Perry Ellis took home the hardware, but his backup grabbed the headlines.
Freshman forward Carlton Bragg announced his intention to return to the Kansas basketball team for a sophomore campaign near the end of Wednesday’s end-of-season banquet at Abe & Jake’s Landing in Lawrence.
“I’m coming back,” Bragg announced from his seat on stage, as KU coach Bill Self feigned surprise from the lectern.
Bragg, who is likely to replace the Danny Manning “Mr. Jayhawk” award winner Ellis in the starting lineup next season, said he came to the decision after talking with his mother.
“I’ve got a big stage, big shoes to fill,” Bragg said after the banquet, “and I’m just excited.”
…“This is a big summer (for Bragg),” said Ellis, who won his second straight “Mr. Jayhawk” honor. “I remember my freshman year going into sophomore year, it’s a huge summer to get better. That’s what I’m going to tell him to do, to work as hard as he possibly can.”
Bragg announced it during an exchange on stage with KU coach Bill Self at the end of the night. Self talked about the players coming back next season, and Bragg yelled out from the stage that he would be returning.
“Why don’t you come tell everybody you’re coming back, then?” Self said.
After stepping up to the podium, Bragg’s comments were brief.
“I will be playing again next year,” he said before receiving a loud ovation.
Bragg, who played in all 38 games last season while averaging 8.9 minutes, projects to step into Perry Ellis’ spot as the starter at the four position.
“We’re set,” Self said. “We haven’t got any letter-of-intents back yet, so we obviously can’t comment on it, but I feel really good about who we’re going to sign this spring. I think we’ve put ourselves in a real favorable position.”
…Self is likely to pursue one or two transfers while remaining involved in recruiting a freshman big man, which could include Rivals.com’s 20th-ranked player Jarrett Allen or five-star Thon Maker, who has announced plans to enter the NBA draft though the league could deny his request because of its rules regarding draft-eligible players.
Self addressed the future during some of his final remarks Wednesday.
“Guys, we’re going to be really good next year,” Self said. “We’re really excited, and our staff would tell you, I haven’t been this excited probably going into a summer or a spring than what I am right now, because I know what these guys are capable of.”
Bragg, by the way, learned this week he has grown an inch and is now 6-foot-10, about 225 pounds.
“Without shoes,” Bragg said with a smile.
He definitely figures to be a big man who can step out and shoot the jumper, evidenced by his 56.1 percent shooting mark as a freshman.
“Scoring a lot inside and out. I’ve got to get better on defense as well,” Bragg said of goals. “It’s going to be very good. I’m very excited. I’m happy.”
Self came out firing jokes left and right.
…He even joked about the starting backcourt of last year's team earning All-Big 12 Defensive honors, considering what Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield was able to do against each of them.
"They got put on a team because one was able to hold [Hield] to 46 and one was able to hold him to 24," Self joked.
However, the one thing Self didn't do was paint a false picture. After speaking for several minutes, he talked about the Final Four. He talked about the disappointment for the team, although he did say the players weren't as upset as they had been at the time.
"We didn't get it done. These guys hurt for a while," Self said. "I talked to some of them, and they didn't watch the game."
But in the end, the address from the coach was one of positivity. As his speech wound down, he talked about how good the team could be in the next season, even with all the losses form last year's squad.
"Frank [Mason III] will be better than Frank this year. Devonte' [Graham] will be better than Devonte' this year. Landen [Lucas] will be better than Landen this year," Self said. "We're going to be really good next year."
…For those that weren't as familiar, Self informed the crowd that "based on some unknown poll," they had actually been named national champions. Two tables back of the stage, the managers looked on with smiles as Self recognized them all by name.
However, Self did place one asterisk on the managers winning the honor.
"Of course they also had Wayne Simien playing for them," Self joked.
"I like what Denzel [Valentine] said [in accepting the AP Player of the Year Award at the Final Four], it's not a competition between seniors and freshman," Self told SNY.tv exclusively on Friday at the NJ Coaches' Clinic at Roselle Catholic High School. "It's not a competition. Everything's cyclical and guys develop at different speeds and rates but I do think that it was great for the college game to have so many veterans have an impact on their college programs [this past year].
"I hope that continues but I still believe the teams that have a chance to win a national championship are going to be led in large part by young kids. But the foundation will be their veterans."
…"I think it is cyclical," Self said. "I think this past year was a pretty good year. I don't think it was great. I think there were a lot of high-end freshmen out there, but next year based based on the reports that I've seen and what I've actually seen personally you have some real potential difference-makers that will definitely bring a lot of attention to the one-and-done in the college game this year.
"Where this year you had Ben [Simmons] and Brandon Ingram, other than that I don't know if there's anybody else that really brought the national scope attention to it."
The three top projected picks in 2017 according to DraftExpress.com are all incoming college freshmen -- Duke's Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles and Kansas' Jackson.
"The best players don't always make the best teams but they give you the best chance to have the best teams," Self said.
"This was a year and the reality of it was the veterans were probably better than the young kids this year. It's not going to be that way every year. It'll go back and forth."
KU did not receive the letters of intent of Josh Jackson or Udoka Azubuike on Wednesday, first day of the monthlong signing period. Jackson reportedly may wait a few days and sign the letter at the same time as his mom, who has been his inspiration. Azubuike hails from Nigeria, and it could take a day or so to get that letter faxed to KU. He’s in New York preparing for the upcoming Jordan Brand Classic.
There are two dramatically different sides to Kansas basketball commit Josh Jackson, and Billy McKnight loved coaching them both.
McKnight, coach at Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., described Jackson as a mellow, reserved person off the court. He fondly remembers Jackson always making time for the throngs of children who would
inevitably show up for his games.
On the court, though? Jackson more resembles Mr. Hyde.
“Once he steps over the line, it’s a completely different scenario,” McKnight told The Capital-Journal. “There is definitely a change there. When he gets across the line, he just wants to tear the throat out of whomever he’s playing against.”
Jackson’s competitive spirit is the best McKnight has ever seen, which carries weight considering he has coached everywhere from the University of Oregon to the Chinese Basketball Association.
…“They’re going to be able to pass the ball well as a team,” McKnight said. “He has a track record of finding the open guy, and if they’re running two point guards, the ball is really going to get moving and they’re really going to penetrate it, and those are all things (Jackson) excels at.
“It doesn’t matter who you put around the kid. He’s going to be fantastic.”
As McKnight’s interview came to an end, the prep coach made sure to give an unprompted message to Jayhawk fans, and deliver one last prediction for his former guard’s new squad.
“Enjoy it,” McKnight said. “It’s going to be a fun year for you guys.”
“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
Memphis has reached an agreement in principle to hire Texas Tech's Tubby Smith as its next coach, a source told CBS Sports early Thursday.
A formal announcement is expected soon.
Smith, 64, was offered the Memphis job Wednesday morning, a source told CBS Sports. But sources said Texas Tech quickly counter-offered with a huge raise and extension, which caused Smith to at least think everything through. Ultimately, though, he realized it's much easier to win consistently at Memphis than it is at Texas Tech, a source said. So the likely future Hall of Famer agreed to fill the opening previously held by Josh Pastner.
Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger has added his son to his coaching staff.
Kevin Kruger, 32, returns to Norman after spending the past two seasons as an assistant coach for Northern Arizona. Before that, he was a graduate assistant for the Sooners during the 2013-14 season.
Kevin played at Arizona State from 2003-06. After earning a criminal justice degree there, he transferred to UNLV to play for his father, who was the head coach for the Runnin' Rebels before moving to Oklahoma. In his one season at UNLV in 2006-07, Kevin earned All-Mountain West third-team honors and helped the squad reach the Sweet 16.
Oklahoma still has one assistant coaching position to fill after Lew Hill and Steve Henson left to take head coaching jobs.
Peep the replies on the tweet below lol
Dear esteemed Big 12 presidents,
I know you're discussing expansion and a decision may come as soon as this summer, so I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know why UCF is the smart choice.
And by smart, I mean really smart; smart as in more National Merit Scholars than the University of Texas; smart as in the highest athletic graduation rate among public universities in this country; smart as in the kind of fine academic institution of higher learning that would make the Big 12 proud to have UCF as a member.
The reason I'm writing this letter is because UCF President John Hitt and athletics director Danny White are too professional to publicly politick and pander to get into your league. Unlike some other potential Big 12 candidates (see Cincinnati), UCF isn't shamelessly shilling to get an invitation.
While I'm sure UCF's leadership is working behind the scenes to educate you about the university's incredible potential, I wanted to make sure they aren't being too humble. In my mind, UCF should easily be the Big 12's top choice – geographically, demographically, athletically and academically.
64th Portsmouth Invitational Tournament
Complete Player List
Thursday – Tonight’s losing teams, 3:15 p.m.; K&D Rounds vs. Portsmouth Partnership, 7 p.m.; Portsmouth Sports Club vs. Norfolk Sports Club, 9 p.m.
Friday – Games at 3:15 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.; teams TBA
Saturday – Consolation games at noon, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; championship game at 8 p.m.
NBA Draft/Early Entry Guidelines for 2016
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
Before they invade Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Jordan Brand Classic Friday, we caught up with a handful of the JBC All Americans and got some straightforward answers about which school they would’ve gone to had they not picked the school they ultimately signed with.
Harry Giles III, Forest Trail Academy (Kernersville, N.C.), F
If I hadn’t picked my school I would’ve gone to: “Kansas. Coach Self really does a good job at developing bigs and I felt really comfortable with the team. I could definitely see myself playing there and I know that I’d fit into that system.”
I went with my choice because: “That’s where I felt the most comfortable and that’s the staff I knew had my best interest in mind. Coach K is Coach K. Coach Capel is my man; everybody. I just knew that Duke was where I’d have the most success so that’s why I’m going there.”
For the class of 2017's No. 1 player, DeAndre Ayton, the speculation has been rampant that he is going to skip college to play professionally overseas.
Ayton told Rivals.com that those rumors need to stop.
A 7-footer at Phoenix (Ariz.) Hillcrest, Ayton made it clear that he has no interest in playing overseas instead of college. For now, Ayton lists Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona and UCLA. The native of the Bahamas says that he would like to build on what Buddy Hield has done when it comes to furthering basketball in his home country.
IN HIS OWN WORDS ...
On college vs. overseas: "I'm going to college. It's a must. My mom would tell you that she wants me to go to college and that it's a must. Overseas, that's not me. I'm not trying to take risks with my career just to get to the pros fast."
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