Kansas junior forward Perry Ellis and freshman forward Cliff Alexander have been named to the 2014-15 Preseason All-Big 12 Team in a vote by the conference coaches the league announced Thursday. Ellis was named to the five-person All-Big 12 team, while Alexander was named co-Preseason Freshman of the Year.
From Wichita, Kansas, Ellis (6-8, 225) was one of two players who were unanimous selections for the preseason all-conference team, joining West Virginia senior guard Juwan Staten who was named the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Ellis said. “But for me, that’s something I try not to worry about. I just try to go out there and I play. I can’t control that, I don’t want to think too much about it also, so I just try to go out there and do the best I can.”
Alexander and Ellis were the only Jayhawks that landed a preseason honor, and coach Bill Self said he was shocked by the lack of Kansas mentions.
“The one thing that I was really surprised at is that not one of our players got a vote other than Perry,” Self said. “We didn’t even have an honorable mention guy other than Perry. That may be something that we tell our guys because we have plenty good enough players that should at least receive some consideration.”
Alexander said the honor does mean something to him, but that he doesn’t put too much focus into it. Myles Turner, who almost joined Cliff in Lawrence, but chose the Longhorns instead, was the other freshman named. Alexander said he’s looking forward to matching up with him when Kansas plays Texas Jan. 24.
“It would have been [nice] if he came here, but he did his own thing,” Alexander said. “Now I just got to go at his head.”
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I can see a scenario where Wayne (Selden) plays point with two big wings. I don’t see many scenarios where all three play together, but I definitely think we can play small. ... I see us being small a lot. I see us playing Wayne, Kelly (Oubre), Brannen (Greene) at the 4. It’ll make us a much more perimeter oriented team.
On Hunter Michelson: Hunter with his skill set will have to do more things to see some playing time. But he’s our best shot blocker. Cliff is going to be a good one, but Hunter had more at Arkansas than Joel did last year.
On Perry Ellis: He’s never going to be your vocal leader. He needs to do what he does and be a score
On Brannen Greene: Brannen is arguably as good a shooter as the team has.
On what Cliff Alexander needs to improve on: Cliff has got to get where he goes after every ball. If he plays his best and everyone plays their best, he’s our most physical player.
On Devonte' Graham: To me, Devonte reminds me of Aaron Miles. Just a guy who will do whatever it takes to give the team the best chance.
“We don’t have a guy to cover mistakes like that that’s seven-foot tall,” Self said. “But I do think we’ll be able to pressure the ball, deny one pass away. I think you’re going to see a pretty good defensive team.”
If that happens, Self will be expecting contributions from most of his perimeter guys.
“Frank (Mason) didn’t guard last year like he can. Devonte’ (Graham) can really pressure. Kelly Oubre is so long, he can get out. And you’d be surprised — Svi (Mykhailiuk) maybe slides his feet as well as anybody we have. He’s a terrific, quick athlete,” Self said. “(Coach) Mike Fratello called me after he had him with the Ukrainian national team, and he said, ‘Bill, this may seem kind of weird, but he’d be great in a full-court pressing defense, because he anticipates so well and he’s so quick and athletic.’
“And of course, Jamari (Traylor) showed glimpses last year of being able to do some things in transition defense or pressing that nobody else can do.”
It all, of course, leads to a natural question: Could this be a year that KU decides to full-court press more with a roster that might thrive with it?
“Pressure’s an option,” Self said. “But pressing could be too.”
KU basketball players weren’t shy about setting the highest of ambitions this season.
“We’re just working hard every day trying to be the best team that we can be,” KU freshman Kelly Oubre said. “Our ultimate goal is to win a national championship. That’s what we’re working towards, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Added KU junior Perry Ellis: “That’s always the goal. We want to think that, but first things first.”
Snubbed? Though KU received two mentions on the all-Big 12 preseason team — Ellis was a first-team pick while Cliff Alexander was voted co-freshman of the year — Self did expect more love for the Jayhawks.
“The one thing I was really surprised at is not one of our players got a vote — a vote — other than Perry. We didn’t even have an honorable mention guy other than Perry making it to the first team,” Self said. “That may be something that we tell our guys, because we’re got plenty good enough players that they could at least receive some consideration — at least I think."
…Self was asked if he had thought about any potential players sitting out this year.
“That’s one question you guys can remove from your list,” Self said, “because I don’t redshirting will be a possibility for anybody.”
These are the greatest uniforms in the history of uniforms. Give up, everyone else. #kubball
Jamari’s advice to Cliff Alexander
10. Jamari Traylor, Kansas Jayhawks
The rugged big man didn't play big minutes last season but he did a lot of dirty work, and all signs suggest that he'll be a stronger contributor this season. Traylor (4.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG in 16.1 minutes per game) has to be more than an energy guy in 2014-15.
ESPN Medcalf: Top 10 reserves in college basketball for 2014-15
According to the stat-tracking site Hoop-Math.com, last year's Jayhawk opponents had the highest field-goal percentage on shots at the rim (53.7) and lowest percentage of shots blocked at the rim (16.7) in three years, and that was with the services of 7-foot giant Joel Embiid.
In '11-12, with Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey scaring the living cojones out of anybody who dared to enter the paint, Self's Jayhawks ranked ninth nationally in their percentage of opposing shots at the rim that were blocked and 32nd in opponent's field-goal percentage up close. In '12-13, reduced to primarily Withey, the Jayhawks ranked first in block percentage and second in opponent's field-goal percentage. Last season: 20th, and 47th, respectively.
"We stunk last year, defensively," Self said. "We didn't put pressure on the ballhandler, cut the head off. Teams got comfortable."
This fall, it's about making them feel uncomfortable again. There aren't international camera crews chasing the Jayhawks around, as there were last year with Andrew Wiggins and Embiid on board; this go-round, there's less emphasis on star power -- although freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, health permitting, are going to be very wealthy, very soon -- and more on grinding, getting after it.
3. Who will win Kansas' point guard competition?
Leading returning scorer Perry Ellis and elite recruit Cliff Alexander and form a formidable frontcourt duo. Breakout candidate Wayne Selden and top prospect Kelly Oubre are a potent pair at wing. Really the only question facing Kansas entering the new season is will one of its unproven point guards will solidify a position that was a season-long weakness last year?
With erratic Naadir Tharpe leaving the program after the season, Kansas' best options are either freshman Devonte Graham or sophomores Frank Mason or Conner Frankamp. Graham is a late-blooming top 100 prospect who spent an extra season in prep school after Appalachian State refused to release him from his letter of intent. Mason excelled at creating off the dribble as a backup last season and Frankamp is a deadly shooter who would need to prove he can be effective distributing as a point guard.
The man to beat is probably Mason because of his experience, but Self has said he wants multiple ball handlers in his rotation. Expect Frankamp to fill that role as the first guard off the bench with Graham carving out a bigger role for himself too as the season goes along. The freshman is bigger than Mason and more athletic than Frankamp but may need time to get stronger and to acclimate himself to high-level Division I basketball.
Yahoo: Eight questions for the new season
TSN Top 25: KU #6
#5 Kelly Oubre
Analysis: Magic GM Rob Hennigan has loaded up on high-level athletes and Oubre would fit right in with those guys. He's long, athletic and is also a decent shooter. Just imagine a lineup of Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and Oubre. It will be interesting to see how much Oubre produces at Kansas this season, but he's a guy who already is high on NBA draft boards.
#7 Cliff Alexander
Analysis: With Greg Monroe's future in doubt, Stan Van Gundy needs another front-line player. And while Alexander is completely different from Monroe, he can come in and make an immediate impact due to his NBA-ready body. There's not a ton of skill, but Alexander is a physical specimen and a power player. He'll try to dunk everything around the rim and is a monster on the glass. He should put up impressive numbers this season at Kansas. Alexander and Andre Drummond would be quite a pair.
#23 Wayne Selden
Analysis: He didn't have the type of season some were expecting as a freshman, but the power guard should show more assertiveness now that he is one of the veterans on the team. Selden has a good feel for the game and can score penetrating to the basket and also with his perimeter shot. The 76ers need talent on the wings, and Selden would help in that regard.
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On KU Basketball media day the players shoot several new promos. Watch Brannen Greene here!
Transcript Bill Self presser along with a few players
Champions Classic Tix go on sale October 6 at 10:00 AM. Tix prices range from $47 to $252.
#tbt late night in the phog 2006. Wanna wish my Jayhawks good luck this year http://instagram.com/p/tqNNLFP4SN/
Wilt Chamberlain has been cut down to size. Wilt The Stilt is now Wilt The Stamp.
The Hall of Famer and the only NBA player to score 100 points in a game is set to appear on a commemorative U.S postage stamp. Chamberlain died in 1999 at age 63.
The U.S. Postal Service and the Philadelphia 76ers, with cooperation from the NBA, will formally dedicate the Wilt Chamberlain Forever stamps in a halftime ceremony at a Dec. 5 game against Oklahoma City.
The stamps are just over 2 inches tall. Kadir Nelson, of San Diego, created the two stamp image portraits of the NBA Hall of Famer.
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Big 12 / College News
Dave Reiter, an assistant athletic director for strategic communications, was arrested early Wednesday in Lafayette County.
The Columbia Daily Tribune reported the 36-year-old Reiter was taken to the Odessa Police Department and later released.
A prosecutor has dropped charges against a former UNC tutor who worked with Tar Heels football players for violating the state's sports agent laws.
Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall said Thursday he dropped the four counts against Jennifer Thompson because she is cooperating with the investigation. A grand jury indicted her a year ago for providing benefits to former UNC football player Greg Little in 2010 to help Georgia-based agent Terry Watson sign Little.
Woodall said Thompson, formerly Jennifer Wiley, began talking with investigators from the Secretary of State's office this summer and met with him in August.
"Based on all that, I feel like she is being very truthful and that she is more important to us as a potential witness than as a defendant," Woodall said.
The Kentucky Wildcats' unprecedented scouting combine for NBA personnel will be televised live on ESPNU on Oct. 10, the school and network confirmed.
The two-hour practice at the Joe Craft Center in Lexington will start at 3 p.m. with individual and team drills to showcase the roster that has been tabbed to include potentially 10 NBA draft picks in 2015.
All 30 NBA teams were invited to attend.
Iowa State will play its first two games without two of its players due to suspension. Fred Hoiberg announced the punishments for Matt Thomas and Abdel Nader, meaning the pair will sit for ISU's regular-season contests against Oakland and Georgia State. Hoiberg also said they will not suit up for the Cyclones' early November exhibition against Viterbo College.
Tennessee forward Dominic Woodson has received an NCAA waiver allowing the Memphis transfer to play immediately rather than sitting out a year. How much the 6-foot-10 sophomore will actually play may depend on how much weight he loses.
Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall announced Woodson's eligibility Thursday as the Volunteers prepare to open practice Sunday. The addition of the 6-foot-10, 281-pound sophomore adds some size to a roster that doesn't include anyone else with a listed weight above 220. But he apparently will need to slim down a little bit as he adjusts to Tyndall's up-tempo style. Tyndall says Woodson weighed 298 pounds when he enrolled in late August and is down to 281. Tyndall wants Woodson to get to 270 by the Nov. 3 exhibition game with Pikeville and to 265 by the start of December. Woodson averaged 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds for Memphis last season.
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Rebels Athletic Director Ross Bjork confirms to Yahoo Sports, Ole Miss is working with the NCAA on the investigation of multiple sports.
That investigation has been going on since 2012.
The Ole Miss Football and Women's Basketball programs are the main subjects.
Link (Malik Newman visiting this weekend)
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