Bill Self is the only Big 12 basketball coach who did not pick Kansas University to win its 12th-straight conference title in the league’s preseason poll.
Of course, he wasn’t allowed to tap the Jayhawks: Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own teams.
“I voted for Iowa State. Obviously, I thought they had the best roster in our league last year,” Self said after practice Thursday. “Oklahoma probably returns as much experience as Iowa State.”
It is time to unveil my preseason All-Solid Gold teams. These players are the best of the best at the start of the season. The goal is to make it on my season-end All-Solid Gold team!
I am sure these squads will trigger some debate. One thing to note: There are no freshmen on these squads. I believe a player like Ben Simmons of LSU has a good shot to make it on the postseason club, but I will not put diaper dandies on here until they play a game at the collegiate level. Until then, it is potential, potential, potential.
Melo Trimble, Maryland Terrapins
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma Sooners
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia Cavaliers
Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga Bulldogs
Georges Niang, Iowa State Cyclones
Damian Jones, Vanderbilt Commodores
Marcus Paige, North Carolina Tar Heels
Kris Dunn, Providence Friars
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin Badgers
Perry Ellis, Kansas Jayhawks
Jakob Poeltl, Utah Utes
Tyler Ulis, Kentucky Wildcats
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown Hoyas
Rico Gathers, Baylor Bears
A.J. Hammons, Purdue Boilermakers
Gary Payton II, Oregon State Beavers
Fred VanVleet, Wichita State Shockers
Jake Layman, Maryland
DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph's Hawks
Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana Hoosiers
Denzel Valentine, Michigan State Spartans
Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa Hawkeyes
Brice Johnson, North Carolina
Wayne Selden Jr. grabbed an offensive rebound and slammed it through the hoop one minute and the next drove hard across the lane, angled his body both to avoid the defender and square himself for an easy bucket and banked a soft shot off the glass at Kansas University’s Thursday afternoon basketball practice.
The thing he did not do much of was stand and listen to coaches’ corrections. He no longer is a strong-willed freshman internally fighting the urge to do it his way, not the coaches’, or a sophomore knowing what to do, but fighting to focus well enough to do what he’s supposed to do every possession.
Selden looks thinner, but he said his weight is the same. He even looks taller. Could it be he has grown an inch?
“Maybe a little bit, hopefully. I don’t know,” Selden said after practice. “Maybe. We actually got measured today. I got measured today at 6-6 with shoes on, but you never know.”
He’s playing taller than ever, no maybe about that.
Attacking from the wing on the dribble and crashing the offensive boards, Selden looked comfortable in the land of giants Thursday. Small guards Devonté Graham and Frank Mason III played in tandem, turning Selden into a moving part who scored from everywhere on the floor.
“That’s one thing we’ve done an awful job with the last two years, play to his athletic ability and his strength,” coach Bill Self said. “I think when you play two little guards together, it will help him do that, as opposed to him being one of the ball-handling guards. So I’m excited to see him attacking the basket a lot more this year.”
One of coach Bill Self’s stated goals for the upcoming season is for the team to play faster. Another involves doing a better job of feeding the post. Graham can make both happen.
A starting lineup consisting of Graham, Mason, Selden and big sprinters Ellis and Diallo could score a ton of easy buckets on the break and prevent them at the other end in transition. That sort of speed could exhaust most teams trying to keep up. Looking at what’s left on the bench to spell them could downright demoralize opponents.
If those five start, Carlton Bragg, Hunter Mickelson, Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor would be available to lend rebounds, fouls and energy in the frontcourt and Svi, Brannen Greene and Lagerald Vick could help on the perimeter.
“You can sub somebody out and the next person can fill that same spot just as good, even better than the starter,” Graham said of the team’s depth.
A faster pace suits a deep team.
“That excites all of us,” Graham said. “We all like to run, get up and down. Nobody really likes to play slow.”
Graham said he has spent a lot of time talking with assistant director of student-athlete development Aaron Miles about how to lead a team and “how to get people certain shots.”
KU junior transfer Dwight Coleby had successful left knee surgery Monday in Lawrence, Self said. “The doctors said it went perfect. They did a lot of work. They did the ACL and had to repair some other stuff while they were in there,” Self said. “They think if he works hard in rehab, no reason why he can’t be ready to go in six or seven months.”
…Former KU guard Naadir Tharpe, who is coming off hip surgery, attended Thursday’s practice. Self said Tharpe is about a month away from returning to action, but the injury likely will prevent him from playing pro ball anywhere this season.
“I hadn’t seen him since he left (after junior season). Same ol’ Naadir, though. Full of energy and personality. It was good to see him,” Self said.
Over the coming weeks, SI will reveal its player projections, conference forecasts and national rankings for the 2015-16. These are derived from our statistical projection system, a collaboration between economist Dan Hanner and SI's Luke Winn and Chris Johnson that's now in its second year.
We used our projection model to generate individual stats for every player in each of the top 11 conferences. The individual projections are based on many factors: players' past advanced-statistical performance in the context of more than a decade of D-I player data; the predictive power of recruiting ratings, both on immediate freshman performance and longer-term development; coaches' abilities to develop and maximize talent, as well as their playing-time distribution tendencies; teams' estimated pace of play; and intel from teams on how their rotations will be structured, which helps us better forecast how many minutes and shots will be available to each player.
The third reveal of SI's projection-system output is our top high-volume, high-efficiency scorers—players we forecast to use at least 24 percent of their team's possessions with an offensive rating of at least 120:
SI #12 Perry Ellis
Group #1 General Admission Tickets On Sale* Now:
General Public: Wednesday, October 14 at 9:00 am
Games included in Group #1
- Pittsburg State – Nov. 4
- Fort Hays State – Nov. 10
- Northern Colorado – Nov. 13
- Loyola – Dec. 1
- Harvard – Dec. 5
- Holy Cross – Dec. 9
- Oregon State – Dec. 12 (at Sprint Center)**
** All seats at the Sprint Center are Reserved. Call 800-34-HAWKS (42957) to order.
Embiid’s lax approach to his rehab and the circumstances surrounding the second foot surgery he needed this past summer — which appears like it will cost him the entire 2015–16 season — has caused the organization much anxiety. The simple task of getting Embiid to consistently wear his walking boot was a challenge for the franchise, and multiple sources suggested that some people in Philadelphia’s front office wonder whether a second surgery would have been necessary if Embiid had worn the boot as much as he was told to.
…Embiid was determined to go to Vegas to party for the balance of the 10 days of summer league. While Embiid was in Vegas, he was mandated to wear the walking boot in advance of the second surgery, but Embiid not only refused to wear the boot, but he carried himself as if nothing was wrong with the foot, shooting jumpers and even occasionally dunking. These actions have given rise to the theory that Embiid actually re-broke his foot, rather than the initial injury not healing properly. It also led to Embiid having the surgery a month later than the club originally had hoped.
This type of disregard for instruction also extends to Embiid’s dietary habits. Per a source, the Sixers’ training staff was so concerned about what he was eating, they stocked the refrigerator in his downtown hotel residence each week with healthy food. When a staffer went to restock the fridge each week, most everything was uneaten and unopened, and they were throwing out the fruits and vegetables every week. When the team subsequently asked to see Embiid’s room service bill, they found that most days he was ordering junk food along with his signature beverage, a pitcher of Shirley Temples. Embiid also was frequently seen feasting on chicken fingers and hot dogs at and after games.
…While reports of Embiid ballooning to 300 pounds were patently false, Embiid’s conditioning and dietary habits are a constant source of strife for the Sixers front office, per multiple sources.
Big 12 / College News
Oklahoma hasn't gotten nearly the same level of ink as Big 12 counterparts Kansas and Iowa State, but that doesn't mean the Sooners aren't capable of winning their league and earning a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma returns four players -- Jordan Woodard, Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield, and Ryan Spangler -- who have been starters in each of the past two seasons and advanced to the Sweet 16 last March. Lon Kruger's squad also returns two quality role players in Khadeem Lattin and Dinjiyl Walker while adding JUCO big man Akolda Manyang, a Top-100 prospect in red shirt freshman Dante Buford, and true freshman Rashard Odomes.
A word to the wise: keep an eye on Odomes. The Sooners' staff loves him and at 6-foot-6 the lefty owns Kelly Oubre like ability -- especially defensively. Oklahoma will have plenty of opportunities to make national statements early as the Sooners travel to Memphis, host Wisconsin, and play a neutral site game against Villanova all within the first three weeks of the season.
I officially declare the 2015-16 season close enough to go ahead and rank the nation's strongest conferences.
For our purposes right now, "strongest" will mean what it usually connotes, albeit somewhat imprecisely, when tossed around by writers and fans alike: "NCAA tournament teams only." In terms of true top-to-bottom statistical strength I expect the Big 12 will continue to hold an advantage over its major-conference rivals not only because the league plays very good basketball (which it does) but also due to the fact that the conference has just 10 members. If Division I team performance is a bell curve, other things being equal it's statistically advantageous to have fewer programs that are mediocre or worse pulling you in the direction of the mean.
In other words, if the following good-teams-only projections are correct, this could be more or less how well the respective conferences perform come Selection Sunday in terms of seeding. To compile these rankings I considered seeding performance last season, returning experience (as gauged by both minutes and possessions used, as detailed here), incoming freshmen and impact transfers.
In 2015-16 it appears as though the Atlantic Coast Conference will claim a well-defined "big three" in the form of North Carolina, Virginia and defending champion Duke. These three teams will all presumably be ranked in the top 10 nationally in the preseason polls. Along with the performance potential of significant "others" as various as NC State, Louisville, Miami or Notre Dame, the big three power the ACC to the top of these rankings.
North Carolina is expected to contend for a national title this season the old-fashioned way, with (gasp) veterans the NBA's already seen and chosen to pass over. Indeed it's conceivable that 2016's lottery picks may not include a member of this UNC team. That's rare, but not unheard of from a national title contender. Duke won the 2010 national championship despite the fact that no Blue Devil was selected in the first or even second round in the ensuing draft.
Virginia was better than commonly perceived on offense last season, but after Justin Anderson was injured the Cavaliers never really regained their stride on that side of the ball. Now Anderson's gone, and it will be up to Malcolm Brogdon to lead the offense for a Tony Bennett team that (prepare to be shocked) should be excellent on D. And at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski is likely to have freshman Brandon Ingram for one season only. The coach will see what he can piece together with Ingram, three other top-25 freshmen (Derryck Thornton, Chase Jeter and Luke Kennard), Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones.
A side note: With the exceptions of Notre Dame last season and Syracuse in 2013-14 (a pair of NCAA tournament No. 3 seeds), the big-name Big East imports that joined the ACC in 2013-14 and 2014-15 have been a bit more quiet than I had expected. When these elite Big East programs left as a bloc for the ACC it seemed like kind of a big deal. Perhaps it will be yet.
2. Big 12
If the Big 12 shows up in second place here, there's a good case to be made that the league in fact comes in first in terms of what might be called predictive safety. The ACC tops these rankings not only because of all those trusty veterans at North Carolina and Virginia, but also, in part, due to the potential of various dazzling freshmen at Duke. Freshmen can indeed dazzle, but on occasion they can also disappoint.
Conversely, the Big 12 has an excellent shot at being the best conference in the nation in 2015-16 based in large measure on what we've already seen. No league's contingent of (presumed) top teams brings back more minutes and possessions from last season than that of the Big 12.
Kansas effectively has the same level of returning experience as the Tar Heels and indeed was the stronger of the two last season -- that is until the Jayhawks lost to Wichita State in the round of 32. Oklahoma returns the reigning conference player of the year, Buddy Hield, and three other starters from a team that received a No. 3 seed, and fellow 2015 No. 3 seed Iowa State brings back everyone except Dustin Hogue, Bryce Dejean-Jones and coach Fred Hoiberg.
Throw in the league's own potentially dazzling freshmen (e.g. Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg at Kansas) and the fact that Baylor too has a shot at a preseason top-25 ranking and you're clearly looking at one of the strongest conferences in the nation for 2015-16. Perhaps even the strongest.
ESPN Gasaway ($)
CBS Sports: Two years ago you had a perfect regular season. Three years ago you advanced to the Final Four. But last season you beat Kansas by a significant margin in the NCAA Tournament. Where does that win against the Jayhawks rank in terms of the best accolades you've had in your career?
Marshall: I think that it means more to the fans. Being in the state and having the wonderful program that Kansas is and the national championships that they have -- you hear about it. You feel -- I don't want to say inferior, but there's a "big brother, little brother" complex. I think it gave our fans the upper hand. I was the older brother, but I can imagine the younger brother getting to the point where he can stand toe-to-toe with his big brother at some point after many years of not being able to do it and that must be very satisfying. So our fans really relished it. They appreciated it. They've enjoyed it and perhaps it could be something that spurs a series eventually between the two programs.
CBS Sports: That duo will become a trio in December when Conner Frankamp -- a transfer from Kansas -- becomes eligible. What's going to happen to Wichita State when that elite perimeter duo becomes a trio?
Marshall: I think you can't forget about Evan Wessel. He's the third member of that senior class. His record in games that he has played -- remember he was hurt a little bit in the Final Four season, but he started prior to that. I think his record as a college player in games that he's participated in and started is probably the best in the country. That being said Conner probably brings another dimension. He's just a tremendous shooter. He's probably the best shooter that I've dealt with as a coach in 31 years. He's a dynamic talent and he's starting to play both ends and focus on other things than just scoring. When he becomes eligible and we can get him on the court, it's really going to spread things out and make things difficult to guard for the opponent.
The University of Houston has a top-25 ranked football team for the first time in four years and Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta still wants to see the Cougars in the Big 12.
"We belong playing Texas and TCU and Baylor," Fertitta, who chairs UH's board of regents, told the Chronicle's editorial board Tuesday afternoon. "That's who we belong playing."
Fertitta in February said the Legislature should pressure the presidents of the Big 12 schools to "step up" and let the University of Houston into the conference.
The Big 12 is currently made up of just 10 universities, including the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas Christian University. The commissioner of the conference said in December it's unlikely for that to change.
But that hasn't kept Fertitta from pushing for it. On Tuesday, he said that "things are happening out there behind the scenes."
"It's not a dead issue," he said.
How confident is the billionaire restaurateur, amusement park operator and gambling mogul?
"I think there's a better than 50 percent chance in the next 24 to 36 months that the University of Houston is in a major conference," Fertitta said.
Big 12 Composite Schedule
Five-star center Marques Bolden will not make the trip to Madness after recently saying he intended to be there.
Bolden's father told the Herald-Leader on Wednesday that his son will also skip a tentatively planned visit to Duke's midnight madness on Saturday.
UK, Duke and Kansas have all hosted Bolden — a 6-10 player from Texas — for official visits in recent weeks, and the late cancellation of the madness visits is not thought to have any bearing on which way he might be leaning.
Jarrett Allen, a 6-foot-9 senior forward from St. Stephens Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, who is ranked No. 20 in the recruiting Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, will make an official visit to Kansas University on Oct. 23-25, Jayhawkslant.com reports.
Allen — he averaged 21.4 points, 13.3 rebounds and 4.1 blocks a game his junior year of high school — visited Notre Dame last weekend. He’s slated to visit Kentucky on Oct. 30-Nov. 1. He’s also considering Houston, Indiana, Kansas State, North Carolina and Texas.
“Jarrett is athletic, but has such a calm demeanor on the court, similar to Tim Duncan,” Allen’s AAU coach, Maryland Lowe of Texas PRO, told Rivals.com. “He’s a very special player and I think if he had played in the NBA Top 100 camp and wasn’t injured, you guys (media) would have seen that he is a top-three player. Maybe even higher.
“He’s not going to get rattled, that’s for sure. He has such comfort shooting the ball from the outside and he can make that soft jump-hook right handed and left handed. In fact, if you didn’t know, he shoots it with his left hand so well, that some people walk away from watching him, thinking that he is actually left-handed,” Lowe added of Allen, who has a 7-foot-4 wingspan.
Arizona Wildcats recruiting target Mitch Lightfoot has set a date when he will announce his commitment according to Scout's Josh Gershon. That date is next Saturday, October 24th, during the Arizona Preps Fall Showcase.
Lightfoot grew up in Tucson, but recently moved to Gilbert, and plays at Gilbert Christian. The five schools he took official visits to are: Arizona, Kansas, St. John's, Stanford and Utah.
John Ortega, Ligthfoot's AAU coach, told Scout that "Mitch hasn't decided yet. He's really got a tough decision, but I feel like he can be successful at any of his final five. All five schools have been fantastic through this process."
It seems that Arizona fans haven't been that high on Sean Miller recruiting Lightfoot, since he is "only a three-star". But he is the highest-rated prospect in the state according to 247. Their Crystal Ball has it as a 55% chance of Arizona landing him and 45% for Stanford.
Lightfoot isn't that star player that we're used to, but there's nothing wrong with a role player who will fit in quite nicely with the pieces that will be around in 2016. Arizona fans just have to come to the understanding that this is a guy who will develop in the system rather than someone who comes in and makes an immediate impact.
Roy Williams has been a premier college basketball coach for a long time. The 65-year-old coach led Kansas from 1988-2003 and North Carolina since he left the Jayhawks.
So the list of players he’s recruited is ridiculously long and impressive, littered with McDonald’s All-Americans and future NBA stars.
According to Ross Martin, who covers UNC for 247 Sports, Williams has never recruited anyone “harder” or “longer” than Seventh Woods, a four-star shooting guard in the 2016 class.
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