KU is ranked No. 2 in the preseason coaches poll and as always the expectations are sky high for the club. They will start the season off in a tough way. Their first game in Hawaii against a top 12 team then their second game is in New York against the preseason No. 1.
"It'll be fun, we start out with a bang playing Indiana and Duke, basically travel, I don't know how many miles it is but that's got to be five, seven thousand miles to travel to play those respective games, but it should be fun and our players are looking forward to it," Self said.
Self said that Detroit freshman Jackson, “has a great first step and good jumper. He is not going to put his head in the rim like Andrew potentially can. Josh probably doesn’t shoot it as consistently well as Andrew, but he does everything. Josh can defend. He can rebound. He can keep possessions alive. He can pass it, handle it. He can do some things to really give your team a chance to win. This is a bad comparison (but) Danny (Manning) as a freshman averaged 15 points a game but made the game so much easier for everybody else because he could pass and see (openings on the floor). Josh can have the same impact on us.”
…“He’s healthy. He’s fine,” Self said of the 7-foot, 280-pounder from Delta, Nigeria.
“His body is not used to the pounding he’s taking right now,” Self added. “He’s young (17). We had a kid visit our school two weeks ago — a recruit. That means he’s a high school senior. He was 23 months older than Udoka.”
“I didn’t know this … in Nigeria they start first grade when you are 4. He started ninth grade when he was 13. He was so young when he came over here (the United States). He was two years ahead of kids in his respective class. There will be some things happen with him physically that are new to him because of his youth and body that size developing. We may have to back off and not push things just because we want to make sure his body can take the pounding.”
Do note, however, that the junior guard ranks third on KU’s career list by making 43.8 percent of his treys. He is chasing Milt Newton (.446) and Jeff Gueldner (.439) as the most accurate 3-pointer shooters in KU history, based on a minimum of 200 attempts.
“It’s been happening for a while now,” said Graham’s backcourt partner, senior Frank Mason. “Every time I find him, I feel like it’s going in. That’s how much confidence I’ve got in his shot. He put a lot of work into me believing in that and I just hope he keeps rolling.”
Drills this summer was outlined by KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend. He required the Jayhawks’ guards to make 250 3-pointers each day — from NBA range.
“That’s kind of the biggest thing for me, getting in the gym and putting up the shots,” said Graham, who will be among the Jayhawks represented Tuesday at Big 12 media day at Sprint Center.
In that short time, Jackson has seen that whether you’re a one-and-done phenom or an unrecruited walk-on, you’re treated the same by Self when you’re wearing KU practice gear.
“He knows that I’m kind of a special player,” Jackson admitted. “And he still never takes it easy on me, doesn’t kiss my butt. He’s really hard on me sometimes and I think I need that. It’s really good to have a coach like that.”
Always charismatic and charming in the public eye, Self can be the same with his players during practices. Of course, if things are not being executed to his liking, he also can flip the switch, sometimes in the same sentence, and turn into a relentless drill sergeant demanding excellence.
Jackson has seen both and has developed an appreciation for each of them. What he’s not sure of is what he’ll think of the side of Self teammates have promised him is still coming.
“I didn’t expect him to be quite like this,” Jackson said. “But what’s kind of scaring me is some of the players telling me, ‘Oh, this is nothing, he gets so much worse.’ I’m just waiting to see what that’s like.”
Asked for an indication of what exactly “quite like this” means, Jackson paused.
“There’s a lot of examples,” he joked. “But I’m not sure I can use his exact words on camera.”
…When asked for his welcome-to-college moment, Jackson listed two, one from senior forward Landen Lucas and another from Mason.
“A couple times Landen has set a couple screens on me, hit me really hard,” he began. “And a couple times trying to guard Frank, I’m running as fast as I can and he’s still a mile ahead of me. They’re just really far ahead of me right now, but I think I’m catching up a little bit.
“There were a few times over the summer where I was in bed and my body hurt so bad I couldn’t move and I was like, ‘What the heck am I doing here?’ But I got through it and it’s coming easy now.”
There will be 15 Jayhawks on opening day rosters for the 2016-17 NBA regular-season that begins Tuesday, Oct. 25.
Paul Pierce has the most tenure of the Jayhawks in the NBA, entering his 19th and final season of his hall-of-fame career. Pierce is in his second year with the Los Angeles Clippers. Oklahoma City's Nick Collison, a member of KU's 2002 and 2003 Final Four teams, is next entering his 14th season with the Thunder.
The Minnesota Timberwolves carry the most Jayhawks on their roster with Cole Aldrich, Brandon Rush and Andrew Wiggins. Aldrich, from Bloomington, Minnesota, returns home for his first season with the Timberwolves and his seventh season in an NBA uniform. He and Rush were members of Kansas' 2008 NCAA National Championship team. Rush is also in his first year in Minnesota and his ninth in the league. He is one of four Jayhawks to have won both NCAA and NBA titles, as he was a member of the 2015 Golden State Warriors' title team. Wiggins, the overall No. 1 NBA Draft selection in 2014, is entering his third season with Minnesota.
Also a member of the 2008 national champ Jayhawks is Darrell Arthur, who is in his eighth season in the NBA and fourth with Denver. Arthur missed 2011-12 due to injury.
Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris are entering their sixth year in the league. They have been separated as teammates for the past few seasons with Marcus on the Detroit Pistons, and Markieff with the Washington Wizards. Joining Markeiff on the Wizards is Kelly Oubre Jr., who is in his second season in the NBA.
Thomas Robinson (Los Angeles Lakers) and Jeff Withey (Utah Jazz) were part of KU's NCAA runner-up team in 2012. The fifth overall NBA Draft selection in 2012, this will be Robinson's first season with the Lakers as he joins fellow Jayhawk Tarik Black, who is in his third season with the franchise. Drafted in 2013, Withey begins his second year in a Jazz uniform and his third overall in the NBA.
Fourth-year player and No. 7 overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, Ben McLemore continues his career with the Sacramento Kings.
The No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, Joel Embiid suffered through injuries his first two seasons but is now healthy and should see action for the Philadelphia 76ers when they open play Wednesday at home against Oklahoma City.
Cheick Diallo is the youngest Jayhawk in the NBA as he begins his rookie season with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Since 2005, Kansas has had a least 10 players on NBA opening-day rosters each year. Look for veteran free agents Mario Chalmers, Drew Gooden and Kirk Hinrich to join NBA rosters during the 2016-17 season. Additionally, recent Jayhawks Perry Ellis, Cliff Alexander and Wayne Selden Jr. all were in NBA camps this fall.
He scored and rebounded at a rate eclipsed by only one player at his position in NBA history. His free throw shooting percentage proved to be a dependable weapon for a man his size. Most important, he stayed on the court, a healthy and durable presence.
That, however, was when the games didn’t count. The challenge now for Joel Embiid will be to transform his promising pre-season accomplishments into consistent regular season contributions.
“When you look at the good stuff, he does things in a game that, really, you step back and say, ‘Wow,’” Brett Brown said prior to the pre-season finale. “He’ll trail and hit a three. He’ll have a pound-pound drop-step dunk. He’ll turn and face and make his bank shot. He has the up and under stuff, the Hakeem [Olajuwon] stuff.”
“It’s new to him, it’s raw,” continued Brown. “He really has a chance to be very, very, very good.”
Over seven outings in his first NBA preseason, Embiid manufactured 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game. On a per-minute basis, that production translated to 0.8 points and 0.4 rebounds.
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Former Texas Tech guard Luke Adams, who was born deaf, stepped to the free-throw line to attempt a ceremonial shot.
“Now this is real pressure,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Adams as he took the ball.
No problem, as the shot fell through to cheers and sign language applause of the crowd that gathered at Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe on Monday, when a refurbished gym was dedicated as part of the Big 12 Legacy Project.
“I thought I’d make it,” said Adams, who appeared in 64 games for the Red Raiders during 2012-15. “But really I’m just happy to be a part of this.”
The Big 12 contributed $25,000, and several conference corporate partners and other contributors kicked in another $25,000 to refinish the basketball floor, paint new lines and a midcourt logo of the school’s Jackrabbits mascot, put up new wall padding, and buy a new motor to adjust the freshly painted bleachers, among other improvements.
The gym is used by KSD teams and by the Olathe Parks and Recreation Department.
“We want to encourage and support active lifestyles in our community, and that will continue to happen in our beautiful gym,” said KSD assistant superintendent Luanne Barron. “This project is an amazing gift to our students.”
If the University of Louisville men's basketball team used players who were ineligible during the 2012-13 season because they received improper benefits in the form of sex or strippers, the school’s national championship and other victories almost certainly will be vacated, NCAA enforcement experts say.
Two former members of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions say it is almost automatic for the panel to vacate victories from teams that used players later determined to be ineligible.
One of them, Rodney Uphoff, a University of Missouri law professor who served on the committee from 2008-14, said the only defense would be if the player or players mostly rode the bench and did not make a big contribution to the wins.
Jerry Parkinson, a former law school dean at the University of Wyoming who was on the committee from 2000-10, said it became increasingly automatic during his tenure to vacate wins earned with ineligible players. he cited Memphis, whose 38-victory season – including its run to the championship game – was vacated when the NCAA found freshman Derrick Rose's SAT score was fraudulent because somebody took the test for him.
Former NCAA enforcement director Chuck Smrt, who was hired by U of L to conduct its internal investigation, said at a news conference last week that vacating victories and the national championship are among the possible penalties for the university but he said he didn’t think they would be “appropriate.”
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Collin Sexton was lying face down under the beating afternoon sun in suburban Atlanta when George Washington wondered if he had finally pushed his best player too far. Sexton was doing conditioning work with an altitude mask as he collapsed on the school track on a hot, early summer day. As the Pebblebrook High School coach rushed over to pick him up, Sexton stumbled to his feet and prepared to finish the drill.
Washington had purchased the mask for Sexton days earlier when he found out he received a late invite to try out for USA Basketball’s U17 team. The camp was in Colorado Springs and Sexton was hellbent on being prepared as possible for the increase in elevation.
“He wanted to be on that team so bad,” Washington said. “A lot of those other guys had been there before, so they were privileged. His job was to be the hardest worker. I told him, if you out work everyone, they can't deny you.”
Sexton’s training regiment required three workouts per day. He was at Pebblebrook by 6 a.m. every morning to do skill work with an assistant coach. In the afternoon, he would hit the weight room or do cardio. The evening session was reserved for shooting drills. When he got to Colorado Springs, he saw the hard work pay off.
Sexton didn’t just make the team, he ended up winning MVP in his first ever international competition. The 6’2 point guard led the team with 17 points per game as the sixth man. He was at his best with a gold medal on the line against Turkey, when he made 8 of 9 shots from the field to help the U.S. to the win.
Sexton’s performance in Spain solidified his rise as the breakout player in the class of 2017. It capped a summer that saw him set the single-season scoring record on Nike’s EYBL circuit at 31 points per game. He did it with a relentless attitude towards attacking the basket, making twice as many free throws (181) as the circuit’s No. 2 player in that category. Over the course five months, he went from unranked to the No. 9 overall player in his class, according to ESPN.
Sexton’s ascent is the story of self-improvement through sheer will power, the idea that play can upstage politics and old-fashioned hard work can get you anywhere.
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