As to when the 6-10 junior will announce ... “We haven’t had that talk yet, but to be honest with you, that’s something for him to tell people and make an announcement about it,” Self said. “I’m not going to in any way, shape or form encourage him to stay. I’m not going to let fans know that there is a possibility he might. If he does, he does, but that would be a shock to me. But the thing is, he’s earned the right to move on. This kid finished second for national player of the year, consensus All-American, he’s going to get his jersey hung, won the league, took his team to the finals. And in the finals, everybody talks about Anthony Davis, who was great. Thomas had 18 and 17. Missed two dunks, had 18 and 17. He’s a stud, and it’s time. So many of us have said or believed you’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot. Iron’s hot for him.
“We’ll see what happens, but it needs to be his decision and his way of expressing it to a group of people that would I’m sure be very, very happy for him either way.”
Of all the players scattered throughout the Kansas locker room, perhaps none is more qualified to offer insight to Bill Self than Niko Roberts.
The deep reserve has known the coach practically his whole life, dating back to 1996 when his father, Norm, began an eight-year run as Self's assistant and a lifelong friendship.
Midway through the season, Niko picked up the phone and practically gushed to his dad.
"He said, 'Dad, Coach is back,'" Norm Roberts remembered. "'He's having so much fun. He's still getting after us but he's having a blast.' This is how I remember him."
…"He likes these guys and I know probably some of it is because everyone views them as overachievers," Norm Roberts said. "He likes that. That suits him."
It suits him because it took Self a while to get his own due. He succeeded everywhere he went but until he won his first national title at Kansas in 2008, plenty wondered if he was in over his head.
Now he's in the opposite position, with people tripping over themselves to laud him as a terrific coach for getting so much out of this particular team.
On Sunday, Self was named Naismith Men's Basketball Coach of the Year.
He knows as well as anyone that the fickle nature of his business will likely turn and spit him back out in a few weeks but there is no arguing he has earned the hardware this season.
"He's done a great job with that team, with all the turnover they had," Calipari said.
Self called Calipari "the best salesman that our sport knows," pointing out how well the Kentucky coach promotes his program.
The fact is, Self has done a pretty good sales job, too.
His pitch, however, has been in house.
…Only one person, in fact, believed in them.
And that was Self.
"He kept telling us he believed in us," Jeff Withey said. "He'd tell us all the time that we were good enough to be one of the best teams in the nation, that we could play with anybody. Early on, I'm not sure we believed it, when we were losing to Duke and Kentucky."
"With little else to cling to, the players followed Self like dribbling lemmings, absorbing not only his teaching but also his faith.
Basketball people like to call that "buying in," but the buy in only comes if the sale is a good one, and Self's was pitch perfect. He found the perfect mix of religious revivalist, disciplinarian and comedian to unearth unseen talent from this Kansas mine.
He cajoled, prodded, screamed and cracked wise, mixing and matching his mood to suit his team instead of asking his players to convert to his.
"You know his personality this year has made us what we are," Robinson said. "When you look over and your coach is smiling, even when things aren't going too good, that gives you such confidence. You believe you're going to be all right."
…"He challenges guys to be good," Norm Roberts said. "He's not going to pat them on the back. He'll tell that you can do it, you can make that shot. If he sees Thomas Robinson starting to relax, believing the hype, he'll crush him and remind [him] he's not as good as he thinks. He keeps guys on edge but also builds up their confidence."
And that's what prompted Niko Roberts to call his dad.
"We'd be in practice and he'd ask someone to crack a joke, make fun of him," he said. "He wanted to lighten the mood. I don't know, he was just laughing, having fun all the time. I remembered him being like that when I was a kid. He keeps saying we're playing with house money. That's how we play. That's how he coached us."å
Niko Roberts was ecstatic when talking about the fun and achievement of being a part of a Final Four team. To those who watch on television, he is one of the nameless players on the bench. He locks arms with comrades in a shot, while one of his stellar teammates takes a crucial free throw at the end of the game.
Roberts, a sophomore guard out of St. Anthony’s High (L.I.) and the son of former St. John’s coach Norm Roberts, is as much a part of the Kansas Jayhawks as star forward Thomas Robinson or starting point guard Tyshawn Taylor.
“I love being here at the Final Four: it’s the reason I came to Kansas,” Roberts said. “When you’re the 10th or 11th player on the team, you’re not here to be a big name. You come because you love the school and the program. You come to make the team better. This is the reward.
Norm Roberts spent 10 seasons as a top assistant coach to Kansas coach Bill Self, with him at Tulsa, Illinois and then Kansas, before St. John’s gave him his first Division I coaching opportunity. He made a reputation there and, though he did not win enough with the Johnnies, his reputation as a character person remains as he moved on to become an assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida.
Had the Gators beaten Louisville in the West Region final, the Roberts family would have been an undeniable story here. “We talked afterward and all he wanted to say was how happy he was about us reaching the Final Four,” Niko Roberts said. “I told him I was sorry and that they’d had a great year. He didn’t want to talk about that. All he wanted to talk about was the positive things that had happened for us and our family with Kansas getting here.”
Niko Roberts knows that his future doesn’t lie in playing basketball, but that doesn’t make him any less part of Kansas’ success.
“Sports has been a big part of my life and I’d like to continue that, maybe at a place like ESPN,” he said. “I care about the game.”
He’s spent two years helping to sustain Kansas as one of the elite teams. He helps the younger players grasp the concepts that Self is trying to teach while refining his own understanding, as taught by his father. He reviews what upcoming opponents will do to attack the Jayhawks and then replicates it in practices, so they will be ready. He is a good teammate, every part of what Kansas is doing.
“I feel every bit a part of this team, no matter whether I’ve scored in a game or gotten as assist,” said Roberts, who netted two points as a freshman and none with three assists as a sophomore. “Thomas (Robinson) is going to play in the NBA, but he and I will always be in touch. We both know I am part of the team and it doesn't matter if the public does or not. That’s all I care about.”
NY Daily News
Former Free State High guard Evan Manning — the son of former Kansas University All-American Danny Manning — will play basketball at his dad’s alma mater.
Evan Manning, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior combo guard who averaged just under 10 points a game this past season at New Hampton School in New Hampshire, on Thursday night accepted coach Bill Self’s invitation to join KU’s team as a walk-on.
“It is a dream come true. It is such a unique opportunity. It’ll be cool to wear Kansas across my chest. It’s unbelievable,” Manning told the Journal-World on Thursday night.
Manning, who was offered this non-scholarship spot several weeks ago, most recently had the opportunity to walk on at Tulsa University and play for his father, who worked on Self’s staff the past nine seasons.
“My dad is my No. 1 supporter,” Evan Manning said. “He’d love for me to play for him at Tulsa, but realizes how cool it is and what a great opportunity it is for me to play at Kansas. It’s always been a dream of mine to play for KU and coach Self and be in Lawrence — to play in Allen Fieldhouse. It’d be awesome if my dad was still here, but I’m the biggest Tulsa fan out there right now. He (Danny) will do big things there.”
Bill Self, who beat Calipari’s Memphis team in ’08 and lost to his Kentucky team Monday night in New Orleans, knows the feeling. He said he only watched the tape of one of his Elite Eight losses, and that was in preparation for facing the team again.
“In this case,” Self said Thursday of Monday’s national-title game tape from a couch in the anteroom of his office, “I’m so proud of our kids. I’m so happy for them. They tried so hard, and I haven’t watched it yet. I’m going to, and I’m going to soak up every minute of it. The way I look at it, I don’t think we got beat. I think we ran out of time. We didn’t play well the first half and spotted them too much.”
Gentlemen, as long as you are at least 35 years old, Self wants you to join him when he watches a replay of the comeback and talks about what they tried, what worked, what didn’t, what he might have tried but decided against doing so. He also wants you to do the same for a film breakdown session of the rally from 19 points down in the second half to victory against Missouri in overtime.
He, his assistants and former players want to coach you for three days, while you wear a Kansas uniform in games in which all stats are recorded and every second is videotaped, so that he and/or other coaches can share their insights into your game.
Then he wants to join you at a social event and have you to his house for a cookout and stories you won’t read in the newspaper because he only tells them off the record. They’ll split your gut. And the next day in practice he’ll give you a chance to experience what it’s like to have strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy bust your gut.
Self wants you to listen to him walk through the scouting report for the national-title game against Kentucky.
He wants you to feel what it’s like to be introduced with all the normal Allen Fieldhouse fanfare, including the video highlighting all the tradition.
The first Bill Self Basketball Fantasy Camp takes place April 13-15. Close to 40 campers, ranging from former college players to aging driveway hacks, have signed up from all over the country. Self wants the camp to have more of a Kansas flavor, so he has slashed the price for the three-day camp from $4,995 to $2,995 for Williams Fund members. He said he will cap it at 46 players, so don’t let indecisiveness freeze you out of a good time yet again. If you’d rather coach than play, there’s a spot for you as well.
Those interested should call Matt Chacksfield at 785-318-4005 or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KU AD Throwback Thursday: Jeff Boschee
Rustin Dodd new KC Star KU beat writer
Big 12/College News
The NCAA men’s basketball championship game, Kentucky over Kansas, had an estimated 20.9 million viewers nationally on CBS, up from the 20.0 million who watched last year’s game when Connecticut beat Butler.
The rating for this year’s game was up 5% over last year, 12.3 compared to 11.7.
The entire NCAA Tournament on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV averaged a 6.1 rating or 9.6 million viewers, down 5% from last year’s 6.4 rating and 10.2 million viewers.
In some key male demographics, the tournament was down: -7% in the 18-34 group, -4% 18-49 and -6% 25-54.
Add Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to the list of NBA folks who would like to see college basketball players stay in school longer than one year.
Before the start of the Mavericks' game Wednesday night in Dallas, Cuban said he'd like to see players forced to wait three years after high school before becoming eligible for the NBA Draft.
"It's not even so much about lottery busts," Cuban told The Dallas Morning News. "It's about kids’ lives that we’re ruining. Even if you’re a first-round pick and you have three years of guaranteed money -- or two years now of guaranteed money -- then what? Because if you’re a bust and it turns out you just can’t play in the NBA, your 'rocks for jocks’ one year of schooling isn't going to get you far.
"I just don't think it takes into consideration the kids enough. Obviously, I think there’s significant benefit for the NBA. It’s not my decision to make, but that’s my opinion on it."
Perhaps it is fitting that the cleverest Connecticut resident, Mark Twain, popularized the saying, "There are three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics." If ever numbers have been called on to sing and dance to a certain narrative, it is the NCAA's crushing case against the state university.
When the school announced Thursday that the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance rejected its final appeal for a waiver to compete in the 2013 NCAA basketball tournament, it would be a Boston College man — of all people — who would scream the loudest.
"Absolutely outrageous," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. "It's almost as if they've decided to get UConn one way or the other."
If the real message of the governing arm of college athletics is that the UConn men's basketball program deserves to be punished for doing a lousy job academically for many years, it not only can point to the damaging two- and four-year Academic Progress Rate of recent years, it easily can point to graduation rates that date back to the incoming class of 2001, too.
If the real message is that the NCAA is responding to enormous pressure from the Knight Commission, the national media, heck, the general populace, to clean up the great stain of scandal that has dirtied college athletics in recent years, it need only hold up that deplorable 826 APR score from 2009-2010 for the world to see.
Or if the real message — the great unspoken message — is that many people in college athletics don't like Jim Calhoun and what his program stood for in winning three national championships, they can, in concert, hold up all the numbers … two-year APR, four-year APR, a 14 percent graduation rate for African-American players and 25 percent overall in the four-year cohort from 2001 to 2005. All of them.
Yes, if the narrative is UConn is getting what it deserves, that UConn is the most convenient and logical target for the greater good, well, the numbers have done their job. They have damned the Huskies.
Yet if it is the mission of the NCAA to find the fairest numbers, the most reasonable manner to implement the sweeping rules it quickly implemented last October, Malloy is correct. So far it is outrageous.
North Carolina got back at least one of the players who flirted with the NBA Draft this year. The school announced today that James Michael McAdoo will go back to Chapel Hill for the 2012-13 season.
…McAdoo averaged 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 38 games. He started three games in his freshman season.
Syracuse center Fab Melo is entering the NBA draft after a breakout season in which he twice was held out because of eligibility issues.
The 7-foot sophomore from Brazil made the announcement Thursday. He averaged 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds for Syracuse (34-3) this past season. He led the Big East in blocks per game and was named the conference's defensive player of the year.
TCU targets Trent Johnson
Amateur basketball in Illinois has reached an unexpected, inexplicable modern low.
You can counter this statement with the fact that a freshman at Kentucky, Anthony Davis of Chicago, was National Player of the Year. And some services rank Chicago Simeon's Jabari Parker No. 1 in the junior class.
OK, but let's get down to the meat and potatoes. First, at the college level this season, the state had no representatives in the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. The Illini were so disappointing (17-15) that the head coach was fired, Northwestern extended its tradition of never making the NCAA field and Illinois State didn't impress anyone (9-9 in the Missouri Valley) until its late surge,
Overall, from DePaul (12-19) to SIU (8-23) and throughout, the 13 luckless Division I schools finished with 150 wins and 256 losses. That averages nearly 20 losses per team.
There wasn't one plus-.500 conference record in the bunch. And five of them finished last in their leagues: DePaul 3-15, Loyola 1-17, Bradley 2-16, Northern 3-13 and Chicago State 2-8.
Basketball in this state has been slipping at the prep and college levels, but this was rock bottom. Embarrassing!
— Of the top 15 players on The News-Gazette's All-State team, a unit that for years was actively recruited to fill major collegiate slots, only one of 10 seniors has signed for a scholarship at one of the six major conferences. Steve Taylor, generally regarded the No. 3 player on Simeon's state champions, is going to Marquette.
— Of the 11 seniors who received the most statewide votes behind Parker (who got 74 of 93 first-place votes), only Taylor has accepted a major offer. Proviso East's Keith Carter signed with St. Louis, North Chicago's Aaron Simpson picked Illinois State, Rockford Auburn's Fred Van Vleet will attend Wichita State, St. Rita's Tony Hicks chose Penn ... and so on, right down to Warren's Darius Paul, the 6-foot-8 brother of Illini Brandon Paul, who'll go to Western Michigan.
Illinois has one scholarship recruit on the way, guard Michael Orris of Crete-Monee, and he wasn't listed among the state's top 30 players tabbed by The News-Gazette.
The DiRenna Award winners are always shocked to hear their name actually called by Dr. James A. DiRenna Jr., whose father and namesake established an award for the top boys basketball player in Kansas City in 1954.
Sumner Academy senior Benny Parker was no different than the previous 59 winners when his name was announced at Shawnee Mission South on Thursday night.
“When they called my name, I was shocked,” said Parker, who averaged 24.8 points, more than six assists and nearly four steals per game this season.
The Sabres, 19-4, weren’t able to win the Kansas 4A state title for a third straight season, losing to an Ottawa squad it beat in the last two state title games during the sub-state final this season.
But it was Parker’s complete body of work that probably tilted the scales in his favor.
“His freshman year through senior year, he was such a great asset to our team, and he got better every year,” Sumner Academy coach Dan Parra said. “His whole resume probably put him over the top.
Parker signed with Nebraska and will proudly carry the mantle of Kansas City’s best into the Big Ten.
The top senior boys and girls basketball players from both sides of the state line will battle for state bragging rights in the annual HyVee/Pepsi Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Challenge at 6 tonight at SM South. Admission is $5 for students and $7 for adults.
The Windy City will try and flex its high school basketball muscle against a field of national powers at the inaugural Chicago Elite Basketball Winter Classic in December.
Three-time defending Class 4A state champion Simeon (Chicago) and Whitney Young (Chicago) are teaming to host the event Dec. 1. Simeon, led by top junior Jabari Parker, is a contender to earn the preseason national No. 1 ranking after going 33-1 in 2011-12.
De La Salle (Chicago) is the third area team scheduled to participate.
"To play locally, in our backyard, in front of Chicago fans and against a national power is a terrific opportunity," Simeon coach Rob Smith said. "Plus, it's Jabari's [Parker] last year. The more opportunities fans have to see him play at home, the better."
4/6 Derby Festival Info (Andrew White)
Possible online stream for Derby Festival Classic
4/7 Nike Hoop Summit
4/14 Jordan Brand Classic
4/21 Capital Classic (Andrew White)
4/27-29 Real Deal in the Rock
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar
My 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, KU Alumni games, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos and more now on Youtube