NO WASTED DAYS!!!
10/21/13, 7:07 PM
Of things that impressed me at @KUHoops practice 2day. THIS was best. Super stars on floor for 50/50 balls!! pic.twitter.com/3NBCl8xrtU
10/21/13, 9:33 PM
I think KU is definitely a national title contender. Don't underestimate team's versatility on D. Wayne Selden could be a great defender.
10/21/13, 9:34 PM
I couldn't take my eyes off Joel Embiid. So fluid, so mobile. Had a spin off the left block/finish with the left that made jaws drop.
10/21/13, 9:36 PM
Embiid might be the most important player on the roster. ... Tarik Black is in great shape. Perry Ellis too. What a talented frontcourt.
10/21/13, 9:37 PM
Now ... Andrew Wiggins. ... Few players compete with such ease. He hit shots all over the floor, wrestled for loose balls and hustled.
10/21/13, 9:37 PM
He's going to be a matchup nightmare. .... Only question could be at PG but Tharpe seems to be stepping up as a leader. Was very vocal.
10/21/13, 9:39 PM
If Kansas wins it all, I won't be surprised. The pieces are there. ... Joel Embiid is coming. And yes, big men all over should be afraid.
Season right around the corner!!! Can't wait to start playing with this blessed team. Season start in 10 days #YeaItsReal
Good practice we got better today #kucmb #MagnaTeam
We got better as a squad today... Great practice y'all! #KUCMB #NothingButMagna
KU...I love my team. We laugh so much
How many more days? Are y all ready? #kubball
After attending three Kentucky practices and two at Kansas (including today) the 10 most impressive players i've seen are (in order):
Julius Randle, Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, James Young, Wayne Selden, AndHarrison, Perry Ellis, Aaron Harrison, Tarik Black, Alex Poythress
But Self wasn’t sure if Black could emerge as a leader on a young team still lacking an identity and voice. But after three weeks of practice, Self knew.
“He’s very, very bright,” Self said on Saturday. “And he’s beyond his years, maturitywise. And even though the reason we recruited him is because he could help us win, the residual effect is that we probably got one of our two biggest team leaders in return.”
Black’s presence was on display Saturday morning at a public scrimmage at Allen Fieldhouse. He finished with six points and five rebounds in front of an estimated crowd of close to 10,000 fans. And for the moment, Black appears to be KU’s starting center.
Beyond the production, Self has been pleased with Black’s ability to mentor the Jayhawks’ younger big men, including 7-foot center Joel Embiid. If Embiid can harness his natural gifts, he may cut into Black’s minutes. But that hasn’t stopped Black from offering lessons each day in practice.
“I’m gonna teach Joel everything I know in this one year,” Black said earlier this month. “Because that’s just one of my main jobs.”
Self added: “He’s been great for our young guys … he hits them every day, and he applauds them every time they hit back. It’s been fun to watch.”
“They obviously are going to be very good. They always are,” said Van Gundy, guest speaker at Bill Self’s KU coaches clinic in Allen Fieldhouse. “What I like beyond the obvious talent is it’s a very unselfish team. The ball moves. It’s an extremely coachable team, not a lot of B.S. in practice. They sort of all do their job, work hard at what they are doing.”
Van Gundy — he said he took several pages worth of notes during practice on his first-ever visit to Allen Fieldhouse — said the 6-foot-8 Wiggins appears as talented as advertised.
“More than anything is his ability to get down and move his feet defensively,” Van Gundy, a 54-year-old native of Indio, Calif., said. “That sounds crazy because everybody watches offense. As somebody who has always looked at the game defensively, I was really impressed with that part of his game. He’s very much under control on the offensive end. I’m used to young guys ... you see the talent, but they play a little bit young, wild and crazy. You don’t see that out here. They play under control. I like the big Embiid (Joel) kid. He’s a talented guy, has good touch, is athletic. They’ve got some good players.”
Of Wiggins’ outside shot, Van Gundy said of the athletic wing: “He looked like a pretty good shooter to me. It’ll get better obviously.
“If I compare him to guys who came into the league out of high school, even like a LeBron (James) ... those guys weren’t comfortable shooting the ball when they came in the league. I had (Dwyane) Wade as a rookie. He was coming out of college. He (Wiggins) seems more comfortable shooting the ball than most of the other athletic guys. He’s obviously an athlete. He seems to be a guy who wants to pass the ball, which is great.”
Van Gundy’s brother, Jeff, a former NBA coach now a broadcaster, was guest speaker at Self’s clinic two years ago. “He told me, ‘When you get a chance, you’ve GOT to get out to Kansas!’” Van Gundy said.
After watching Kansas practice on Friday afternoon and again on Saturday during a public scrimmage, here are five thoughts on Naadir Tharpe, Andrew Wiggins and the young Jayhawks — and five bits of video highlights if you missed Saturday’s early morning scrimmage:
1. Andrew White III is making a case for reserve minutes in the backcourt.
4. Could we see any four-guard sets? While speaking at Self’s annual coaches clinic on Friday, Van Gundy told a story about how Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decided to play small with the Miami Heat. The short version of the story: Spoelstra saw that playing three smaller players with LeBron James — and spreading the floor with shooters — allowed James the space to maximize his potential.
For a 6-foot-8 swingman, Wiggins has the potential to be a solid rebounder. He can also get to the basket and set up for others. It’ll be interesting to see if Self experiments playing Wiggins alongside a group that features Selden, Tharpe, another shooter, and either Joel Embiid or Tarik Black.
5. Sophomore Jamari Traylor appears to have polished certain aspects of his game — passing, defensive spacing, court awareness — after his freshman season. Last season, Self liked to remind people that Traylor had only played competitive basketball for two season before arriving at KU. His shooting and offensive skills still need some work, but he could slot in as a quality fourth big man for KU.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA FIRST TEAM
F Doug McDermott, Sr., Creighton
F Andrew Wiggins, Fr., Kansas
F Julius Randle, Fr., Kentucky
G Russ Smith, Sr., Louisville
G Marcus Smart, So., Oklahoma State
SNY.tv Preseason All-America First Team
As Oklahoma State prepares to celebrate the opening of a highly anticipated season Friday night, the reigning Big 12 player of the year and the league's preseason player of the year finds himself overshadowed in his own conference by the hype surrounding an 18-year-old yet to play a college game.
…"They are saying he is the best college player there is and he has not even played a game yet," Smart told USA TODAY Sports. "Of course that hypes me up. It is all talk. He still has to put his shorts on one leg at a time like I do. It is all potential. I am not saying he can't do it. But he has not done it yet."
…At 6-foot-4, Smart wants nothing more than an opportunity to guard the sinewy 6-8 Wiggins.
"Definitely," Smart says. "I am not going to back down from any challenge. Like I said, you are going to have to prove to me. I am a fighter; I will keep fighting and will never give up."
…Smart says he respects Wiggins' talents, calling him a "great player." But Smart questions the purpose and the amount of the hype that Wiggins has been awash in for more than a year, and wants no part of it.
"I wouldn't say he is overrated," Smart says. "I would just say there is a lot of pressure on him right now. He is under a microscope from the world that is bigger than anybody would think, bigger than he knows. Whatever he does will be magnified times a million, just because of the hype. Whatever he says, does, however he acts."
…"I want to earn it, I don't want anything given to me," Smart says. "It has not been [given] at all. I want to work for what I have. If feel if you work for what you have instead of it being just given to you, people respect you a lot more because you understand what it takes, you've been there and done it. No one can just say it was easy because you took it. You didn't just get it. You took it. So all the power and credit to him [Wiggins]. Congratulations for the Sports Illustrated, all the hype, congratulations to him. But that's definitely a lot of pressure on him."
…"I am used to coming in second and then all of the sudden finishing in first because nobody expected me to do it," Smart says. "Kind of like David and Goliath, you know. I'm not the giant. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall."
CBS Top 30 Bigs (Embiid #9)
10/18/13, 9:37 PM
Hey y all I KILLED A LION when I was young and my teammates don t believe me
I support a player’s right to determine his future. There is always the specter of injury, and some from hardscrabble backgrounds feel more compelled to grab that NBA cash and help their families than to spend more time in the chem lab. Basketball is their career and they are making a career choice.
That’s the logical part of the argument. The truth is, I hate to see the one-and-done trend taking over my alma mater. In the last three years there have been three who have had varying amounts of success: Xavier Henry (2010), Josh Selby (2011) and Ben McLemore (2013).
But three on one team? Does anyone really want her favorite team to become the new Kentucky, which won the national championship in 2012 with a lineup of one-and-dones — over Kansas — then failed to make the tournament field the following year? Then again, that won’t happen to KU because it has a verbal commitment from big man Kelly Oubre for the 2014-15 season — and he is projected as a lottery pick in the 2015 draft.
Coach Bill Self is one of the best in the business, and if he’s decided this is the way to take the program, then the rabid and very loyal fan base will go along with it. With a winning percentage of .836, In Bill We Trust.
But I will miss the old way, when coaches — and Self was a master at this — built a roster and improved green players and put together real teams. Senior Night drew smiles and tears because for four years, we had rooted for these kids, watched them grow up (at least most of them) and we wished them well.
Now even Senior Night is changing. This spring, Self allowed the Allen Field House crowd to bid farewell to McLemore at the final home game. Perhaps that will become a new tradition: Senior and Freshman Night. It won’t be the same.
Washington Post: Wiggins the latest sign that four-year players aren't in Kansas any more
Digital Kansas Basketball Preview
Big 12/College News
Fans will be able to tune into ESPNU on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. CT to hear from all 10 Big 12 head coaches and selected student-athletes at the league’s Men’s Basketball Media Day set for Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
ESPNU College Basketball Media Day Special will have media personalities Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe on site to preview the 2013-14 Big 12 Conference race, including interviews with head coaches and student-athletes. Anish Shroff, along with former Wake Forest head coach Dino Gaudio and former Maryland player Adrian Branch, will be anchor coverage from ESPNU’s Charlotte, N.C., studio.
It would be up to Oklahoma State to dethrone the Jayhawks.
Even if that doesn’t happen, this year’s Oklahoma State team appears to be the best one Travis Ford has coached since arriving in Stillwater in 2008. Smart, Brown and junior Brian Williams form one of the best perimeter trios in the country, while sharp-shooting sophomore Phil Forte and freshman Stevie Clarke should contribute off the bench. Nash and junior forward Michael Cobbins, who was named to the Big 12’s All-Defensive team last season after posting an impressive 6.6 block percentage, according to Kenpom.com, make up the Cowboys’ probable starting frontcourt duo.
There are few (if any) starting fives in the Big 12 that can match Oklahoma State’s, man-for-man, but the Cowboys could use some more depth in the frontcourt. Sophomore Kamari Murphy has promise, and junior Gary Gaskins is one of the team’s best all-around athletes. How much one or both can help Oklahoma State this season is an open question.
All things considered, the Cowboys appear to have what it takes to challenge Kansas for a league championship. The Jayhawks may be more talented, but Oklahoma State is more experienced, brings back arguably the best returning player in college basketball (Smart) and proved as recent as last season that it can beat Kansas (OSU ended the Jayhawks’ 33-game winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse with a five-point win on Feb. 2).
Whoever comes out on top, watching Oklahoma State and Kansas push one another in a heated league title race should be one of the more fascinating storylines of the upcoming season.
SI: Stock Watch Big 12
“There’s no question they can be good again,” Dykes said. “The first thing that really jumps out at you is how good John Calipari and his staff are at zeroing in not only on elite talent, which is not as easy as people think. A coach has to trust his own eyes, own instincts. But more importantly, he’s got a bunch that does not come in with a me-first mentality and agenda separate from winning games.
“That team last year would not have won the championship if one guy had an agenda that he was more important than the team. That starts with recruiting. I do not see one selfish kid in this group. That’s hard to identify in recruiting. You shouldn’t miss on talent. There’s no excuse for that. But when you can miss is when it comes to a kid’s love for the game, is he a self starter, is he selfish on the court. You can miss on those things unless you dig deep.”
Jimmy Dykes, circa October 2012
This certainly wasn't the Midnight Madness of a team coming off a first-round NIT loss to Robert Morris.
In fact, there was only one mention of what happened seven months ago – and it came from head coach John Calipari during his state of the program speech.
“Last year we learned some very important lessons,” Calipari said. “We were humbled. I was humbled.”
(Side note: That quote came moments after he said, "We don't just play college basketball. We are college basketball." Back to the column.)
Yet there we were, celebrating the debut of arguably the best recruiting class in the history of college basketball – and watching the preseason No. 1 team in the country.
Twelve months ago, it wasn't all that different. Big Blue Madness featured a program coming off a national championship, with another No. 1 recruiting class and a team ranked No. 3 in both polls.
Missouri head coach Frank Haith has been suspended five games after the NCAA announced the findings of its two-year investigation into Miami's athletic department on Tuesday.
The news was first reported by Miami radio host Joe Rose, and confirmed to CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish.
Haith was charged with “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance” back in February. Yahoo! Sports reported in 2011 that Haith had knowledge of a $10,000 payment to a family member of former Miami player DeQuan Jones during his recruitment. Nevin Shapiro, the former Miami booster around which the Yahoo! report centered, said he gave the money to former assistant coach Jake Morton for that purpose.
Big XII composite schedule
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
At the airport heading back to Chicago. Had a great time in Lawrence, appreciate all the love from everyone on campus. #kubball
10/20/13, 8:36 AM
Had a good visit at KU this weekend. Thanks to the fans for showing love. Rock chalk
After Kansas visit Tyus Jones wearing a Kansas shirt at fall league. I can hear predictions changing and MBs going wild, over a tshirt.
10/21/13, 9:40 PM
Nope. “@joekulas12: @MedcalfByESPN you think KU gets Tyus/Okafor combo?
LJW: Coach Self talks recruiting
Chicago Curie big man Cliff Alexander enjoyed his weekend visit to Memphis, and will trip to Illinois next weekend in what could be his final visit.
“It was great, I had a great time in the three days we were there,” Alexander’s mother, Latillia Alexander, told SNY.tv. “We visited family there.”
Latillia said that Memphis coach Josh Pastner spoke about how he would use the 6-foot-9 Alexander if he came to school there.
“He said he loves him, he’ll take care of him and the program he runs there will be great for him,” she said.
Huntington (W.V.) Prep shooting guard JaQuan Lyle also took an unofficial to Memphis. The two have talked about packaging but that remains uncertain at this point.
The top two big men in the country, one-time AAU teammates Jahlil Okafor of Young and Cliff Alexander of Curie, plan to take their final official visits this weekend.
The 6-foot-11 Okafor has long discussed the possibility of a package deal — with point guard Tyus Jones of Minnesota, not the 6-9 Alexander.
Yet Kansas remains a prominent player for both Okafor and Alexander, raising the question of whether it would be in the best interests of two players of their size and stature to try to co-exist on the same college team.
"It's a tricky situation," said Mike Irvin, who coached both on the Mac Irvin Fire.
"They are being recruited by the same school, but it doesn't make sense for them to go to the same school. In college basketball you only need one dominant big man.
"They definitely talk. They are good friends. They are in an awkward situation. Funny thing is, people are shying away from the subject. No one is talking about it. This is the first time someone brought it up to me. It is definitely a concern in my eyes. I was always worried about it."
They play different positions and have different attributes — Okafor is a polished center and Alexander an athletic and powerful four-man — so they wouldn't necessarily get in each other's way on the floor.
But both are worthy of being a team's featured player, and both are looking for a situation that will springboard them to the NBA.
"Quite honestly, I think they could play together and be very successful, but I don't think it's likely," said ESPN recruiting scout/analyst Reggie Rankin, a former college coach. "I just think they both want to go out and be their own guy.
"But I do think it could work because they play different positions and are pro prospects for different reasons. Okafor's size is just so impressive. He is bigger than most pros now. His hands and his footwork are things of beauty.
"Cliff brings some different things to the table that make him a potential high pick. He is so strong and explosive around the rim. He's a rim-level rebounder. He has a motor to run the floor. He may be the best low-post defender in the class."
Alexander has set a decision date of Nov. 16, but Okafor might be closer to making up his mind.
Duke, Kansas and Baylor are the only schools still in the hunt for both Okafor and Jones, so if they go somewhere together, it will be one of the three.
Rankin believes it will be either Kansas or Duke.
"No disrespect to Baylor, but that is probably a safer bet," Rankin said.
The duo visited Kansas last weekend and will finish up their visits this weekend at Duke.
Kansas, Illinois and Michigan State have been consistently high on Alexander's list, but Memphis is also in the hunt.
Alexander visited Memphis on Saturday and will be in Champaign this weekend, where John Groce will try to take advantage of having last raps.
"I think Memphis made a strong impression on him," Rankin said. "I think he is still probably pulling back the layers on this stuff, figuring out which one is going to fit him best. He really wants to be comfortable with the coach preparing him for the next level. That is something that is important to him."
"I am still thinking about taking an unofficial visit to Michigan State but still not 100-percent sure yet," Alexander said.
Alexander, whose parents attended the Memphis visit with him, was very impressed with coach Josh Pastner, the fans and the city.
"I got along with Coach Pastner and the players real well. They were real cool and my mom and dad enjoyed the visit a lot," Alexander said. "The fans were great. I felt like LeBron James walking down Beale Street. They showed me a lot of love.
"We also got to spend time with family. My grandmother's sister lives right outside of Memphis and she came by to visit with us."
Alexander, who is arguably the best rebounder and low-post defender in the class, knows what he wants most in a coaching staff.
"I have to go with the coaching staff that can develop me the best and get me ready for the next level," said Alexander, who has an academic interest in sports broadcasting.
Alexander will start to process everything with his mom after the visits and then make his decision.
"My mom will be the one who will help me most with my decision," Alexander said.
Louisville is no longer recruiting @Original_Turner , who visited Ohio State this past weekend, sources confirmed. No other officials set.
Center/power forward Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity), the No. 2 player in the ESPN 100, has returned home to Texas after spending the weekend at Ohio State, his first official visit.
"The practice really stood out on Saturday morning. It was very intense and everybody was energized," Turner said.
Turner was also impressed with how much the student body and city of Columbus loved the Buckeyes.
"I was walking around with Sam Thompson and Aaron Craft and everybody we saw showed them love," Turner said. "I had a great visit with Coach [Thad] Matta and he went over the plan he has in place for me on how I would be utilized on offense and defense and how he would get me ready for the next level."
Turner also was impressed with his academic meetings.
"My academic interest in psychology with an emphasis in counseling, and I met with the head of psychology," Turner said. “It was very impressive.”
So, what’s next for Turner?
"This coming weekend I am going to Houston and work out with Coach John Lucas and continue to get ready for the high school season,” he said. “I might take another visit or two this fall, but I am still discussing it with my parents."
But if Okafor and Jones go to Duke or Kansas, the school they don't select could become Turner's favorite, in addition to Kentucky, with Ohio State still in the mix as well. Other schools in Turner's final eight should not be disregarded yet because Ohio State is his first official visit. He had to reschedule a Kansas visit because of a USA Basketball minicamp.
Turner's process is starting to take shape, but it could change quickly if Okafor and Jones pop first.
For Cliff Alexander: He has already visited Kansas and is at Memphis this weekend. He will have the opportunity to do a little comparing and contrasting. But if Okafor and Jones go to Duke, Kansas will have to come on even stronger for Alexander and Turner. Josh Pastner and Memphis will put on a great visit for Alexander and will certainly have his attention, but they will have to beat Kansas. The sleeper is in-state Illinois. The Fighting Illini could also pull this thing off, especially if Okafor and Jones pick Kansas.
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