Kansas coach Bill Self said the Jayhawks are desperate for a quality home-and-home series, starting in Lawrence next season. KU originally talked to Indiana but that deal fell through. The Jayhawks are in the CBE Classic with Saint Louis as the other high-profile team. The Jayhawks also have the Champions Classic game against Michigan State in Atlanta, return a game at Ohio State and get Temple at home. That’s still a very strong slate. But Self said the Jayhawks are looking for a new series at home and are struggling to find one.
ESPN Andy Katz
While there are elements of McLemore's offensive package that need to be polished -- like his ballhandling and deep shooting -- the opportunity to work on them for half a season will pay huge dividends in the fall. And there's little doubt that his intensity level, which was at times questioned when he was a high school star, should be sky-high with half a season under Self. It wouldn't surprise me if he's the Jayhawks' leading scorer.
ESPN Fran Fraschilla ($)
Ben McLemore saw them sitting on a stage by the court at Wellston High School in St. Louis. During a district postseason game, Kansas assistant coaches Kurtis Townsend and Joe Dooley were in attendance. Warming up before the game, McLemore saw their Kansas shirts. Scouts from all over had watched him play in his junior season, when he switched positions from a forward to a guard.
But when Kansas was in the house, McLemore said, something was different.
On the first play of the game, McLemore finished an alley-oop dunk and screamed toward the crowd. Townsend and Dooley noticed from the stage.
“I played good that night,” McLemore said.
…He practices two-ball dribbling and coming off screens with the left hand. He shoots every day and lifts weights multiple times a week.
While he wasn’t able to help the Jayhawks on the road to New Orleans this season, he said it was valuable to practice against Robinson’s strength and Tyshawn Taylor’s speed. McLemore said he will use what he learned against both players to prepare himself for future opponents.
And, if that means getting schooled by Taylor, so be it.
While McLemore has struggled to defend both Robinson and Taylor, that doesn’t mean it’s a one-sided show. There was one practice, McLemore said, when he was unstoppable.
“They don’t like trying to chase me around,” McLemore said of his teammates in practice.
Both Tyshawn, a senior who is set to graduate this May with a degree in American Studies, and Thomas, a junior (he’ll miss his senior year—though he plans to eventually earn his degree down the road), have declared themselves eligible for the 2012 NBA Draft. Thomas is expected to go top 5, while Tyshawn is hoping to get picked up in the second round.
SLAMonline caught up with both soon-to-be former KU studs this week in separate conversations. We spoke about their various transitions and accomplishments, motivations, future plans, and how playing alongside each other for Kansas has turned them into the NBA-ready players and men they are today.
Thomas’ Q+A first, followed by his point man, just ‘cause:
SLAM: Let’s fast forward to the night you scored 30 points and had 21 rebounds against North Dakota in December 2011—you familiar with the name Wayne Hightower?
TR: Yes. I wasn’t before I did that actually, but you know, people told me about him, what his numbers were every time he played.
SLAM: It had been 50 years since Wayne or any Kansas player for that matter pulled 30 and 20 in a game. Amazing.
TR: Yeah, 50 years.
(Note: The only other Big 12 players to hit 30 and 20 in the modern era are Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Blake Griffin (twice) and Mario Boggan. Furthermore, Thomas finished his KU career with a double-double average. A few other players to accomplish that feat are Clyde Lovellette, Bill Bridges and the late, great Wilt Chamberlain.)
SLAM: You were named Big 12 Player of the Year this season. Did you ever expect to nab an award like that when you were coming into Kansas as a freshman?
TR: Before I actually played and before I ever got to Kansas, I remember thinking, Oh, I’m going to just go and play and hop right in as a freshman. But as soon as I got there, I didn’t have that thought any more [laughs].
SLAM: A reality check?
TR: Exactly. The thoughts of Player of the Year, and everything that’s happened, just pretty much kinda went away after that.
…SLAM: And speaking of some of your peers, I’m talking to Tyshawn later today. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about him and how you’ve watched him mature as a player, and how it’s been to play alongside Tyshawn for the last two seasons.
TR: I honestly think as far as him maturing as a player, it was pretty much, [pauses to think] I mean, I can’t say anything less than amazing. Tyshawn, he had his ways a couple years ago, but I watched him grow into a better team leader, a better person, you know, everything. As this year came, playing with him became so much better because I saw the improvements in him as a player and a person, he got a lot smarter too, it made him a lot better on the floor.
SLAM: Definitely agree with you on that. It’s funny, you guys seem so close on and off the court. I was digging through some old twitter pictures—there is this one picture you tweeted of Ty that is so just hilarious. It looks like he’s passed out in a club?
TR: [Laughs] It actually looked worse than it was—he wasn’t really passed out. I just caught him when he was dippin’ his head down. It looks like he was gone, but no, it’s really not that bad as it looks!
SLAM: It was just funny ‘cause, whether he was or he wasn’t, we’ve all been at that point in the club.
TR: Yeah, yeah it wasn’t anything like that though.
…SLAM: Are you going to miss anything about Kansas?
TR: [Pauses to think] Pretty much everything, man—the atmosphere and the love that I received there from the fans. They showed me so much love that I don’t think I could have ever found anywhere else. I can almost guarantee that.
…SLAM: Tell us about the effect Coach Self has had on you as a player and as a man. He’s obviously a tenured coach, one of the best coaches in the world. What words come to the mind when I say the name Bill Self?
TR: [Laughs] Um, oh, man, I think…Genius? I would definitely say, Respectful. I watched him do some things over the years, I’ve watched him set a goal and not change it, you know, and do everything in his book to get us there. It’s like he’s still playing on the court with us. He has so much control over us as a team. It sounds crazy—but he speaks to what he knows best. And he does that with everything. He doesn’t change. He did the same thing with the ’08 team, with the ’09 team, with the ’10 team, every year. He doesn’t change with the players. His track record proves for itself that his methods work. Our whole situation this year really showed how good of a coach he is.
…And now, Tyshawn:
SLAM: Your first season at Kansas, when you won Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Kansas was coming off winning the National Championship the year before. It must have been a great honor, but only the beginning of the pressures of being the starting point guard for Kansas University.
TT: For sure, for sure. When I went there as a freshman, a lot of people didn’t know what to expect of me. A lot of people knew that I had talent, but they weren’t sure what kind of player I would turn out to be. I set the bar really high my freshman year. It was a great feeling to be on that team freshman year with those other great players and to prove myself. It’s always really good to get those types of accomplishments, you know?
SLAM: Speaking of players you were with at Kansas, Thomas had some really nice words to describe you and your progress over the years. Could you talk about watching Thomas grow into the player he is today? Did you ever imagine he’d be Naismith nominated, ESPN.com Player of the Year after all he’s gone through? What did he mean to you as an individual, as a friend and as a teammate?
TT: First of all, anybody who knows Thomas’ story and what he’s been through—I think it would enlighten them and give them a different aspect on life. You know? How could you have a bad day when you see people go through things like that? It will always keep me humble, and will make sure I never take things for granted. He’s definitely a great success story. Just how he continued to strive and fight for what he wanted. He worked so hard for it. When things happened, when things happen in your life…it sort of translated into the story of our team.
A lot of people had our backs against the wall this season, didn’t think that we’d be good after losing a couple players, guys got injured, and Thomas just kept fightin’—he just kept fightin’—Thomas became our emotional leader with his attitude that he brought every day. It made us all think, I’m gunna work that much harder. We had that attitude as a team because of him.
A lot of people give me credit as a point guard for leading our team, having the most experience, and I think I did a great job, but Thomas was just as much the leader of our team—vocally from the post, emotionally. I can’t say more about how he’s grown up as a person. On the court, you know, he’s shown the whole world, but as a person off the court that growth was more impressive to me. Thomas is my man, you know, I love him to death. I can’t say enough good things about him.
SLAM: You guys definitely seem closer than the average team leaders. It’s great to watch, and I’m sure it goes beyond the court. I was joking with him about a picture he tweeted of you passed out at a club. He said you weren’t really passed out, you were just having a funny moment.
TT: Yeah we were crackin’ up. I was putting my head on this dude’s knee that was passed out next to me as a joke. It was one of those funny nights, we was out in L.A.— chillen after the season had ended so.
…SLAM: What has Coach Self done for you individually as a student athlete, preparing you for the next level of life and basketball?
TT: Coach Self is the man. Early in my career I was kind of a knucklehead. And you know, we sort of had to learn how to work with each other. The last couple years we began to work really well. He’s a guards coach, so he expects a lot out of his guards, he’s very aggressive with his guards. He pushes us, it’s a make-you-or-break-you type of relationship. He turned me more into a pure point guard since I was at Kansas.
Before that I wasn’t naturally a point guard—I had never really played the position. He helped build upon my basketball IQ so much. Coach Self is such a student of the game and he understands so well that whoever is around him learns so much constantly. Piquing his brain and asking him questions—he’s definitely somebody I look up to as far as the way he handles himself and how he goes about his days. He looks at the glass half full. And that’s a good way to be, man.
SLAM: How did playing for Self compare to playing for Hurley? Both coaches exhibit that make-or-break style you talked about from what I’ve heard/read/seen.
TT: For sure. Coach Self is definitely the same way as Hurley in that aspect, but they each have their own ways. Coach Hurley has younger high school guys that he has to teach a little bit more to prepare them for guys like Coach Self. I don’t know whose job is harder…coaching 16-, 17-year-olds, or guys that think they know it all in college, 19-, 20-year-olds. They both get guys to buy into their system. To think about the team more than themselves. They’re both really, really good at that. Without either one of them I wouldn’t be here for sure.
…SLAM: As far as this year’s NBA Draft goes, you must be excited to know that NBA teams are considering picking you up. What would you bring as an individual and as a team player to an NBA team if you were to get drafted this June? And what areas do you think you need to improve upon the most this summer to improve your stock?
TT: I have four years of experience from Kansas. I think I bring to any NBA team that drafts me a guard that is ready to play right now. Not necessarily a star point guard that runs the team for 40 minutes at this point, but I think I can come off the bench my rookie year and be effective playing minutes right now for sure.
I definitely have to get stronger, I gotta be a more consistent shooter, I gotta be a great defender, I gotta take care of the ball. These are all correctable, that’s what I’m working on every day at this point. I’ve been doing doubles to get ready. I’m really excited about this process…it’s a little nerve-racking, but just to know that even being considered as one of the 60 guys that could be drafted is such a blessing. Hopefully I am one of those guys.
44 mins tonite to old for this I need a bed right now !!!
UDK Legends of the Phog: Jayhawks in the NBA
Big 12/College News
Texas coach Rick Barnes and NC State coach Mark Gottfried confirmed Jimmy V Classic matchups for Tuesday, Dec. 4 at Madison Square Garden. Texas will play Georgetown and NC State will play Connecticut. Texas has a terrific schedule again with an appearance in the Maui Invitational, hosting North Carolina (meaning the Tar Heels and Longhorns will be in opposite brackets in Maui), play UCLA in Houston and traveling to Michigan State.
…Bruce Weber said when he took the Kansas State job he had to finish the schedule. The Wildcats already had a return game against Florida in Kansas City and are in the NIT Season Tip-Off as one of the four hosts (Pitt, Virginia and Michigan are the other three). Weber finished the marquee portion of the schedule by signing up to play in the Battle of Seattle against Gonzaga. Weber had enjoyed his series with the Zags at Illinois and wanted to continue to challenge the Wildcats. “It’s a fine line,’’ Weber said. “You want to win games early but with a good team you want to make sure you challenge yourself.’’
ESPN Andy Katz
Since the NCAA typically only grants a sixth year of eligibility to athletes who have missed two full seasons due to injury, Notre Dame knew its petition to get sharpshooter Tim Abromaitis back next year was unlikely to succeed.
Nonetheless, the Irish have every right to be disappointed by the NCAA's callous decision not to give the senior forward back the season denied to him by an untimely an ACL tear last November.
Abromaitis is an ideal representative for what NCAA officials like to say college basketball should be about even if the first season he redshirted was due to the limited playing time available to him rather than injury.
He's a three-time Big East scholar athlete of the year, a two-time academic All-American and an active participant in various forms of community service. Since he earned a degree in finance a year ahead of schedule in 2010 and became one of the youngest ever to earn his MBA at Notre Dame 11 months later, Coach Mike Brey joked in January that he might have to enroll Abromaitis in law school if he returned next season.
The NCAA always likes to insist it judges every situation on a case-by-case basis, but if Abromaitis isn't the type of kid worthy of an exception, who is? How many other all-conference caliber players can balance academics, basketball and a social life in the manner that he did?
That Butler would leave the Horizon League and join the Atlantic 10 Conference is not a big surprise. That Butler would do so Wednesday would be.
ESPN.com reported tonight that Butler would officially join the Atlantic 10 on Wednesday. ESPN.com cited a source that had direct knowledge of the negotiation process.
Detroit Free Press: Austin Hatch speaks about his recovery from plane crash
Deadspin: Is an ESPN columnist scamming people on the internet?
2012-13 Early Season Events List
Anrio Adams, a 6-3 senior combo guard from Seattle’s Rainier Beach High, has not yet signed his national letter-of-intent with KU as he continues to wait for the results of a standardized test. The signing period ends on May 16. “I just need to get the proper score to qualify,” KU commit Adams told jayhawkslant.com.
…Damontre Harris, a 6-9, 215-pound sophomore who has said he will transfer from South Carolina to either KU, Florida, VCU or Marquette, will visit KU Thursday through Saturday following his current visit to Florida. Harris averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 boards per game a year ago.
Xavier guard Mark Lyons said today he would take an official recruiting visit to Arizona this weekend.
Lyons told the Star by telephone today that he will be in Tucson from Friday through Sunday, that he visited Kentucky last night and that he plans to also visit Kansas but has not scheduled that visit yet.
Lyons also said he will finish Xavier’s spring semester on Friday and be able to graduate after completing an online course in two weeks after Friday. That means he’ll be able to transfer as a graduate student later this month and be able to play immediately next season.
Sean Miller recruited Lyons to Xavier in 2008, and Lyons also knows assistant coach Book Richardson and remains close to UA wing Kevin Parrom, whom Lyons co-hosted on Parrom’s official recruiting visit in 2008 (Parrom signed with Xavier before following Miller to UA in the spring of 2009).
Lyons said he is looking to play point guard at whichever of the three schools he chooses, in an effort to improve his NBA stock, and said he intends to discuss the issue with Miller this weekend while learning more about UA.
“Just get a feel for the place, see how it looks and the environment,” Lyons said of his objectives for this weekend's visit. Playing point guard “is a big factor because I want to play more point than I did in my past.”
Lyons said Arizona didn’t have an advantage because of his relationships to the Wildcats, but that Parrom has offered some subtle recruiting pitches.
“We’ve been cool,” Lyons said. “We talked even before I decided to transfer. … He definitely joked about it but he doesn’t want to put pressure on me to do something.”
Arizona Daily Star
“I’m looking for a program that wins where I could play a major role,” Lyons said.
Lyons hopes to play more point guard, which he believes will improve his professional prospects. He considered entering his name in the NBA draft but said he was advised to return to college for his last season.
At 6 feet 1 inch and 188 pounds, Lyons said it's "pretty obvious" that he needs to be able to play point guard in the NBA.
"It's a big factor because I want to play more point than I did in my past," Lyons said. "I felt I needed a change of scenery, and I wanted to play point guard. … Honestly the truth is that things (with Mack) were cool at the end of the year."
Lyons said all three of his possible new schools have a need at point guard. Arizona is without a true point guard now that Josiah Turner is off the team, leaving three combo guards on the roster: Jordin Mayes, Nick Johnson and Gabe York.
Arizona Daily Star
Following offers from Ohio State & Tulsa, 2013 Team Takeover (DC) SF Ishmail Wainright has landed a Marquette offer.
Who is Julius Randle?
The left-handed combo forward has been one of the top players nationally in the 2013 class since middle school. Randle delivers as a high school player, leading Prestonwood to consecutive Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 5A state crowns. As a junior, he put his school in the national spotlight by leading the team to the title at the prestigious City of Palms Classic, where he earned MVP honors. For the season, the second team ESPNHS All-American averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game while shooting 65.2 percent from the floor. Next season, Randle will have a good shot to become Texas' first Mr. Basketball USA selection since Rashard Lewis of Elsik (Houston) in 1998.
According to ESPN RecruitingNation, Randle is a pro in the making. He can drive going in either direction, has touch around the rim, but can also powerfully finish with contact. Randle has range, but is prone to being streaky from the outside. In a nutshell, he can dominate smaller players inside and is too athletic for post players to handle. When he is on, like he was during stretches of the 2011 Nike EYBL, Randle has the look of a top 10 to 15 prospect of the past decade.
Most frequent comparisons: Marvin Williams, Caron Butler, Billy Owens
ESPNHS comparison: Billy Owens
There are great similarities between Randle and the former Syracuse and Carlisle (Pa.) All-American who spent 10 years in the NBA. Owens, also proficient with his left-hand, was a top 5 prospect in 1988 and led his high school team to multiple state championships. Owens was powerfully built and a huge matchup problem on the high school and college level. He wasn't nearly as powerful as Randle, but high school players 25 years ago didn't have NBA-ready bodies nearly as often as they do today. What Owens did possess was an overall feel for the game that made teammates better and passing abilities that are rare for a 6-foot-8 player. Randle won't necessarily pick up those same traits if he doesn't already have them, but if he can learn to stay locked-in for a complete game instead of stretches, the sky is the limit.
Julius' comparison: LeBron James
Since Billy Owens was in his prime before Randle was born, naturally he doesn't really know anything about Carlisle's most famous athlete next to Jim Thorpe. Ever the student, Randle said he's "going to look him up to see what he's about."
Randle is a classic inside-out player who national scouts love because of his ability as an offensive threat across the entire floor, so he found it difficult to compare himself to one player. He does, however, have an affinity for the current Miami Heat star.
"I don't know if I can compare my game to just one player because I think I'm a mixture of players," Randle said. "On the perimeter, I use my speed, strength and handle sort of like LeBron to get where I want on the floor. I'm also able to make plays for my teammates."
Randle knows where his "money" is, too.
"In the post, I have moves also, so I would say I'm sort of like Amar'e Stoudemire or Zach Randolph, but more explosive."
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