5/19/13, 6:07 PM
Congrats to my big bros @elijahjohnson15 @T_2releFOUR @KevinYoung40 @JeffWithey graduating from KU today love y'all boys
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do,” says Aldrich, who finished his degree by taking nine credits this past semester through online classes. “And (it’s) something that I really can be proud of the rest of my life.”
The graduation should be the beginning of a busy summer for Aldrich, who will marry his longtime girlfriend and fiancé Britt Claflin in July. He’ll also have to worry about his day job. After playing sparingly during his first three seasons in the NBA, Aldrich is now an unrestricted free agent and will be looking for another NBA opportunity.
Selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 11th pick in the 2010 draft, Aldrich played just more than seven minutes per game in his first two seasons before being included in the deal that sent James Harden to Houston. The opportunity for playing time Houston was limited as well, and Aldrich was sent to Sacramento in a midseason deal that also included former KU forward Thomas Robinson moving from Sacramento to Houston.
“When you don’t get that opportunity,” Aldrich says, “people maybe don’t see what you can do all the time.”
Aldrich finished off the season with back-to-back double-doubles in the Kings’ final three games, and he’s hopeful he can find the right opportunity in free agency this summer.
"The fun thing is," Aldrich says. "There’s some opportunities some place, and other opportunities other places. And that’s a good thing for me being an unrestricted free agent. You really get exposed and see where those opportunities are for me to get out there and play."
If Andrew Wiggins was at the Dick Vitale Gala, he likely would've pointed to Bill Self as the reason he chose Kansas.
It's all about keeping things in perspective.
…Those who spent time with Self at Friday's gala could see how heart played a role in Wiggins' decision.
Self has won a national title, has been to two Final Fours and earns a base salary is close to $4 million annually. But in many ways, he is your average Joe.
He wanted to talk more about the gala than landing a player who could win him a national title and boost his reputation as a recruiter.
"It's humbling to be here at the gala. What it does for everybody who leaves here is make you stop and think whether we are really worried about the right things," Self said. "We need to slow down, appreciate life and love on each other as opposed to be being caught up in the day-to-day hustle that we think is so important, but in the big scheme of things is irrelevant."
Wiggins figures to make the biggest splash at Kansas since Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning.
…Self wants people to look at Wiggins as a kid just out of high school, but concedes that's going to be tough, especially at Kansas, where basketball passions run high 24 hours a day.
"In our neck of the woods, he is the biggest thing that has come to Kansas since Manning or even Chamberlain," Self said. "There is pressure on him, but I don't think you temper expectations. You might as well embrace them. He is just a kid, but I think it will make him tougher and hopefully prepare him for the future."
Self knows he likely will have Wiggins for only one season. He doesn't like the NBA rule that forces high school players to wait a year after graduation to join the league.
"I wish the kids could go if they wanted to, though there is a lot of misinformation going around. A lot of kids are ill-informed and want to believe they are ready for the NBA when they are not," Self said.
"But first of all, I am humbled to be a very small part of this (gala). As a coach, there is a next game and another season. We are very competitive with each other, so why can't we join forces and be competitive against this disease."
Photo Gallery Dick Vitale Gala
Congrats to Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene and Andrew Wiggins on being named to the Parade Magazine All-American Team! See story in Recruiting below.
Coaches stress that in recruiting, like baseball, strikeouts are part of the game. Losing Randle still stung, in part because it diminished KU’s chances of landing a bona fide one-and-done star in 2013.
With Randle off the board, the only other candidate was Andrew Wiggins, the soft-spoken Canadian phenom considered the consensus No. 1 recruit in his class. Wiggins was a wild card, though; he communicated sporadically, mostly in text messages, and offered no hints about which way he was leaning.
The Jayhawks already had a strong class headlined by McDonald’s All-American Wayne Selden and five-star center Joel Embiid, but Wiggins was considered a game-changer. When KU’s coaches gathered Tuesday morning to learn Wiggins’ decision, they realized it could be a historic day or just another disappointment.
“I didn’t have a clue that he would pick us,” assistant coach Kurtis Townsend said.
As KU fans know by now, Wiggins picked the Jayhawks and immediately became one of the most celebrated recruits in school history. In the realm of perception, a rebuilding squad on the fringe of the top 25 was transformed into a team capable of contending for a national title, all because of one moment in the life of a teenager.
Here’s how it happened, constructed from interviews with coaches involved in Wiggins’ recruitment.
The specific pitch to Wiggins, a 6-foot-8 guard/forward from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, went something like this: “The opportunity, the need, the exposure, the style of play, the success we’ve had of late,” Self said of selling points. “The programs he considered (Kentucky, Florida State, North Carolina) have all got it going, and others have it going as well.
“We’ve had it going pretty well, too. We’ve been able to sell what we’ve done and been able to sell a track record. That said, you have to have a connection with people, and Kurtis Townsend did a great job with he and his family. I’d like to think he (Wiggins) has a comfort level with our players and recruiting class coming in. It was a team effort, without question.”
Self has some stats ready to present during in-home visits with prospects.
“We have won as many or more games than anybody of late. We’ve won the league (Big 12) nine years in a row,” Self said. “We’ve had lottery picks in the league (NBA). We’ve graduated every kid we’ve had here as a senior except one. I think we’re 27 out of 28 now. We’ve not played to less than a sellout in 12 years. There are a lot of things we can sell.”
Self sometimes gives a history lesson to recruits. Last week, ESPN radio host Doug Gottlieb was amazed Self said he mentioned Jayhawks Ralph Miller and John McLendon, who are not on the radar of current high schoolers.
“Dr. Naismith was our first coach. Adolph Rupp did play here. Dean Smith did play here. Ralph Miller was here, and John McLendon was from here, and Wilt (Chamberlain) was from here. Start adding that all up, there’s a lot of positive things that have taken place here,” Self said, proud of KU’s tradition and tree of coaches.
“There are so many people that impacted our game historically that basically got their start here. It’s an easy sell, a great product. Still yet with players in today’s time and immediate gratification and things like that, you have to be able to sell opportunity too.
“I think we can plug Andrew in and utilize him similar to Ben (McLemore, last year’s leading scorer as freshman who is off to NBA), plus some, and I think that’s something he was attracted to.”
Wiggins had a great time during his campus visit — during which he attended KU’s Senior Night game against Texas Tech. Wiggins left with a lasting impression of KU’s Allen Fieldhouse and its fans.
“Once kids get out here and visit, it’s different. Everybody that experiences it, even though you may expect it to be good, it’s usually better than what you expect,” Self said.
“Andrew liked getting to know the coaches (of schools recruiting him). His ego didn’t bother him where he had to be recruited like a lot of people feel they have to be recruited. He’s not one of those guys you had to talk to every day or write a note to every day. He’s one of those kids you know says, ‘I got my information. Coach, you do your deal. I’ll do mine.’ That’s how it played out.”
…“We’ll have bigs and guys who can score on the perimeter, and we’ll have length and be athletic. We’ll just be very young,” Self said of the upcoming 2013-14 season. “We may not win as many games (as last year’s 31-6 team), but from a talent standpoint, we have a chance to be very good and by the end of the season hopefully a team that plays for high stakes.”
12 days left #KansasBound
S/O to all my KU fans lets get ready to win this championship #KUCMB #Loyalty #Jayhawk4life !
Kansas freshman Ben McLemore said Thursday he knew nothing about any payments that AAU coach Darius Cobb told USA Today he received from Rodney Blackstock, he founder and CEO of Hooplife Academy in Greensboro, N.C., to direct McLemore to an agent. Cobb said in the report that he took $10,000 in two separate payments. "I think this was just to attack Rodney Blackstock," McLemore said while he was watching the draft combine in Chicago. McLemore said he did not personally take any money and that he did not commit an NCAA violation. McLemore said he was one of Andrew Wiggins' hosts at Kansas and said Wiggins will fit in perfectly with coach Bill Self. "I know if I was there we would have had one of the best backcourts in the country with me, Wiggins and Naadir Tharpe," McLemore said, adding that he would have loved to have played with Wiggins, but he knows he'll see him in the NBA in a year.
ESPN Andy Katz
SI interview with McLemore
He could become the first St. Louis player to be picked No. 1 in the NBA draft, a battle that most consider to be between McLemore and Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel.
…Although he was not in St. Louis as a high school senior, he was part of a stellar area 2011 senior class that featured Washington Wizards rookie Brad Beal (Chaminade), the consensus No. 4 player in the country that year as well as Arkansas’ BJ Young (McCluer North) at No. 20 and McLemore at No. 41. Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr., who was born in St. Louis but played at Scott County Central High in Sikeston, was No. 34.
“Me, Ben and Brad always had a rivalry growing up, and we knew each other really well,” Young said. “Other people would say, ‘Who is this guy?’ But this is not surprising.”
McLemore spent two days at the pre-draft combine interviewing with as many teams as he could. On Thursday night alone he was scheduled to meet with officials from six cities.
Because the selection order among lottery teams won’t be known until Tuesday, teams made sure to cover their bases. And just by chance, the Washington Wizards announced that Beal will represent the franchise at the lottery.
McLemore could become the first shooting guard to be taken No. 1 in more than three decades, and the chance to earn that status has meaning.
…After Beal was picked No. 3 overall a year ago, McLemore and Porter are considered locks to go among the top five next month and Young is expected to be taken in the second round.
McLemore has been playing the role of an unsuspecting phenom, saying the experience is “like a dream” and “I can’t believe I’m in this position.”
But when you think about it, the trek from being a player without a high school to a soon-to-be millionaire is not quite ordinary.
“Just coming from nowhere, coming from nothing and being able to have an opportunity to get the No. 1 spot is a blessing,” he said. “I’m going to work for it the same way (Noel) is going to work for it. It’s definitely neck and neck.”
St Louis PD
Former KU center Jeff Withey, who is regarded as a first-round pick, did work out at the combine.
“It’s similar to games at LeBron (James camp),” Withey told hoopsworld.com. “I’m used to being around top names. We play against a lot of great players in the Big 12. I know a lot of these guys from camps and stuff.
“Human nature you are looking to your left and see a guy hit a shot, you want to match that,” Withey added. “If you don’t you kind of get down on yourself. But I am not too worried about everyone else. I’m trying to focus on myself and get better. If I miss a shot I know I’m going to make the next one. It’s the mentality I have.”
Official Pre Draft Measurements
Draft Express analyzing the combine measurements
Big 12/College News
After the loss of Jerrett and Chol, the Wildcats added Kansas transfer Zach Peters to the mix.
“Timing sometimes is everything and in this case it really was,” Miller said. “It worked out.”
Miller added that he didn’t even know of Peters until a few months ago. The loss of two forwards created an area of need, though, and Peters was someone to fill that role.
The 6-foot-9 Peters was a three-star recruit and the 27th-ranked power forward in the 2012 recruiting class, according to ESPN.com. Yet, his time at Kansas was anything but special.
Peters left Kansas in late November to try and recover from injuries, including two concussions and a rotator cuff injury during his time with the Jayhawks. Peters has had four concussions starting with his senior season in high school, according to the Associated Press. He never played a game at Kansas.
“I think any young freshman who deals with that many injuries all in a short period of time; you can see why he moved on to get healthy. That was his reason,” Miller said. “Now that he’s healthy, he regained in his mind that thirst to be a college basketball player and pursue his dreams and it just so happened that the timing of that coincided with us.
“I don’t think we could have added a more quality player for what we needed.”
By the time the 2013-14 season starts, it will have almost been a year since his Peter’s last concussion which Miller said is a good sign. Still, the coach added that Arizona has done its due diligence to research and medically clear Peters.
Because of the medical hardships, there is a chance Peters could play this season but the NCAA still has to review his case. If he does receive special clearance, Peters could fill a role very similar to the departing Jerrett.
“He’s a very skilled player, he can shoot the ball from the perimeter,” Miller said. “One of the things that I was excited about is that he’s not small … He gives that skill level that maybe we had with Grant [Jerrett] moving forward.”
Arizona Daily Wildcat
It's been an offseason of personnel changes for Kansas State.
Already having lost Rodney McGruder, Martavious Irving and Jordan Henriquez to graduation, the Wildcats also saw starting point guard Angel Rodriguez, backup big man Adrian Diaz, and seldom-used guard Michael Orris all transfer.
Coach Bruce Weber countered those losses with a five-man recruiting class -- and the acquisition of Justin Edwards, who transferred from Maine after averaging nearly 17 points. On Friday, Weber officially announced the addition of another transfer.
Brandon Bolden, a 6-foot-10 center from Georgetown, is heading to Kansas State.
"With such a large incoming freshman class, we really wanted to add a more experienced player to our team plus we needed someone with his kind of size and length,” Weber said. “I think the year off will be great for Brandon to not only develop and improve his game, but also to get stronger in the weight room. He will be a great asset next season just as a practice player to make our guys better."
Bolden, a South Carolina native, played one season at Georgetown. He appeared in four games, registering only a missed shot in five minutes.
T-shirts are already rolling off the line. By Saturday morning, a shirt featuring the three Big 12 championship banners was available on the school’s website for $19.95.
K-State should take advantage. Capturing league titles in the major men’s sports spread across the academic year isn’t quite Halley’s Comet infrequent.
But it’s rare.
Louisville departs the Big East with a three-bagger this year. Texas is the only other Big 12 team to accomplish the feat and Stanford did it in 1999-2000. That’s it for programs from the automatic qualifier conferences of the BCS era, which started in 1998.
Kansas State turned the triple play on Friday night when Coach Brad Hill’s baseball team defeated Oklahoma 6-5. The teams entered the three-game series with the title on the line with K-State requiring one victory and the Sooners needing a sweep.
When Tanner Witt scored from third on a passed ball with one out in the ninth, the Wildcats had a walk-off victory and most improbable of the three championships, based on expectation.
…Even K-State president Kirk Schulz raised his eyebrows at the across-the-board achievement.
“If you had told me in August that we would win Big 12 titles in the three major men’s sports I don’t know if I’d have believed you,” Schulz said. “But it’s been a truly special year, and it’s something we’ll take plenty of pride in.”
Also satisfaction knowing the accomplishment was crafted on a middleweight budget. Kansas State’s athletic revenues of $63 million for the 2011-12 school year, the last year federal figures are available, place the Wildcats in the lower half of Big 12 schools. Texas leads the nation at $163 million.
But K-State isn’t exactly winning on the cheap. The school has invested some $130 million in facilities in recent years, including a new basketball practice center and the West Stadium Club, the expansion of luxury seating at Snyder Family Stadium that’s on schedule to open this season.
Smaller upgrades are no less important. Two years ago, Kansas State spent $950,000 to resurface its baseball playing field, including outfield turf where grass had been. The result? During a season where weather played havoc with some Big 12 schedules, K-State didn’t lose a home game and could finish with the league’s best home record.
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski acknowledged in a phone interview Saturday that he's in discussions to return as head coach of USA Basketball through the 2016 Olympics.
"There's a chance," Krzyzewski said. "That's correct."
Krzyzewski said he hasn't made a final decision, but his openness to the position represents a significant change. For eight months, Krzyzewski has maintained he's not returning as USA Basketball's head coach.
On Saturday, Krzyzewski said he and USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo have been talking about his return "quite a bit."
Colangelo said Saturday he and Krzyzewski have been discussing his return "in installments."
"I think it's very close to being resolved," Colangelo said. "That's all I can say for sure."
He added: "Give it another week and it should be resolved."
Since winning the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, Krzyzewski consistently insisted he would not return to coach USA Basketball. As recently as February, he publicly dismissed the notion in an ESPN Radio interview saying his "stance hasn't changed."
While his return isn't final, there's a strong feeling in basketball circles Krzyzewski will come back for a final run with USA Basketball that will include the 2014 World Championships in Madrid and the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
UCLA and Steve Alford.
A basketball program of unmatched pedigree led by a former prodigy who became a national champion and Olympic gold medalist before making a steady climb up the coaching ladder.
On paper, a harmonic convergence.
How they came together, a choreography of those themes, would make for a dazzling introduction, which UCLA held at center court in historic Pauley Pavilion last month.
The aura of John Wooden, his contributions to sports and society — and those 10 national titles — was thick. Alford mentioned Wooden three times in his first three minutes at the microphone.
"We found a coach that not only represents and honors the treasured history of UCLA's place in college basketball, but also a coach who will bring a brand of unselfish basketball," Athletic Director Dan Guerrero gushed.
What could go wrong?
When the news conference was over, what was supposed to be a breezy, feel-good event quickly turned sticky and uncomfortable.
During a one-on-one interview, Iowa came up. Alford, who coached the Hawkeyes for eight seasons, was asked about his staunch defense of Pierre Pierce, a player accused of sexually assaulting another student in 2002.
"I totally believe he's innocent," Alford had said at the Big Ten Conference's basketball media day that year. "I believed it from Day One, and I still believe it." Days later, Pierce, a star guard, agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and also sit out one basketball season.
Three years later, Pierce would go to prison after assaulting another woman. He pleaded guilty to two charges of first-degree burglary, assault with intent to commit sexual assault and fourth-degree criminal mischief.
Now, asked to explain his actions and comments so many years later, Alford took a defensive stance after the news conference last month.
He said he had handled the situation the way his bosses at Iowa had instructed him to. "I really didn't do anything," he said. "The university made the call on everything."
So, they told him to say Pierce was innocent?
"When those comments came out, it was just about supporting your player," he said sternly. "But you have no idea what's going on."
UCLA athletic administrators were stunned. They had signed Alford to a seven-year, $18.2-million contract with the expectation that his hiring would invigorate an apathetic fan base. They expected him to be greeted with open arms.
Long before he met with coach Sean Miller to discuss joining the Arizona Wildcats' coaching staff this spring, Damon Stoudamire's image was already on a McKale Center hallway, his name was in the rafters and his numbers were prominently in the school record book.
Stoudamire tried to separate all that from what he is now.
"I told Sean, 'I'm here as a basketball coach - I'm not here as an 18, 19, 20-year-old young man playing for coach (Lute) Olson,' " Stoudamire said.
"My responsibilities have changed. I'm here to help this program compete at the level that it's been and try to make it even better."
Miller apparently agreed.
"I'm hiring Damon not because he's one of the all-time great players here, though that's part of what makes him special," Miller said Friday, after Stoudamire was formally named an assistant coach. "I'm hiring him because he's absolutely the answer as a coach. His relationship with players, his ability to teach, his ability to connect with today's student-athlete in the recruiting process or with players here, he's been there and done it at the highest level.
"To me, who he is as a coach speaks way louder than what he did years ago here at the University of Arizona. That's what's most exciting for me - we're getting a heck of a coach."
Arizona Daily Star
The battle against homophobia took a giant step forward recently when Jason Collins came out — the first openly gay American male professional athlete to do so while still in the game. It was courageous. It was needed. And, with the exception of a few ignorant souls, it was supported by most in and out of professional sports.
Since then, however, one sad, clear message has also been sent:
The battles rages.
Brittney Griner, one of the most dominant women’s college basketball players ever, said in a magazine interview her Baylor coaches suggested that Griner not make her homosexuality public knowledge out of fear that it might hurt recruiting.
“The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn’t let their kids come play for Baylor,” Griner told ESPN The Magazine.
It would be easy to throw Baylor, a Baptist university in Waco, Texas, under the bus, but that would be narrow-minded and parochial thinking. Baylor lists homosexuality under the subheading of sexual misconduct in its student handbook.
It espouses, “purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior.
“It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.”
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey has yet to respond to Griner’s comments. Based on the university’s handbook, her career at Baylor might be in jeopardy if she disputes Griner’s comments.
New York Post
Nearly a month after Jay-Z inked former NCAA basketball star Skylar Diggins to his newly launched Roc Nation Sports, Young Hov reportedly treated her to a pricey Mercedes Benz.
College graduation is a day to celebrate accomplishments and toast to the future. Some people may even get thoughtful gifts from friends and family. For former Notre Dame basketball player Skylar Diggins, graduation day will certainly be unforgettable. Diggins currently plays guard for the WNBA's Tulsa Shock and graduated Sunday from Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. Her agency, Jay-Z's Roc Nation, surprised her with quite the gift. Diggins left her graduation ceremonies and was surprised in the parking lot with a brand new white Mercedes, complete with a red bow and a handwritten note from Jay himself. Diggins posted a collage of photos of the car on her Instagram account with the caption, "Got surprised with a new Mercedes! Thanks so much to Jay and @rocnation, and @dancyautogroup!" (NESN)
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
Semi Ojeleye, a Duke signee from Ottawa, Kansas, averaged more than 38 points per game this season while also getting the job done in the classroom to the tune of a 4.0 grade-point average.
Because of those achievements, Ojeleye was named the recipient of Parade’s highest individual honor on Saturday.
This past season, Ojeleye’s high school team went 25-0 and captured its state title, while he set career and senior-year scoring records (2,763 and 952 points, respectively) for the state of Kansas. No mean feat, especially when you consider that the career mark had stood for 17 years. Along with his ability to score, he also averaged nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals a game. He also shot 38 percent from 3-point range and 82 percent from the free-throw line.
The other finalists for the honor were Wiggins, fellow Kansas signee Conner Frankamp, Arizona signee Aaron Gordon, and Oklahoma State signee Stevie Clark.
Parade also announced its All-America Team, which traditionally is a long list that includes players headed to a variety of schools. (Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp, Andrew Wiggins selected)
Okafor is being recruited by mostly the same schools as Jones, expect for Okafor has North Carolina and Louisville on his list and Jones has Minnesota, which has its campus only about 20 miles from his home.
"We're letting each other have really their own recruiting process," Jones said. "At the same time, we're still kind of talking with each other on what schools we have in common and where we think we can go together and feel like we'll be successful."
Jones plans on playing AAU ball all summer and then concentrating on his college choice. He's already scheduled one of his NCAA-allotted five official campus visits, heading to Baylor along with Okafor at the end of August.
"I would like to have a decision by (November) so I can just concentrate on my senior year and have it out of the way," Jones said. "If I'm not ready to make a decision, then I'm not going to force anything or rush anything because it's such a huge decision and a very difficult one at that."
One thing that Jones is confident about is that he will play with Okafor at the next level.
"I'd probably say like 99 percent," Jones said. "It's just really something that we've focused on and really want to do."
Rivals' Eric Bossi recaps EYBL Dallas (Video at the link)
Final weekend of the EYBL regular season, last chance to qualify for the Peach Jam
2013 Spring/Summer AAU & Camp Schedule
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