On vacation this week, see you back here next week!
Scott Howard Cooper of NBA.com projects he'll be the No. 2 pick behind Davis. ESPN Insider Chad Ford, DraftExpress.com and SwishScout.com all have Robinson going No. 4, NBAdraft.net thinks he'll go seventh and Yahoo! Sports predicts he'll be the eighth pick.
That obviously has a lot more to do more with Robinson's talent and potential than his inspiring story.
"He's dramatically improved in every facet of his game. While he still needs some polish, what college player doesn't?" Ford wrote on his ESPN.com pay site. "Many scouts believe Robinson is one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. What Robinson should provide right away are athleticism, toughness, an NBA-ready body and a motor that won't quit on both ends of the floor. He's been a monster rebounder for KU and is aggressive looking for his shot around the rim.
"Robinson surprised scouts this year with his ball handling ability and a solid midrange jump shot. He's not afraid to get the ball at the top of the key and create his shot there. His quickness for a player his size and his explosive leaping ability make him a formidable threat offensively down the road. Scouts know that Robinson can handle adversity. He lost his grandmother, grandfather and mother in the span of a few weeks during his sophomore year and stoically played through it.
"That sort of mental toughness will come in handy at the next level."
…David Aldridge of NBA.com has Robinson ranked as the No. 2 power forward in the draft behind Davis.
"Scouts across the board compared Robinson to Nuggets rookie big Kenneth Faried in terms of the energy and effort he brings to games – Faried's motor is a little stronger, though his motor is stronger than just about everyone's – while Robinson's skill level is higher," Aldridge wrote. "Robinson did some posting at Kansas, but he scored most of his points off of cuts, running the floor and energy plays.
"'He's not a David West type of guy,' a Western Conference general manager said. 'He's more a high energy guy. He could be anywhere from a Faried to a young Horace Grant. Like most young guys, he'll get in foul trouble early (on defense) and figure it out by year two or three. He's a physical specimen, now. When you look at his build, he's body beautiful.'"
Robinson's body, however, is one of his question marks.
While he's listed at 6-10, there's some speculation that he's closer to 6-9 and some observers think he might actually be 6-7. The mystery should be cleared up at the NBA pre-draft camp June 6-10 in Chicago. That said, Robinson is widely regarded as having a 7-foot-1 wingspan regardless of his height.
Kansas had struggled to find a quality home game, so the Jayhawks went to an old friend, former player and league rival. Colorado and Tad Boyle, who played at Kansas and coaches Colorado, are finalizing a deal with the Jayhawks to do a two-year home-and-home series, starting in Lawrence. The Buffaloes reached the NCAA tournament third round last season, losing to Baylor in Albuquerque. Kansas had no ill will toward the Buffaloes when they left the Big 12 for the Pac-12, unlike rival Missouri. Re-starting this series is good for both leagues and programs.
So I have this idea. I run it by Reid Gettys, mostly because he's a lawyer and heck of a lot smarter than me. Also, because he played with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon and has been calling college basketball games for 22 years now.
I don't always agree with his take. But I respect it.
"So," I ask, "what would you think about Bill Self coaching the Olympic men's basketball team?"
And to this, Reid Gettys chuckles. Gleefully.
"Let me make a statement you can quote me on," he replies. "Bill Self is the best coach on the planet."
Now I'm the one chuckling.
"I'm serious," he continues. "I would run out of adjectives trying to describe the job that I think Bill Self does coaching."
Former KU forward Darnell Jackson’s BC Donetsk team swept Azovmash four games to none to win the Ukranian Superleague title. According to box scores, Jackson did not play in any of the championship round games, though he did play in the semifinals.
Jackson during the Ukraine regular season averaged 7.8 points and 4.9 rebounds while logging 17.7 minutes a game. In 14 Eurocup games, he averaged 8.0 points and 3.6 boards in 17.9 minutes a game.
According to the financial report presented by senior associate athletics director Sean Lester at Thursday’s meeting, the cost of team travel is expected to increase by half a million dollars during the coming school year.
“There are several areas that the team travel budget is up,” said chief financial officer Pat Kaufman, who replaced the retired Susan Wachter and began working at KU on April 2. “The primary reason is the cost of fuel. That will impact both air and bus transportation.”
Kaufman was at Thursday’s meeting to help clarify the report he spent countless hours working on during the past couple of months. He also received high praise from Lester.
“Patrick brought several nuances to this,” Lester told the board. “After having the same person look at it for so many years, now we’ve got someone new looking at it, and that’s refreshing.”
To this point, KU has shelled out nearly $4.5 million on travel expenses for the fiscal year. The budgeted amount for next year is just under $5.1 million.
Lester offered another reason for the expected increase — the Big 12’s addition of West Virginia, which is located in more remote Morgantown, W.V., roughly 900 miles away from KU’s campus.
“You want to talk about costs of team travel,” Lester said. “That’s a big one.”
…After mowing through the first few agenda items in less than 20 minutes, the board went into executive session for 56 minutes and emerged with a motion to allow Zenger to sign off on the designing and planning of athletic facilities. The motion passed. At one point, Brad Nachtigal, associate AD for capital projects, left the executive session briefly and returned with an oversized sheet of paper folded in half. It was not known whether Thursday’s executive session discussion related to the Olympic Village proposal of the past or more recent talk about a new facility in northwest Lawrence.
Big 12/College News
Former Kansas State basketball player Victor Ojeleye has been chosen as the male winner of the 2012 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award. He was selected from over 600 minority candidates, including 10 finalists. Four other Big 12 athletes were finalists: Emmanuel Acho (Texas, football), Chelsea Garcia (Oklahoma State, softball), Krista Lopez (Oklahoma State, soccer) and Beth West (Texas A&M, soccer).
“This award is not something I would have ever dreamed of receiving, but because of God’s grace and the support of family, friends and K-State, I have been honored to receive it,” said Ojeleye, who’s from Ottawa, Kan. “I am truly in the company of great past recipients and I am fortunate to be able to represent my family with such a distinction. I am very thankful for this and appreciate it greatly. It is an honor and a privilege.”
The Sports Scholar Award was established in 1992 by Black Issues in Higher Education, now Diverse, to honor undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr. To be nominated, student-athletes must compete in an intercollegiate sport, maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 and be active on their campuses or their communities.
2012-13 Early Season Events List
Future Kansas University basketball players Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp are listed Nos. 33 and 72 respectively in ESPN.com’s new top 100 rankings of the high school recruiting class of 2013.
Greene, a 6-7 wing formerly of Mary Persons High in Forsyth, Ga., who is headed to Tift County High in Tifton, Ga., for his senior year, is ranked No. 31 by Rivals.com. Frankamp, a 6-0 point guard out of Wichita North, is No. 42 by Rivals.com. Both have orally committed to play at KU.
Jahlil Okafor has been asked a lot of questions by media, coaches, recruiting analysts and fans since he emerged as one of the most celebrated high school basketball players in the country. But Whitney Young's 6-foot-11, 265-pound center had never been asked anything like this.
Would you rather be (1) the best basketball player who ever played the game, (2) President of the United States or (3) the richest man in the world?
The 16-year-old sophomore didn't hesitate to respond.
"I want to be the best basketball player of all," he said.
"President doesn't appeal to me, all that pressure, people loving you and hating you. And being the richest man doesn't mean you are happy.
"But if I'm the best basketball player, I'd be happy. I would take great joy in it. That's what I want to be."
…What is so amazing about Okafor is he has accumulated scholarship offers from more major Division I programs and is rated more highly than Simeon's Jabari Parker at the same stage. Yet, like Parker, he remains down-to-earth and grounded with a degree of maturity that turns critics into believers.
"He is the same person he was when he came in as a ninth grader -- except he is three inches taller," Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. "His demeanor and the way he handles himself haven't changed.
"It has to do with his upbringing. His father has done a phenomenal job. He has great values. He is positive, very respectful. What is important to him? Having fun and being able to play. He recognizes the enormity of his skills and the opportunities ahead of him."
Okafor credits his father, his aunts and uncles and his family for keeping him grounded. "They keep me away from all the media and the hoopla. I'm aware of it but my dad keeps me away from it. They make sure I don't get big-headed. My dad tells me: 'The taller they are, the harder they fall.' They try to keep me humble," he said.
…He has scholarship offers from Illinois, DePaul, Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Iowa, Connecticut, North Carolina State, Georgetown, Arkansas and...well, the list just keeps getting bigger. Kentucky and Kansas also are expressing interest. Remember, he has two more years to impress recruiters. And he has no timetable.
"I'm not in a hurry. I'm taking it all in, taking my time, making sure I make the right decision," he said. "What am I looking for? I want to go to the NBA. I want to make an impact right away. I want to have great players around me. I want to be Player of the Year and win a national championship. Then I won't stay for another year."
One of the top five prospects in the Class of 2013, San Jose, Calif., power forward Aaron Gordon is currently sidelined with a fractured toe.
But that hasn’t stopped the 6-foot-8, 200-pound Gordon from thinking about colleges. Several reports have a different top five for Gordon, who mentioned the following schools – Kentucky, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina and New Mexico – in a recent interview with The Courier-Journal.
Gordon is in no hurry to make a decision.
“I think I want to stay on the West Coast, but I’m not sure,” Gordon said. “I want to visit a lot more, watching a lot of games next year and see how my friends at each of these schools are doing. I probably won’t make a decision until after my senior season.”
Gordon had a sensational run earlier this spring with the Oakland Soldiers.
Though college basketball recruiting is amid its dead period, that doesn't mean prospects are taking any time off. Plenty of top players continue to stand out, and many should see increased attention once visits and evaluations start again on May 27. Here's a look at the latest headlines in high school and AAU hoops.
…Dallas-based Urban DFW Elite will be in New Orleans for an upcoming tournament. Once they're done playing, at least two star players are expected to make a side trip to Baton Rouge to check out LSU. Class of 2013 four-star prospects Jordan Mickey and Karviar Shepherd are expected to visit at the tail end of the Memorial Day weekend, and the nation's No. 35 and No. 44 recruits, respectively, could come as a package deal. Mickey and Shepherd are also high school teammates at Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep.
Rivals Bossi via SI
Spring/Summer Event Schedule
adidas Grassroots schedule
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar
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Jeff Withey set a record for blocks in a single NCAA tournament with 31 total in the 2012 edition of the Big Dance. He’s returning for his senior year as a key leader for a Kansas team that lost lottery pick Thomas Robinson and talented veteran Tyshawn Taylor.
Withey talked about basketball, the national title game and next season in a Q&A with ESPN.com.
What kind of player would you like to be for the Jayhawks next year?
Jeff Withey: I definitely want to be a scorer next year. I feel like I have to be with Thomas leaving. That’s going to be a big gap. I’m definitely working on my game. My post moves. My midrange game. Last year, I felt like people backed off me whenever I caught it at the high post. I definitely want to be able to hit that open jumper. It’s going to be tough with coach [Danny] Manning leaving, but we’ve got some good coaches. … I’m pretty much just worried about gaining weight right now, going to the gym to shoot a ton of shots. But I definitely want to become that guy who can hit that open jump shot and give it to me on the block and be able to make a move. I definitely want to play that role.
I’m going to be doing a lot of stuff later in the summer. I’m going to Amare Stoudemire camp. I’ll definitely learn some things there.
…How will this team change without Robinson and Taylor?
JW: We’ve got some really good young guys coming in. We’ve got Perry Ellis coming in. We’ve got this guy named Zach [Peters] that’s coming in. We’re excited about our team. We still have a strong core of seniors: me, Elijah [Johnson], Travis [Releford] and Kevin Young who came off the bench last year is going to be a senior also. We’ve got some good experience. Going that far in the tournament, I feel like you learn so much about basketball and just, we’ll be able to kind of coach the young guys and help Coach [Bill] Self in getting them right and what to expect. I feel like, hopefully, we’re going to be right back in it next year. I’m excited.
Withey established an NCAA tournament record with 31 blocks, and Davis -- who tied for No. 2 with 29 blocks in the tourney -- earned Most Outstanding Player honors even though he hit just one shot in 10 attempts against KU. But he also finished with 16 rebounds, three steals and six blocks on that final night.
It was a throwback moment as the national stage belonged to big men who specialized in rim protection. They're difficult to identify and nurture in the era of Post Player 2.0, a 21st-century athlete that tends to pursue finesse and versatility over a commitment to the paint. But the national title game emphasized the value of big men who block shots.
Any player can do it. But the elite post guardians mold the flow of a game, and proved it in the Big Easy.
"By the time we were in the Final Four, I felt like I had a ton of confidence," Withey said. "I felt like I played with a different swagger."
…Withey recognized his shot-blocking ability as a beach volleyball player in San Diego. At one point in his youth athletic career, he played more volleyball than basketball. The sport helped him develop the proper timing to block shots on the hardwood.
After transferring from Arizona to Kansas, Withey's daily battles with Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins (Markieff and Marcus) made him tougher. Today, he's the nation's top shot-blocker -- having sported the highest block percentage in the nation last season, per Pomeroy.
Like the other block artists throughout the country, he's still perfecting the craft.
But he's always had the gift.
"I think it's a quality or a characteristic that you have in your athletic makeup," said new Tulsa coach Danny Manning, once a prolific shot-blocker himself who taught Withey as an assistant at KU. "To me, a lot of times, it's just a matter of learning how to harness it."
Incoming Kansas University basketball forward Perry Ellis served as one of four valedictorians at Wichita Heights High School’s graduation ceremony on Sunday.
Ellis, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound McDonald’s All-American, completed his prep career with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. He served as secretary of his school’s National Honor Society chapter and volunteered for the Wichita Children’s Home with the Real Men, Real Heroes’ Teen Hero program. He also was part of multiple youth literacy-outreach initiatives and worked as a motivational speaker to youth athletes.
The four-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year last season averaged 25.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game for the four-time state champs. He shot 67.0 percent from the field, 43.4 percent from three-point range and 78.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Rivals.com’s No. 24-rated player in the Class of 2012 told Jayhawkslant.com he will report to KU for summer school sometime between June 1 and 4.
“A lot of good people around basketball have been through Kansas. I’m thankful that I’m going to be a part of it and I’m ready to get better,” said Ellis, who said he will wear his high school number of 34 at KU.
Rustin C. Dodd (@rustindodd)
5/23/12 4:44 PM
Still a ways away, of course, but Self said the newcomers could play more than the returners during the Euro Trip this summer. #kubball
The Texas Tech basketball program has a new radio voice.
Brian Hanni will begin his role as the new play-by-play radio broadcaster for the Red Raiders this upcoming season, Tech announced Wednesday. Hanni replaces Mark Finkner, who stepped down in April after 18 years with Tech athletics to spend more time with his wife and two children.
Hanni joins the Red Raider broadcast team from Kansas, where he spent the last 10 seasons broadcasting Jayhawks athletics. He was the play-by-play voice for the Kansas baseball team during his entire tenure and spent eight seasons broadcasting for the women’s basketball team.
Through his association with Kansas coach Bill Self, Hanni said he has always head a great respect for Tech coach Billy Gillispie and is eager to be at the call for a program he believes will be on the rise in the immediate future.
“It’s been a life dream to broadcast Division I basketball,” Hanni said, “and to do it in a great conference like the Big 12, at a program like Texas Tech, is something I’m very excited about.”