we’re prepared to do a much better job against them.”
The very dynamic that was essential to the Tulsa and Illinois programs Self coaxed to Elite Eights in 2000 and 2001, the KU team he whisked to the 2008 national title and the 2012 Final Four team.
For Self, playing two points has made for the straightest line to deep postseason runs, something that was eclipsed by having guard personnel such as Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins the last two seasons.
“Talented (but) the ball probably didn’t move and probably didn’t create easy opportunities for other guys near as much,” he said.
“So moving forward, recruiting-wise, we want to play two point guards: I’d play three if we could, as long as one of them was big enough to defend a three,” he said, adding, “The reality is, when Devonte’ and Frank play well, they drive us more than anybody else.”
In so many ways: from freeing guard Wayne Selden to gravitate towards his truer skill-set, to KU’s more vigorous transition game, to finding better shots for all.
That was well-reflected in the pair combining for 15 assists with 3 turnovers as KU made 32 of 56 from the field (57.1 percent).
“We’re the two best playmakers on the team, so Coach wants us to stay aggressive and get other guys easy shots, then create for ourselves,” said Mason, who had 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting with seven assists. “We have a lot of confidence in each other and ourselves.”
KC Star Gregorian
Devonte’ Graham screamed toward the Kansas bench after the first-half three-pointer, and after timeout was called a few seconds later, he leapt into the air with a teammate to celebrate.
He wasn’t the only person fired up by the play.
Four rows behind the bench, Dewanna King — with a temporary Jayhawk tattoo on her right cheek and red and blue beads around her neck — pushed her pointer finger in the air during the first-half run in KU’s 85-63 victory over Kansas State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday at Sprint Center.
Mom was enjoying this just as much as her son.
“He’s having, probably, the best time of his life,” King said after the game. “That’s always been him. It’s his personality. You can tell he’s enjoying himself, being in school and being able to play.”
Kansas University freshman Carlton Bragg Jr. and his roommate, Lagerald Vick, have a way of relieving stress each and every Sunday night.
They spend at least a couple hours roller skating at Winnwood Skate Center in Kansas City, Mo.
“It’s always packed. It’s a lot of fun. We take a lot of pictures (with fellow skaters). They teach me how to skate a little bit, roller skate with us. It’s just a fun activity,” Bragg, KU’s 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward from Cleveland, said Thursday after putting on quite a show playing basketball in Sprint Center, which is located just 7.7 miles from Bragg’s favorite skating rink.
…“It helps me with my footwork, balancing,” Bragg said of his weekly roller skating excursions. “You can get a little conditioning in, too. You sweat a lot,” added Bragg, who can do a 360 on roller skates. “We pretty much do it every week unless we have practice.”
The 6-foot-5 Vick — he missed two shots while playing three minutes in a rout that propelled KU into Friday’s 6 p.m., tourney semifinal versus (22-10) Baylor — concedes that the Jayhawks are a big deal in K.C. on Sundays.
…Bragg, who has hit four of seven threes this season for (28-4) KU, was asked if he’s been given the green light by coach Bill Self.
“I don’t want to say green,” Bragg said. “but he tells me, ‘When you are open shoot it.’ So pretty much yes, you could say that. I felt comfortable with it today and just let it fly. When I made my first one (to give KU 23-11 lead), Jamari (Traylor, six points, four rebounds, two blocks) said, ‘Keep shooting it. Let it fly. We have no pressure.’ He gave me confidence to keep shooting it more.
“I came out of my comfort zone a little bit today,” Bragg added. “Pick and pop, I tried to extend my range. Making shots tonight ... it was good for us.”
…“This is Carlton’s first time in the interview room,” Self said, “and he may be a little nervous. And I told him most guys that come in here get more than zero rebounds.”
The Jayhawks knocked the Bears out of last year’s Big 12 tournament with a 62-52 win in the semifinals. However, two of Baylor’s four all-time wins against the Jayhawks have come in the tournament, including a 71-64 win in 2009 and an 81-72 win in 2012.
…For several weeks, Baylor forward Rico Gathers thought he was suffering with the flu.
But just two weeks ago, he said he was diagnosed with H. pylori, a bacteria that often leads to ulcers.
Gathers missed Baylor’s games against Kansas State and Iowa State and has come off the bench in five of the last six games.
Hitting the court with more energy, Gathers finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes against the Longhorns.
“This is the best I’ve felt since last year,” Gathers said. “Sometimes I wake up and ask ‘Where am I?’ I’ll be real foggy and stuff. When you have to deal with stuff like that, it can take away from stuff you love and enjoy. Being a fighter, I’m just trying to help the team the best I can.”
Baylor was phenomenal away from the Ferrell Center throughout the regular season, so there was no reason to think anything would change in the Big 12 Conference men’s basketball tournament.
The No. 22 Bears rarely have looked better.
With senior forward Taurean Prince showing off an array of moves in a 24-point, 13-rebound performance, the Bears opened their postseason campaign with a 75-61 victory over No. 23 Texas on Thursday afternoon at Sprint Center.
Prince played like a senior who wants to extend his college career into April as he hit shots from all over the court and made spot-on passes to teammates for baskets.
“I think he’s probably an NBA-level guy,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “He was terrific. I thought his aggressiveness was really good early on, just the way he attacked and was assertive. We allowed him to be too comfortable. When you give a guy like that comfort, he’s going to have a big game.”
The scoring total set by Clyde Lovellette in the 1952 NCAA Tournament remains astonishing to this day.
So imagine how sports writers marveled back then at the 141 points Lovellette netted in four tournament games while leading the Jayhawks to the national title.
“Records were strewn in the path of Lovellette, who worked with the tireless energy of a bulldozer but planted buckets with the finesse of a concert pianist,’’ wrote Bob Hurt of the Topeka Daily Capital.
After the Jayhawks captured the championship behind 33 points and 17 rebounds from Lovellette in an 80-63 blowout of St. John’s, this observation was made from Seattle’s Edmundson Pavillion by the Daily Capital’s Dick Snider:
“While faint strains of the famous “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk’’ yell came from the few Kansas boosters in the crowd, Kansas accepted the trophy for the championship, and Lovellette, the greatest thing these playoffs ever saw, was named the most valuable player.’’
At 6 feet 9 inches and 234 pounds, the fair-haired Lovellette was part of an emerging generation of big men who transformed the game, bringing not only greater size to the court but also scoring power and a degree of athleticism that the professional ranks had seldom seen in its centers. (Old-timers were still deriding centers as clumsy, bulky “goons.”)
Some fans, sportswriters and basketball officials were for the first time urging (in vain) that the hoop be raised, from 10 feet to 12.
Lovellette arrived in Minneapolis in 1953 as one of the N.B.A.’s most sought-after recruits. At Kansas, where he was known as “the Great White Whale,” he had been an all-American, averaging almost 25 points a game at a time when basketball was a slower, more low-scoring pursuit. And he had starred on the 1952 Olympic squad that took the gold for the United States in Helsinki, Finland.
He joined a Lakers team that had just won two consecutive N.B.A. titles, led by the league’s most dominant player, the 6-foot-10 George Mikan, another future Hall of Famer.
“Lou Gehrig has been added to Babe Ruth,” the sports columnist Arthur Daley wrote in The New York Times after the Lakers signed Lovellette.
The Lakers went on to win their third consecutive title in Lovellette’s first season, defeating the Syracuse Nationals in the finals with a deep roster that included still another future Hall of Famer, Vern Mikkelsen.
At 29, Mikan was showing signs of wear, and Lovellette would spell him at center. But Lovellette could also shift to the wings and complement Mikan as a towering scoring threat.
“He has the delicate, feathery touch in his shot-making of a seamstress threading a needle,” Daley wrote.
…Lovellette developed a bad-boy image on the court.
“It reached a point where Wilt Chamberlain flat out decked him in a one-sided game and didn’t receive as much as an ejection,” The Kansas City Star wrote in 1993, recalling the physical play in the N.B.A. decades before. “Why? As Chamberlain said recently, ‘Because everybody hated Clyde Lovellette.’ ”
Lovellette, by his own account, didn’t mind if they did: He enjoyed the tough-guy image.
“My strength was I could shoot, I was strong, I was not going to be intimidated and I was so mean,” he told The Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1987. “I caused a lot of controversy as far as roughness goes. I took my lumps and gave them.”
…After starring for a powerhouse team from Terre Haute Garfield High School, he was courted strenuously by Indiana University and the University of Kansas. The Kansas coach, Dr. Forrest Allen, better known as Phog, told him that the height on Mount Oread, where part of the campus, in Lawrence, is situated, would be good for his asthma.
(That claim was disputed in 1986 by the Times sportswriter Malcolm Moran, who wrote, “The fact is that Mount Oread is not high enough to stop a speck of Salina dust from settling beneath a Kansas City eyelid.”)
The Memphis Grizzlies announced Thursday that point guard Mario Chalmers suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon Wednesday night in a loss to the Boston Celtics and will miss the remainder of the 2015-2016 season. To create a roster spot for Memphis, down to seven healthy players Wednesday night, the Grizzlies also waived Chalmers. From the Grizzlies' press release:
“Mario did an incredible job for us since coming to Memphis,” Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace said. “Right from the start, he embraced his change of scenery and endeared himself to his teammates and coaches on the court and the Memphis community off of it.”
“He has been an important part of our success this season, both coming off the bench and when called upon as a starter,” Wallace said. “But with Mario's season-ending injury and our already depleted roster, it became necessary to free up a roster spot.”
The Portland Trail Blazers have assigned rookie forward Cliff Alexander and rookie guard Luis Montero to the NBA Development League’s Santa Cruz Warriors, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.
This concept is not a new one. The University of Kansas Hospital started utilizing the United Network of Organ Sharing in late 2014. In its first kidney paired donation, Vicki Havey-Lovato donated for her husband Carlos Lovato in a surgery that took weeks to coordinate and had to be timed very closely.
"It is time-sensitive because we firstly ensure that both donors are going to have surgery approximately at the same time," Ilahe informed 41 Action News. That is to ensure that no one backs out once the organ they need has been removed. Ilahe added, "Once the kidney is out, we try to move very quickly to be able to give it to that other center in a reasonable time."
Each medical center has a committee dedicated to reviewing patients and living donors. They must be in good health with no medical conditions that put them at risk for future kidney disease. There is also an interview conducted to ensure there is no coercion or payment to encourage a person to donate.
Alonzo Jamison is not afraid of the surgery and said he is sharing his story "not just because I need it but because there's thousands of people that do need it. We need to have donors out there."
There are more than 100,000 people waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor. If a match is found for Alonzo Jamison through that list, it will be offered to him. Until he gets the call, no matter how a new kidney is found, he is drawing strength from his wife.
"Just knowing that she wants to do this is giving me an extra step," Alonzo Jamison said.
Colleen Jamison stressed, "What is important to me is his health and his happiness, and I think that both of those are tied up with a new kidney. It's just something that feel like I have to do. I'm his wife, and if I can't do it for him, that's fine, but I at least have to try.”
Kansas junior guard Wayne Selden Jr., has been named one of five finalists for the 2016 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.
Joining Selden as finalists are Brandon Ingram (Duke), Ben Simmons (LSU), Denzel Valentine (Michigan State) and DeAndre Bembry (Saint Joseph's).
The winner of the 2016 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame's selection committee. Fans are encouraged to visit HoopHallAwards.com to cast their votes from March 11-25.
KUAD(voting scheduled to start today)
Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis has been named one of five finalists for the 2016 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Thursday. Ellis is a final five candidate for the second consecutive year.
Joining Ellis as finalists are Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa), Georges Niang (Iowa State), Brice Johnson (North Carolina) and Jameel Warney (Stony Brook). Ellis and Kansas teammate Wayne Selden Jr., are finalists for two of the five Basketball Hall of Fame positional awards. Selden is a Julius Erving Small Forward for the Year Award finalist.
The winner of the 2016 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame's selection committee. Fans are encouraged to visit HoophallAwards.com to cast their votes from March 11-25.
KUAD(voting scheduled to start today)
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”
Big 12/College News
Oklahoma’s 79-76 win over Iowa State on Thursday night came in front of a hostile crowd at Kansas City’s Sprint Center. Filled to the brim, the arena that has been dubbed “Hilton South” was again chock-full of Cyclones fans on Thursday.
Sprinkled throughout were fans of the Sooners, Jayhawks and Wildcats, but no fan base held a candle to Iowa State’s support.
“It's a great atmosphere,” Kruger said after the game. “It's a great host of a tournament. I know Iowa State has a lot of fans here and we realized that going into the ball game.”
Kruger also praised the city and the arena for hosting an exemplary Big 12 Championship “You know the sponsors are great, the fans are great, the players deserve to play in an atmosphere like this and we know we're going to have that in Kansas City,” he added. “And it's fantastic. A great arena, great atmosphere. I love it for a tournament.”
Buddy Hield, who finished the night with 39 points, said it was fun silencing Iowa State’s raucous crowd.
“It's always fun when everybody's against you and you're just competing hard,” Hield said.
Niang finished with 31 points, 22 coming in the second half, while Hield had 39 in a memorable performance between two seniors who have established themselves as two of the premier scorers in the country.
“We’ve come from the same place,” Niang said. “Unknown and really just worked to be at the top. I have nothing but respect for him and love for him like a brother.”
The Cyclones looked as though they may have been cooked in the second half when the Sooners went up 59-45, but then, with a Deonte Burton layup as an appetizer, Niang unleashed a torrent upon the Sooners.
Niang scored 14-straight points in the way only the crafty 6-foot-8 forward can. He scored off the dribble. He scored from the post. He connected on a step-back 3-pointer.
If you studied the box scores from the two prior West Virginia-TCU basketball games this season you will notice two clear things: one, lots of fouls - which happened tonight - and, two, accurate West Virginia shooting - which occurred as well.
West Virginia shot 55.6 percent for the game – its best field goal percentage since making 57.7 percent of its shots against the Horned Frogs back on January 4, and the two teams were called for a combined 48 fouls as the Mountaineers ran away with an 86-66 victory in tonight’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship quarterfinal round game played here at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Tonight’s triumph was West Virginia’s first in conference tournament play since joining the Big 12 in 2012, and it was also the Mountaineers’ first in conference tourney action since beating Georgetown in the finals of the 2010 Big East tournament played at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“It’s our first time being in the Big 12 - to get a win in the tournament - so I guess that’s somewhat of an accomplishment,” said junior forward Devin Williams. “But we are here to win a championship, so, all we can do is just use this to move forward and clean up what we did today and move forward.”
The most publicly insecure and paranoid institution in college sports is at it again.
Five years after a near-death experience, leaders in and around the Big 12 are talking about conference realignment again, and the fact that they approach this round as the instigators and planners instead of the reactors and the desperate does not diminish the chance of making a wrong decision — or that one of its own is muddying the waters.
The league’s showcase event, its conference basketball tournament, is being held at Sprint Center this week. Particularly this season, as the league has been as good as any league has been in years, it is the country’s best college basketball tournament.
And even so, among the conference’s leaders, it is often serving as the background noise during another conversation about what the future will look like.
A disproportionate amount of this is the fault of Oklahoma president David Boren, an egomaniac whose platform and continued public criticisms of the league are driving the push.
Boren is such a problem that the league issued a gag order on its presidents and chancellors on the topic of possible expansion, a championship football game, and a conference television network. The league’s more considered and well-intentioned leaders have obeyed. Boren, of course, continued to talk.
Boren’s counterproductive critcisms are important context, because it means that even in a time of relative strength for the league, it is still deliberating generational changes from a position of perceived weakness.
KC Star Mellinger
The journey to the wall didn’t begin Thursday night. That’s just where it concluded.
It took time to reach, time and drama and adversity and injury and chaos and heart and controversy and lots of sweat.
Months of that stuff.
But when UNLV’s basketball team finally came crashing into it, all the will and desire having met its match against an older, tougher, better opponent, the end for the Rebels felt no less sudden.
The season whose highlight came in the paradise that is Maui in November and yet eventually endured as many emotional bumps and bruises as physical ones ended with a 95-82 loss to Fresno State in a Mountain West Tournament quarterfinal at the Thomas & Mack Center.
…Faces will change. UNLV started two seniors Thursday in Seagears and Ike Nwamu. It is believed three players — freshmen Stephen Zimmerman Jr. and Derrick Jones and sophomore Patrick McCaw — could all test NBA draft waters with various levels of interest.
As for the next head coach, well, expect the process to really ratchet itself up.
Said one UNLV staffer: “The roller-coaster ride is over, but now the real circus begins.”
ncaa.com: 2016 NCAA Tournament Schedule
Announcing crews, etc
Find out the tournament history for specific seeds, teams, coaches or conferences.
NCAA Tournament Brackets and History interactive tool
CBS Interactive Tool: Pick two teams to compare record, RPI and SOS details head to head. By default, the top two teams in RPI are shown.
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
Contender: Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats have made Jackson a priority for a long time, going out to California and visiting with Jackson several times during the fall. They also received the first official visit back in December, and haven’t let up in their pursuit of Jackson. Five-star Kobi Simmons (No. 18) will likely take the reins at the point guard spot next season, with Allonzo Trier at the two. But Miller has craved a dynamic two-way player on the wing. Jackson fits that mold perfectly, given his ability to defend at one end and push the ball in transition offensively. One thing to watch with Arizona’s pursuit of Jackson is the recent commitment of Rawle Alkins (No. 17), a five-star wing. Alkins was likely sold on the fact he can play alongside Simmons and Trier in a dangerous offensive perimeter trio. Does that change anything for Jackson? That’s doubtful, as Arizona has been pursuing Alkins, Jackson and is expected to be involved for recent Alabama decommit Terrance Ferguson (No. 13). Miller won’t back off Jackson (or Ferguson) despite Alkins’ commitment. With that said, Arizona was likely the front-runner for Jackson over the past few months -- will that remain the same moving forward?
Contender: Michigan State Spartans
Tom Izzo has arguably his best recruiting class in 2016, with five-star prospects Miles Bridges (No. 6) and Josh Langford (No. 14) joined by top-50 recruits Cassius Winston (No. 30) and Nick Ward (No. 39). But Jackson would obviously take it to another level. The Spartans have been hoping to get Jackson to return home to Michigan for his college career, and they’ve positioned themselves well heading into the final few weeks. Jackson is close with Bridges, and has known Winston since he was eight years old. Jackson also has to be impressed by what Denzel Valentine has done during his time in East Lansing; Izzo gave him the freedom to utilize his all-around skill set. Jackson doesn’t have a true position, and would benefit from that sort of freedom. Jackson has said in the past that he thinks Izzo is one of the best college coaches in the country -- because his teams never get out-toughed. Jackson is arguably the best perimeter defender in the 2016 class; Izzo would love to get his hands on him. With Alkins committing to Arizona, does that push Jackson to the Midwest?
Contender: Kansas Jayhawks
Much like 2015, the Jayhawks got off to a slow start with the 2016 class. They missed out on Ferguson last summer, and exited the early signing period with only one player in tow: Mitch Lightfoot (No. 64). However, they’ve begun to pick it over the past couple months, getting five-star Udoka Azubuike (No. 22) and positioning themselves well with several remaining top prospects. Where does Jackson fit in? Bill Self has had Kansas in the mix for him for a long time, and they received an official visit last month. After the visit, Jackson raved about his experience at Allen Fieldhouse and has pointed to Kansas’ use of Andrew Wiggins as a path to follow. Obviously Jackson is likely to start wherever he goes to college, but the Jayhawks could return all three perimeter starters if Wayne Selden doesn’t go to the NBA. Moreover, Kansas has been discussed as a legitimate option for Ferguson since he decommitted from Alabama. Jackson is expected to be in Lawrence for a high school tournament later this month; will Kansas get him on campus again? The Jayhawks are certainly in the mix at this point, especially with Alkins committing to Arizona.
ESPN ($) Josh Jackson
“The Grind Session” is excited to announce the field for their national championship in Lawrence, Kansas at Free State High School, March 24th, 25th, and 26th. The field includes the top teams and players in the US and Canada. First, the teams are broken down and that is followed by highlighting the top players participating in the event. We feel that with 24 of the top 100 players in the nation participating that the event will be a must-see for fans across the nation and Canada. The brackets for the event will be following soon. Stay tuned and please check out thegrindsession.com and tanagersports.com
Athlete Institute, CAN
Athlete Institute features 7 foot big man Thon Maker, who is considered to be one of the top players in the 2016 class (Former no.1 player). As versatile as a guard, he has picked up offers from every major school in the country, but is being most heavily recruited by Arizona State, Kansas, and Indiana. He returns to play for the Bears this season with his brother, Matur, a 6’10’’ junior who is beginning to pick up offers. AI also features seniors Nikola Djogo, a Notre Dame signee, and Cole Long, a UMBC commit. The Bears lost point guard Jamal Murray due to his reclassification into the 2015 class, he is now playing for Coach John Calipari at Kentucky.
Prolific Prep, CA
Prolific Prep will look to 6’8’’ senior Josh Jackson (No. 1 by Rivals), who is down to his final three schools (Kansas, Arizona, and Michigan State), to lead their squad. Seniors Vance Jackson (No. 49 by ESPN, UConn signee) and Devon Daniels (Utah signee) will be effective from the wing. The Crew expects to see juniors Abu Kigab, a Canada native holding offers from Kansas and USC, and Ira Lee (No. 34, offers include Arizona, California, Texas…) also contribute significant minutes. Sophomore Khaleem Bennett and freshman point guard Pierre Crockrell will also be players to keep an eye on.
Sunrise Christian, KS
Sunrise is a team stacked with mostly seniors, and they return senior point guard Roman Young who will be looked upon to provide leadership for the Buffaloes. A team of many transfers, the Buffaloes roster features Oklahoma signee Kameron McGusty (No. 37 by 247Sports). Every player on this year’s roster has drawn Division 1 interest and most have picked up offers. Among the list, Terrell Turner’s offers include Rutgers, Minnesota, and Georgia. Center Isiah Jasey, is ranked No. 32 (ESPN) in the 2017 class and has offers from Kansas and UCLA. Junior Bryan Trimble and senior Rakym Felder, also with many offers, will look to contribute in the backcourt for the Buffaloes. Sunrise alum Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn was a part of the 2015 Michigan State Final Four team. The Buffaloes have also picked up Valdir Manuel from Angola.
22ft Academy, SC
22ft Academy of South Carolina features Sedee Keita (No. 78 by ESPN), a South Carolina signee, and Eli Wright (No. 94 by Rivals), a Mississippi State signee. Keita is a consistent threat on defense where he easily guards at any position and moves like a guard laterally. Wright, who is dominant at both ends, easily maneuvers his way to the rim and shuts other players down on the defensive end. As the only seniors with college pledges, Keita and Wright join a handful of seniors on their team that hold college offers. Among those is 6’5’’ combo guard Jordan Bowden, who recently picked up offers from EKU, Southern Miss, and Utah. Others to keep an eye on are Darius Hicks (2016, offers include Miss. St., Miami, Providence…), Clifton Powell (2016, offers include UC Santa Barbara, Hampton, Tulsa…), and junior Tyler Scott.
Hillcrest Prep, AZ
New program, Hillcrest Prep, quickly gained national attention when the No. 1 ranked junior, DeAndre Ayton, announced he would be joining the team. Ayton, a native of the Bahamas, holds offers from every major program in the country, but is being most heavily recruited by Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky. Hillcrest also features other top talent in a handful of guards. Senior point guard Julian Payton, who holds an offer from Texas Southern, is the son of former NBA superstar, Gary “The Glove” Payton. Junior guard Dontez Thomas and sophomore guard Jaden Lee both have offers from Texas- Rio Grande and Prairie View A&M.
Advanced Prep International, TX
Coach Ray Forsett brings in a well-rounded team full of talent who pride themselves on their work ethic. With goals of a national championship, key seniors Terrance Ferguson (No. 10 by ESPN,) and Mark Vital (No. 55 by Rivals, Baylor signee) hope to lead their team just there this April. With high-flyers Ferguson and Vital, API will be one of the most entertaining teams in high school hoops this season. Cincinnati signee Nysier Brooks and No. 6 junior Billy Preston will do nothing less than dominate in the paint. The Bulldogs welcomed in the top guard of the 2017 class, Trevon Duval, who is being heavily recruited by Maryland, Louisville, Baylor and UCLA, and senior Stevie Jordan who has signed with Rider. They will be playing in memory of teammate Kneiko Ketchens, who passed away in October
Word of God Christian, NC
Word of God Christian includes No. 9 (Rivals) ranked senior forward Rawle Alkins, who is down to his final nine schools. A New York native, his list includes New York based St. John’s, NC State, Kentucky, and North Carolina. The Holy Rams will also look to knock-down shooter senior Jaylen Fornes (UNC-Wilmington signee) and point guard Jalen Harris to be consistent threats. Word of God, whose alumni include current NBA point guard John Wall, will look to standout guard Blake Harris (No. 91 by 247Sports, offers include Wake Forest and LSU) to help Jalen Harris in the backcourt. Others to key in on include seniors Brandon Huffman and Mikeil Watkins and junior Jordan Whitfield.
Quality Education, NC
The Fighting Pharaohs are a veteran-heavy team this season with ten upperclassmen. QEA, always a powerhouse, will be run in the backcourt by senior Deshawn Corprew (No. 91 by 247Sports) and junior Renathan Ona-Embo (No. 71 by Rivals). Corprew is an under-ranked guard and is being targeted by high major programs like NC State and Virginia Tech. Ona-Embo is an up-and-coming shooting guard who already holds offers from USC and Cincinnati. Senior Keith Stagg will also be looked upon to provide help in the backcourt. Quality Education is a powerhouse that features many dominant post players. Standing at 6’9’’, senior Papa N’Diaye is arguably one of the teams’ most prevalent scorers. N’Diaye’s college offers include Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Rhode Island. The Fighting Pharoah’s other two main big men are 6’9’’ senior Malik Brevard (offers include Chattanooga, Middle Tennessee…) and 6’7’’ senior Marsellis Purvis (offers include UNCG, Robert Morris…).
Victory Prep, TX
Victory Prep is led by No. 7 ranked junior Jarred Vanderbilt, who is being heavily recruited by Kentucky, Kansas, and many Texas based programs. The Cardinals are the reigning Texas Charter School State Champions. The Cardinals are a team made of mainly seniors and juniors, including seniors LaJuan Hardy and Antonio Terrell. They are coached by former NBA and Louisville star, Rodney McCray, who won an NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1993. Assistant coach, Moochie Norris, also has NBA experience, after a 10 year stint in the league.
Victory Rock Prep, FL
Victory Rock Prep includes 6’11’’ big man Gorjok Gak, who will join the Oklahoma State Cowboys next season. The Blue Devils also feature point guard Loren Christian Jackson (Long Beach) and 7’1’’ center Khadim Gueye who holds offers from Long Beach and South Florida. Starring alongside Gorjok Gak for VRP will be senior guard Blake Morrow and junior Mayan Kiir. Morrow is a guard who has drawn Division 2 offers and Kiir is a 6’9’’ forward who is drawing Division 1 interests. Head coach Loren B. Jackson has coached a slew of players who have went on to play in college and the NBA, including current Louisville center Mangok Mathiang and former Kentucky/current New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis.
Oldsmar Christian, FL
Oldsmar Christian features 6’8’’ forward Troy Baxter (No. 72 by 247Sports) who has signed his letter of intent with South Florida. Point guard Eric Hester (No. 87 by Rivals) and forward Dontay Bassett have both signed with the Florida Gators. Others to keep an eye on for the Eagles are junior L.J. Figueora (No. 63 by Rivals, offers include from Louisville, Miami, VA Tech…) and sophomore Elijah Weaver (offers include Louisville, Florida, Nebraska…).
Potter’s House Christian, FL
Potter’s House is led by senior center Udoka Azubuike (No. 22 by ESPN), who is a dominant player down low. With a body that could compare to a young Shaquille O’Neal, 6’11’’, 270lb, and 7’8’’ wingspan, Azubuike aggressively attacks the basket and dunks with authority. He narrowed his list of colleges down to Kansas, Florida State, and North Carolina, and he plans to make the decision by the end of January. The Lions also feature two elite junior forwards, Louis Dorsey and DJ Russell. Russell is an elite forward who committed to Miami his freshman season. Now, a junior, he will be a key force for the Lions this season. 6’7’’ Dorsey currently holds an offer from Illinois State and is beginning to gain interest from others.
Breakdown of players participating in “The Grind Session National Championship
Thon Maker (former No. 1 player before moving outside US)
Josh Jackson (No. 1 Rivals 2016)
DeAndre Ayton (No.1 Rivals 2017
Trevon Duval (No. 4 Rivals 2017)
Billy Preston (No. 6 Rivals 2017)
Jarred Vanderbilt (No.7 Rivals 2017)
Rawle Alkins (No. 9 Rivals 2016)
Terrance Ferguson (No. 10 ESPN 2016)
Udoka Azubuike (No. 22 by ESPN 2016)
Matur Maker (No. 25 2018)
Isiah Jasey, No. 32 (ESPN 2017)
Ira Lee (No. 34 2017)
Kameron McGusty (No. 37 247Sports 2016)
Abu Kigab (No. 52)
Mark Vital (No. 55 Rivals 2016)
L.J. Figueora (No. 63 Rivals 2017)
Ona-Embo (No. 71 by Rivals 2017)
Vance Jackson (No.72 Rivals 2016)
Troy Baxter (No. 72 247Sports 2016)
Sedee Keita (No. 78 by ESPN 2016)
Eric Hester (No. 87 Rivals 2016)
Deshawn Corprew (No. 91 247Sports 2016)
Blake Harris (No. 91 by 247Sports 2016)
Eli Wright (No. 94 Rivals 2016)
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube