There will be an all-time high 19 Jayhawks on opening day rosters for the 2015-16 NBA regular-season that begins Tuesday.
Paul Pierce has the most tenure of the Jayhawks in the NBA, entering his 18th season and his first with the Los Angeles Clippers. He left the Washington Wizards after the 2014-15 season. Drew Gooden continues to play with the Wizards in his 14th season in the league and is joined by rookie and fellow Jayhawk Kelly Oubre Jr.
Kansas 2002 and 2003 Final Four standouts Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Kirk Hinrich (Chicago Bulls) return for their 13th seasons in the NBA.
Five Jayhawks from Kansas' 2008 NCAA National Championship team remain active in the NBA. Cole Aldrich (Los Angeles Clippers), Darrell Arthur (Denver Nuggets), Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) and Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) will all continue to play this season. Rush became the 11th Jayhawk to win an NBA title when he took the 2015 title with the Warriors. Sasha Kaun has returned to the United States to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers after playing seven seasons with a Russian professional team.
Fifth-year twins Marcus and Markieff Morris have been separated as teammates from the Phoenix Suns, as Marcus will represent the Detroit Pistons and Markieff will remain with the Suns this season.
Thomas Robinson (Brooklyn Nets) and Jeff Withey (Utah Jazz) were part of KU's NCAA runner-up team in 2012. This will be Robinson's first season with the Nets after two years with the Trailblazers and a brief stint with Philadelphia. Withey will also be playing his first season in a Utah Jazz uniform after two years with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Third-year player and No. 7 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft Ben McLemore will continue his career with the Sacramento Kings.
KU's second-only No. 1 NBA Draft selection, joining Danny Manning in 1988, Andrew Wiggins is one of three NBA players from the 2013-14 Kansas team. Wiggins, the 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year, is with the Minnesota Timberwolves, while Joel Embiid, the No. 3 overall pick, is with Philadelphia 76ers and Tarik Black is with the Los Angeles Lakers. Joining Oubre in the rookie ranks is Cliff Alexander who is beginning his NBA career with the Portland Trailblazers.
Kansas' 19 players on the opening-day NBA rosters are two more than last year's previous KU high of 17 Jayhawks and continues to be the highest among the Big 12 schools.
14. Kansas (Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III, Svi Mykhailiuk, Devonté Graham, Brannen Greene, LaGerald Vick)
This ranking could prove to be low at season’s end, depending upon (in part) the progress made by Selden. The junior played very well at the World University Games in South Korea this summer, and if he can build on that play the Jayhawks will undoubtedly have one of the top guards in the country. Mason gives them an absolute pitbull at the point, with Graham being another player capable of running the point. And in Green, Mykhailiuk and Vick, Kansas won’t lack for depth on the wings either.
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Here’s a look at our college basketball preseason rankings.
1. North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels don’t have a real weakness. They are experienced, they feature a game-changer in guard Marcus Paige, and players like Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson are going to take UNC far this season. Will they hang another banner in the Dean Dome? Staying healthy will be key.
2. Maryland Terrapins
College teams with an electric guard and a quality big man can go far, and Maryland is blessed with both of those. Melo Trimble was a man among boys last season as a freshman, and he is poised to enjoy a huge year. Forward Jake Layman can score inside and out, and his versatility will make Maryland tough to guard while also opening the lane for Trimble’s trips to the bucket.
3. Kentucky Wildcats
Losing their top seven scorers won’t be easy for the Wildcats, but naturally John Calipari is welcoming another stocked recruiting class to fill the void. With Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee back, and Skal Labissiere ready to dominate inside (as long as he is declared eligible), UK isn’t going to fall far from last year’s lofty heights and might actually benefit now that the undefeated talk has died.
4. Kansas Jayhawks
The Jayhawks are stocked again, and it’s time for Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis to take the next step. They’ve been around a while, and they are poised to be great. Bill Self always squeezes the most out of his guys, and this is a hungry group. KU will take a step forward if Cheick Diallo can play.
5. Virginia Cavaliers
The Cavs are going to miss some talent from last season, but guard Malcolm Brogdon is back, and he can take Virginia far. Tony Bennett is as good a coach as you’ll find, and with seniors Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey back, plus junior London Perrantes, UVA is going to battle UNC for an ACC title.
6. Duke Blue Devils
The defending national champs have lost a lot of talent, but Duke never has a lack of that. Grayson Allen returns, as does Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee, but new talent in Derryck Thornton and Brandon Ingram will keep the Blue Devils in the title hunt.
7. Iowa State Cyclones
A coaching change in Ames has brought some transition, but it hasn’t lowered expectations for the Cyclones. Steve Prohm is running the show now that Fred Hoiberg has bolted to the NBA, and forward Georges Niang is the kind of player who can push a team far.
8. Wichita State Shockers
Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet are back for one more battle, and the Shockers will continue to make a lot of noise on the national stage. They play with a lot of confidence, and it’s impossible to shake Wichita State’s poise. This is a team built for a deep NCAA Tournament run.
9. Oklahoma Sooners
Guard Buddy Hield is a special player, and the Sooners have all the tools needed to challenge Kansas for Big 12 supremacy. This is a team that has size, experience and a chip on its shoulder.
10. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Everything the Bulldogs do this season will be building toward the NCAA Tournament, and the conference campaign will be one long preseason for that event. Forwards Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis have the size to battle anyone, and Wiltjer’s versatility will make him a Player of the Year candidate.
The newest Royal, 6-foot-10 right-hander Chris Young, also was a terrific basketball player at Princeton.
In fact, Young recalled the day back in December 1999 when he and his teammates ventured to legendary Allen Fieldhouse to face the Kansas Jayhawks.
Young scored 20 points that day, but KU won easily 82-67.
"I knew we were beat in warmups," Young said. "All of our guys were just standing out on the court looking around in awe of the place."
MLB.com March 7, 2015
Rock Chalk Weekly
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Big 12/College News
Huggins: I don't know until I see them -- you know what I mean. If every time you touch somebody it's a foul, everyone should just play pack line defense right? Think about this -- this whole deal started when Wisconsin went to the Final Four and the score was 50-something to 49 or whatever. Everybody said we have to do something to help scoring. Well shortening the clock isn't going to help scoring. All that's going to do is make people play more pack line defense.
All this stuff about not being able to touch people on defense -- let me ask you this: how much sense does that you can't touch somebody at half court because it's a foul, but you can stick your forearm in the back when they're in the post? Does that make any sense? And they want to increase scoring? It's going to wind up being like soccer where you just line up and the team that makes the most free throws is going to win. I don't think that's what people want to watch if that's what we're after. I think we're after ratings and what appeals.
Honestly, I think we're all screwed up. We're comparing our ratings to the NBA. Well the NBA never competes against each other. You don't have two NBA games on at once -- not even on different networks. Where with us there can be five or six games on at once. Obviously we're not going to have same viewing audience you're going to have if you're only viewing one game.
…CBS Sports: The Big 12 is different than other power-five leagues due to its scheduling structure. How does the difficulties of dealing with the double round-robin compare to some of the other leagues you've coached in?
Huggins: This is the hardest league I've ever been in. Conference USA, when we were in it (with Cincinnati) , was really good, but it had a bottom. The Big East had a bottom. The Big 12 really doesn't have a bottom. I think that's the hardest thing. When nine of your 10 teams were ranked at one point in time of the season that's pretty good. When 70 percent of your teams are in the NCAA Tournament -- that's never happened before. Sixty percent of your coaches have coached in the Final Four -- that's never happened before.
There's so many things happening in this league that have never happened in the history of college basketball. We've had over the past seven years or so one and a third teams in the Elite Eight. That's phenomenal. That's never happened -- not over an extended period of time like that. It happened in the Big East, but not over an extended period of time like that.
The Bruins open the season at home against Monmouth on Nov. 13 and play six of their first nine games in Westwood. Among their high-profile non-conference games are the Maui Invitational before Thanksgiving, Kentucky on Dec. 3, at Gonzaga on Dec. 12 and North Carolina on Dec. 19 in New York.
Here are some things to know about UCLA this season:
GUARD PLAY: Bryce Alford, the coach's son, has taken heat for being the team's starting point guard the last two years. He averaged 15.4 points - second-best on the team - on 39.6 percent shooting, nearly identical to his average from 3-point range. He will remain a key piece of the offense, but the team is better stocked at point guard so Alford shouldn't have to play over 36 minutes a game like he did last season. Freshman Aaron Holiday, whose older brothers Jrue (UCLA) and Justin (Washington) are in the NBA, possesses an attacking mentality and he could end up starting at the point. Prince Ali is another touted freshman guard who could see starting minutes. Isaac Hamilton averaged 10.6 points while becoming a regular starter last season.
PARKER & BOLDEN: It may take both Tony Parker, the team's lone senior, and newcomer Jonah Bolden to replace Looney, who averaged 11.6 points and a Pac-12 second-best 9.2 rebounds in his lone season before becoming a first-round NBA draft pick. Parker was a starter for the first time last season and he looks to culminate his college career as a force down low if he can stay out of foul trouble. ''The maturation process has to happen,'' Alford said. ''If it does happen, then it makes us a totally different team and a much better team.'' Bolden, a 6-foot-10 Australian, redshirted last year after being ruled ineligible. He practiced with the team until having knee surgery in May. He is an inch taller than Looney and could play both forward positions.
Top recruits have always had lists of favorites, but social media has turned the reveal of the list into its own event complete with media attention and 140-character responses that range from joy from fans of the colleges on the list to disappointment — and sometimes anger — from fans of the schools left out.
This just in college coaches, if your school has managed to show up on the big reveal of an elite recruit’s top 20 schools list don’t rest on your laurels.
“We’re not really looking at all of those schools,” Giles said. “You can’t. The more coaches that are on your list the more phone calls you’ll get from the different coaches on the staff and the more questions you get about each school. It’s too much when the list is that long.”
…Chaminade College Prep (St. Louis) senior forward Jayson Tatum initially cut his list to 10 then dropped it to four before eventually picking Duke in July.
When asked if he was ever seriously considering 10 schools, Tatum, who is ranked No. 2 overall in the ESPN 100, laughed and said, “Nah.”
…Duke associate head men’s’ basketball coach Jeff Capel said seeing a recruit “cut his list” to 10 or more schools is a telltale sign that “he is either not very serious about his recruitment at that particular time, or he is just ‘playing recruiting.’”
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2015-16)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube