Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Awards
Bob Cousy Award Watch List - Frank Mason III
Julius Erving Award Watch List - Wayne Selden Jr., Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
Karl Malone Award Watch List - Perry Ellis
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Four University of Kansas men's basketball players have been named to various position-based preseason award watch lists, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday. There are 20 NCAA Division I student-athletes listed per award.
KU forward Perry Ellis is on the Karl Malone Award Watch List for the nation's top power forward, while Frank Mason III is on the Bob Cousy Award Watch List for the nation's top point guard. The Jayhawk tandem of Wayne Selden Jr., and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk are on the Julius Erving Award Watch List for the top small forward in the country.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame oversees a total of five awards named after legendary hall of famers at each position – point guard (Cousy), shooting guard (Jerry West), small forward (Erving), power forward (Malone), and center (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Watch List will be announced on Friday.
Each award will be narrowed down to 10 in mid-February and five finalists will be selected in March. The award winners will be named April 8, 2016, at ESPN College Basketball Awards Show.
One of five finalists for the inaugural Karl Malone Award last season, Ellis was the only player in the Big 12 to rank in the top seven in scoring (seventh at 13.8), field goal percentage (seventh at 45.7) and rebounding (fourth at 6.9) in 2014-15. A two-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree from Wichita, Kansas, Ellis is on pace to rank in the top 15 on Kansas' career points and career rebounds and could become just the eighth Jayhawk to accomplish the feat.
Like the Karl Malone Award, this is the second year of the Julius Erving Award. Selden has started all 71 games played at Kansas and averaged 9.4 points last season. The Roxbury, Massachusetts guard led the Jayhawks with 46 three-pointers made and was second in assists with 95. His 2.6 assists per game 12th in the Big 12. This past summer, Selden was the second overall leading scorer at the World University Games with a 19.3 average in leading USA to the gold medal.
Mykhailiuk started six games last season for Kansas and averaged 11.2 minutes and 2.8 points per contest. A three-point threat when on the floor, 15 of the Cherkasy, Ukraine native's 26 field goals made last season were from beyond the arc.
Mason, from Petersburg, Virginia, ranked ninth in the Big 12, second on the KU team, in scoring at 12.6 points per game and he was also among the league leaders in assists (fifth at 3.9), steals (ninth at 1.4), free throw percentage (ninth at 78.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (fifth at 1.9). Like Selden, Mason was a main cog in the World University Games gold medal run as he averaged 14.5 points in the eight victories. The Bob Cousy Award began in 2004 and former KU men's basketball players Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor were each named finalists for the honor.
Seven years after his playing career ended, Brennan Bechard on Friday night wound up as No. 2 highlight on ESPN “SportsCenter Plays of the Day.”
Bechard, Kansas University’s director of basketball operations who was a walk-on guard for the Jayhawks from 2007-09, stepped up and swished a halfcourt shot, winning $10,000 for KU sophomore Jerrod Castro as part of a promotion at the 2015 Late Night in the Phog in Allen Fieldhouse.
“Just a guy with a lucky shot,” Bechard told the Journal-World on Saturday from Horejsi Center, where his dad, Ray’s, KU volleyball team swept Iowa State in three sets to go 17-0 on the season.
Taking the advice of KU coach Bill Self, who paid the $10,000 from his own checkbook account, Castro (who had the option of shooting two halfcourt shots himself or picking someone in the arena) went with Bechard.
…KU’s players mobbed Bechard and Castro after the swish.
“He (Castro) just kept saying, ‘Thank you,’ just how appreciative he was,” Bechard said. “It’s really cool it turned out to be a student that goes here.”
Former KU guard Bechard actually warmed up for the Late Night shooting exhibition, as did former KU forward Darnell Jackson, who misfired on his two shots and practice shot for a female contestant.
“He (Castro) was in the practice gym when he saw us take a couple practice shots. He was feeling all right when he saw me shooting,” Bechard said. “Coach had a hand in helping him make the best decision (to choose Bechard), I guess.”
Self had told the media last week that Jackson, who plays in China, was going to be in Allen for Late Night and that Bechard would be a good choice to shoot a halfcourt shot for somebody.
In eight games, five starts, in South Korea, Mickelson averaged 8.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots. He played 138 minutes, compared to 112 for Lucas, the better rebounder, and 95 for Traylor.
“I’d probably just say energy, if I had to pick one thing, that it was,” Mickelson said of what earned him more time. “I tried to play with a lot of energy. Just try to keep going, try not to quit until the game was over. I think that helped out a lot.”
Over the past several years, “energy” has developed into a basketball buzzword. Kansas coach Bill Self did a nice job of explaining how the word encompasses more than hustle.
“A lot of people think they compete if they try real hard. Trying hard does not mean you compete. Trying hard is the baseline; everybody should do that,” Self said. “Competing is playing each possession to win.
“Obviously, thinking is a huge part of competing, and whether it be — it could be anything from a screen angle to carrying out assignments,” Self said. “You can play hard and not do those things, but when you’re competing, you’re focusing on doing those things, and I think Hunter has learned how to compete more.”
Self thought about another way energy goes beyond effort.
“It’s one thing to play hard, but it’s another thing to play hard in a manner which uplifts your teammates,” Self said. “... To me, Frank (Mason) can do that, but Frank doesn’t always do that.
“You can really tell somebody that’s valuable to a team if they’re an energy-giver. I do think that we have some guys, and every team does, that try real hard that really aren’t energy-givers. But guys that are real energy-givers, it’s amazing, just everybody seems to be loud and on their feet when they’re around, and I think Hunter is learning how to do that.”
Three of the country’s top high school junior basketball players — No. 3-ranked Michael Porter, No. 26 Trae Young and No. 37 Mitchell Ballock of Eudora High — took a tour of Kansas University’s new living facility, McCarthy Hall, before Friday night’s Late Night in the Phog.
“The dorms are ridiculous. They are top-notch, off the chain, pretty insane,” said Ballock, a 6-4 combo guard who will likely miss his entire junior season following Sept. 28 surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.
The 16 current Jayhawks moved into their new $12 million home with 17 students not affiliated with basketball (along with a resident assistant) last week.
“There’s three floors. The first floor ... there’s a kitchen. If family members come in, they can cook food in there,” Ballock said. “There’s a halfcourt basketball court. They just painted the Jayhawk (on floor) so we couldn’t go in there.
“Another floor there’s a movie theatre, a (room with) a ping-pong and pool table. There’s a barber chair in there so somebody can come in and cut their (players) hair before a game. On the top floor, there’s a grill, an area you can chill, a fireplace, couch ... insane,” Ballock exclaimed.
“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
Last Wednesday, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported that Kentucky superstar freshman Skal Labissiere has not yet been cleared to play by the NCAA. The organization reportedly has concerns about his guardian Gerald Hamilton, who brought the center to the U.S. from Haiti. We haven’t heard much since, but FOX Sports Australia basketball writer Olgun Uluc reports that one NBA executive doesn’t think Labissiere will play this season.
Will Collier was in a bind. A few days before Christmas last year, the academic coordinator for men’s basketball at the University of California at Los Angeles learned that a highly touted player might have to sit out the rest of the season because of an inadequate grade.
The Bruins had already lost three star players last year to the National Basketball Association. The latest news would only complicate the challenges for head coach Steve Alford, who was entering his second season.
Mr. Collier, 33, who had just completed his first year on the job, contacted Duane Broussard, an assistant coach and the team’s academic liaison. The player, Mr. Collier explained, had received a C-minus in a communications class but needed a B to participate in team activities. The assistant coach, according to Mr. Collier, proposed a plan: Approach the professor about changing the player’s grade.
That wasn’t the reaction Mr. Collier had expected, not at UCLA, whose storied tradition and reputation for high academic standards he had long revered. When he took the job here, he was aware that the university, like many others, admitted players with academic deficiencies. But he believed that, with the right motivation and support, he could help them succeed.
A former scholarship athlete who had struggled in school himself, Mr. Collier could relate to students who had trouble reading and writing. He cleared a spot in his office for players to study, and he hired a high-school teacher to help them improve their reading and comprehension skills. He understood that basketball was the main draw for many players, but he encouraged them to think about their career ambitions beyond the sport.
The coach’s request brought him up short. "I didn’t want to be associated with it," he says. "It’s not what I got into this for."
Will the best pure shooter in college basketball this season be wearing green and white?
That's the opinion of ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg, who on Friday selected Michigan State guard Bryn Forbes to the mantle.
In a "coaches roundtable" segment on ESPN.com, the network asked three of its analysts who are former coaches a series of questions about college basketball in 2015-16.
Greenberg, a former coach at Virginia Tech, among other places, said Forbes' connection with Denzel Valentine -- which goes back to their days at Lansing Sexton High School -- is one of the reasons he's at the of his list of pure shooters:
And now, suddenly, Midnight Madness is happening all around you, and real, honest-to-goodness practices are beginning, and it feels glorious, doesn't it? One more measly month and you can forget about drafting Dez Bryant forever. One month and you're free.
In that celebratory spirit, here are 30 things -- from new rules to major scandals to the most intriguing teams and stories in the sport -- we're keeping an eye on as the 2015-16 season approaches.
…North Carolina on the court
If Maryland and Kentucky aren't your preseason title pick, you've almost certainly cast your lot with UNC, and understandably so: This is a complete team with a premier point guard (Marcus Paige) and a deep, cohesive roster full of rangy bigs and stars-in-the-making. It's also largely unchanged from one that lost 12 games a season ago; collective improvement is its main cause for optimism. Plus ...
North Carolina off the court
This season may be affected, directly or indirectly, by the massive academic fraud scandal that has roiled the university for years. An impending infractions committee ruling due soon could sanction the Tar Heels out of contention long before March, putting not only the program's future but its present at risk.
…Cheick Diallo's eligibility
Kansas center Cheick Diallo might be the difference between a very good Kansas team and one that deserves the same status as Maryland, Kentucky and North Carolina. If, you know, he gets to play.
Carlton Bragg's piano skills
Fortunately for KU, fellow freshman big Carlton Bragg has impressed coaches in the summer and fall. For now, we're more taken with Bragg's ability to play a "medley of songs for 15,500 adoring fans who actually swayed and sang along with the Bill Withers number, 'Lean on Me.'" It sounds like the ladies of Allen Fieldhouse concur.
Big 12 Composite Schedule
Louisville is "still in the running" for five-star Class of 2016 guard De'Aaron Fox, his high school coach Emmanuel Olatunbosun said Friday.
Fox visited Louisville two weekends ago and still has upcoming official visits to Kansas and Kentucky. He also visited LSU in September, but canceled his trip to Arizona, which would have been his final official visit.
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2015-16)
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