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Perry Ellis has never been the best player on any Kansas team, and, by the end of this season, he might not be the best player on this Kansas team, either, because, frankly, multiple teammates are more naturally gifted.
But right now?
There's no doubt Perry Ellis is KU's best player right now.
The 6-foot-8 junior averaged 19.3. points and 9.0 rebounds in three Orlando Classic wins -- including a 24-point, 13-rebound effort against Tennessee -- while earning MVP honors here at Disney Wide World of Sports Complex. That's good enough to make him the CBSSports.com National Player of the Week.
Kansas junior Perry Ellis has been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week, by a media panel which covers the league, the conference announced Monday.
Kansas won four games last week, including the championship of the Orlando Classic, with Ellis leading the way for the Jayhawks. The Wichita, Kansas, forward scored at least 17 points in every outing on the week, averaging 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds. Ellis' top performance came against Tennessee, as he finished with a season-high 24 points and 13 boards, marking his second double-double of the year and eighth of his career. Ellis shot 48.9 percent (23-of-47) from the field and 71.1 percent (27-of-38) from the free throw line in the four contests. Ellis was also named the Orlando Classic Most Valuable Player.
This is the third time Ellis has been named Big 12 Player of the Week with the other two during the 2013-14 season. The last Jayhawk to be named Big 12 Player of the Week three times for his career was Jeff Withey, with all three selections during the 2012-13 season.
Kansas men's basketball junior Perry Ellis, sophomore Wayne Selden, Jr., and freshman Cliff Alexander have been named to the Naismith Trophy Men's 50 Watch List, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Wednesday.
Kansas is one of four schools with three student-athletes listed among the 50-member list, joined by Arizona, Duke and Kentucky. The KU trio makes up one-third of the Big 12's nine players listed.
…The watch list will be cut down to a midseason 30 on Feb. 12, 2015, with the 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Award announced March 6. Four semifinalists will be named March 22 with the winner announced April 5. For complete list of the Naismith Trophy Men's 50 Watch List go to: http://www.naismithtrophy.com/2014-watch-list/naismith-trophy-mens-50-watch-list/.
“I’d never admit to it beforehand, but we needed something good to happen to us against a quality opponent after what happened a couple weeks ago. We needed that for our confidence,” KU coach Bill Self said on Monday’s “Hawk Talk” radio show. He was referring to the No. 11 Jayhawks downing No. 20 Michigan State on Sunday, just 12 days after a 32-point loss to No. 1 Kentucky.
“We needed to play a quality team in a game without a lot of rhythm,” Self said. “It was a toughness-type game. It was kind of a fist-fight-type game. It was a typical Big Ten game. The guys played like men for the most part.”
…ESPN’s Jeff Goodman has figured out that KU’s Kelly Oubre Jr. has netted the fewest minutes of any top 10 recruit (through six games) since 2005. Oubre has played 50 minutes. North Carolina’s John Henson totaled 62 minutes in his first six games; UNC’s Tyler Zeller 72; Kentucky’s Dakari Johnson 73 (this season); Duke’s Mason Plumlee 81; UNC’s Theo Pinson 94 (this year); and Texas’ Jordan Hamilton 99.
“We’ve got some guys not starting now who will end up playing in the league,” Self said on “Hawk Talk,” not specifically referring to Goodman’s ESPN blog, but minutes in general. “They’ve got to work and stay focused and understand it’s a process. There’s so much negativity sometimes if a guy is highly recruited and he doesn’t play a lot or produce a lot immediately: ‘Hey, what’s wrong?’ Well, the other guys try hard, too. The other guys are good players. Sometimes it just takes kids a little longer to figure it out.
“The purpose is to develop and be as close to your ceiling as you possibly can when the time is right,” Self added. “It’s such a negative vibe that sometimes people put out there and other recruiters put out there: ‘Well, he was really good in high school, and he’s not even playing that much.’ That happens sometimes everywhere. It takes some a little bit longer, but it doesn’t mean they are not great players and won’t be great prospects. There will be a lot of changes in minutes in our program as kids continue to develop and get better.”
I loved calling the final of the Orlando Classic. It was the Big 12 against the Big Ten, two traditional powers that will make noise in March. Kansas vs. Michigan State was special because there was so much passion and intensity.
Bill Self vs. Tom Izzo. Perry Ellis and Denzel Valentine in a battle of stars in the tournament.
In the end, Kansas got to the winner's circle. The Jayhawks fans, and there were plenty of them in Orlando, had to be feeling great after the hard-fought victory.
…You will hear a lot from Kansas and Michigan State all season. Their head coaches, Self and Izzo, are future Hall of Famers who prepare their teams well.
ESPN Dick Vitale
Back in the summer, his future KU teammates took to YouTube to scout the Ukrainian mystery kid. (“I knew he was a shooter,” Mason said.) And as Self continually points out, Mykhailiuk could still be a junior in high school. How could he really be ready now?
But there was Mykhailiuk on Sunday afternoon, standing near the Jayhawks’ bus after the victory, a noticeable batch of teenage peach fuzz on his face. During the Jayhawks’ four-game winning streak, Mykhailiuk has started every game and averaged seven points in 21.5 minutes per game.
“Every time he shoots it,” Traylor said, “I think it’s going to go in.”
When Mykhailiuk is asked if he expected this — to be playing and starting during his first month at Kansas — he remains slightly coy. Part of this might be the language barrier, but in truth, he exudes a quiet type of confidence.
“I don’t know,” Mykhailiuk said. “I was hoping for this.”
The season was over in the Round of 32, two underclassmen were turning pro, only a couple of Kansas starters -- Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden -- were set to return from a 25-win team, and so Self was at the Final Four, just hanging out in Dallas, enjoying a few days before he had to start refocusing on how he might go about trying to mold the Jayhawks into Big 12 champions for the 11th consecutive season.
And then, Self said, a man approached him.
"He just came up to me and said, 'Hey, I know the best young player in Europe, and here's his contact information,'" Self recalled. "So I just called [somebody I knew over there] cold, and I said, 'Is there a guy from Ukraine who's really good?' "
"Yeah, he's great," Self was told quickly.
And that's the first step in how Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk ended up at Kansas.
…And it's past time casual college basketball fans were introduced to this 17-year-old import because he's A) the youngest player in the Big 12, B) the youngest player to ever play for Self, C) the only freshman to start more than one game this season for the Jayhawks, and D) the only KU freshman currently averaging more than 20 minutes per game.
"He's not bad for a high school junior," Self said with a smile.
No, he isn't. And that's something literally every NBA scout I talked with during the Orlando Classic reiterated. Never mind that Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander is the reigning Naismith High School Player of the Year, and it doesn't matter that fellow Kansas freshman Kelly Oubre is listed in the top five of mock drafts. What NBA scouts told me is that Mykhailiuk -- again, just Svi for short -- is the best longterm prospect on KU's roster because he's a 6-foot-8 wing who is a good-enough passer, a willing defender, and a top-shelf shooter even though he hasn't actually shot the ball well through six games this season.
…I asked Mykhailiuk if there was pressure to skip college completely.
"Not a lot ... but some," he answered. "I was talking to my family and coach, and we decided to go to college because I like it more than Europe."
Consequently, Kansas should have this high-level prospect for at least two years, if only because Mykhailiuk won't be old enough to enter the 2015 NBA Draft. So work on that pronunciation, or just call him Svi for short. Either way, NBA scouts will keep calling him special and traveling wherever the Jayhawks play, anxious to see the Big 12's youngest player who could, someday soon, also be the Big 12's best.
Frank Mason looks like Kansas' best PG option: Bill Self wants his floor general to be tough, which fits Mason's persona every time he takes the floor. Armed with a mindset of a strong safety who wants to blitz the quarterback every play, the 5-foot-11 sophomore is a feisty defender who doesn't try to do too much on offense. Mason was terrific through the three-game Orlando Classic (averaging 11 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists for the tournament) last week. But back when Devonte Graham signed with the Jayhawks last spring, many assumed he would be Kansas' starting point guard. Many people also seem to forget returning players often are more important than newcomers. The Jayhawks have played their best basketball with Mason at the point, which can't be debated.
During his weekly “Hawk Talk” radio show Monday, Self hinted that he planned on leaving sophomore Landen Lucas as a starter over freshman Cliff Alexander.
“Our team has gotten off to a better start with Landen starting than anybody else. Cliff’s coming and Cliff’s going to be really good and all those things, but I’m not ready to say Cliff is starting above Landen,” Self said. “Cliff will probably play more minutes than Landen, but it’s OK for a young fella to sit over there and watch a little bit so that when he gets in the game, maybe he’s not quite as up-tight or anxious or nervous or that kind of stuff.”
Self went on to say that there would be a lot of changes in minutes later in the season as his young players continued to develop.
...Self gave an update Monday on guard Devonte’ Graham, saying the freshman’s right shoulder was still sore. Graham originally injured himself diving for a ball in the Kentucky game on Nov. 18.
“He’s going to be a guy that’s going to give us hopefully 10-12 minutes a game, and then that’ll gradually go up to 15-20 or whatever, depending on his health,” Self said, “because he’s too good when he’s healthy to not have out there more.”
Graham played just 27 total minutes in KU’s three games at the Orlando Classic.
Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self has said his squads “need to go through some stuff” before they can actually become a cohesive team.
A number of players getting stuck on the elevator at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center on Wednesday night just might prove to be the team-bonding ticket during the 2014-15 campaign.
“Oh man, it was a little scary, like some movie scene. We were stuck in the elevator about 10 minutes,” freshman Devonté Graham said after Thursday’s 76-60 first-round Orlando Classic victory over Rhode Island in HP Field House.
“I was a little nervous. Nobody was really panicking. It was starting to get a little hot. A little worry came to me,” Graham added, noting eventually “people came and clawed it open for us (on first floor).”
And I wasn't expecting that, frankly.
The welcoming-smile kind of surprised me.
Because, let's be honest, when you're projected as a future lottery pick but currently buried on Kansas' bench, the last thing you'd want to do, I'd imagine, is talk to me (or somebody like me) about a transition from high school to college that's not going smoothly, especially after you just scored two points in four minutes of a 76-60 win over Rhode Island.
Only four players are ahead of Oubre on DraftExpress.com's big board.
But nine different Jayhawks played more minutes than him on Thanksgiving.
And considering this was the second time in four outings he's played just four minutes, and because he's only averaging nine minutes per game, I assumed Oubre would be quiet or defensive or ... I don't know ... something less than welcoming. But he wasn't any of those things. Kelly Oubre was totally cool -- perhaps because, though I might be the first columnist to pull him aside and ask what's up, I'm hardly the first person to ask what's up.
"Yeah, I've gotten that a lot lately ... because, you know, I've never been in a situation like this," Oubre said. "I've always been at the top. But just keeping my confidence 100 is all I can do right now, and I'm just going to continue to do what coach needs me to do."
…"Mario Chalmers didn't play till Christmas [of his freshman year], Julian Wright didn't play till Christmas, Joel [Embiid] didn't start until like the eighth game of the season," Self said. "So there's a process everybody has to go through, and we have a couple of guys -- obviously Kelly but also Cliff [Alexander] -- who are going through it.
"They're going to be terrific players," Self added. "But they're not terrific players yet."
This, by the way, is the only thing Self concerns himself with.
…"Once I get the hang of everything, it's over," Oubre said. "I know I'm going to be great."
Kansas transfer Conner Frankamp is headed to Wichita State.
Frankamp, who confirmed to ESPN.com that he's transferring, said he picked the Shockers because he felt a kinship with Wichita State players and coaches.
"I really connected well with the coaching staff and I feel I could fit well in their system," he told ESPN.com on Monday. "And of course, it's tough to say no to home."
Frankamp, who is a Wichita native, left the Jayhawks just prior to the start of his sophomore season in search of an expanded role. He averaged 2.5 points in 8.3 minutes per game as a freshman, but he played a significant role in the NCAA tournament.
However, the 6-foot Frankamp was stuck behind Frank Mason III and freshman Devonte Graham at the point this season -- and there was also a logjam on the wing with Wayne Selden Jr., Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Brannen Greene and Kelly Oubre Jr.
Frankamp will be eligible to play after the first semester next season for the Shockers -- who may also have the backcourt of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker back in the fold. Both VanVleet and Baker are juniors, although there is a chance that Baker could leave early for the NBA draft.
Self, his assistant coaches and players have followed the fortunes of KU’s volleyball team all season.
“What a great year, finishing second,” Self said of coach Ray Bechard’s squad, which shrugged off an 0-3 start to claim a 10-6 record and share of second place in the Big 12.
The Jayhawks (22-8) will play host to first- and second-round NCAA games this weekend, but at the Topeka Expocentre. KU will meet Arkansas-Little Rock in a first-round NCAA game at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Expocentre (KU plays Florida in men’s basketball at 8 p.m. in Allen).
If KU beats UALR, it would meet either Oregon State or Creighton at 6:30 p.m. Saturday for a trip to the Iowa State regional Dec. 12-13 in Ames, Iowa.
“We kind of screwed it up as far as hosting because of our Florida game. The fieldhouse wasn’t available,” Self said of the basketball team occupying Allen. “I’m sure a ton of people will show up to support the girls over there. They certainly have had a great season, and everybody’s excited about the NCAAs.”
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And he didn't deny it afterward.
"I was so mad," Williams said. "I was over there ready to pull my gray hair out. I didn't think we were doing a blessed thing right on the defensive end of the floor."
The scoreboard said otherwise.
Even while Williams fumed, it was his Tar Heels running out to leads of 12-0 and 20-4, and that was more than enough to fuel their 75-64 win over No. 18 Florida on Friday night in the fifth-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Kennedy Meeks scored 18 points and tied a career high with 13 rebounds, while Marcus Paige added 16 points for the Tar Heels (5-1).
Justin Jackson had 12 points, and J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson added 10 apiece for North Carolina, which won its last two games in the Bahamas after an opening loss to Butler.
"We feel better than we did after the first night, there's no question about that," Williams said.
Kasey Hill led all scorers with 20 points and Michael Frazier II added 17 for the Gators (3-3), who struggled again offensively. Florida shot 33 percent from the field, 22 percent from 3-point range and still hasn't reached the 70-point mark in any game this season.
The third loss matches the Gators' total for all of last season, when they went 36-3 and made the Final Four.
"Right now, the truth is slammed in our face, which I think is great," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "A lot of times in your non-conference scheduling, when you don't play against high-level competition it's hard to get to a truth."
Added Florida's Jon Horford: "We honestly thought we were better than what we are."
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Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) boys basketball assistant Tony Freccero said before his team's national showdown with Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) that Ivan Rabb's ankle wasn't quite right.
"He tweaked it at practice again," Freccero said. "He's just got to decide to play."
When the 6-foot-10 senior scored 19 points and 12 rebounds by halftime, Freccero whispered into a reporter's ear: "He decided to play."
Rabb finished with 28 points and 20 rebounds as O'Dowd pulled out a 63-55 victory in the premier game of the Prep2Prep Tip-Off Classic at Newark Memorial Saturday night.
In a game filled with big men, it was all Rabb who showed no signs of an ankle problem that has been nagging him since losing the state championship game in March. He made 10 of 17 shots, was 8-for-12 from the line and added four steals and three blocks.
It was the second straight year O'Dowd has beat Gorman. Last season in Las Vegas, the Dragons won 68-54.
"It was fine," Rabb said. "I was just excited to play and when I get excited I play a lot better. We all played well. Our energy and intensity and effort was really strong. We didn't play scared.
Though Rabb's performance was dominating against Gorman's front line of 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Duke-bound 6-11 forward Chase Jeter (10 points), it was a 14-0 run to start the second half keyed the victory.
Three-time state champion Callaway will receive time in the national spotlight on Feb. 14, 2015.
The Chargers game against Dominican (Wi.) will be broadcast on ESPNU as part of the 2014-15 GEICO ESPN High School Basketball Showcase. The game will take place at Concordia University in Mequon, Wi. and tip off at 9 p.m. CST.
Callaway coach David Sanders confirmed the news to The Clarion-Ledger on Tuesday.
Dominican is the high school of five-star center Diamond Stone.
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