They left New Orleans on the day before the storm, packing up their things and heading west.
It was August 2005, and Kelly Oubre Sr. wasn’t sure what the future would bring. But he knew he had his son, a boy with a special gift. And he had a plan in his head. Someday, he thought, he wanted Kelly Jr. to be mature enough to make his own choices, wise enough to make his own plans.
So as Hurricane Katrina pounded their hometown, the Oubre men arrived in Houston. They had family back in New Orleans, where Kelly Jr. had grown up in the Third Ward. But for weeks, they bunked in a hotel, waiting for New Orleans to return to normal.
“It was just me and my dad,” Oubre says. “It was a crazy process.”
But before the Oubre men could return home, Kelly Sr. began to fall for Texas. He saw opportunity there — a chance for his son to escape the crime and corruption back in New Orleans.
“I decided to stay,” says Kelly Sr., now a special education teacher in Houston. “Because I knew my son would hopefully be in this position one day where he was able to make his own decisions.”
…For Oubre, a potential top-10 recruit in the 2014 class, an evening at Late Night in Allen Fieldhouse confirmed all he needed to know about Kansas.
“I never felt nothing like it in my life,” Oubre said. “I pretty much knew. That sealed the deal right there.”
For Oubre, though, the recruiting process was more than just choosing a place to go to school. If he chose the Jayhawks, it would be closer to joining a lifelong fraternity.
“The brotherhood,” Oubre said. “Even though some of those guys are for sure going one-and-done, they still treated me like I was royalty out there.”
“It was kind of the litmus for him,” Kelly Sr. added. “Would it be something that he wanted to be associated with for the rest of his life?”
…He is currently rated as the nation’s No. 12 overall prospect, according to Rivals.com. But according to national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi, Oubre could make a push into the top 10 after his senior season at Findlay Prep. (Oubre played his first three high school seasons in the Houston area.)
“He’s a 6-foot-7 wing with deep range, a college-ready body and a pretty advanced offensive game,” Bossi said. “He can shoot from deep. He can score in the midrange. And he’s got the athleticism and physicality to score at the rim — so he’s a three-level scorer.”
…“It’s a win-win all the way around,” Kelly Sr. said. “We don’t talk about one-and-done possibilities in my house, because I’m more concerned about maturity, longevity and development.”
When the going gets tough, new Kansas University basketball commit Kelly Oubre Jr. takes a long look at a prized possession that hangs on his bedroom wall.
“He got a black belt (in karate) when he was 7. It’s his first sense of accomplishment,” Kelly’s dad, Kelly Oubre Sr., said Tuesday after his son, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound senior shooting guard from Findlay Prep High in Henderson, Nev., orally committed to play basketball at KU.
“I always refer to that when times get rough for him, so he can actually see what he accomplished early on. It’s why he doesn’t quit on things that he starts,” Oubre Sr. added.
Oubre, who chose KU over runner-up Kentucky and Florida, said, “of course I kind of lost all my karate skills (in concentrating on hoops the past many years), but I’m proud of my black belt. I’m very proud of it.”
…“Kelly is the top player in 2014. I’m a biased dad but also a basketball aficionado,” Oubre Sr., said. “He can feed the post from anywhere. He can run the point, play the 2, the 3. He can play the 4. He can post up and take you off the dribble, do pretty much whatever coach needs him to do.”
Noted Findlay Prep coach and former Georgetown standout Jerome Williams: “He has length, athleticism, shooting range that does not limit him on the court, is an extremely hard worker and great student. He’s carrying a 3.8 (GPA) here.”
…“Coach Self is pretty much like ‘Godfather’ of the whole program because everybody buys into his system,” Oubre Jr. said. “They follow his lead because when he is happy, the whole team is happy. When he is in the gym, everybody is up tempo. It all revolves around him. He gets down to business when it needs to be done because he wants to win national championships.”
Self stressed to Oubre and his dad that Kelly would be an instant impact player.
“We spoke to him that he needed a replacement for Andrew (Wiggins, 6-8 freshman) because Andrew will probably be one-and-done,” Oubre Sr. said. “Even if Andrew stayed, my mindset was Kelly can learn from Andrew a lot about the position and go against a top-notch guy consistently. Even if Wayne (Selden, 6-5 freshman guard) stays, it’s still a win-win. There wasn’t a bad scenario we could put together.”
…The elder Oubre, who is a special-education teacher, said: “That’s one of the reasons behind choosing Kansas. Coach Self doesn’t kick you out if you are not ready. I don’t care too much for it (one-and-done) because if you look at it over the last couple drafts, the success of the guys one-and-done is few and far between. Every once in a while you find guys who can make it through.
I’m more concerned about his education after maybe a two-year stint or three-year stint. How close is he to that degree and having a greater business mind going into the next level, whatever that is?” added Oubre Sr. “I think the first year in college as well as the pros, maybe two, is a learning curve. That learning curve can be cut considerably if he stayed and developed in college.”
…Oubre, who said he “felt the love” of the fans at Late Night, said he would try to help in recruiting.
“I’m trying to recruit my boy Tyus and Jahlil,” he said of package deal Tyus Jones (6-1, Apple Valley, Minn., High, ranked No. 5) and Jahlil Okafor (6-10, Chicago Whitney Young, ranked No. 1). And big Cliff (Alexander, 6-8 Chicago Curie, No. 4). We can be the best recruiting class probably ever. We have a chance to get it done.”
Kansas landed its first commitment in the Class of 2014 when Kelly Oubre, the No. 10 player in the ESPN 100, announced his commitment on Tuesday.
Spending time in Lawrence and experiencing "Late Night in the Phog" apparently sealed the deal for the third-ranked small forward, who plays for Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.).
"When I went on my visit, I bonded with the team and they treated me like family," said Oubre, a native of Richardson, Texas. "I watched them practice twice and [I like] how hard they go and I like the way Bill Self coaches. He doesn't hold back; he is all business and gets on them. Off the court, Coach Self is a fun guy to be with."
In Oubre, Self landed one of the more athletic wings in the country. Oubre's versatility at both ends of the floor -- skill on offense and length and explosiveness on defense -- will stand out in Lawrence.
The Jayhawks are no strangers to exciting big guards/small forwards. Oubre fits the mold of Ben McLemore, who played one season at KU and was the No. 7 pick in the 2013 NBA draft, and top Class of 2013 recruit and projected 2014 No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins.
Kansas is hardly done recruiting. The Jayhawks are making pushes for No. 1 overall prospectJahlil Okafor and No. 1 point guard Tyus Jones, who are reportedly planning to pick the same school, as well as for No. 2 Myles Turner and No. 39 JaQuan Lyle.
College basketball's early signing period begins Nov. 13.
How he fits: Self has a go-to player on the wing in Oubre. Oubre is a tough matchup because of his ability to score at the rim to the arc and rebound from the perimeter. He will be a highlight waiting to happen on the break, a kick-out shooter, slasher and lob catcher within the halfcourt offense. Self will take advantage of Oubre's matchup and it will pay big dividends for the Jayhawks on the offensive end of the floor. Defensively, Oubre can line up and successfully defend a shooting guard, small forward or a undersized power forward if needed, and can switch on all three perimeter positions at end-of-clock situations, too.
Who he reminds us of: Oubre reminds us of James Harden of the Houston Rockets -- another left-handed explosive scorer. Oubre can get into a scoring groove and put up big numbers. He can finish at the rim or knock down the deep 3. He simply finds a way to manufacture offense.
ESPN: Scouts take ($)
Best Rhythm Scorers
Kelly Oubre (Fort Bend, Texas/Findlay Prep)
SF, 6-foot-7, 190 pounds
Oubre can play above the rim on the break or hit the deep jumper. When he gets it going, he can score from these areas repeatedly. This lefty is long, strong and a very difficult wing matchup.
ESPN Rankin USA developmental team camp recap ($)
Oubre has a rangy frame with long arms and overall good length. He is a good athlete (solid bounce) that can glide to the rim in transition. However, he appears to be more comfortable launching 3s from all over the court, specifically the corner 3-pointer. His stroke is smooth and his release is fairly quick.
Oubre needs to continue to polish his ball skills and not become one-dimensional (shooter only). He has the length and lateral quickness to be a better lock-down defender and rebounder.
Oubre has taken his game to another level. He does whatever his team needs for them to win. Oubre is a player who's stock is on the rise.
The way things are looking, 2014 stars Rashad Vaughn and Kelly Oubre have a chance to be one of the most devastating wing duos the high school ranks have seen in quite some time when they team up at Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep. Ranked No. 7 and No. 12 nationally headed into USA weekend, Vaughn and Oubre backed up their lofty status.
The No. 2 shooting guard in the class, Oubre has always shown glimpses of greatness but at times lacked consistency. Consistency wasn't a problem in Colorado Springs, though, and his play matched the rumblings emanating from Las Vegas about him this fall. Oubre shot the ball at a high level from deep, he used his strong frame to bully defenders on his way to the hoop, and he showed more midrange game and consistency than he has in the past. All in all, he made a strong case to be moved into the national top 10.
Rivals USA Basketball: What We Learned
@K_Ctmd22 commits to @KUAthletics Watch him & his Findlay Prep teammates all season long on The Basketball Channel starts Sat, Nov 2 at 7pm.
S/o to my bro @K_Ctmd22 on Committing to Kansas !! #RockChalk
@ShowtimeMr (Rashad Vaughn)
10/8/13, 8:53 PM
Congrats to my bro @K_Ctmd22 on committing to Kansas today!!!
@Im_that_dude22 (Jayson Tatum)
ESPN’s national college basketball reporter, Jason King, said should Wiggins make his likely leap to the NBA at the conclusion of this season, Oubre will be his successor.
“We know Wiggins is going to be gone,” King said. “It sounds like [Self] went out and got the best player he could get.”
Rivals.com lists Oubre as the 12th best player in the class of 2014. The 6-foot-5-inch, 200-pound wing chose Kansas over offers from Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Texas and Kentucky.
Oubre is the first commit Self has received for 2014. His early decision to join the Jayhawks can pay even greater dividends with Kansas still in play for other top ten recruits such as Myles Turner, Tyus Jones, Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor.
“Oubre committing to Kansas is just going to make other guys more interested,” King said. “Hopefully he has an influence on these other guys. He may be able to swing a couple other recruits who may be on the fence.”
…When Kansas lost assistant coaches Danny Manning and Joe Dooley, Self chose to replace them with highly touted recruiters Norm Roberts and Jerrance Howard.
“They’re probably two of the top five in the nation,” King said of Roberts and Howard. “You don’t want to say anything negative about the recruiting of Joe Dooley or Danny Manning because they won a national title but I certainly think you’re seeing Kansas win a few more of the Kentucky battles than we’ve seen in recent years.”
With the top players remaining in the 2014 class, King says it’s vital for Self to go after high-level point guard Tyus Jones.
Kansas hasn’t had great stability at the point position since the graduation of Sherron Collins in 2010.
“If they were able to go out and get Tyus Jones,” King said. “That’d certainly be the cherry on top.”
UK started seriously recruiting Oubre over the summer and offered him a scholarship after the Nike Peach Jam event in July. John Calipari flew to Texas last month for an in-home visit with Oubre's father, then the pair flew together to Nevada to meet Oubre, who is playing his senior season at Findlay Prep.
Scout.com ranks Oubre the No. 11 overall prospect in the Class of 2014. He's rated No. 4 in the class by 247Sports.
His commitment to Kansas marks Bill Self's second consecutive high-profile recruiting victory over Calipari. The Kansas coach also beat out UK for Andrew Wiggins, who was the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2013.