Some people got to see his athletic ability in action during practices this season.
On an NBA TV segment on Friday night, former Kansas coach Larry Brown likened McLemore’s athletic ability during Kansas practices to Russell Westbrook’s while he was at UCLA.
McLemore may not be as talented, but if a former NBA coach looks at McLemore and connects him to Westbrook — one of the 10 most talented players in the NBA — that’s incredible news for Kansas fans.
One of my friends got to watch McLemore in a practice one day and came away convinced that he had the most NBA Draft potential of anyone in the gym. And yes, Thomas Robinson was at practice that day.
To earn starter’s minutes, McLemore will need to work on his defense. He told the Lawrence Journal-World a week ago that he struggled to keep up with Tyshawn Taylor in early practices.
In all honesty, though, Self didn’t sign McLemore to be a lockdown defender.
The first time we’ll get to see McLemore in action on James Naismith Court is Oct. 12 for Late Night in the Phog. The players will jog out of the tunnel and form layup lines. Those layup lines will slowly evolve into dunk lines.
McLemore will throw a couple dunks down. Sleepy eyes in Allen Fieldhouse will suddenly open wide.
The Ben McLemore experience will officially and finally begin.
Michael Ferdman, a 40-something executive from New York, accepted a pass from a teammate with three seconds left on the clock Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.
The man who recently scored a game-winning goal in overtime in a Mark Messier/New York Rangers hockey fantasy camp game in Madison Square Garden, calmly swished a three-pointer to lift his Bill Self Fantasy Camp hoops team to a 47-45 come-from-behind victory over a shell-shocked Norm Roberts-coached squad that was burned at the buzzer.
“It’s the most exciting thing. I’m sweating. My heart is pounding. I’m a nervous wreck. I was like, ‘Gosh,’’’ exclaimed ESPN announcer Holly Rowe, one of the coaches of Ferdman’s team.
The shot improved the Rowe/Ferdman squad to a perfect 3-0 with two games left to play. It was so clutch — so Mario Chalmers-esque — it raised the question: Did it come off a scripted play from the bench?
“It was a set play. I don’t think we were running it quite right,” Rowe said. “Michael has hit clutch shots. He hit four free throws to win our last game. He hit the three to win this game. He has ice in his veins. He’s been terrific.”
…“I’ve gone to 15 camps — Michael Jordan’s (in Vegas), Duke’s (Mike Krzyzewski in Durham, N.C.). For a first-time camp, this is as good as any,” said Ferdman, who was born and raised in Chicago.
…“We have millionaires and decamillionaires here,” one observer said of the participants who for one weekend have provided ESPN’s Rowe what she considers an opportunity of a lifetime.
“I’m here to learn about basketball, help me be better in my job,” Rowe said. “We had a film session with coach Self. He broke down the second Missouri game. I wrote down stuff I’ll use in my reporting for next year. I felt I’d be shy (coming into the weekend). I’m the only woman. I didn’t want to be annoying. The guys say they love my scouting reports. They’re encouraging me to be part of this. I’m invested.”
Former Kansas University shooting guard Billy Thomas, who played for three NBA teams in a 12-year professional basketball career, sought out upcoming NBA lottery pick Thomas Robinson on Thursday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
“The first thing I did is congratulate him on a great season, great career and told him that team (2011-12 Jayhawks) made everybody who played at KU before them extremely proud,” said the 36-year-old Thomas, who just completed his second year as head coach at The Barstow School in Kansas City, Mo.
He’s been helping out at Bill Self’s fantasy camp for 35- to 60-year-olds, which runs through Sunday.
“I’m extremely proud of the way they fought,” added the 6-foot-5 Thomas, who swished a pair of threes during Thursday’s camp-opening scrimmage. “The statement they made as a team as far as being tough and grinding it out and finding ways to win ... where, as a younger team in the same season, they lost those games early on.”
…Like Boschee, who is an assistant coach at Missouri Southern, Thomas has goals of someday coaching college ball.
He’s taken a big step in that regard by completing work toward his degree in African American Studies.
Thomas will graduate in May, which will make his family members in Shreveport, La., mighty proud.
“I knew I would do it for all the people involved in my life (he and wife Raquel have a son, Zion, 3, and daughter Leyland, 1) and for myself,” Thomas said. “To have scrapped and clawed to reach my goals athletically, but never lose sight of getting my degree ... it means a lot to the people pushing me toward that. It means more to me because nobody else in my family has a college degree. Coming from my neighborhood and to be able to be a college graduate of a school this prestigious ... I’ve been fortunate to accomplish this with the help of a lot of people including Wayne Walden, Paul Buskirk, Scott Ward (academic advisors at KU; Walden is now at North Carolina). Those type of people — great people — continue to help me chase this thing down.”
…“With Billy, it’s his consistent effort over the years to finish a class here and there and continually working on it while he was still playing and believing someday — whether he’s 35 or 25 years old — that he’ll get his degree,” Ward said. “I think Billy would tell you it’s a lot easier to finish your degree while you are here the first time. Ask anybody. For an athlete or non-athlete to come back in their 30s and finish ... it’s a challenge. It’s one Billy was up to. This is coach’s (Bill Self) philosophy across the board ... that guys who leave or leave early (for pros) can finish their schoolwork, and we do the best we can to assist them.”
Tyshawn Taylor, a big part of Kansas basketball’s most recent run through the NCAA Tournament, will be in Topeka from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday for a book signing at Kansas Sampler, 5918 S.W. 21st St.
A key figure in the University of Kansas athletic ticket-skimming scandal has returned to federal court, asking for a shorter sentence.
Former athletic department consultant Thomas Blubaugh, 48, filed a motion late Friday asking that his 46-month sentence, which he received a year ago, be reduced to 33 months.
Blubaugh, the husband of Charlette Faye Blubaugh, the university’s former ticket director, helped his wife steal tickets and then conceal the wide-ranging, $2 million scheme to divert tickets to the black market.
His wife received a 57-month sentence, which she is serving at a federal prison in Texas. Thomas Blubaugh is at a prison in Oklahoma.
In his motion, filed without a lawyer, Blubaugh contended that his sentencing judge “relied heavily on hearsay, assumptions and inferences” in deciding that thousands of unsold tickets stashed in a Lenexa storage unit were evidence that the Blubaughs were trying to hide their crimes.
The sentence was imposed by Senior U.S. District Judge Wesley E. Brown, who died in January at age 104. In a written order filed immediately after the sentencing, Brown said that had university auditors known about the so-called “deadwood tickets” in the storage unit, they could have uncovered the theft scheme much earlier.
“(A)ny suggestion that moving the deadwood tickets to a private storage unit was not part of a concerted effort to conceal the defendants’ theft of tickets defies both common sense and the clear import of such actions,” Brown wrote.
Blubaugh also contended he should have received a shorter sentence because his conduct was less serious than that of co-defendant Kassie Liebsch, a former interim KU ticket director, who received a 37-month sentence.
Blubaugh is the first of the seven KU ticket defendants to challenge the legality of his sentence. Prosecutors have not yet responded to his motion.
A federal judge in Wichita recently rejected a request from Brandon Simmons, the athletic department’s former director of sales and marketing, that he be released early from his two-year probation.
Big 12/College News
After the NCAA expanded the tournament in 1985, it added a shot clock the next season and the 3-point line the year after that.
The result: The game has never been the same.
Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin choses his words carefully regarding ESPN’s BracketBusters.
Nobody knows the future of BracketBusters, except perhaps people at ESPN. It is a diminished event with the loss of one of its strongest conferences, the Colonial Athletic Association. Elgin will get a better idea how ESPN plans to proceed in June when the network meets with conference leaders from around the nation.
BracketBusters is not universally loved, as Elgin knows, but the February made-for-TV weekend provides the MVC a lot of exposure and memorable games. BracketBusters looks less attractive to a lot of people without the CAA, which is moving its TV rights to NBC Sports Network.
Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, Old Dominion — all gone from the pool of possible opponents.
“We were naturally disappointed to learn the CAA won’t be participating,” Elgin said. “Their teams added a lot of interest in the event and we’ve had some good matchups.”
The MVC is tied to BracketBusters for the length of its ESPN deal, four more years. Elgin, however, said that doesn’t mean BracketBusters will continue past the 2013 season. He said ESPN reviews the event each year. He will discuss it with MVC coaches and administrators in conference meetings in early May.
“If it doesn’t continue to work well for everyone, chances are it will go away,” he said. “If people feel it still meets their expectations … it will continue to be a fixture.”
Now that Southern Methodist is interviewing Larry Brown for its basketball coaching job, perhaps someone had better start going through the files. They might need the standard Larry Brown contract pretty soon.
What is that? We happen to have a copy right here.
Brown is, without question, one of the premier teachers of the game of his time. But he has also tended to wander off. Not every man can say he has been head coach for 30 percent of the NBA teams, or held the position for 13 pro or college teams in all four time zones of the U.S. mainland.
Matter of fact, this is the 40th anniversary of him resigning at Davidson — without coaching a game. Somehow, Larry Brown’s career, for all its accomplishment and genius, has almost always reminded us of a pit stop.
Asheville Citizen Times
One of the men who accused Bernie Fine of sexual abuse now claims he made up the allegations against the former Syracuse assistant basketball coach.
Zach Tomaselli, 23, also says he was coached by another Fine accuser, Bobby Davis, about what to tell investigators.
"It has been a burden of a lie and I am sick of it," Tomaselli wrote in an email to CNYCentral, an upstate news website. "Bobby Davis told me what to tell detectives and it pretty much took off from there. The evidence that supports me is just pure luck, not real evidence. I made the ENTIRE thing up. I have never met Bernie in my life."
Tomaselli said he made up the allegations against Fine because he was angry that Syracuse beat Kansas, his favorite college basketball team, in the 2003 NCAA championship.
"I don't have feelings most of the time," he said. "I just hate people without caring."
"Tomaselli is scheduled to report to a prison in Maine next week to begin serving a three-year sentence for sexually abusing a teenage boy, and he also suggested he made up the allegations about Fine to generate sympathy.
"I can't talk about my case," he told CNYCentral, "but you can guess the answer."
Davis and his stepbrother Mike Lang have accused Fine of molesting them during the 1980s and 1990s. Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said in December that he believed Davis and Lang were credible but he couldn't bring charges because of statute of limitations issues.
"We find it unfortunate that Mr. Tomaselli has chosen to target Bobby Davis, who the Onondaga District Attorney has stated is credible with respect to his report of being sexually abused by Bernie Fine," said attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Davis and Lang in a defamation suit filed against Syracuse and head basketball coach Jim Boeheim.
Davis told ESPN on Friday that he did not tell Tomaselli any details about how Fine allegedly abused him.
"There were like two phone calls between us and they lasted a total of three to four minutes," Davis said.
"It was very short. I asked him all the questions. I asked him to describe Bernie's house, to describe the arena, to name the players on the team at that time. He kept changing his story with me. He couldn't name the players, couldn't describe the house. I said, 'You just need to call the police.' I called back and asked him if he called the police and he said, 'no one answered.' I said, 'no one answered?'"
NY Daily News
KC Star photos: Missouri unveils new uniforms
Alex Oriakhi arrived in Columbia around 9 p.m. Thursday night, his mind pretty much made up.
Few knew it then, but the junior transfer from UConn had already decided he wanted to attend Missouri. He just wanted to make double sure.
“This is where I wanted to go from the beginning,” said Oriakhi, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound center. “It was just a matter of me visiting.”
And while Oriakhi had two more days remaining on his weekend visit – he’s staying through Sunday – it took him less than 24 hours on campus before he realized that by waiting, he was just delaying the inevitable.
So Oriakhi made it official Friday; he was committing to Missouri, thus giving coach Frank Haith's team the defensive presence it sorely needs in the middle next season.
“Why should I delay it when my heart was telling me to commit?” Oriakhi said. “To be honest, I wanted to get it over with so I could relax and focus on getting better.”
Turns out Oriakhi, who also considered Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Xavier, shares that strong desire to get better with his soon-to-be teammates.
After he arrived in Columbia on Thursday, he was soon greeted by close friend and former AAU teammate Phil Pressey.
If Weber wasn’t aware just how badly K-State supporters want to win some of the basketball battles with Kansas, it didn’t take long for him to find out.
“Yeah, they keep bringing it up every time I go out and talk to people,” Weber said. “I know it’s important and I think it’s exciting. We had this kind of thing with Indiana when I was at Purdue and it was Coach (Bob) Knight going against Coach (Gene) Keady. And when teams knock each other off and the coaches stay around, it even adds more fuel. Hopefully we can make it a better rivalry and make the Kansas people worry about us. That’s the big thing.”
Weber did not have a great first day at Kansas State. He butchered the names of K-State legends Cotton Fitzsimmons, whom he referred to as “Fitzpatrick,” and Ernie Barrett, whom he called “Barnett.”
Then Kansas State’s all-time scoring leader Jacob Pullen attacked the hiring on Twitter, writing: “I support kstate for life no matter what but I’m not a Bruce Webber (sic) fan and I think Kstate can do a lot better.”
Pullen, who is from Chicago and is playing professional basketball in Italy, also wrote: “Bruce Webber didn’t think I was good enough to play at Illinois and I don’t think he is good enough to coach at Kansas State.”
Not every new coach, thank goodness, has to deal with the negative Twitter words of one of his school’s all-time greats, but Weber says he took it in stride.
“Jacob did prove me wrong,” Weber said. “Not only me but a lot of people. Nobody else in the Big 10 offered him a scholarship. He should really be happy he came to Kansas State, where he had a great career.”
Weber said he’s tried to reach out to Pullen through some current Kansas State players, but has not been successful.
“It didn’t bruise my feelings,” Weber said. “I understand, it’s a typical Twitter thing. Sometimes kids say things and don’t realize the impact it’s going to have. But he did prove us wrong at Illinois. He had a great career here.”
Weber would like to find another Pullen and recruiting is his focus. He’s also looking for two more assistant coaches and said he expects to hire both sometime this week.
Rodney Terry secured one of the nation’s elite remaining recruits Sunday with the signing of Fresno native Robert Upshaw.
Upshaw, a 7-foot, 270-pound center out of San Joaquin Memorial, made the decision of where he’d pursue Division-I basketball in a banquet-style setting at Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant near River Park.
Upshaw had committed to Kansas State but followed his mother’s advice and signed a nonbinding atheltic aid agreement with the program.
When then-Kansas State head coach Frank Martin left to take over at South Carolina, Upshaw’s search for a school restarted.
“After what has happened with my recruiting process, me not attending Kansas State, I really sat down and I really thought about it,” Upshaw said. “I felt like me and Coach Terry’s relationship over the past four years has been something that’s been building.”
Rodney Terry began recruiting Upshaw four years ago when he was an assistant at Texas. That relationship is what Upshaw said really turned him on to Fresno State.
Duke freshman forward Mike Gbinije is considering transferring away from the Blue Devils, sources said Sunday.
The 6-foot-7, 205-pound Gbinije has not informed the Duke coaching staff that he is leaving. But he is mulling a move.
DevilsIllustrated.com reported Sunday that Gbinije is “likely to transfer” and would consider heading to Georgetown or Villanova.
Attempts to reach Gbinije’s family were unsuccessful on Sunday night.
Gbinije and his parents attended Duke’s men’s basketball banquet at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday night.
Andrew White, a 6-6, 210-pound senior guard/forward from Miller School in Charlottesville, Va., will sign his letter of intent with KU today at his high school.
White, who committed to KU in December and is ranked No. 56 by Rivals.com, averaged 22.9 points and 10 rebounds for 20-10 Miller School. He chose KU over North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Richmond, Texas, Georgetown and others.
He will play in the Capital Classic all-star game Saturday in Alexandria, Va.
Brannen Greene wears a target every time he steps on the court.
As one of the top-rated players in America, the Mary Persons junior usually draws most of the attention from the crowd when the Bulldogs play.
But Westside head coach Josh Grube made sure his players knew to pick up Greene quickly as soon as they went on defense.
“You better find him quickly, because he will shoot from anywhere,” Grube said during the season. “And he can make just about anything.”
Greene made quite a bit of those shots this season.
The junior averaged a Middle-Georgia best 25 points per game on the way to earning all-state honors from the AP and the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association, and he is now The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia GHSA Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Greene’s ascension as a well-rounded scoring threat paralleled his rise up the state and national recruiting rankings.
“He became a dominant player this year,” Central head coach Andre Taylor said in February. “He became a guy that could be unstoppable.”
Grube found that out when Greene hit a last-second shot to beat his Seminoles late in the season. Greene later scored 40 points and made 18-of-19 free throws in a win over Rutland in the Bulldogs’ regular-season finale. He then did all he could to keep the Bulldogs playing into the postseason, scoring 31 points to help the Bulldogs come from behind before finally losing to Veterans in the region tournament.
The best, however, may be yet to come for Greene.
The 6-foot-6 guard committed to Kansas a few days before Christmas. He’ll sign with the Jayhawks in November, becoming the fourth Middle Georgian to sign with a BCS-level program since 2007. Hancock Central’s Kammeon Holsey was the last, signing with Georgia Tech in 2008.
Greene, however, has been more highly recruited than Holsey, and the other two -- Senario Hillman and Martavius Adams -- who have headed to major college programs. He picked Kansas over Louisville and Florida.
ESPN.com ranks Greene as a five-star prospect, and the website ranks him as the 12th best junior in the United States. Rivals.com ranks Greene as the No. 35 prospect in the country. Regardless of the ranking, Greene should have a legitimate shot to be the seventh Middle Georgian selected for the McDonald’s All-American Game next season. Southwest’s Sharone Wright was the last McDonald’s All-American from the area when he was selected for the team in 1991.
“The scary thing is that we still have to see (Greene) for another whole year,” Grube said.
Tony Parker’s coach denied a report that the AJC’s Mr. Georgia basketball has decided to sign with UCLA.
“That’s something that got started at [an all-star game] … it doesn’t have any legs to it,” Miller Grove High School coach Sharman White told the AJC on Sunday.
“Tony has not committed yet. That’s the best and only way I can put it.”
However, there are a couple of new developments with Parker: He will make his highly-anticipated college decision on Friday, and his finalists are UCLA, Duke, UGA, Kansas and Ohio State.
“Tony is ready for it to get over with,” White said. “He’s planning on doing it on Friday. We haven’t set a time yet but when we do, we’ll let everybody know.”
Unless something changes, Parker is also unlikely to make a return trip this week to visit any of his finalists, according to his coach.
The 6-foot-9, 280-pound Parker is ranked as the nation’s No. 26 overall prospect by ESPNU. He led Miller Grove to four straight state championships.
On Saturday, the website BruinsBall.com, which covers UCLA basketball and recruiting, created a Twitter frenzy by writing “Some of our sources very close to the situation have notified BruinsBall.com that as of now, Tony Parker is planning to commit to UCLA.”
F/C Tony Parker, uncommitted
As Jonathan Givony of Draft Express noted on Twitter, the new, much bigger Tony Parker was on a mission all week to prove he can play away from the basket. As it turns out, he can't at this point. He struggled to connect from midrange and missed all three shots he took during the game. Parker will be better off focusing on using his girth in the paint. However, he doesn't seem as athletic as other similar players like UCLA's Joshua Smith and Miami's Reggie Johnson.
Basketball Prospectus: Incoming Freshmen Evaluations
4/21 Capital Classic (Andrew White)
SLAM video recap Jordan Brand Classic
UCLA-bound Shabazz Muhammad and N.C. State-bound Rodney Purvis earned co-MVP honors at the Jordan Brand Classic, with Muhammad's 20 points leading the West All-Americans to a 99-95 victory over the East All-Americans. Purvis scored 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting, collected two rebounds and made three steals for the East.
Other standouts in the game included Alex Poythress (Kentucky) with 16 points, Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke) with 13 points and seven rebounds as a starting point guard, Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona) with 10 rebounds and Kyle Anderson (UCLA) with 14 points and nine rebounds.
North Carolina had a pair of recruits participate in J.P. Tokoto (eight points, four rebounds, three steals) and Brice Johnson (no points, four rebounds). Tony Parker, a Duke target, grabbed 12 rebounds and scored eight points on 4-for-15 shooting.
4/27-29 Jayhawk Invitational
4/27-29 Real Deal in the Rock
adidas Grassroots schedule
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar (updated to reflect April Eval period changes)
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