Elijah Johnson, who played pro basketball in Poland last season, considered taking the potential game-winning shot in Wednesday’s Bill Self campers game in Horejsi Center.
Instead, the former Kansas University combo guard deferred to current Jayhawk sophomore Frank Mason, who sped through the lane for a driving layup with 7.8 seconds left in overtime, giving the Red team an 84-83 victory over the Blue squad.
“He told me, ‘Give me the ball,’ so I slipped it to him. He did his thing on his own. He kept going and going, and I like it in him,” Johnson said after watching the 5-foot-11 Mason tie Conner Frankamp for team-high scoring honors with 20 points.
“I didn’t see a game-winner. I saw him finishing the game in my eyes,” added Johnson, who also dished to Mason for a three that tied the game at 80 with 1:20 left in OT.
...Petersburg, Virginia, native Mason, who is battling Devonté Graham (six points for Blues) and Frankamp for the starting point-guard position, also played for the winning team in last week’s camp game, potting 16 points.
“Any game I play, I always want to win. I take pride in it. Today it was just a camp game, but still I just wanted to win it,” Mason said.
“I was excited to get the last game-winning basket for my team. I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to get the win.”
... Mason’s layup answered a three by Tyrel Reed (16 points, four threes) that had given the Blues an 83-82 lead at :37. The Blues actually re-gained possession with that one-point advantage. Blue freshman Kelly Oubre missed a three from the side at :14, giving the Reds a last shot at victory. The Blues didn’t get a shot off on their final possession following the Mason hoop.
“I don’t think he (Oubre, who had 14 points) knew the shot-clock awareness,” said Blue forward Travis Releford, who scored two points. “He’ll learn that once he gets familiar with coach Self.”
Brannen Greene, who had 23 points in a camp victory last week, scored 21 points for the losing Blue team, while Jamari Traylor had 11 points. Perry Ellis scored 16 for the Reds.
“I think the new guys did pretty well. They could have done better. They are getting a feel for everything,” Mason said. Freshman center Cliff Alexander had eight points off four hard dunks to go with Oubre’s 14 points and Graham’s six.
In some ways, the less you notice a point guard, the better he’s playing. It can mean he’s keeping the ball moving, getting it into the right hands at the right time, not monopolizing it.
I didn’t hear much about freshman point guard Devonté Graham’s play in last week’s Bill Self Camp exhibition game featuring past and present Kansas University basketball players, so I decided to take in the camp game Wednesday.
Camp games can devolve into breakaway dunk shows, entertaining for the campers, but pretty ugly to watch.
Not this one. It felt more like a basketball game, and it went into overtime. Graham had a view from the bench in the closing minutes and the two-minute overtime period, while veterans Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed formed the backcourt.
“Tyshawn (Taylor) told me I should have been in there at the end of the game,” Graham said with a smile.
Self introduced all of the players with a quick comment and said of Graham, “He’s going to play a ton this year.”
It’s easy to see why. Graham wasn’t the guy the campers left the Horejsi Center buzzing about, but he did a lot of productive things. As soon as he saw a scorer, he delivered him the ball. When he saw shots, he took them, and he never looked as if he was forcing anything.
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Hunter Mickelson never knew what he never knew.
Before he came to Kansas as a transfer last year, the 6-foot-10 forward did his time in the weight room and didn’t think much about it.
“I would just go in there and lift supposedly how I thought I was supposed to lift. I thought I was doing something really good,” Mickelson said Wednesday at Washburn coach Bob Chipman’s camp. “Then you come here, and it’s like, ‘Nah.’”
After a quick visit with KU basketball strength coach Andrea Hudy and also some time with Kansas’ Sparta Force Plate technology, Mickelson quickly learned he was doing things all wrong.
...After a year with better mechanics, Hudy said Mickelson has become a “totally different” basketball athlete. The junior also said he’s starting to see results.
That might be most evident in his vertical jump, which Mickelson aid he has increased by 5 or 6 inches since he arrived at KU.
“I feel like I’m more athletic. I feel like I’m bouncy a little bit, which is a good thing playing basketball,” Mickelson said. “I’m getting stronger in general. I’m getting in better shape. It’s pretty much all of the above.”
If this is indeed the new Mason, KU could potentially have a different kind of offensive weapon. The Jayhawks have gone a couple seasons without a penetrating guard with an ability to finish at the rim, with Tyshawn Taylor best fitting that mold during KU’s run to the national championship game in 2012.
...In his two camp scrimmage games, Mason averaged 18 points on combined 14-for-22 shooting (64 percent).