KUAD: Pregame Notes
We want to alert our WIBW-TV viewers that Tuesday’s KU basketball game will not be on channel 13. The KU Athletic Department signed an agreement with Cox Cable in northeast Kansas and that means WIBW-TV does not have access to the games.
As he awaits a ruling on his eligibility, Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo has hired an attorney with experience battling the NCAA on student-athlete rights issues, Yahoo Sports has learned.
Attorney Don Jackson was formally hired Monday to join Diallo's legal team, which has become worried the NCAA could delay a ruling this season, sources told Yahoo Sports.
...The NCAA received 2,000 pages of homework from Diallo's Our Savior high school courses, and has requested middle-school transcripts as far back as sixth grade, multiple sources told Yahoo. In 2014, Mike Nzei was ruled ineligible at Seton Hall after being unable to produce his homework from Our Savior.
Diallo is in his second academic semester at Kansas.
Diallo and Kassoum Yakwe of St. John's attended Our Savior together. Yakwe also is waiting for an eligibility ruling. Along with Diallo's Mali and New York schools, the NCAA has investigated his legal guardian Tidiane Drame, multiple sources told Yahoo. Drame has hosted basketball camps in Mali since 2007, become known among high school and college coaches and started the "Mali Hope" program that has given African basketball players an after-school structure.
One person close to Kansas’ Cheick Diallo is lawyering up for a potential legal fight as the NCAA continues its investigation into the eligibility of the freshman big man.
Tidiane Drame, a Malian-American who has served as Diallo’s legal guardian in the United States, has enlisted the representation of Donald Jackson, an Alabama-based attorney with a long history of representing college athletes in NCAA cases. Jackson, who joined the case on Monday, confirmed his involvement to The Star in an interview on Tuesday morning.
A report from Yahoo! Sports said Jackson was hired to represent Diallo in the case. Jackson told The Star his involvement, at the moment, pertained to Drame, a Malian-American who helped bring Diallo to the United States and pursue a college basketball scholarship earlier this decade.
…Jackson said the NCAA was also looking into Diallo’s relationship with Drame.
…Jackson said he was still familiarizing himself with specific aspects of Diallo’s eligibility fight, including the NCAA’s scrutiny of his academic eligibility. The University of Kansas has spent much of the last month offering more information to the NCAA on Diallo’s behalf.
Alabama-based attorney Don Jackson, who has represented many athletes in connection with NCAA eligibility issues, has become involved with the Cheick Diallo case by taking on his guardian as a client.
Tidiane Drame of Richmond, Calif., contacted Jackson late last week about representing him and formally hired him Monday, Jackson told Sporting News. Jackson said he expects to initiate contact Tuesday with the NCAA.
...“To the extent that Tidiane is connected to this case – we do have a strong desire to see Cheick Diallo cleared,” Jackson said. “There’s no reason for him not to be.”
...University of Central Florida freshman Tacko Fall, who had still not been cleared by the NCAA's Eligibility Center as of Tuesday morning, plans to sue the NCAA if it does not approve a last-minute academic waiver to make him eligible to play this season, ESPN reported.
Amanda Wettstein, Fall's guardian, told ESPN that the NCAA is refusing to accept some of the core courses that Fall completed in high school and that "he will be represented" if the NCAA doesn't render a favorable decision for him.
“I would say that in the situation we’re in, we are in a partnership with the NCAA. That’s by their bylaws. That’s by the mission statement of the NCAA. The NCAA and member institutions are a partnership to try to work together to come out with not necessarily the answer that we want or the answer they want but the right answer. So I can’t do what some will do (campaign) because that’s not the mission of this,” Self said.
“The mission of this is to do the right thing based on the information that has been compiled. It’s frustrating. It’s beyond frustration. We haven’t commented on it, but the process we have been told is still ongoing. Whenever the process is still ongoing. ... a lot of that is on us because we obviously aren’t content with the way the process is moving.
“We’ve got to do our job as far as to create a situation in which the process moves in a more favorable direction toward Cheick, if in fact that’s possible, which we 100 percent believe it is. Yes it’s frustrating but at this point in time I don’t have to say anything publicly because that will happen. That’s going to happen. It won’t necessarily have to come from the University of Kansas or the athletic department, but it’ll happen. It can’t help but happen. At some point in time when you see a 6-foot-9-inch kid sitting with a coat and tie on at the end of the bench, every camera that we play at is going to focus and the announcers are going to talk about Cheick. That’s going to happen. That doesn’t mean we’re planting seeds. That’s a fact of the matter. Every game we play (in which he’s) not suited up that’s going to be a topic of conversation. It’s not like we have to do it. Trust me the media will be our mouthpiece without question,” Self added.
The Kansas frontcourt is a crowded puzzle. The Jayhawks’ perimeter defense was a glaring flaw in their opening exhibition game. And KU coach Bill Self believes he could have a solution for both.
“The way things are going,” Self said Monday, “I think Perry (Ellis) is going to play a lot at the three.”
…So let’s put this in the right context: Self says Ellis will continue to start at power forward, and continue to log a heavy workload at the four. But with freshman forward Carlton Bragg flashing his luminous potential, veteran forwards Hunter Mickelson and Landen Lucas looming as options at center, and Diallo still a possibility in the pivot, Self has envisioned a creative way to squeeze some more minutes out of his frontcourt. The plan involves Ellis roaming the wing for stretches, playing alongside Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham in the backcourt.
“When (Ellis) plays a lot at the three, that allows another big (man) to be in the game,” Self said. “The way I see us moving forward, I think that could be a good lineup for us.”
…“We got to get much better at the wing defensively,” Self said. “That was atrocious.”
“Our two best perimeter defenders, without question, are Frank (Mason) and Devonte’ (Graham), and we’ve got to have somebody else back there that can slide their feet and become a lockdown-type defender for us.”
In KU’s opener, Wayne Selden started and played 20 minutes at the 3, while wing players Brannen Greene (16) and Svi Mykhailiuk (15) also received extended minutes.
Self was specifically asked if Tuesday’s exhibition finale against Fort Hays State would be a big game for Selden, who had high expectations coming into the season after leading the Jayhawks in scoring in the World University Games.
“I don’t know about big game, but I just want to see how athletic we are and see if we can actually guard little guards,” Self said. “That was ridiculous. We had simple switches in which guys are just going right around us and shooting layups.
“I think they shot about 30 percent for the game, if I’m not mistaken, and I’ll bet you out of the 30 percent they shot, I’ll bet you they made 10 layups.”
Landen Lucas said he has recovered from the ankle sprain that limited his playing time to eight minutes in the opener against Pittsburg State.
“It is much better. It was a bad time for it to happen, at the end of practice right before the game,” Lucas said. “It gave a lot of people a chance to go out there. I’ve been here long enough. I feel coach understands what I can do. I can show him in practice, too. I probably should not have played and not tried to force the issue. I’ve got to move forward and get ready for the regular season and our first game.”
Self said effort has been intense at practice since the Pitt State game.
“We’ve gotten better since our last game,” Self said. “I thought we played very poorly in a lot of areas in that game (including staying in front of perimeter players). Hopefully we’ll be improved this week.
“I’m not overly pleased,” he added of workouts. “I think some key players, especially some returning guys, can step it up another level.”
Self said forward Landen Lucas, who was slowed by a sprained ankle versus Pitt State, “is fine. He’ll be 100 percent (for Tuesday).” Self said junior Wayne Selden Jr., “was sick on Saturday and missed a day. Everybody should be ready to go tomorrow (today).”
Growing up in rural Paola, like many boys who love basketball, Lucas Wilson dreamed of one day playing at the legendary Allen Fieldhouse.
Wilson made that dream come true Nov. 4 in the University of Kansas Jayhawks season opener.
…“It was an awesome experience,” Wilson said. “Growing up I had always dreamed of playing in Allen Fieldhouse. I never really pictured it being for the other team, but it was still a dream come true.”
Wilson was one of the many youth basketball players in Kansas to learn some of the finer points of the game from Jayhawks’ coach Bill Self during one of his camps.
“I have the utmost respect for Bill, and it was pretty awesome to get to play against him,” Wilson said. “Sometimes I caught myself during the game looking into the crowd and just being amazed by the amount of people and the volume that they produced.
“When I first got to check in to the game, there was a lot of stuff going on in my head,” he said. “But most of all, I was beyond excited to play on that famous court.”
Miami County Republic
It marked the first time in Wiggins' two-year career that he's had consecutive 30-point games. His 3-pointer early in the third made it 81-47.
“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
Preseason All-America team
The Associated Press’ 2015-16 preseason All-America team, with school, height, year and votes from a 65-member national media panel (key 2014-15 statistics in parentheses):
Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga, 6-10, senior, 51 votes (16.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 53.6 fg pct, 46.6 3-pt fg pct).
Georges Niang, Iowa State, 6-8, senior, 46 (15.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.5 apg, 40.2 3-pt fg pct, 80.5 ft pct).
Kris Dunn, Providence, 6-4, junior, 43 (15.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 7.5 apg, 2.7 steals)
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, 6-4, senior, 40 (17.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 82.2 ft pct).
Ben Simmons, LSU, 6-10, freshman, 27 (high school: 28.0 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 4.0 apg).
Others receiving votes: Melo Trimble, Maryland, 26; Marcus Paige, North Carolina, 20; Malcolm Brogdan, Virginia, 17; Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin, 11; Ron Baker, Wichita State, 9; Skal Labissiere, Kentucky, 9; Fred VanVleet, Wichita State, 9; Perry Ellis, Kansas, 4; Wayne Selden, Kansas, 3; Yogi Ferrell, Indiana, 2; Jakob Poeltl, Utah, 2; Kyle Collinsworth, BYU, 1; Anthony Gill, Virginia, 1; Damian Jones, Vanderbilt, 1; Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga, 1; Tyler Ulis, Kentucky, 1; Denzel Valentine, Michigan State, 1.
“He's not only one of the great players, he's one of the great people in America,” Chipman said. “It's fun watching him even though I was on the other side. I'm really impressed with Oklahoma, they're character, great people, unbelievable team.
“I hope I see them in the Final Four. I think they're that good.”
Chipman got an up-close view of Hield this summer when Hield returned to Wichita, Kan., and worked Chipman's camp.
“It was (Kansas' Wayne) Selden, Buddy and (Wichita State's Ron) Baker,” Chipman said. “Buddy'd be the first one there, last one to leave. Still, he was getting all his workouts in, which was crazy.”
After polling coaches across the country for expected order of finish in each conference, we ranked each schedule. We'll run down top 10 loaded nonconference schedules, the softest non-league slates, the most disappointing schedules and more. Teams were penalized for playing cupcakes and rewarded for playing away from home.
Top 10 nonconference schedules
1. Kentucky Wildcats
John Calipari's team plays Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, UCLA in Pauley Pavilion, Duke in Chicago, Louisville (at Rupp Arena) and Ohio State in Brooklyn. The home slate isn't overwhelming, but there shouldn't be many teams in the 300 range of the RPI, either.
3. Vanderbilt Commodores
It will be hard to find any team that will play three more challenging true road games than the Commodores, who go to Purdue, Texas and Baylor. Kevin Stallings' team also has Dayton at home and plays in the Maui Invitational, where it should get Indiana in the second game.
6. UCLA Bruins
Steve Alford's team plays Kentucky (home), North Carolina in New York and Gonzaga in Spokane. The Bruins also open the Maui Invitational with UNLV, could get Kansas in the second game and will likely play a quality opponent on the final day.
8. Kansas Jayhawks
Bill Self's Jayhawks played the toughest nonconference schedule two years ago and checked in at No. 2 last season. This one isn't quite as tough, but still cracks the top 10 with Kentucky at home, Michigan State in Chicago, three games in Maui (the Jayhawks will play either UCLA or UNLV in the second game), and also a road contest at San Diego State.
T10. Texas Longhorns
Shaka Smart will have his hands full for his first season in Austin with a slate that includes North Carolina, UConn and Vanderbilt at home as well as Texas A&M and potentially Gonzaga in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Won't see any hostile crowds
Duke Blue Devils
Duke won't play a single true road game in the nonconference schedule, but the Blue Devils aren't alone: Neither will Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Minnesota and Washington.
"It's a very different year than last year," Bilas said on a teleconference. "Last year at this time, at least we felt we knew who the separated teams were. We talked about Kentucky having a chance to run the table."
"This year, we don't have that same feeling," Bilas said. "We don't know. We have to put somebody at No. 1. But it's not clear cut. I'm not sure I'd put any team in the top six from the start of last year (in the top six this pre-season)."
Greenberg agreed, saying as many as 14 teams could be in college basketball's top echelon this coming season.
Greenberg divided the likely contenders into two categories:
■ What he called "upperclassmen teams" that might want to add a newcomer or two to a rotation of veterans. Kansas, North Carolina, Iowa State and Utah are among the teams that fit this description, he said.
■ What he called "emerging teams" that have largely a new cast of players that must coalesce into an effective unit. Kentucky, Duke, Arizona and California are among the teams that fit this description, he said.
"How much better will these teams be in January and February when they develop an identity and they develop a trust," Greenberg said of the emerging teams. "When you put the two (types of teams) together, it makes for a really intriguing and exciting season."
Bilas also sounded intrigued.
"I don't think (Kentucky is) as good this year," he said. "And I don't think their potential is as great as last year's team ...
"For any team that emerges, there aren't as many obstacles this year. ... I don't see the strength at the top that we saw last year."
Welcome to the Year of the Asterisk.
Heading into the season, college basketball looks to be as wide open as it has been in recent memory. A quick glance at the top 25 shows that more than half of those teams could – could – win a national title.
Yet not a single one of them seems even close to a sure thing as a Final Four contender.
…National champion: Kansas
This is the most balanced team in the nation. When I look at all of the Jayhawks’ parts, I don’t see anything missing. There’s experienced, aggressive point guard Frank Mason. There’s reliable, experienced senior Perry Ellis, who is basically the college version of Tim Duncan. There’s underachieving junior wing Wayne Selden, who seemed to finally come into his own during the World University Games this past summer in Korea. There’s smooth 6-foot-8 Ukrainian Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who may have been invisible last season but whom NBA teams drool over. There’s Brannen Greene, who Bill Self told me is the second-best shooter he’s ever coached. (No. 1 was a kid from his Oral Roberts days.) The list keeps going: Blue-chip freshmen like Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg, quick and explosive point guard Devonte’ Graham (perfect for a small-ball, two point guard lineup), energetic down-and-dirty guys like Jamari Traylor. I’m not sure whether there’s one go-to guy on this team. I’m not sure it matters. This strikes me as the most San Antonio Spurs-like Self team, and that’s very much a good thing.
The asterisk: Will Diallo be eligible? And if so, will he be eligible in time for Self to be comfortable with Diallo in a defined role in his rotation? I wish the NCAA would clear this up soon, if only because it really messes with my predictions when I don’t know Diallo’s future. Diallo is the difference maker for Kansas. With him, Kansas has a high-motor, athletic big man who can block shots, grab rebounds and get down in the muck. Without him, Kansas has … Hunter Mickelson? Landen Lucas? Traylor? All three of those guys are people you love to have on a roster. But all three are enormous drop-offs from Diallo.
Forbes: Big 12 By The Numbers
Andrew White III led four Huskers in double figures with 18 points as the Huskers topped Northern State, 95-42, Monday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
White, who sat out last year after spending his first two seasons at Kansas, hit 6 of 10 shots from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers to lead a balanced attack that saw 12 players break into the scoring column.
Big 12 Composite Schedule
Fox — the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2016 — has narrowed his college choices to Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas and Louisiana State. He visited UK for last month's Big Blue Madness and is widely expected to announce his commitment to the Wildcats on Thursday.
"I don't think much has changed," said Scout.com director of recruiting Evan Daniels. "I think Kentucky has been the frontrunner for quite some time, and it's just been about De'Aaron settling on that choice and feeling 100 percent comfortable with it and then going out and pulling the trigger.
"I fully expect that he picks Kentucky on Thursday."
…The weeklong early signing period for college basketball begins Wednesday.
USA Today: Analyzing the top uncommitted seniors and the likelihood they'll sign early
Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-7 senior forward from Prolific Prep in Napa, California scored 30 points with 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in his squad’s 98-91 loss to Victory Rock Prep on Saturday at the Cornfield Classic in Ames, Iowa.
Jackson, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, is considering KU, Michigan State, Arizona, Maryland and others. He will not choose a school in the early signing period which runs Wednesday through Nov. 18.
“Josh is the finest high school player I’ve ever seen,” Prolific Prep coach Billy McKnight told Zagsblog.com. “He is a super talented player and not just physically, but mentally. He picks things up so quick. His physical attributes are phenomenal. He’s an extremely unselfish player, phenomenal passer. And he really just makes the game look easy, even against guys that we have right now that are high-level players. He just does things that are incredible. He’s a treat to watch as a basketball fan and obviously we’re excited to have him, and he’s going to go on and do some unbelievable things.”
Jarrett Allen, a 6’9, St. Stephen’s Episcopal and Texas PRO product, stands as the only five-star talent still heavily considering the Longhorns, and earning his commitment is of the utmost importance. As noted, Texas has only one guarantee down low for 2016-17 in Banks – that is, once he signs his NLI – considering there’s still the slight possibility Cleare departs for the NBA, should he have a spectacular season. But even in an ideal situation, in which Banks comes in and exceeds expectations from day one, while Cleare returns and physically imposes his will, having absolutely zero depth in the daunting Big 12 is essentially a losing recipe.
In that same ideal situation, where the 6’8 small forward Jordan Barnett could likely play some stretch forward – which would fit Smart’s system – a lone commitment from Allen would transform an option-less Texas frontcourt into a formidable one while the skilled backcourt shoulders the scoring load.
Unfortunately for Texas and the "unproven in a Power 5 Shaka Smart," the Horns will be tasked with battling the likes of recruiting extraordinaire John Calipari and powerhouse Kentucky. As of now, 247Sports Crystal Ball heavily favors the Wildcats hopes of luring Allen to Lexington.
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2015-16)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube