Bill Self on the Doug Gottlieb Show (pre-draft)
Robinson, the first unanimous first-team All-American since Blake Griffin, led the Jayhawks to the national championship game against Kentucky, where Kansas lost 67-59. He averaged 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in 31.8 minutes in his junior season and led the nation with 27 double-doubles.
"He was one of the top couple of talents in the draft overall, particularly at his position," Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie said. "I thought even as of this morning we were fairly sure he would not be at five. That's why the draft is the draft. We certainly have a need there as far as our depth up front. He's going to bring a lot of competitive spirit, he's a ferocious rebounder. He has a lot of speed. He'll be a great addition to the team."
He was considered perhaps the most NBA-ready player in the draft and the Kings need plenty of immediate help after missing the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
The Kings had Robinson rated as the second best player in the draft and were surprised he was still available when they picked. But when Charlotte chose Michael Kidd-Gilchrist second and Dion Waiters went fourth to Minnesota, the Kings got their man.
"It kind of went based on team needs," Robinson said. "The teams that skipped me didn't need me at that position. The Kings took a chance on me and took me at five. I'm going to make the best of it."
The Kings are coming off another disappointing season, finishing the shortened campaign 22-44 to miss the postseason once again. Coach Paul Westphal was fired after just seven games and replaced by Keith Smart, who will be back for his first full season next year.
Smart said the one thing that stood out most about Robinson was his work ethic and humility.
"It's easier to turn a live body down than to raise a dead man," Smart said. "This guy has a live body that can create things offensively and defensively that you don't have to say, 'Go do this.' He has a motor already. He has unique skills where he can play out on the floor. He can move real well defensively with schemes like the pick and roll. He has that motor and you know he has that toughness."
One of the toughest players in the 2012 NBA draft couldn't contain the tears when he heard his name called.
No, Thomas Robinson wasn't hit with grief after being selected by the Kings. It was the realization that he finally had reached the NBA.
The Kings made Robinson's dream come true with the fifth overall selection in the NBA Draft Thursday night.
"I don't know where it came from," Robinson said. "I worked hard to get here."
On and off the court, Robinson has worked to become a pro. That he is a King is a matter of fate, if you ask coach Keith Smart.
"I think it happened because is where this guy was supposed to be," Smart said. "I think how it happens …how they reach that point, everyone comes close to being where they're supposed to be when it's time."
The Kings selection of Robinson was an easy one, considering the team didn't expect him to last beyond the second pick in the draft.
"The draft's the draft," said Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie. "You think you have it pretty well line out and decisions get made and there's always a few changes…
Groans and a sustained "No!" rippled through the Mix Downtown after it was announced that the Charlotte Bobcats had taken forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist second in the NBA draft.
Three picks later, the reaction turned to an eruption of cheering and applause.
A crowd of about 100 fans gathered at the Sacramento club lauded the Kings' selection of Kansas forward Thomas Robinson with the fifth pick in the draft Thursday. Robinson had been projected to go as high as second in some mock drafts.
"I think it's a good pick," said Stephen Clemons, 47, of Sacramento. "He's a big, strong forward. And a defensive rebounder will be awesome. That's what we needed last year."
…Cemal Richards, 26, of Oakland, raised his arms triumphantly when the pick was announced. "He's going to play well next to DeMarcus (Cousins)," Richards said. "He could be a double-double guy."
Kings guard Marcus Thornton, who arrived just before the Kings' selection, called it a "great pick." Forward Jason Thompson said he expects that Robinson "can definitely help out with the frontcourt."
"We'll have to wait and see how he does," said Thornton, who added he and Robinson have the same agent. "But from what I saw him play in college, he's a tough guy. He gets under the goal, does all the dirty work, and he's a winner. He plays hard, and that's what we need."
Fans quieted as Robinson, a player known for toughness and who led Kansas to this year's NCAA title game, became emotional during an interview on the draft telecast, then cheered when he vowed hard work in the NBA.
"I like his demeanor, his heart," said Ame Mathies, Clemons' mother and a season-ticket holder. "He's not looking like, 'Aw man, the Sacramento Kings, they haven't gone to the playoffs in years.' You could tell he was happy and that's important to us fans. If you're not in it, you're not going to give your best."
…Victor Calderon, 30, of Carmichael, said he believes the Kings landing a touted player like Robinson "will go a long way toward getting back some of the goodwill after the arena deal."
"Robinson is an exciting player," Calderon said. "Wins will ultimately get fans more excited."
The Kings are receiving overwhelmingly great reviews for taking Thomas Robinson, the Kansas Jayhwawks power forward at No.5. While it's always interesting to look back on can't miss high Lottery choices, and noting how many are complete busts, it's easy to understand the enthusiasm. The 6-foot-9, 244-pound Robinson is a prototypical, modern day power forward. He rebounds, is a physical defender, runs the floor, hits the 15-foot jumper, and doesn't dominate the ball. He pencils out as a very, very good NBA player. This is Xmas in June.
* I can't remember the last time I've seen Geoff Petrie this happy. When he approached the gathering of media types in the practice facility late Thursday night, he was almost giddy. As coach Keith Smart noted, Robinson was the "clear cut" choice within the organization if he was available. And, of course, no one thought he would be available.
“It’s weird, because I thought to myself at the beginning of the draft that I probably would get drafted by a team that I didn’t work out for. And that’s exactly the case with Brooklyn,” Taylor said. “I met with them at Chicago. I sat down and spoke to their GM (Billy King), but of course, I don’t think they figured I would be there when they picked. So, the fact that they picked me is great.”
The selection means that Taylor will be playing about 10 miles from his hometown of Hoboken.
“It’s not that far,” Taylor said. “It’s over one of those bridges over there.”
KU coach Bill Self was asked what advice he’d give to Taylor, who started all four years as a Jayhawk.
“Be who he is, and don’t forget who he is. And don’t get caught up in thinking he’s done anything, because he hasn’t yet,” Self said. “And just to work. ... His athletic ability and his talent will win out over time, because all he has to do is just be who he is and just do what he knows he can do.
“Don’t try to be great or do anything exceptional. Just go be who you are. Because who he is is plenty good enough to make that team.”
Taylor called the opportunity to go to the Nets “a blessing.”
“I feel like I have the opportunity anyway because of what I can bring for a team. I can defend,” Taylor said. “Being a four-year player at a university like Kansas, I think, gives me a step up in competition of coming into the league ready — ready to play right now.”
Brooklyn general manager King said the Nets had targeted Taylor for a while before buying the pick from Portland.
“We had him on our board pretty high,” King told the Associated Press. “We were trying to get a young point guard that we could groom. We liked his pedigree and his ability to play in big games. Once we started to slide, we made the move to get him. We liked his overall play as a point guard and we think his best basketball is ahead of him. We like his decision making and his size. He knows what it takes to be successful.
“He’s played with a lot of talented players in the past and that makes you a better player.”
Self admitted to being proud when both Taylor and Thomas Robinson were drafted Thursday because of both players’ circumstances.
Both, he said, had persevered through rough times.
“I know what drives them both: It drives them nuts to think that somebody thinks that somebody’s better than them,” Self said. “So I don’t think the draft could have gone much better for either one of them from a script standpoint.”
“Historically, I like to look at four-year guys because they’ve been through it, and they understand what it takes,” King said. “They’ve been yelled at as a freshman, and as they’ve matured they understand what it takes to be part of a team.”
King said that he’d tried to get even higher up in the draft, as the Nets sent their first-round pick to Portland — who took Weber State point guard Damian Lillard with the sixth overall pick — in the Gerald Wallace trade at the trade deadline in March, but was unable to do so.
“In the late first round, a lot of guys don’t want cash, they’d rather have a pick,” King said, “and I didn’t want to give up any future picks.”
Moments after hearing the Sacramento Kings make him their choice in the first round of this year’s draft, the former KU All-American turned to his 9-year-old sister Jayla and paused. Words were not needed for the exchange between them. And words were not used.
“She just hugged me,” Robinson said. “And it was the best hug in the world.”
From that moment on, Robinson fought off the tears that he knew would come. At times, he stopped and let his emotions flow. Not even that made Robinson’s first NBA moment the least bit sour.
“I made it,” said Robinson, exhaling between sentences. “I mean, I made it through what everybody threw at me. I was just drafted into the NBA.”
…“She likes purple,” said Robinson, his signature smile outshining the tracks of his tears. “And now I love it.”
As for Jayla, she now has a new team to root for and was not afraid to show it. With a brand new Kings hat on top of her freshly done hair, the only little girl in the green room made her allegiances known.
“I love the Sacramento Kings,” she said.
Asked for her feelings about the huge hug she shared with her brother, Jayla approved of that, too.
“It was goooooood,” she said with an endless smile.
…Later in the draft, former KU guard Tyshawn Taylor was picked 41st by the Brooklyn Nets, by way of the Portland Trail Blazers, giving the Jayhawks 14 total selections under Self and seven total draft picks in the past three years. Two of those seven, twins Markieff (13th in 2011) and Marcus Morris (14th in 2011), were in the Prudential Center stands supporting their former teammate on Thursday night.
“I’m basically just real happy for him,” Markieff said of Robinson. “He was texting me the whole time telling me he was nervous and I just kept telling him to stay calm and trust that he would be picked where he was supposed to be picked.”
If that didn’t work, the Morris twins had a little extra help from a woman very familiar with the arena’s green room. Angel Morris, who vowed to look after Robinson and Jayla after the passing of Robinson’s mother, Lisa, in early 2011, sat proudly at Robinson’s table, just as she did a year ago with her own sons.
“It’s special, man,” Marcus said. “She’s a strong lady, and she’s been that way my whole life. She’s always taken people in and tried to make their lives better. She’s a mother — a great mother.”
Taylor didn’t hesitate when asked which NBA player he looks forward to defending more than any other.
“Rondo,” he said of the Boston Celtics’ point guard, first name Rajon. “I want to play against Rondo because I love his game and think he’s the best point guard in the league. I’m competitive and I look forward to playing against the best.”
If watching Meyers Leonard, a 7-foot-1 project from Illinois, go to Portland with the 11th pick might have given KU center Jeff Withey reason to pause and contemplate his decision to come back for his senior year, watching Taylor tumble into the second round should have confirmed to Elijah Johnson that he made the right call.
Johnson brings more savvy to the court than Taylor, has a thicker build, potentially a better jump shot and is a more natural point guard, but he needed another season to prove he has the game to break KU’s first-round guard drought.
Withey, too, could improve his stock by adding muscle and range on his jumper. It’s possible KU could have multiple first-round picks for what would be the fourth time in six years in 2013.
On Thursday at the draft, held inside the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Robinson was visibly moved as he fulfilled his family mission.
“I ain’t stopping for nobody,” Robinson said. “I got work to do, and I’m gonna do it.”
The night completed a meteoric and emotional ascension for Robinson.
Four years ago, Robinson was still just a little recruited power forward from Washington D.C., a player who would transfer to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H before the 2008-09 season. He would reach the national scene that summer, narrowing his college choices to Kansas and Memphis. Perhaps it was coincidence, but when Robinson made his campus to Kansas that fall, the program was celebrating its recent national championship with a traditional ring ceremony. Robinson committed to KU a few weeks later.
One year ago, Robinson was still just a little-used power forward in Lawrence, a player that had played a supporting role on two teams that finished a combined 68-6 and earned No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. In 2010-11, Robinson averaged just 14.6 minutes per game while Marcus and Markieff Morris became first-round picks.
“To think where he was when he came, and all the things he’s been through,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And to see that he is going to be able to provide for his family in ways that he could only dream of, even going into the season, is remarkable for him.”
Robinson averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds points game while earning consensus All-American honors in 2011-12. He would lead No. 2 seed Kansas on a run to the NCAA title game, a tourney performance that included upset victories over No. 1 seed North Carolina in the Elite Eight and a come-from-behind win over Ohio State in the Final Four. The ride would end against No. 1 seed Kentucky in New Orleans, a game in which Robinson finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds.
Now Robinson becomes the highest drafted Kansas player since Drew Gooden was taken No. 4 overall in 2002. He’s also Kansas’ first top-10 selection during the Bill Self era.
As a second-round pick for a franchise playing its first season in its new home, Taylor will have to prove himself worthy of a roster spot if he wants to earn a contract.
But after what he went through at Kansas, he’ll certainly be battle-tested. He enters the NBA after averaging 16.6 points and 4.8 assists in 33.4 minutes per game during his senior season at Kansas. It was a season that started with some turnover-plagued performances but finished with Taylor solidifying himself as one of the best guards in the country as KU won its eighth straight Big 12 title and advanced to the NCAA title game.
“He’s not scared of work,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And his athletic ability and his talent will win out over time. Because all he’s got to do is just be who he is.”
On Thursday, Taylor said he still hadn’t met Jay-Z, the New York-based rapper who serves as a high-profile minority owner for the Nets. But that may change soon.
“I haven’t,” Taylor said, “but I’m looking forward to it.”
For now, he’s just looking to the future. After four years at Kansas, he’s returning home to continue his basketball journey.
“Being a four-year player at a University like Kansas,” Taylor said, “I think just gives me a step up on the competition. I think I come into the league ready — ready to play right now.”
Taylor, a 22-year-old senior, will get his chance to earn a spot on a team with just four players guaranteed to be under contract next season. Taylor, who is non-guaranteed, averaged 16.6 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 turnovers last season for the Jayhawks, who advanced to the NCAA final. The Nets had three point guards on last season’s roster, all of whom could become free agents, including Jordan Farmar, who has until Sunday to decide if he’s picking up his one-year player option.
Meanwhile, the Nets’ star point guard and main focus of the offseason, Deron Williams, was riding around with Jason Kidd in the Hamptons on Thursday, teasing fans and doing his best to fan the speculation flames.
The golfing buddies — and, not coincidentally, free-agent buddies — posed for a picture together, smiling, hours before their respective teams were navigating through the draft with limited resources.
“Just finished playing East Hampton Golf Club w/ (Kidd) let the speculation begin?????” Williams tweeted.
Theoretically, the Brooklyn Nets could’ve been knee-deep in rebuilding mode — boasting a pair of third overall picks and this year’s sixth overall.
Instead, the Nets — who have a 58-162 combined record in the last three seasons — own the rights to none of their own first-round picks from the last three drafts.
NY Daily News
My personal gripe and worst moment of draft night: @heatherespn asking Jayla if she'd ever seen her brother cry before. Really Heather? Did you expect her to say, "You mean other than when our closest loved ones all died that month?" My god. Take that woman's microphone away from her. Horrible.
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Kansas 2012-13 Schedule
Big 12/College News
In a January memo to the Big 12 expansion committee, interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said Notre Dame is the only school the Big 12 could add that would “enhance the Big 12 value for television.”
The memo, obtained by The Oklahoman through an Open Records request, was sent to the committee as an agenda for a late January teleconference.
The expansion committee is made up of Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and Kansas State president Kirk Shulz.
Here is a look at other items on the agenda and Neinas' responses:
If Notre Dame would become a partial member, how would that impact the current membership and what does it do to further expansion?
Neinas' response: “Both representatives of ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports indicated that Notre Dame's involvement with the Big 12 Conference would increase the value of the conference relative to future television and also improve the image of the conference nationwide.”
…Would expansion lead to more long-term stability for the Big 12 Conference?
Neinas' response: “There is some sentiment that an increase in membership would enhance stability. It could be argued that the Grant of Rights agreement signed by the members is the most important instrument to assure conference stability.”
Neinas goes on in the memo to say he discussed expansion with ESPN president John Skipper, Fox Sports president Randy Freer and ESPN's head of college athletics operations Burke Magnus.
Neinas said all three agreed a 10-member conference was preferred, but they would live with expansion to 11 or 12 teams. He also said both TV partners were in support of Notre Dame becoming a partial member of the Big 12 if the Irish would play a specific number of football games at Big 12 venues.
This is it folks, smoking gun confirmation of television executives consulting, discussing, and driving conference expansion decisions before those decisions are made.
This is a massive story.
So maybe you're wondering why this Oklahoman report hasn't gotten more attention.
That's a valid question.
And the easy answer is this -- the Oklahoman chose to drop this news story on the same day that college football added a playoff. Talk about awful timing, media are like kittens, if you give us a ball of yarn to play with we don't notice when you hit the other kitten with a sledgehammer.
And ESPN and Fox just hit the kitten with a sledgehammer.
This story is huge because it isn't the only evidence in the past year.
You'll recall that last fall Boston College athletic director Gene Difilippo told the Boston Globe the ACC expanded to take Pitt and Syracuse because ESPN told the conference to do so. Remember these quotes? “We always keep our television partners close to us,’’ Difilippo said. “You don’t get extra money for basketball. It’s 85 percent football money. TV – ESPN – is the one who told us what to do. This was football; it had nothing to do with basketball.’’
In the ensuing media firestorm Difilippo stepped back from the comments saying he'd mispoken.
The Oklahoman story is even more of a blockbuster and so far no one has really noticed.
1. Alabama took a hit with both JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell going undrafted Thursday. So too did Georgetown after Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims went unselected. Add New Mexico's Drew Gordon, Xavier's Tu Holloway, Long Beach State's Casper Ware, Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor, Ohio State's William Buford, Texas' J'Covan Brown, West Virginia's Kevin Jones and Iona's Scott Machado to the list of players who didn't get picked.
2. Mississippi State's Renardo Sidney can't be too disappointed. He was a long shot to be selected. He has had one of the most bizarre and most discussed careers I have seen in covering the sport for 22 years. Hopefully he will find his way. The Bulldogs' Dee Bost, who didn't get picked either, once famously declared for the draft then returned to school in 2011 after claiming he didn't know the rules.
The long wait is over for Missouri senior captains Marcus Denmon and Kim English.
After months of preparation, English and Denmon each saw lifelong dreams come true Thursday night when they were taken in the second round of the NBA Draft. English went 44th overall to the Detroit Pistons and Denmon went 59th overall to the San Antonio Spurs, becoming the first MU players drafted since 2009.
There were some anxious moments along the way.
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2012-13 Early Season Events List
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