7/15/13, 6:58 AM
Off to LA
Kansas University freshman basketball sensation Andrew Wiggins arrived in Los Angeles on Monday for tonight’s Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year awards ceremony in Hollywood.
Wiggins, who was named boys basketball player of the year after averaging 23.4 points and 11.2 rebounds a game his senior season at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, is a finalist with baseball player of the year Clint Frazier (Loganville, Ga., High), football player of the year Max Browne (Skyline, Wash., High), cross country runner of the year Edward Cheserek (St. Benedict Prep, Newark, N.J.), soccer player of the year Christian Roldan (El Rancho High, Pico Rivera, Calif.) and track athlete of the year Trayvon Bromell (Gibbs High, St. Petersburg, Fla).
…Wiggins received his national basketball player of the award from former NBA great Alonzo Mourning during a surprise visit to Huntington Prep last spring.
“Zo walked in, and, yeah, I stopped yawning,” Wiggins told USA Today. “I really owe thanks to my teammates and coaches and this whole community that’s made me feel so welcome over the past two years.
“This is big for Canada, and it’s big for me. This award definitely stands out,” the Toronto native added.
The male and female athletes of the year also will attend the ESPY Awards on Wednesday in L.A.
…Former KU center Jeff Withey had five points, three blocked shots and three rebounds in New Orleans’ 66-62 NBA summer-league vitory over Cleveland on Monday in Las Vegas. He was 2-for-2 from the field while playing 15 minutes.
Withey had two straight rejections of 6-6 guard Carrick Felix, the ball bounding from the paint almost all the way to midcourt after the second block.
…Former KU guard Elijah Johnson scored eight points off 3-of-6 shooting with three assists, three steals and three turnovers while playing 16 minutes in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 77-65 loss to the L.A. Lakers. Former KU guard Josh Selby had two points off 1-of-6 shooting with three turnovers against one assist in 11 minutes for the Lakers.
After going 6-of-23 in his first Summer League game, life was supposed to get easier for rookie Ben McLemore. Instead, he found himself in yet another crucible against the Golden State Warriors, a team well-prepared for Sacramento's GSW-patterned offense.
From the outset of the game, Golden State players yelled out and blew up Kings plays, forcing Sacramento into 19 turnovers and an 80-66 loss. New Kings head coach Mike Malone just came over from Golden State, and it seems he's remaking the Kings in that image. That strategy could well pay off, just not yet, and not against a squad familiar with the Golden State blueprint.
Ben McLemore was caught in the chaos, shooting 4-of-12 for 14 points with four turnovers. Summer League is supposed to offer star rookies some space against lesser competition. Unfortunately for McLemore, Kent Bazemore boasts elite NBA defensive potential in this minor league setting.
Bazemore blanketed Ben, frequently shading McLemore to the left. The Warriors screamed "Down him!" indicating that they were willing to part whole sea for McLemore, so long as he had to move toward his offhand.
…The smiling rookie preached positivity and perseverance: "I think it's coming along. I just gotta keep shooting the ball," adding, "eventually my shot's going to fall."
There is reason to believe that McLemore's optimism is well-founded. Though he suffered a rough night, he twice made the crowd murmur in awe. On one particular play, he snagged his own miss and leapt himself into a blur that suddenly appeared on the other side of the hoop for a layup.
On another, McLemore floated upward and double-clutched for a difficult fadeaway make. McLemore possesses the rare quality of explosive athleticism that expresses itself calmly. If Derrick Rose is all violent torque, Ben McLemore is stealthful grace.
The Kings officially signed McLemore to his first NBA contract on Saturday. Terms were not disclosed. However, the rookie league scale reports the 20-year-old McLemore will receive $2,413,300 in 2013-14, $2,521,900 in 14-15 and $2,630,500 in 15-16.
Darnell back in summer league: Former KU forward Darnell Jackson scored 13 points off 6-of-8 shooting with five rebounds and two steals in the NBA D-League Select Team’s 83-81 win over Minnesota. Jackson, who played 23 minutes, played for Reno, Nev., in the D-League last season.
Former KU guard Travis Releford scored four points off 2-of-4 shooting in Denver’s 88-74 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday in Releford’s pro debut. He had three rebounds, one turnover and no assists in 14 minutes.
Who says there is no drama with Summer League games?
The Phoenix Suns came back on the Timberwolves Sunday thanks to the Morris twins, who had 40 points and 10 rebounds combined.
But it was Marcus Morris that was the hero. After he game the Suns staff said Morris was not the first option but he was in the mix as he curled back and got the ball. But still that took a heck of a shot to win the game.
Will Barton had just suffered a right knee injury. His Las Vegas Summer League availability was suddenly in jeopardy. His mood, needless to say, was down.
But even amid depressing circumstances, Barton couldn’t help but gush about Thomas Robinson when the subject arose.
“Thomas gives us a lot,” Barton said. “A lot of energy. Rebounds. Blocked shots. He plays so hard. It’s fun to have a guy like that on your team. He’s a big-time player and he’s going to be good.”
There has been a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the Trail Blazers’ addition of Robinson this offseason. General manager Neil Olshey labeled it an “absolute steal” and the consensus — both locally and nationally — seems to be that the Blazers scooped up Robinson for nothing when they acquired him for a pair of second-round draft picks and a couple of international prospects.
But after two uneven summer league appearances, including Sunday’s 81-63 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, that opinion has a fresh perspective.
Robinson’s effort and energy have been inconsistent. His raw and beastly athleticism have been more imposing than productive. Far too often, he’s resorted to one-on-one offensive play rather than embracing the dirty work he supposedly relishes.
But all of this comes with one gigantic caveat: It’s summer league. Performances in Las Vegas — both good and bad — always should be digested with a measure of caution. After all, in 2008, Jerryd Bayless looked like a future All-Star as he bulldozed his way to MVP honors and Nicolas Batum looked over his head and out of his league. Look how that turned out.
LJW series: New video technology boon to KU men's basketball
3. Kansas coach Bill Self: Nine consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles is a product of the talent Self assembles prior to meshing everyone together each season. Self's stellar recruiting started when he was at Illinois and he brought in Luther Head, Dee Brown and Deron Williams. He's demonstrated a keen eye to land top talent outside of five-star recruits, too, with players such as Jeff Withey. While his latest top players — Thomas Robinson and Ben McLemore — both have paved way to the NBA, Self's greatest recruiting prize came with his upcoming class headlined by highly-touted recruit Andrew Wiggins, who chose Kansas over Florida State, North Carolina and Kentucky.
USA Today: Top 5 Recruiting Coaches
KUAD: Space available for Battle for Atlantis trip
hudysportsperformance.com: July 20th clinic sessions for women and men
The Joe Dooley era at Florida Gulf Coast University in many ways began this week. — That may sound strange considering he was hired back in mid-April. It's that for most of the past 12 weeks Dooley has been largely dealing with the past.
The 47-year-old inherited nearly a full staff, all his players and even the two incoming recruits. What changes he made were subtle albeit noticeable. A recent one-hour workout for example was more up-tempo than anything I had witnessed the last two years under Enfield.
Dooley established credibility merely by showing up. When former Kansas standouts Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins stopped by Alico Arena recently to work out with their former assistant coach, what sort of statement do you think that sent to the returning players? They know for all that they accomplished last March, none of them were as good in college as Aldrich and Collins. If those guys hold Coach Dooley in that high regard, then it's natural for the Eagles players to conclude, "Hey, we got ourselves a good one." How good and what direction he takes FGCU, we are beginning to find out.
Big 12/College News
The Baylor football team has received its rings for the Bears’ Holiday Bowl victory – with one glaring mistake on them.
But unlike the Florida State ACC title ring that accidentally called the Seminoles “SEC Champions,” Baylor intentionally botched the score of their win over UCLA last December on the jewelry.
Baylor won the game, 49-26, but the score would have been 49-19 if it weren’t for a terrible call on the last play of the game that awarded the Bruins a touchdown despite the fact WR Logan Sweet was clearly tackled at the one-yard line. As a result, the ring reads “49-19″ instead of the actual final:
North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams ended his silence about the P.J. Hairston saga Monday, declaring in a school-issued statement that Hairston "knows he has made serious mistakes, and there will be serious consequences as a result."
…"Certainly the idea of suspending P.J. has been discussed," Williams said. "However, he is not currently enrolled in summer school, is not practicing with the team and we have no games until November. There are several options available in terms of discipline, but we are going to wait until the process is complete to decide on those options."
Williams said he waited to make a statement because he believes it's a fair way to treat people and it's "the way of our country," but he noted that the reports about Hairston are "disturbing and bother me deeply."
West Virginia forward Aaric Murray has left the Mountaineers after one year, bringing the number of players to exit the program early from last season's team to five.
A source told ESPN.com that Murray had graduated and would be able to transfer and play elsewhere immediately.
The 6-foot-10 Murray averaged 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds last season as a junior. He transferred to West Virginia from La Salle and sat out the 2011-12 season.
The JV has outdone the varsity.
Less than a week removed from Team USA winning a gold medal in U19 FIBA competition, the all-college team that is representing the U.S. at the World University Games has underperformed and won't be bringing home any medals.
The group, led by Creighton's Doug McDermott, Michigan State's Adreian Payne and Louisville's Luke Hancock, dropped back-to-back games on successive days against Australia (93-84) and Canada (94-85) and thus will not be eligible to medal. This marks the second straight World University Games where men's basketball did not medal; the team missed out in 2011 and took bronze in 2009. It has not won gold at the Games in this event since 2005.
Hancock had a team-high 27 points in USA's loss to Canada, which improved to 5-0 in pool play. The United States dropped to 3-2, failing to move on as Canada and Australia did.
“We didn't defend well enough to win the game,” Hancock said afterward. “That's as simple as it gets. If you give up that many points, it's going to be hard to win games no matter what you do.”
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
Kelly Oubre tells me that he'll cut his list to 5 after #PeachJam. Who will definitely make the list? "Kansas. Other 4 are up for grabs."
King McClure, a 6-3 junior shooting guard from Triple A Academy in Dallas, tells Rivals.com that he will attend KU’s Late Night in the Phog on Oct. 4 as part of an unofficial visit. McClure, who is playing at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., said, “Arkansas and Kansas are coming at me the hardest. I’m still open, but those two have been working the most.” Rivals.com’s No. 16-rated player in the Class of 2015 also has Texas, Baylor, Indiana and Louisville on his early list.
The tagline on Cliff Alexander’s Twitter account, which he aptly names “humblekid11”, says as modestly as possible: “basketball is my life. and NBA is my goal.”
…Alexander is a 6-9, 230-pound power forward at Curie Metropolitan High in Chicago. In the summers he plays with 6-11 center Jahlil Okafor, the nation’s No. 1 prospect, with the Mac Irvin Fire. Because has kept himself open to so many elite college programs, because he is the sort of player who fits any style—athletic, devastatingly powerful, mobile, willing to use his physicality to pursue rebounds and protect the lane—he is an ideal example of how and how rapidly college basketball recruiting has changed.
…Alexander was asked, not for the first time in the day, which schools he will visit officially. There are some he has already seen on an unofficial basis, so it’s unlikely he will duplicate those trips. That leaves the list of schools to get officials as: Kansas, Memphis, Louisville, Arizona and one more to be determined.
7/14/13, 6:44 PM
Might be taking my 5th official to Kentucky or Florida
Myles Turner made the biggest jump of any player in any class this summer in the recruiting rankings.
Turner, a center at Trinity (Euless, Texas), entered the AAU season unranked and virtually unknown, but after a productive couple of tournaments he's ascended all the way to No. 10 in the ESPN 100.
"It's been crazy how things have changed," Turner said. "Going up that much has been awesome!"
Still, that's not the biggest spike Turner has experienced.
"My shoe size jump was even bigger," Turner said. "Now that was crazy!"
During his freshman year, Turner's foot grew from a size 14 to a 17 in just two weeks. He's now up to a size 21.
Here's some perspective: Yao Ming stands 7-foot-5 and wears an 18. Shaquille O'Neal is 7-foot-1 and wears a 22.
"It only took two weeks to go up three sizes," said Turner, who stands 6-foot-11. "Two weeks! My mom couldn't believe it. One night my LeBron's were fitting fine then the next day I started noticing that they were a little tight."
The likelihood of a package deal had coaches at the Peach Jam finals simultaneously watching Class of 2014 recruits Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor from creative vantage points.
Okafor, a 6-foot-10 center, and Jones, a 6-1 point guard, are considered the top two rising seniors in the country by most scouting services, and they haven't wavered from a plan to play together in college. Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, Baylor and Ohio State are still in the running for both prospects, with many people picking the Blue Devils as favorites.
"It's like we're brothers," Jones said. "We're great friends, and that's the main reason why we want to do this. Aside from how well we play on the court, we have a bond off the court, and that's why we want to try to do something special."
Jones and Okafor, who met as third-graders at an AAU tournament in Florida, developed the plan two years ago at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship event in Mexico.
Playing Saturday morning on Court 3 in North Augusta, Okafor scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his final Peach Jam game for Chicago-based Mac Irvin Fire. On the adjacent court, Jones posted 18 points and 11 assists for the Minneapolis-based Howard Pulley Panthers. Jones averaged 21.6 points with 7.6 assists in five games, and Okafor finished with averages of 16.8 points and 10.0 rebounds.
Highly rated Houston Hoops small forward Justise Winslow has even discussed becoming the third party in their partnership, and he's considering three schools that remain in contention for the Jones-Okafor combo: Duke, Baylor and Kansas.
"I don't know if it's a big or little factor, but it is a factor," Winslow said. "To be able to go with those guys would make that (team) very elite because they're the top, elite guys. I want to go to school with them, but all three of us have to do what's best for our families. If it happens we go to school together, all three of us, that'll be the best."
…Okafor, Jones and Winslow are scheduled to visit Baylor in late August, and Kentucky's success with one-and-done players makes the Wildcats an attractive option. Kansas, which signed top recruit Andrew Wiggins and sent Ben McLemore to the NBA after his redshirt freshman season, is developing a similar reputation. Michigan State could be a good fit, but coach Tom Izzo might be hesitant to take another go-for-broke run at top-level talent after losing a head-to-head battle with Duke for Class of 2013 signee Jabari Parker.
There's more mystery surrounding where Okafor and Jones will go than if they'll go together. That's the last step in this compelling journey.
"It's been a crazy recruiting process, but I wouldn't trade it for anything," Jones said. "It's been great, and I love every minute of it, but I didn't know this is how it would turn out. I was just a kid who was working hard, trying to be the best player I can be."
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky coach John Calipari stood side-by-side on one end of the gym here at the Peach Jam Saturday morning.
With a giant blue curtain dividing Courts 3 and 4, the two coaches straddled the courts at the end of the curtain to watch two basketball games at once.
On the other end of the gym, Baylor’s Scott Drew stood on a chair at the intersection of the two courts, while Kansas’s Bill Self moved back and forth between the two games.
On Court 3, 6-foot-10 Chicago big man Jahlil Okafor was playing with the Mac Irvin Fire, while on Court 4, the 6-2 Tyus Jones was running the point with the Howard Pulley Panthers.
Jones and Okafor are planning to play together in college and the aforementioned coaches were literally working on landing the package deal as the players competed simultaneously.
“It’s a fine art,” Drew told SNY.tv of watching two games at once. “In today’s society we all like to multi-task.”
Self told SNY.tv: “The challenge is not only do you want to watch and evaluate but you want to watch and evaluate while the players see you.”
I’ve been around the recruiting game for 15 years, and the Tyus Jones-Jahlil Okafor two-for-one appears as though it’s not farfetched at all.
“We’re going to make it happen,” said Jones, the smooth Minnesota native who just happens to be the top-rated point guard in the nation.
“I’d say in the 90 percent range,” added Okafor. He's the ridiculously skilled big man out of Chicago and was asked to put a number value on the likelihood the duo will be teammates next season in college.
…The word has been that Duke and Arizona are the favorites to land Winslow, but he told me that Baylor and Kansas are also on his list.
After talking to plenty of people this past week who are plugged into the Okafor-Jones recruitments, here's how I handicap the contenders in order of likelihood that Okafor and Jones will sign with each school:
2. Kansas Jayhawks
Bill Self and the Jayhawks have made up significant ground, especially with Okafor. Remember, KU wasn’t supposed to be a legitimate player for Andrew Wiggins, either, but wound up landing the top player in the Class of 2013. Kansas needs a top-level point guard, and the Jayhawks will lose veteran big man Tarik Black and possibly talented freshman center Joel Embiid as well after this season.
Imagine Self with a lineup of Jones and Wayne Selden in the backcourt with Perry Ellis, Brannen Greene and Okafor up front. That’s certainly national championship material.
Of all the various descriptions one might encounter from a college basketball coach regarding an elite high school basketball player, this one about California small forward Stanley Johnson truly was unique.
“Everything you think of in a modern-day kid, he doesn’t have,” the coach said.
He meant this as a supreme complement. There is no entourage, no entitlement, no bad body language, no selfishness. Johnson stands 6-7, weighs 220 pounds, jumps high, runs fast, shoots like Kevin Durant and rebounds like Kevin McHale.
Johnson will be a senior at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., this fall. He has won a state championship in each of the prior three seasons. Last year at Nike’s EYBL at the Peach Jam, Johnson and the Oakland Soldiers were the overall champions.
The ideal way to describe him is this: He probably is not the best basketball prospect nationally in the 2014 class, but he might be the closest to perfect.
…Johnson is considering attending Arizona, Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Oregon, UCLA and USC. He will not rush into a decision, intending to make his recruiting visits and then to pick a school around January.
“I’ll sign in the late period, to give myself as much time to think as possible, make sure it’s the right decision,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen a lot of coaches get jobs right after the season. They end up transferring—and I’m stuck. Know what I’m saying?
“The late period will give me a chance to think about it, sleep on it, talk to my parents about it, see how I feel, see what changes. I’m not going to worry about anybody going to the NBA or saying it, because that’s going to happen. I’ll just worry about myself, try to get better every game.”
Rashad Vaughn is one of the most highly sought after players in the nation in the crop of rising seniors.
A 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Minnesota, Vaughn holds offers from some of America’s elite basketball programs.
While at the Reebok Breakout Classic, Vaughn said he has been offered by Kentucky, North Carolina, Baylor, Kansas, UCLA, Minnesota, Iowa State, Tennessee, and more.
Vaughn, who claims no favorites at this point in time, talked about what he is searching for in a school.
“Just the relationship with the coach, they play my style of play and if I’m going to come play right away and who I’m going to be playing with and stuff like that,” Vaughn said.
Location will “not at all” be a factor for Vaughn, who went on to discuss who is coming at him the hardest.
“Really everybody, that’s why I [have not] narrowed my list yet because it’s hard,” Vaughn said. “I got good relationships with basically all the schools that’s recruiting me.”
Thus far, Vaughn has been on visits to UCLA, Iowa State and Minnesota. He does not have any other trips planned.
“Sometime probably after the senior year season,” Vaughn said of when he plans to make his commitment and going on to confirm that he will sign late.
The scoring wing is planning to trim down his list before he makes his decision.
“Probably at the end of summer I’m going to try, going to try to narrow my list,” Vaughn said.
A new NCAA-certified summer basketball tournament has been added to the July evaluation period, and I think it's safe to suggest there's never been anything like it. The event will be called "The8." It'll feature eight teams filled with college prospects, all of whom will be coached by current or former NBA players.
“The8 will be one of the finest basketball tournaments in the country, and it will give teams exposure on a national stage and an opportunity to compete in front of major college coaches," said Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul, who will coach the CP3 All-Stars. "As a young player growing up, I would have loved the opportunity to receive this type of experience in front of these programs and to be around the top guys in the game."
Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis and Kenny Smith are among the other coaches.
The event will be held in Las Vegas from July 26 to July 28.
Number of players I saw act like idiots in AAU this week: Zero. Number of parents I saw act like idiots in AAU this week: Dozens.
"Priority," said Oubre, who is ranked No. 20 in the ESPN 100 for 2014. "When a coach says you're the priority you can probably stop believing the rest of what he's about to say. They're just kicking game at you. It's like a guy trying to impress a female; he'll tell her anything to get her."
It's a sentiment shared by most of the elite players here at Nike Peach Jam, who say the second the word "priority" is thrown out they're convinced that the conversation has officially turned disingenuous.
"Come on man, you already know they're telling the next man the same thing," Oakland (Calif.) Soldiers wing Stanley Johnson said. "For example, not that they do this but take Duke. Say they're recruiting a point guard and they tell him he's a priority. Well, we all know that's a lie because nobody's a bigger priority than Tyus Jones. But that's the type of stuff coaches do. It's crazy."
…"They all say the same things for the most part," said Jones, who runs with the Howard Pulley Panthers (Minn.). "You just have to do your homework and talk to people. You've just gotta be smart."
And have an audio recorder handy.
That's a tactic Oubre has used in the past to let another player know that both of them were getting the same "priority" spiel.
"Had to do that with one school before," Oubre said. "When I played it for him he laughed and said it sounded familiar. It gets pretty funny. You just chalk it up as a part of the recruiting process. They all lie."
…"I know I'm good, but do I think I'm so good that they don't have a backup plan? No!" said Team Texas Elite forward Elijah Thomas, who is ranked No. 5 in the ESPN 60 for 2015. "They say some of the craziest stuff so it's not hard for me to believe that they'll tell me what they think I want to hear. We all compare what they say anyway among each other... I wonder if they know that."
Peach Jam Stats
Rivals: Adidas Invitational Saturday Notebook
2013 Spring/Summer AAU & Camp Schedule
The Metro Sports / KC Prep Invitational July 25-28, 2013.
My KU Alumni games, 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos, Late Night in the Phog, and more now on YouTube