To kickoff game day against its storied rival, Kansas released its newest adidas design of alternate men's basketball uniforms that the team will be wearing intermittently throughout rest of the 2013-14 season and into the 2014-15 campaign.
The official apparel provider of Kansas Athletics, adidas created two different uniforms referenced as CHALK (cream color) and PHOG (grey color). The Jayhawks will officially unveil their CHALK look on Saturday when Kansas hosts Kansas State inside Allen Fieldhouse. A striking mix of vintage and original, both of the new alternates will don tonal pinstripes that read:
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!
"We decided in late summer that we would have two more uniforms to wear throughout the year," head coach Bill Selfsaid. "Although a little different in color, both are definitely traditional from the fonts used in past going back several decades. We're excited about it. We'll be rotating the uniforms throughout the rest of the season."
CHALK has blue outlines with a script 'Jayhawks' in an upward slant and the jersey number in blue below the second half of the script. The CHALK shorts have a 1946 blue outlined Jayhawk on the side.
PHOG has a white 'Kansas' in circus font, outlined in red, arching across the chest with the jersey number centered below, also in circus font, hearkening back to the 1988 NCAA National Championship uniform. The PHOG shorts have a red stripe and a blue stripe at the bottom.
Although the replica jerseys and shorts from adidas are not scheduled to hit retail shelves until next fall, fans can immediately purchase the new Jersey Hook Tees (throwback replica jersey tees) at several local retailers of KU licensed product, including the store in Allen Fieldhouse and KUStore.com. Complementary hats will also be hitting the shelf in the coming days.
Since 2005 adidas has provided footwear, uniforms, apparel and accessories to each of the Jayhawks' 18 intercollegiate athletics teams. Last June, Kansas announced that it had renewed its partnership with adidas through 2019 for a six-year extension worth in excess of $26 million.
“The key thing is we have to look at the teams before us and how they competed and how we beat them and really just go out and play to the best of our ability,” sophomore Perry Ellis said of Self’s message concerning a series in which KU has won 47 of the last 50 meetings entering today’s 1 p.m. contest in Allen Fieldhouse.
“Playing Kansas basketball is the main thing he’s talking about, just the tradition and things like that,” Ellis added.
…“Kids from outside the area, freshmen from outside the area, they don’t grow up thinking ‘KU vs. K-State’ and all that stuff,” Self said of players such as Canada’s Andrew Wiggins, Cameroon’s Joel Embiid and Massachusetts’s Wayne Selden, to name a few.
“Whatever teams are rivals in the region that people grow up in, that will be who they follow. That’s not in any way, shape or form a knock on anybody. But we’ll talk a lot,” Self added before Friday’s practice.
“Definitely,” Emibiid first said, asked if the Jayhawks’ 90-83 victory over Oklahoma would spark a 10-4 KU team that’s off to a 1-0 start in league play after dropping four of the last eight games. “The next game we have is K-State, our rival, so we definitely will be fired up. We’ll be trying to get another win.”
Bundled up in winter gear for his walk out of Norman’s Noble Center to the team bus, Embiid, who scored six points and grabbed six rebounds while playing 19 minutes Wednesday, didn’t have time to regale reporters with specifics of the Jayhawk-Wildcat rivalry.
That’s sure to come at a later date.
For now, he’s hoping one of his freshman buddies builds off of Wednesday’s breakout game and takes some momentum into Saturday’s game against the red-hot Wildcats (12-3, 2-0), set for a 1 p.m. tipoff in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I mean, that’s how we want him to play,” Embiid said of Wayne Selden, who scored a career-high 24 points off 9-of-17 shooting — 5-of-10 from three — versus Oklahoma. “The last practice he was showing us how he can play, so we knew it was coming.
“That’s the best thing about this team. Every game we have anybody who can step up, either Andrew (Wiggins) or Perry (Ellis), me, or Wayne, anybody can step up,” Embiid added.
…Kansas State coach Bruce Weber had sound pumped into the Wildcats’ arena Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s game at KU.
“We did not do that last year, because coaches did not even know it was going to be that loud,” junior Thomas Gipson said of the noise generated by KU fans in the Jayhawks’ 83-62 win over KSU last Feb. 11 in Allen. “Today, we handled it pretty well. We were still focused and people were still communicating and trying to talk over the music and system. I feel like we did well.
“I told (the freshmen) it was going to be loud, but I feel like it is going to be loud anywhere we go. This is probably the toughest crowd that we are going to be in, so I just told them to not worry about the crowd and just play hard and focus on the court,” he added.
The draft: Chad Ford of ESPN.com updated the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday.
“There are five to six players who are getting serious looks with the No. 1 pick. Though, based on my latest intel, it looks like (Duke’s Jabari) Parker, Wiggins and Embiid are the heavy favorites to take home the No. 1 pick,” Ford wrote.
KU freshman Joel Embiid, who was elbowed in practice in the left eye earlier in the week, is expected to wear goggles for a second straight game today.
“I don’t know. That’ll be Doc’s call,” Self said of Dr. Larry Magee deciding how long the 7-footer will be in goggles. “It’s just precautionary, but I think they’re going to keep him in them for a little while. I was proud of him for being out there (at OU). He gets the goggles on, but he never remembered to take them down. It was kind of comical to see his free throws, and he didn’t remember to put them down,” Self added, smiling.
…KSU senior Shane Southwell on his opinion of KU: “Discipline and bigs ... they always have really good bigs. Now they have good bigs and good wings. I just think of a good program, they are always one of the better teams in the country, and they always play hard. It is going to be a bar fight.
“It’s crucial,” he added of the game. “I never won there or even got close to winning there. I want to get a win there. It is going to be hard to look back on my life and say I did not get a win in that arena.”
Most players improve during college. Many catapult from relative obscurity to high in the lottery. But rarely does it happen like this. Embiid could be the No. 1 pick in June's NBA Draft because he really hasn't had much of a basketball past at all.
It's logic as much as breaking down film. If Embiid's instincts are so good after a few seasons, if his footwork is this advanced while still growing into his body, if he is popping out to scouts at Kansas practices, more than most prospects at major programs who have spent years on the AAU circuit, imagine the possibilities.
"A lot of guys who come so late to the game are mechanical," one general manager said. "They don't have a good feel and can be awkward. He's kind of the opposite of that. He knows how to play considering how little time he's had. That's what jumps out about him. How he's advanced when maybe that shouldn't be expected."
Potential is what rules in NBA evaluations, and that's what has scouts worked up about Embiid, despite the fact that he came off the bench in eight of the first 12 games, four players on the team averaged more minutes and he shot just 63.8 percent from the line. While Embiid may statistically have a complementary role at Kansas -- he is averaging 6.9 rebounds in just 21.6 minutes a game -- he is easily the No. 1 center on the draft board and in contention with Kentucky power forward Julius Randle to be the first big man taken June 26.
He may be first overall, too, in what remains a tight race with Wiggins, Randle, Duke's Jabari Parker and possibly Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State. The other candidates have long histories with scouts -- even Wiggins, Randle and Parker as freshmen. Embiid has an ascension that is breaking necks.
"He's a guy with unique physical attributes," said the head of basketball operations for one team. "For a 7-footer, he's got great hands and feet. He moves very well. I think there's little question he will be an elite shot blocker with that length and leaping ability. But his offense is still a work in progress."
Perry Ellis can be a bellwether.
Six days ago, Ellis finished with four points while shooting one of eight from the field in a 61-57 loss to San Diego State. It was tied for his lowest scoring output of the season, and it’s probably no coincidence that his other four-point night came in a loss at Florida. In 14 games, Ellis has averaged 7.3 points in Kansas’ four losses and 16.4 points in the Jayhawks’ 10 victories.
For two months, KU basketball theory has been pretty simple: If Ellis plays well, the Jayhawks win. If Ellis struggles, they’re in a for a fight.
Self says Ellis was battling an illness during the San Diego State game, and it was certainly easier to feel better after scoring 22 points in KU’s 90-83 victory over Oklahoma on Wednesday. But Ellis has learned an important takeaway from the struggles of the nonconference schedule: This young team needs him at optimum capacity.
“It starts with practice, like always,” Ellis says. “I just went into practice and was attacking and just playing as hard as I can. (I was) just trying to do things at 100 percent.”
…Self likes having Kansas kids on the roster, believing the local flavor adds something — especially on those days that K-State comes to town. For years, Self has mined the local talent, finding valuable pieces in players such as Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Travis Releford, who played high school basketball in Kansas. In a state of 2.9 million people, it was a quality return.
“And we’ve actually missed on some kids, too,” Self said. “We’ve made some recruiting mistakes, gone in a different direction where kids have panned out to be really good players.”
In Ellis, he saw something more than a piece. He saw a building block, somebody that could carry the Kansas torch for three or four seasons, the same as Simien.
“In games like K-State …” Self said. “It’s nice to have some local kids that grow up understanding the rivalry.”
Kansas State at Kansas, Saturday, 2 PM ET
Rivalries are what make college sports special and that's just what we'll have on Saturday at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. The Wildcats are off to a surprising 2-0 start in Big 12 play and have gotten great mileage out of their three freshmen -- Jevon Thomas, Marcus Foster, and Wesley Iwundu -- but how will that trio react in one of the sport's most hallowed venues? Bill Self's team bounced back well from their loss against San Diego State with a good win at Oklahoma and looks like it is heading in the right direction moving forward.
If college basketball had the same assistant-coaching titles and endless studio analysis as the NFL, the men in suits would be tripping all over each other talking about defensive guru Chris Lowery of Kansas State.
And they would have no shortage of material. K-State head coach Bruce Weber, who has the Wildcats playing much more fluid offense than they did under intense motivator Frank Martin, has done his best work during his career when Lowery has handled the defensive end of the floor.
Last season was the third school at which Lowery has served as an assistant to Weber (Southern Illinois, Illinois, Kansas State), whom he left to head Southern Illinois for eight seasons.
Quietly, with Weber juggling head-coach and offensive-coordinator duties and Lowery equating to defensive coordinator, the tandem has put together quite a streak, one that faces tall odds this season.
Kansas ranks eighth in the country in two-point field-goal percentage (55.5 percent), and that’s mostly because the Jayhawks pound the ball inside to freshman center Joel Embiid and sophomore forward Perry Ellis. Nearly 50 percent of KU’s field-goal attempts are dunks and layups, according to Hoop-Math.com. K-State, meanwhile, ranks second in the country in three-point defense but just 100th in two-point defense. The Wildcats must find a way to slow down KU’s efficiency in the paint. EDGE >> Kansas
Marcus Foster vs. Andrew Wiggins will be a matchup of the Big 12’s top performing freshmen. Wiggins entered the season as the nation’s No. 1 recruit. Foster was an unheralded prospect. Their journeys were different, but they will meet Saturday, and they should be entertaining to watch. At the other guard positions, Kansas seems to have an edge. Will Spradling has regressed as a shooter and Shane Southwell has been up and down. Naadir Tharpe and Wayne Selden have been inconsistent as well, but Selden is coming off an encouraging performance against Oklahoma. EDGE >> Kansas
If Thomas Gipson encounters foul trouble, K-State will have to ask unproven D.J. Johnson to play down low. If Embiid encounters foul trouble, Kansas can turn to senior Tarik Black or Jamari Traylor. The Jayhawks are much deeper up front. In the backcourt, Jevon Thomas could be a factor for K-State. The freshman is a tenacious defender capable of frustrating KU’s point guards.EDGE >> Kansas
All the history favors KU and Bill Self. The Jayhawks have won 47 of 50 against K-State, and Self is 21-3 against the Wildcats during his time at KU. K-State coach Bruce Weber, who is 0-4 against KU, has done a masterful job getting the Wildcats back into the top 25. Beating KU at Allen Fieldhouse might require some more magic. EDGE >> Kansas
If Thomas Gipson plays well and guards make three-pointers, K-State’s defense will give it a shot at an upset. If Gipson fouls early and guards miss shots, it will be the same old story for the Wildcats. When the two teams meet at Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 10, the Wildcats could be in position for a rare win over KU. But inside Allen Fieldhouse, KU, despite its youth, still holds the edge.
Freshman Nigel Johnson and Kansas State’s three other impact freshmen have little knowledge of what they’re getting themselves into at 1 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse against archenemy Kansas.
That is, other than what coaches and teammates of the No. 25 Wildcats have told them.
“It’s the loudest place we play, and they said there’s nothing like it,” Johnson said of the impending matchup against the No. 18 Jayhawks.
In the location many — including the NCAA’s website last month — call the noisiest and most intimidating setting for a college basketball game in the country, the Wildcats will play the 278th edition of the Sunflower Showdown against their oldest rival.
“They told me to prepare for the worst with the crowd,” said freshman Wesley Iwundu. “You just have to be mature and be ready to listen to the coach and be focused from the go.”
In the end, I think KU pulls away based on one main factor: fouls. Teams that have come into Allen Fieldhouse with an above average foul rate (think Georgetown) tend to have that deficiency exposed with KU's amped-up crowd, and that free-throw discrepancy probably isn't something KSU will be able to outscore with its still-struggling offense.
Kansas 72, Kansas State 62
Hawk to Rock
A player who can block shots and get to the free-throw line often seems like a perfect fit here, so goggles or not, Joel Embiid should be in line for a big game. Also look for him to have an impact on the offensive glass, as Kansas State has been a good but not great defensive rebounding team.
Gipson, a junior forward, is the heaviest and strongest player on a small roster, which means coach Bruce Weber often asks him to take on opposing frontcourts by himself while teammates spread the floor with speed and athleticism.
It’s a strategy that works. K-State is on a 10-game winning streak, and Gipson is averaging 11.9 points and 6.5 rebounds. He has been at his best in Big 12 play, recording a double-double in the conference opener against Oklahoma State and scoring 19 points against TCU.
But he may need to be even better in his next game. Though he has held his own against all sorts of players, he hasn’t faced a frontcourt as talented and deep as the one he will see against Kansas today.
“They just have so much depth,” Weber said of Kansas bigs Joel Embiid, Perry Ellis, Tarik Black and Jamari Traylor. “Last year, they had a few guys, and they could maybe sub someone in. This year they have Black, who was a veteran starter at Memphis. Some games he plays five minutes. When they do get in foul trouble he is coming in.
“When you look at him, he is a stud. So they just have so much depth there. The freshman big kid (Embiid) is impressive. His post moves and his mobility. ... He doesn’t flinch.”
The closest thing Gipson has seen to that lineup was Gonzaga, which featured three tall, skilled forwards. But the Bulldogs were at a disadvantage that day because Sam Dower left the game before halftime with a back injury and Gonzaga went small the rest of the way. Gipson also missed out on a shot at Oklahoma State’s best lineup. Starting forward Michael Cobbins was out with an Achilles’ tendon injury, and the Cowboys decided to go small.
For the most part, Gipson and K-State have matched up well with opponents during their winning streak. That won’t be the case against Kansas.
Marcus Foster wasn’t supposed to be this good. Not this fast, anyway.
He wasn’t supposed to soar over defenders for dunks. He wasn’t supposed to knock down threes against ranked teams. He wasn’t supposed to be Kansas State’s leading scorer — and he certainly wasn’t supposed to do it all as a freshman.
When Foster came to K-State out of Wichita Falls, Texas, few outside the program noticed. Yet here he is, putting up numbers — 14.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists — comparable to Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis and most other elite rookies.
Foster doesn’t share their one-and-done skill sets, and you can’t find his name on future NBA mock drafts, but he is a rising star at the college level. One media outlet chose him as its national freshman of the week.
He’s the driving force behind the Wildcats’ 10-game winning streak and arguably the best freshman to come through K-State since Michael Beasley.
“He brings a lot to our team,” K-State junior forward Thomas Gipson said. “He is electrifying. He can get to the lane when he wants to. He can pull up and shoot open threes. He can do it all. He is even good on defense.”
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 25 Kansas State at No. 18 Kansas (2 p.m., ESPN)
Saturday’s only matchup between ranked opponents is also a tremendous in-state rivalry between the Wildcats and Jayhawks. Kansas has probably played the most difficult schedule in the country, so they’ll be prepared when another ranked team visits Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Wayne Selden showed flashes of brilliance on the offensive end of the floor in Wednesday’s win over Oklahoma, scoring 24 points and knocking in five three-pointers and the Jayhawks have won seven straight home games against Kansas State. Marcus Foster is playing tremendous ball for Kansas State and the freshman guard looks mature beyond his years as the season goes on. But will Foster have enough help to topple the Jayhawks?
By March, few opponents will want an early-round matchup against a squad with a blossoming 7-foot-1 center (Joel Embiid) and a likely top-three pick in next summer's NBA draft (Andrew Wiggins).
There's one problem, though. The team's pursuit of the Big 12 title -- a title that Kansas has won outright or shared for the last nine seasons -- could be jeopardized in the coming weeks. The program's next four games comprise a brutal stretch -- and also a vital opportunity since three out of four are at home.
The Jayhawks will face nationally ranked foes Kansas State (Saturday), Iowa State (Monday) Oklahoma State (Jan. 18) and Baylor (Jan. 20).
Kansas hasn't beaten a top-25 squad since its Nov. 12 win over Duke in Chicago.
Since then, the Jayhawks have been dissected and scrutinized as the team hasn't met the hype with inconsistent guard play, Wiggins' imbalanced assertiveness, Embiid's foul trouble and turnover problems (232nd in offensive turnover rate per Ken Pomeroy).
Against KU's schedule, many teams would be thrilled to post a 10-4 record. But the expectations are always extremely high for the Jayhawks. The addition of the top recruit in the country solidified them.
But they haven't met them. They still have time to change that, though.
These next four games will offer Kansas a chance to show all -- supporters and doubters -- that it's not only a Big 12 contender but also an assembly that could wreak havoc come March.
These four games could crush the dream, too. Coach Bill Self has only lost a handful of games at Allen Fieldhouse. Iowa State is KU's only road game during this four-game skid.
Yet, the Jayhawks seem as vulnerable as they've been in recent years. And they're facing four of the best teams in America.
By the end of this lineup, we'll find out if Kansas is truly in that group, too.
KUAD: Coach Self weekly presser
LJW: House Divided
“Everybody will have their own take,” Self said. “But housing, where our student-athletes reside now, is way, way, way, way behind what the competitors would be housing their student-athletes in, in a big way.”
To comply with NCAA rules, at least half of the residents of the proposed project would have to be non-athletes. While the cost would be a large investment for a small number of athletes and students, Self believes the project would help his program in recruiting. In addition, he also said the apartments could be built to have better security measures and privacy for some of KU’s more high-profile basketball players.
“In order for us to maintain and even exceed what we’ve been doing, there are certain things that have to be done,” Self said. “Why did we renovate Allen Fieldhouse? Why did we build a practice facility? Why do you renovate offices and locker rooms? Bells and whistles are very, very important, and the one thing that I would say, and we’ve said this all along, ‘Why did we build a new academic center?’ It’s for the benefit, and certainly for the development, of the student-athletes.
“They deserve to have a situation to live in which they can be monitored, in which they can obviously have more security.”
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Bill Self stumbled across a list the other day assembled by some self-described college basketball pundit. The idea was to list the best states for basketball in the country right now, and Self was amused to see Kansas listed second or third.
The Jayhawks coach couldn't remember which spot, exactly, but it didn't really matter.
As far as he's concerned, it should have been listed first.
The only state with three teams in this week's Top 25, the Sunflower State is suddenly the epicenter of the college basketball world. Sixth-ranked Wichita State is undefeated, while No. 18 Kansas and No. 25 Kansas State are both in pursuit of back-to-back Big 12 titles.
The Jayhawks and Wildcats just happen to meet Saturday, too.
"It speaks volumes to when you have three Division I schools in the state and they're all ranked," Self said. "I think when K-State's good it helps Kansas. I would think when Kansas is good it helps K-State. And then of course, I think when Wichita State is doing the things they're doing, obviously it brings attention to our state, which is very positive.
"So I see absolutely no negatives in that stuff," Self said.
Well, maybe this negative: There's an argument to be made that the Jayhawks, long the top dogs in Kansas hoops, are playing second (or third) fiddle to their rivals these days.
"It's pretty flattering," Self said, "to know that a state that's not that highly populated and you only have three Division I institutions that all are doing as well as they are."
In fact, there are only two other states that have more than one team in the Top 25 this week: Iowa State and Iowa are ranked, as are Kentucky and its rival Louisville.
Otherwise, nobody else can make the same boastful claim as Kansas. Not the talent hotbed of Texas, which counts only Baylor ranked among its 21 programs playing Division I hoops. Not highly populated New York, which counts just Syracuse among its 22 programs in the Top 25. And not North Carolina, which has only Duke -- and not the Tar Heels or North Carolina State -- in the poll.
In fact, the state with the most Division I programs -- California, with 24 -- failed to land a single one in the poll. UCLA? Nope. USC or California or Stanford? Nowhere to be found.
…"It's saying that Kansas is a basketball state," said Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis, who grew up in Wichita. "There's a lot of good players that come through Kansas."
There's no disputing that. The success of the state's three flagship schools, in some ways, can be traced to the powerful prep programs that have popped up in recent years.
There were five Division I prospects in the state last year and nine the year before, and they weren't low-major talents, either. Ellis and fellow Wichita product Conner Frankamp went to Kansas, Semi Ojeleye chose Duke and Willie Cauley ended up at Kentucky.
While the state has long had one of the nation's premier junior college conferences, schools such as Sunrise Christian Academy near Wichita have become must-stop destinations for high-major coaches. Among the Sunrise products is Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield.
"I've been real pleased with who we've been able to recruit," Self said, "and I hope that there's good players in our state every year. I wish we could get a kid out of here every year because I do think it adds something to your program to have some local flavor."
Ten Kansas City-area men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their alleged roles in a truck and cargo theft ring.
One of the men, 51-year-old Myron Piggie, may be familiar to college basketball fans.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri, the men face charges for conspiring to steal nearly $1 million worth of trucks and trailers in addition to cargo.
On Dec. 14, 2012, the men were charged in a 25-count indictment that remained under seal for one year. In late December 2013, the indictment was unsealed and made public.
Defendants include Kenneth Ray Borders, 42; Christopher Dwight Turner, 44; Reginald Shawn Tidwell, 43; Harold Robertson, 55; Verdie Carr Jr., 53; Ryonell Eugene Frederick, 45; Michael O’Neal Foster, 54; and Myron Piggie, 51, all of Kansas City, Mo., as well as Jon Dirk Dickerson, 55, of Raytown, Mo, and Kyle Wayne Dickerson, 30, of Holden, Mo.
According to the release, each defendant worked to steal commercial trucks and trailers, as well as stolen meat, beer, Nike shoes, electronics, appliances and dog food. Borders, Tidwell, Turner and Foster allegedly stole five Freightliner trucks and 17 trailers between 2005 and 2011. The trailers included reefers with 39,000 pounds of meat; 565 boxes of beef valued at $149,790; $125,000 worth of frozen ribs; and tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of frozen chicken, including $59,706 in chicken wings alone. The indictment also showed utility trailer theft, including one trailer with $16,657 worth of Budweiser beer, Nike shoes worth $217,353 and 21,000 pounds of Little Sizzler sausages.
Prosecutors allege the men reused the stolen trucks and trailers by using false vehicle identification numbers, fake license plates, forged registration documents and made-up carrier names. The group even faked U.S. DOT certificates. When trucks or trailers broke down, the men disposed of them rather than repair them, the release said.
Investigators later found stolen truck and trailers dismantled on property lots leased by the defendants.
Frederick, Robertson and Piggie allegedly received the stolen cargo. Piggie, who owns the MP Convenience Store in Kansas City, MO, was once a major player in summer basketball leagues central to major college basketball recruiting. He served jail time after being convicted of funneling money to top prep basketball players, including several who later played in the NBA. Prosecutors have filed a forfeiture allegation against the men that could require them to forfeit property “derived from the proceeds of the alleged conspiracy,” the release states, including $991,234.
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
The No. 2-ranked Villa Angela-St. Joseph boys basketball team had a chance for a big victory over Chicago Currie, but fell in the final minutes, 66-63.
The Vikings were able to get off to a good start, taking a four-point lead after the first quarter, and increased the lead to eight at the half. However, Currie, ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Super 25 made a run in the third, cutting it to one point before making just enough plays down the stretch for the victory.
Leading the way for Currie was Cliff Alexander. The Kansas commit scored a game high 25 points. The Vikings were led by Brian Parker, who finished with 20 points, while Carlton Bragg scored 16 points.
JaQuan Lyle was the hero of Huntington (W.Va.) Prep's victory over Our Savior New American (N.Y.) on Thursday night, scoring 23 points and hitting the game-winning free throws in the Mustang Madness event at McCracken County High School.
He's also one of the only top-rated players in the Class of 2014 who hasn't made a college decision.
Lyle, who decommitted from Louisville in September, was supposed to take his first official visit — to Kansas — this weekend, but that trip had to be postponed. Lyle's nephew was born a couple of months premature and is scheduled to come home from the hospital this weekend. So he'll spend the next few days in Indiana with his family before returning to Huntington Prep, which is off until next week.
Lyle hasn't rescheduled the official visit to Kansas and has no other trips planned. He said he was unlikely to take any visits until March, when Huntington Prep has finished its season.
The 6-foot-5 guard mentioned Kansas, Oregon, West Virginia, Providence and Memphis as the schools that are recruiting him the hardest at the moment. He also said he has had no contact with U of L or Kentucky since he decommitted from the Cardinals, and he's not expecting to hear from either school.
One program that has popped up in the past few weeks is Oklahoma State. Lyle said he played "phone tag" with Cowboys Coach Travis Ford, who was able to get in contact with Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford and later Lyle.
Ford said he wanted Lyle to come to Stillwater for an official visit. He also compared him to Marcus Smart, the current Oklahoma State point guard who is expected to be among the first players chosen in this year's NBA Draft.
"I need to make the best opportunity for myself. And I think that's a good opportunity to come in and play right away with them losing Marcus Smart," Lyle said. "It's just something I need to think about.
"He said he likes me because I'm a big guard. He compared me to Marcus Smart and said he could develop me into the best player I can be. Eventually, I want to go to the NBA, and I've seen what he did with Marcus Smart."
Lyle has no timetable for making a college decision.
As for recruiting, Lyle expressed that he still has all five official visits remaining. Asked if he planned on utilizing them prior to a decision, he said:
“I don’t know yet. If I get to a place and fall in love, I may wait a week and if my heart still feels good [about the school], then I’m going to make a decision, but I don’t really know.”
As far as rescheduling his Kansas trip. Lyle says there’s no current timeline, but that Kansas is on his list to receive a visit.
“Pretty much every one of our weekends are tied up until March, so we won’t have officials until March,” he said.
Lyle told SNY.tv he has no official list, but that Kansas, Oregon, West Virginia and Memphis are coming at him the hardest right now.
“I haven’t taken any [officials],” he said. “Just to Memphis and UConn unofficially.”
Lyle said West Virginia — where Huntington Prep is located — is coming hard.
“West Virginia is coming after me real hard right now,” Lyle said. “Full force, I mean [head coach Bob] Huggins is coming in, assistant coach [Larry] Harrison is coming in, West Virginia is coming hard.”
…Most of the schools see him as a combo guard.
“A lot of schools are looking at me as a combo more,” Lyle said. “Ball handling that can take the pressure off their guards. So a lot of schools are talking combo; some schools are talking just straight one. It all depends on the position I’m in.”
With the late signing period coming up in April, Lyle said he had no timetable for a commitment, but expects to have a decision made prior to then.
Still, that that doesn’t mean he’s not willing to push it into summer if needed.
“I will be done before late signing period,” he said. “If I get my official visits in and I feel like I get to the right place, then I’ll make a decision. But if I still don’t know where I want to go by the late signing period then it may roll into summer.”
Class of 2015 forward Carlton Bragg was wearing a UK sweatshirt as he left McCracken County High School following Friday's practice.
He returned that night for what turned out to be an exciting, back-and-forth matchup with Kansas signee Cliff Alexander.
Bragg went right at Alexander — one of the top five players in the Class of 2014 — and finished with 18 points and double-digit rebounds, but Alexander's Curie High (Ill.) team defeated Bragg's Villa Angela St. Joseph (Ohio) squad 66-63.
There's no UK offer yet for Bragg, but the 6-foot-8 prospect says he's "playing his butt off" to land one. He added that Kentucky is the one offer he wants that he doesn't have yet. Kansas, Ohio State, Louisville, Illinois, Arizona and several others have offered.
Bragg said he's not anywhere close to a decision and doesn't even plan to cut his list to 10 schools until September.
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