Zach Peters, the tall Texan who orally committed to play basketball at Kansas University two years and two months ago, has finally arrived in Lawrence to begin his college career.
“It did seem like forever to get up here. Getting here ... it’s been awesome,” said the 6-foot-9, 236-pound forward from Plano’s Prestonwood Christian Academy who chose KU over Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky and many others way back on April 21, 2010.
…Peters checked into his apartment at Jayhawker Towers on June 1. He actually could have sped up his arrival at KU by a year.
A good student, he needed just a couple hours of classwork last summer to graduate high school and be immediately eligible for the 2011-12 collegiate season.
In no hurry, Peters decided to remain in Plano for what turned out to be a memorable senior season, one in which he earned first-team all-state honors for a state-championship basketball team and second-team all-state mention at receiver for a football team that reached the state semifinals.
“It was a lot of fun. I met a lot of new people last year. I got closer with some of my friends,” said Peters, who averaged 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds in hoops and caught 13 TD passes for more than 1,000 yards on the gridiron. “One of those things people always talk about ... they say the time of your life is your senior year, then you go on to college. It’s one of the things I felt I needed to do. Experiencing it was awesome — the perks of being a senior and all the experiences that come along with it.”
…“I like all the guys. I think there’s eight of us, a ton of freshmen,” he said of scholarship players McLemore, Traylor, Peters, Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Andrew White, as well as Anrio Adams and Milton Doyle, expected to come aboard when they are cleared academically. “We are extremely underrated — actually very underrated. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
Peters enters as Rivals.com’s No. 137-rated player in the class of 2012.
“I didn’t play summer AAU my senior year and didn’t go to any camps,” Peters said of the summer of 2011 in which he prepared for his return to football. “I don’t care about rankings. They don’t say who I am as a person or who I am as a player.”
Evan Manning sat at a table with fellow Kansas University freshmen Zach Peters and Tyler Self for 21⁄2 hours Sunday afternoon in Booth Family Hall of Athletics, fulfilling his first official obligation as a Jayhawk basketball player.
He posed for pictures with — and signed autographs for — approximately 800 youngsters on orientation day at Bill Self’s KU basketball camp for boys 8 to 18 years old.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Manning, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound walk-on guard out of Free State High and New Hampton (N.H.) Prep School. “Being around all the campers reminded me of when I went (to KU camp). I went here eight years for camp, both coach Self and coach (Roy) Williams. It brought back a lot of memories.”
…Manning likes what he has seen of his fellow KU freshmen. So far, Peters, Self, Perry Ellis and Andrew White have been in town, along with red-shirt freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor. Landen Lucas graduates today and is expected in town this week. Anrio Adams and Milton Doyle are likely to join the class at some point, once they go through graduation ceremonies and it’s determined they will qualify academically.
“We’ll all get to know each other this summer,” Manning said. “We’re all in the same summer school classes. This summer will be good bonding time for everyone.”
…Here are the jersey numbers of freshmen who attended the camp picture/signing session on Sunday: Ellis (34), Manning (10), McLemore (23), Peters (32), Self (11), Traylor (31), White (3). Landen Lucas will be No. 33.
If you want to be specific, it’s been more 15 months since Ben McLemore has played in an official basketball game. Real jerseys? Real referees? A scoreboard that mattered? McLemore can hardly remember what it feels like.
…But during the next six months, as Kansas matured into a Final Four team, McLemore began his own transition, morphing into an intriguing curiosity among followers of the program. One week, KU was publishing video of McLemore dunking with his head level with the rim. Another week, KU coach Bill Self was crediting McLemore with helping KU’s guards — including Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson — grow into a unit worthy of a long NCAA run.
On most days, Self says now, McLemore was the third-most talented player in practice behind Taylor and All-American forward Thomas Robinson. Other days, he might have even been better. There is, of course, a difference between talent, skill and being an impact player in the Big 12, and Self is quick to cut a clear line between the categories. But if you were to grade McLemore on talent — shooting, sliding, athletic ability, defending — his skills set him apart.
“If you ask Thomas and Tyshawn,” Self says, “they’ll probably tell you the same thing.”
These days, one year after first arriving on campus, McLemore is finally ready to take the hold off his college career and prepare for life without Taylor and Robinson.
…When he arrived at KU last summer, his lithe, 6-foot-5 frame carried just 185 pounds. And he had never lifted weights — at least, not anything close to the program KU strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy preached.
But soon, McLemore was on the Hudy plan, and with no game action to counteract the weight-room work, McLemore says he put on 10 pounds of muscle and is now just a few double cheeseburgers shy of the 200-pound mark. One example: He’s putting up to 300 pounds on the bar during his clean sets.
“In the weight room,” McLemore says, “it’s ridiculous now. I can just lift stuff like crazy, like I never did before.”
…For now, he’s just waiting for his first chance, which could come when the Jayhawks take a summer exhibition trip to Europe in August. The games won’t count, of course. But for McLemore, at least it will finally feel real.
“Can’t wait,” McLemore says. “I think that’s really gonna be my debut.”
Former Kansas interim athletic director Drue Jennings was looking for someone to do even more than that when the Jayhawks' position came open in the spring of 2003.
Other than Kentucky, there may not be a coaching job in America that involves as much pressure as the one in Lawrence. The inventor of the game, James Naismith, was the program's first coach. Retired jerseys of former standouts such as Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning and Paul Pierce hang from the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse, which is packed with 16,300 fans for every game.
Williams is one of the biggest reasons expectations are so high. He won more games in the 1990s than any other coach in America. His final two Kansas teams went a combined 63-12 and reached back-to-back Final Fours.
When Jennings began searching for Williams' replacement, he knew he couldn't afford to make a mistake.
"It was stressful," Jennings said. "At KU, you've got to have someone that's darn near a saint. You've got to have not only the basketball prowess, but the character to go with it. People at KU demand that you run your program with integrity, that you take youngsters and turn them into men and represent your university."
Within a week of Williams' departure, Jennings had hired Self.
"Let's face it," Jennings said. "I got lucky."
It almost didn't happen. A few days before he accepted the job, Self telephoned his father, Bill Sr., and expressed reservations about taking the job. Self had spent the previous three seasons at Illinois.
"What's holding you back?" Self's dad asked.
His son seemed wishy-washy.
"Roy won so much there," Self recalled saying. "Will I be compared to that? I don't know if there's any way we can win that many games. It almost seems impossible."
Self was taken aback by his father's response.
"He told me, 'You're right; maybe you should stay at Illinois,'" Self said. "'If you're scared of following Roy, you're probably not the man for the job.'
"He basically called me a [wimp]."
Fueled by that comment, Self accepted the job and immediately put his stamp on Kansas' program. Under Williams, the Jayhawks were known for a fast-paced offense that routinely scored in the 90s and 100s. Self slowed the game down a bit and employed a high-low attack. There also was a greater emphasis on toughness and defense.
"There was some resistance at first, which was understandable," Self said. "I'm coming in and telling the players, 'This is the best thing ever for you guys. This style and how we do things will be great for you.' In the back of their mind, they're thinking, 'We've won a lot more than you have. If what we were doing was great before, why should we think that your way is better?'
"I had to come to grips with that and try to convince them there are lots of ways to do it."
Nine years later, Self has won eight straight Big 12 titles and an NCAA title -- something Williams was never able to bring to Lawrence.
"We guessed right with Bill," Jennings said. "Someday someone will confront that same kind of pressure when Bill is no longer at KU. To keep that tradition alive puts tremendous pressure on whoever is responsible for it."
ESPN: Replacing a legendary coach is never easy
Nine Kansas athletic teams achieved grade point averages of 3.0 or better and 209 student-athletes earned their way onto the Athletic Director's Honor Roll during the spring semester as the department combined to tally its fourth-highest cumulative GPA ever.
KU was led by volleyball's 3.44 team GPA and saw the football team notch it's single best GPA with a 3.0, topping its previous high of 2.75. Other sports achieving 3.0's included soccer (3.32), softball and swimming & diving (3.25), men's golf (3.14), women's golf (3.11), tennis (3.05), and football and women's track & field at 3.00. The department's overall GPA of 2.99 is its fourth-highest in history.
Thirty-five student-athletes scored a perfect 4.0 GPA, leading a total of 209 who earned GPA's of 3.0 or higher.
Kansas head volleyball coach Ray Bechard was pleased with the work his team put in during the spring semester, their third-consecutive semester at the top of the Jayhawk GPA chart.
"This is a testament to our team's dedication both on the court and in the classroom," Bechard said. "I'm very pleased and proud of them. Not only are they balancing the intense training and conditioning that comes with the spring practice session, we also increase the academic workload with the spring being our off-season. They handle that very well."
The football team jumped more than half a letter grade from the 2.46 it posted during the fall semester, prior to the arrival of new head coach Charlie Weis.
"I am delighted that the football team achieved a 3.0 GPA," said Weis. "That mark exceeded my expectations by a wide margin. To be able to jump more than half a letter grade in one semester, and exceeding the best GPA ever by a quarter-grade merits my congratulations to the entire team. Good things happen when you go to class, go on time and use academic support."
Student-Athlete Grade Summary
Men's Basketball 2.80
Women's Basketball 2.48
Football 3.00 *All-time record for team
Men's Golf 3.14
Women's Golf 3.11
Swimming & Diving 3.25
Men's Track & Field 2.84
Women's Track & Field 3.00
All Sports Combined 2.99 *4th highest for department
Athletics Director's Honor Roll
4.00 = 35
3.00-3.99 = 174
Total = 209 (53% Students on active rosters)
via email from KU
6/8/12 3:13 PM
Finished NBA Combine interviews. Thought Thomas Robinson, Jared Sullinger, Draymond Green, John Henson and Bernard James all did a great job
Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress)
Man of his word: A day after saying he should be the No. 1 pick, Kansas' Thomas Robinson clarified his statement but didn't back off.
"I'm a grown man," he said. "I don't feel like I should hide my thoughts. Anthony Davis, it's pretty obvious that he's going to be the No. 1 pick. But I don't feel that I'm wrong for saying that I also could be the No. 1 pick."
The statement just proves his competitiveness, Robinson said.
"I compete," he said. "Most of the guys aren't saying it, but I'm sure they feel that way. This draft is deep and talented, so there's a lot of guys that could be the No. 1 pick. I compete just like everyone else."
Robinson is more likely to be picked second by the Bobcats. If he slips beyond a certain point, Robinson said he will feel offended. He declined to say how low is too low.
"If I slip low, it'll come out in November," he said.
After quizzing about 15 players for 30 minutes each at the NBA combine in Chicago, the Wizards are now moving on to the next phase of the evaluation process as they will welcome the top candidates for the No. 3 overall pick to Verizon Center this week for individual workouts.
The Wizards will bring in three candidates, beginning Wednesday with local product Thomas Robinson from Kansas. Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal will work out on Thursday, followed by Kentucky swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Friday. All three players are projected to be top-five picks in the June 28 draft.
Robinson has already expressed a desire to play for his hometown Wizards and will have the first opportunity to prove to them that they should invest their top draft pick in the 6-foot-9 power forward.
The Grizzlies plan to take a long look at adding outside shooting during the June 28 NBA draft, and their scouting staff is said to feel strongly about Vanderbilt sharpshooter John Jenkins. So it should come as no surprise that Jenkins will highlight the Grizzlies' first pre-draft workout Monday in FedExForum.
Memphis owns the 25th overall pick in the first round. Jenkins, a 6-4 guard, led the SEC in scoring the past two seasons and shot 44 percent from three-point range during the 2011-12 campaign.
His workout partners will include other shooting guards in Kentucky's 6-4 Doron Lamb and Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor, and point guards Dee Bost of Mississippi State, Tu Holloway of Xavier and Scoop Jardine of Syracuse.
Almost a year removed from his first draft as general manager, Blanks made sure the assembled media on Monday afternoon knew he felt last year’s selection of Markieff Morris was the right pick with the benefit of hindsight.
“He exceeded all expectations the way he came in ready to play, he was in shape, and Alvin did a great job of inserting him into the system,” Blanks said. “Now Markieff’s got to build on what he did. Hopefully this is a player who’s not finished growing. Hopefully he can impact this roster next year. Part of that will be on him, and part of that will be on us.”
To that point Blanks stressed the importance of player development, particularly with a soon-to-be sophomore like Morris.
In April ESPN’s David Thorpe wrote a piece advising 20 prominent rookies of a veteran they should seek to emulate, and for Morris that vet was LaMarcus Aldridge.
“When Aldridge first started his NBA career, he was mildly in love with his jump shot. Then it took over his thinking to the point where experts questioned whether he’d ever reach his vast potential to be an offensive force. He answered them last season by focusing more on paint touches, working hard to get position there first. And now he’s an All-Star.
Morris is an excellent deep shooter, something which will keep him relevant in the NBA for a decade. But he has the potential to be more than just a stretch big if he develops the mindset to do so. Hunting paint shots would be a great start.”
Valley of the Suns
Big 12/College News
Mike Alden had finished his workout March 16 and walked with associate athletic director Mark Alnutt through downtown Omaha, Neb., from their hotel to Starbucks in search of their customary morning pick-me-up.
An eventful day awaited with the Missouri basketball team set to begin the NCAA Tournament that afternoon against Norfolk State. Frank Haith's squad, fresh off its Big 12 Tournament championship, was at the CenturyLink Center going through its final shootaround with tipoff less than seven hours away.
But the MU athletic director's attention was about to be pulled away from March Madness. He and Alnutt returned to the team hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, and were alerted to news that FBI agents had arrived at the hotel at around 9 a.m. in search of Levi McLean Franklin Coolley.
They found him there and arrested him as part of a wider bust targeting nine individuals — eight from Columbia and another from Kansas City — for their alleged roles in a Boone County cocaine ring. Coolley has been indicted on one count of distributing cocaine and another of possession with intent to distribute and also faces charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, all felonies.
"First of all, I was shocked. Shocked," Alden said in an interview last month. "I wasn't surprised. I was shocked about that — and because I had no clue of something like that."
Coolley was not a faceless figure to Alden or others around the Missouri program.
Flight manifests obtained by the Tribune through an open records request show that Coolley flew with the team on previous NCAA Tournament trips to Boise, Idaho, and Phoenix in 2009; to Buffalo, N.Y., in 2010; and to Washington, D.C., last year and that he accompanied the team on a flight back from Austin, Texas, in January.
The Buffalo News, in a story about college basketball fans descending on western New York during the 2010 tournament, quoted Coolley as he looked out over Niagara Falls. His words also appeared in a Kansas City Star story published the night before his arrest that detailed the interaction between Missouri and Kansas fans forced into close quarters in Omaha.
A separate records request showed that one or more players left him complementary tickets to eight games at Mizzou Arena during the 2008-09 season and one more in the 2009-10 season.
A summer class at UNC-Chapel Hill that lacked any instruction was enrolled exclusively with football players – and it landed on the school calendar just days before the semester started, university records show.
The records show that in the summer of 2011, 19 students enrolled in AFAM 280: Blacks in North Carolina, 18 of them players on the football team, the other a former player. They also show that academic advisers assigned to athletes helped the players enroll in the class, which is the subject of a criminal investigation.
The advisers also knew that there would be no instruction.
Other records show that football and basketball players made up a majority of the enrollments of nine particularly suspect classes in which the professors listed as instructors have denied involvement, and have claimed that signatures were forged on records related to them.
The new information is more evidence that student athletes, particularly football players, were being steered to classes that university officials now say are evidence of academic fraud because there was little or no instruction. An internal review found 54 such classes, and said all but nine of them were taught by Julius Nyang’oro, the longtime chairman of the African and Afro-American Studies Department. In each case, students were given an assignment such as a term paper and told to turn it in at the end of the semester.
UNC officials released the information in response to a records request by The News & Observer. Before making it public, Chancellor Holden Thorp sent a letter to trustees on Thursday.
“While it appears that academic support staff (for student athletes) were aware that Professor Nyang’oro didn’t intend to teach the class as a standard lecture course, they knew that the students would be required to write a 15-page paper,” Thorp said in the letter. “They saw no reason to question the faculty member’s choice of course format.”
The academic support staff reports to the university’s College of Arts & Sciences, but is housed in the Athletic Department’s student support center within Kenan Stadium.
Thorp could not be reached for comment. In a statement, he said the findings on the class are troubling.
“Anytime you have a class consisting solely of student-athletes, it raises questions,” he said.
Bubba Cunningham, the new athletic director hired after the scandal, said he is also concerned.
Kansas is known as the "Cradle of Basketball" for good reason. Dr. James Naismith, the game's inventor, began coaching the Jayhawks in 1899.
The man who built Kentucky's blue blood program, Adolph Rupp, was born in Halstead, Kan., and played at KU.
Dean Smith, the architect of North Carolina's dominant NBA factory on Tobacco Road, played at Topeka (Kan.) High School and was a member of the Jayhawks' 1952 national title team.
The long list of basketball royalty who honed their skills in Lawrence, Kan., includes Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning and Paul Pierce.
McCloud was recruited to KU by Dr. Forrest C. Allen.
Only an event as consequential as the Great Depression could force a boy from Kansas to say no to the larger-than-life coach known as "Phog."
Shortly after graduating from Newton High School, his father died from a severe case of blood poisoning.
It appeared that young Pete's basketball dreams were over as reality slapped him in the face.
"I had my mother and two brothers to take care of. When Phog Allen called me to go up there I said, 'I'm sorry, but I can't go. I don't have any money and I need a scholarship or something. I have to take care of my family,'" McCloud said. "There was nobody else. I was the oldest one at home and I was already working on railroad cars. As I remember it, (Allen) said, 'I don't think you could make my team anyway.'
"That's all I heard from him."
'A sight to behold'
McCloud tried to forget about what might have been at KU while working hard to put bread on the table.
That winter a life-changing opportunity McCloud had never even considered presented itself.
Cox, a former KU player and assistant coach under Allen who had also grown up in Newton, contacted Lindley about sending some of his boys out to Boulder to play for the Buffs.
"Mr. Lindley called me in and said, 'I want you to go out to school in Colorado,'" McCloud said. "I said, 'Ha, there's not much to that idea. Who's going to take care of my mom?'"
Lindley convinced his star pupil that the community would make sure that his family was taken care of.
McCloud reluctantly packed his bag and headed west, where a scholarship to play at CU was waiting.
…The Buffs-Jayhawks draw in Kansas City, Mo., made for a juicy story line in the national quarterfinals.
Pupil schooled teacher as Cox's crew prevailed 46-44 over Allen and mighty KU for CU's first NCAA Tournament victory.
"Oh, joy," McCloud says when asked about beating the Jayhawks. "Yes, I loved it. I remember we played pretty good as a team. It seemed like I scored pretty good, but I can't remember very much."
Hamburg shut down KU star Ralph Miller, who went on to become a Hall of Fame coach at Iowa and Oregon State.
On the other end, McCloud poured in 19 points.
According to coverage in the March 21, 1942, edition of the Daily Camera, that stat line could have been even more impressive but CU's offensive star developed a stomach cramp in the second half.
"I scored 19 points? Good. It probably should have been 29 points," McCloud said. "With Phog on the bench that was pure joy. That sort of settled the score."
While Kentucky coach John Calipari has had great success putting players into the NBA draft — and should have six more picked later this month — at least one NBA scout says perception is not always reality.
“The interesting thing, and its not a knock, but there is this Kentucky mystique that Calipari has done a great job creating and perpetuating. The best part about Kentucky’s system is that can hide so many flaws at first glance,” the scout, who asked not to be identified because his team could draft a UK player, said.
” MKG (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist)is a good defensive player, but he isn’t as good as people believe. Having (Anthony) Davis camped around the rim allowed players to play defense in a way which minimized their weaknesses,” the scout said.
“The threat of the lob made (Marquis) Teague out to be a better point guard than he really is,” the scout said.
But wait. There’s more.
“In reality, the Kentucky system is smoke and mirrors. I remember being out in Vegas for a Summer League and I was sitting and watching games with a long-time Director of Scouting in the league. He said he was stunned at how unprepared Kentucky players were for the NBA, and he had drafted one of them,” the scout said.
2012-13 Early Season Events List
The Amateur Athletic Union is expected to announce new mandatory background screening for all adult coaches, volunteers and staff, as well as stricter training protocols to govern interaction with youth athletes, a person familiar with the situation said.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the AAU has not publicly announced the findings of an internal review of its best practices. The person did not say how the screening would be conducted, but said the system-wide background checks and screenings would not pose an unfair or unreasonable financial hardship on anyone. A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday at the AAU's national headquarters.
A six-month review by two task forces focused on youth protection and adult volunteering screening. The panels produced a joint 30-page report with their recommendations for changes to AAU's polices, protocols and procedures. Those recommendations are expected to be revealed Tuesday.
"R U interested in our school? Our facilities are gr8!"
A text message reading along those lines might appear on cellphone screens of basketball recruits starting Friday, after a new NCAA rule takes effect allowing college coaches to send unlimited text messages to players who have completed their sophomore year of high school.
Coaches also will be able to make unlimited calls to those recruits under the new legislation.
A move aimed at weeding out superfluous bylaws in the NCAA manual, the game-changing measure is a departure from current rules that forbid communication via text and limit coaches to one phone call per recruit in a month.
Minimized is the role of high school coaches, used previously by college coaches to circumvent rules restricting phone calls. Instead of navigating back channels to set up a meeting with a recruit, coaches will proceed unassisted.
Other changes include the regulation of workouts. Coaches now can put a recruit through a tryout on his official visit as well as give instruction to freshmen in the summer.
Gone will be many inadvertent recruiting violations.
The 6-foot-4 small forward will move from 2014 to 2013.
“I believe I am physically and academically ready to go back to my original class,” Selden told ESPN.com’s Paul Biancardi, who broke the news.
“Wayne is a strong student and has enough credits to get back into his original class,” Tilton School coach Marcus O’Neil told ESPN.com. “He has adapted very well academically here at Tilton.”
Selden figures to be one of the hottest recruits in the Class of 2013 and recently told ZAGSBLOG he was hearing a lot from North Carolina and Kansas.
He told ESPN.com his list includes Florida, UCLA, Harvard, Kansas, Ohio State, Kentucky and UConn.
“I just want to work hard and develop my game,” he said recently. “That’s all it comes down to.”
Chris Walker, a 6-9 senior power forward from Holmes County High in Bonifay, Fla., tells JayhawkSlant.com he will visit KU this fall. The No. 6-rated player in the Class of 2013 also likes Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse, Baylor and Ohio State.
Spring/Summer Event Schedule
adidas Grassroots schedule
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar
My 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, KU Alumni games, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos and more now on Youtube