11/3/14, 9:35 AM
Didn't mention this last week but KU's Wayne Selden has changed body and improved athleticism. Could see 17 points a game sophomore year.
11/2/14, 7:10 PM
24 hours till opening tip. Looking forward to seeing how young fellas react when lights are on. Guys seem excited. #rockchalk
10/28/14, 3:31 PM
Five #NCAA men's basketball teams in @USATODAY top 25 with perfect GSRs: Duke, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, Villanova
UDK BBall Preview Section
Wayne Selden Jr. had severe stage fright on opening night of the 2013-14 basketball season.
“It was unbearable,” Selden said of the jitters he incurred before his debut in a Kansas University jersey — a 97-57 rout of Pittsburg State on Oct. 29, 2013, in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I was real nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. The first couple times in the fieldhouse ... it was too loud for me. Even though they were cheering for me, it was too loud for me. I’m excited to get back into it,” added the 6-foot-5 sophomore from Roxbury, Massachusetts, who wound up with five points and four turnovers in his collegiate opener.
Selden would expect KU’s current freshman scholarship class of Cliff Alexander, Devonté Graham, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Kelly Oubre Jr. to have just as many butterflies as past rookies in tonight’s exhibition opener versus Washburn (7 p.m., Allen).
“Definitely. You’re not normal if you don’t feel that nervous,” Selden said.
KU coach Bill Self said it’s common for all newcomers — walk-ons to one-and-dones — to have trepidation during their KU debuts.
“Oh, yes, Andrew was really nervous,” Self recalled of Andrew Wiggins, No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He had 16 points and six boards against Pitt State last season. “Of course, Andrew was nervous at Late Night. He said that was the most nervous he’s ever been until probably opening night two nights ago (in NBA). All the guys will be nervous, and hopefully it’ll be a great crowd. I’m sure there will be, and I think it’ll be great to see how the guys react.
“Some guys are gamers,” Self noted. “Some guys we don’t know how they’re going to react. Some guys are great practice players, get in the games, maybe they get tight. Some guys don’t practice that well, they get in the games, and (I’ll say) ‘Wow, I haven’t seen that the whole time in practice.’ You want everybody to play like you practice, but every coach knows that’s a perfect world. That doesn’t always play out that way. I’m excited to see how these guys react.”
So as Kansas begins another season with its exhibition opener against Washburn on Monday night, it’s perhaps fair to say that the Jayhawks’ most important player could be a 6-foot-8, 240-pound freshman with the ability to excel at both of those tasks.
The name, of course, is Cliff Alexander, a power forward from Chicago and the crown jewel of another vaunted freshman class. A brutish forward with athleticism and growing skill, Alexander is positioned to fill a sizable hole in the paint left by the departure Joel Embiid, a one-and-done lottery pick.
But for the moment, Self cautions, Alexander is still something of a work in progress.
“I think Cliff has done great,” Self said. “I just think he needs a lot of reps.”
In an ideal world, Self would have another veteran big guy to plug into the paint while Alexander develops at his natural pace. But once you account for junior forward Perry Ellis, the Jayhawks are still slightly unproven in the middle.
Junior forward Jamari Traylor will be a part of the rotation, and sophomore Landen Lucas and junior transfer Hunter Mickelson will each battle for minutes. But the Jayhawks lack a true rim protector in the mold of Embiid or Jeff Withey. So if Self wants to play his usual style — which is to say, pound opponents in the paint — much will rest on the development of Alexander, who was selected as a co-Big 12 preseason freshman of the year by the league’s head coaches.
“He's a little bit behind just with simple things, whether it be pivoting or being able to fan the ball out of the post, just things that he's never had to do,” Self said.
“He just caught it and just mauled people in high school, and you can't do that obviously at this level.”
After arriving on campus in June, Alexander was slowed by a severe ankle sprain for much of the summer. He missed part of June and most of July. And while he’s back to 100 percent, the injury cost him some valuable development time.
“The ankle is fine, excellent,” said Alexander, a McDonald’s All-American. "It was kind of stressful seeing my team run up and down, having fun with me just on the sideline.”
“I’m worried about Cliff because I think there’s a chance he could surpass Jeff Graves in the quickest five fouls in the history of KU basketball or whoever one of our biggest foulers were,” Self added with a smile, quickly recalling Tarik Black’s foul-prone nature last season.
“Tarik averaged more fouls than rebounds and points until Christmas, and Cliff has the same potential to do that. But when he gets it, he’s going to be really good. I think by the end of the year, he could be one of the harder players to deal with in the league.”
Alexander, who finished tied with Texas’ Myles Turner in the preseason freshman-of-the-year voting, has worked diligently on a lot of things — including a baby hook shot, post moves and defensive positioning — since arriving on campus.
“Cliff is learning every day,” junior forward Perry Ellis said. “He’s getting real good. If he just keeps improving on little things in our offense like setting screens and the right angles and hitting the defender, things like that, he’ll (be even better).
“We’ve been working on traps that teams might throw at us. He’s getting better at passing out of traps. He’s a good passer.”
Oubre, meanwhile, is still learning how to best use his physical gifts, which include a 7-2 wingspan.
“Kelly is just experience away,” Self said. “Kelly can do some things you can’t coach and then do some things that you think, ‘Oh my god, Kelly, stay between your man and the basket.’ He can play great defense and get a steal and a runout, and then the next time when the shot clock is running down to three, he’ll go gamble and miss and give a guy a wide‑open shot.
“He’s just got to kind of figure it out. But certainly a talented kid.”
Two other freshmen, guards Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, also should see plenty of minutes as Self gets his first look at his players in a game setting.
“Some guys don’t practice that well, they get in the games, and, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen that the whole time in practice,’ ” Self said. “So you want everybody to play like you practice, but every coach knows that’s a perfect world. That doesn’t always play out that way.”
Regardless of what happens Monday night, Self said he’s expecting great things from this year’s newcomers.
“This freshman class could be really, really, really good. I mean, really good — you know, in the same realm as Mario (Chalmers), Brandon (Rush), Micah (Downs) and Julian (Wright). We could be that way,” Self said. “But if you remember right, that freshman class, Mario and Julian didn’t play until after Christmas. Micah transferred at Christmas, and Brandon was the only one that played a lot early. Even great recruiting classes like that take time.
“I think that this class may take some time, but I do think that it’s going to be a really good class.”
…Monday’s game at Kansas will be the first of three exhibition games against Big 12 opponents for Washburn, as the Ichabods look to unveil a promising group of newcomers.
Four transfers will make their debut for the Bods — guards Algie Key (Alabama), Kevin House (Fort Scott), Prince Samuels (Fort Scott) and Turon Paker (Barton County).
The returners are led by seniors Alex North and Kyle Wiggins. North was a second-team All-MIAA selection last season after averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Wiggins averaged 15 points and four assists to earn All-MIAA honorable mention honors.
WU’s projected starting lineup will consist of Key, Parker, Wiggins, North and Christian Ulsaker, a junior forward who missed most of last season with a broken bone in his hand.
Following the KU game, Washburn will play at Oklahoma on Friday and then at Kansas State on Sunday.
What made Alexander the No. 3-ranked player in the class and in the conversation for the No. 1 prospect was his dominating performances in the paint and at the rim. Alexander wins you over with his energy and effort as he can be counted on to complete all game long. Opponents must first be ready to match his intensity. Built with long arms, board shoulders and explosiveness, it translates immediately to the rebounding, shot-blocking and finishing phases of the game. His aggressive approach and alertness to fight for rebounds, sprint over to swat a shot or catch a drop-off pass and flush it with authority is how he makes his mark on the game.
Another area where he will make an impact is in his ability and willingness to run the floor in both directions. This is important as he can get back to protect the basket or out-run opponents to score before the defense gets set. Alexander never drifted away from his strengths as he performed and produced at high levels on a consistent basis. He's also willing to learn more about the game and accomplish much more in time. He will give the Jayhawks a presence in the lane with toughness.
…He's a very coachable player who is investing time into scoring near the basket over both shoulders and is making fifty jump hooks with each hand after practice with the staff..
“Cliff has been a sponge who is not afraid to work hard as he is learning how to work on a consistent basis,” said assistant Norm Roberts, who coaches the front court players.
There were unconfirmed whispers last spring that Kansas University guard Conner Frankamp was considering a transfer to Creighton.
Nothing ever came of the Internet message-board rumors, but they were so prevalent it made inquiring media minds wonder Friday whether the current Jayhawks had any inkling the 6-foot sophomore indeed had interest in playing somewhere else.
“No,” sophomore guard Wayne Selden Jr. said, asked if he knew Frankamp, who announced plans to transfer from KU to a yet-to-be-determined school, ever was thinking of leaving. “It came as a shock to me as well.
“He’s just a great person, great player to be around,” Selden added. “He became one of my best friends. It’s the business we’re in. This is what it is. It’s hard when you don’t see it coming. It’s hard to really grasp it, not having him there, not having him in the locker room. Not having him around ... it’s going to hurt.”
ESPN ranks Top 100 players in college ball 39-20 (#37 Ellis #27 Alexander)
#BillSelfies at the Underground
Lunch is on @CoachBillSelf for a few lucky students at the Underground! #kubball #rockchalk
Bill Self bought my lunch today at the Underground, along with dozens upon dozens of other Jayhawks. I love this school. #KU #BeAJayhawk
Former Kansas men's basketball standout Robert "Bob" Kenney, a member of KU's 1952 NCAA National Championship men's basketball team, died Oct. 27, 2014, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kenney was 83.
A native of Winfield, Kansas, Kenney played football and basketball at KU in 1949-50 and 1950-51, but turned his focus to basketball for his senior year in 1951-52. In hoops, the 6-2 forward played for head coach Forrest "Phog" Allen, winning two Big Seven Conference regular-season titles (1950 and 1952). A member of the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, Kenney was KU's second-leading scorer his junior and senior seasons, averaging 8.2 points per game in 1950-51 and 13.1 in KU's national championship season. A team captain, Kenney earned All-Big Seven Conference First Team honors his senior year.
Coach Bonnie Henrickson only has two exhibitions to get her Kansas University women’s basketball team into regular-season form. So the last thing she wanted to see out of the Jayhawks Sunday in their preseason debut was a passive approach.
It turned out, following a 73-52 victory over Fort Hays State at Allen Fieldhouse, the coach may want to go the other direction and get her players to pump the brakes from time to time.
“We were probably over-aggressive and made some decisions because we were trying to make some things happen,” she said after Kansas turned the ball over 24 times while cruising past the Tigers.
Really, the Jayhawks had little to complain about aside from the giveaways. They out-rebounded FHSU 55-38, hit six of 13 three-pointers and never allowed their overmatched opponent to make a run at an upset, all while leading throughout.
KUAD: KU vs FHSU game recap
“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
Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor, who we at CBSSports.com rank as the No. 1 player in college basketball, is the APs preseason Player of the Year. Okafor follows int he steps of Harrison Barnes (2010) and Andrew Wiggins (2013) as freshmen to earn the distinction.
Joining Okafor on the AP's First Team: North Carolina junior point guard Marcus Paige; Wisconsin senior forward Frank Kaminsky; Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell; and Wichita State junior point guard Fred VanVleet.
10/30/14, 6:06 PM
My 14-15 All American Team: Okafor (Duke), Paige (UNC), Harrell (Louisville), Baker (Wichita St.), Kaminsky (Wisconsin). My POY is Okafor.
Sporting News ranks Willie the Wildcat as one of the 13 college mascots in need of a makeover. #KSU #kubball pic.twitter.com/OXP3qSp9T3
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