Tharpe averaged nearly 10 minutes per game off the bench during the Jayhawks’ first seven games. But soon, Tharpe’s playing time waned, and he was relegated to saving his most intense battles for practice. He finished the season averaging 0.9 points in 5.5 minutes per game. And when KU made its run to the NCAA championship game, Tharpe didn’t play a minute during the season’s final four games.
“That was probably the toughest part I had to do,” Tharpe said, “because I was never sitting on the bench (before). That’s something I had to get used to.”
It’s that experience that now allows Tharpe to sit back and evaluate his freshman season with honesty and a little bit of self-reflection. If the book is still out on what Tharpe can be during his sophomore season, well, that’s fine, he says.
“I really didn’t do anything spectacular last year at all for anybody to see what I can do or not,” Tharpe said
In most cases, a player like Tharpe would be stuck waiting around all summer and early fall before being able to prove themselves on the practice court. Fortunately for Tharpe, this summer will provide an early gift of opportunity.
In just three weeks, KU will open a four-game European tour with a game against the Swiss national team in Fribourg, Switzerland. KU will play another game against the Swiss on Aug. 8 before finishing the trip with two games in Paris.
…“Coach told me that this year, he’s going to need more out of me,” Tharpe said. “I know myself; I need more out of myself.”
One year on campus, and it appears that Tharpe has the necessary humility to learn from a season on the sideline. And if he needs proof that long-term thinking can pay dividends, he can point back to a moment earlier this summer. Former KU guard Russell Robinson, another product from the Northeast, was back in town to work out and see friends, and Tharpe listened to Self tell Robinson’s KU story.
During his freshman season, Robinson could never seem to get off the bench, either. Instead, he was left to watch and wonder whether KU was the right spot for him. But in a year, it all changed. By his sophomore season, Robinson was in the starting lineup. And three years later, he was the starting point guard on the 2008 national champs.
Tharpe has heard more of these stories. And they always seem to add a little bit of motivation. You can’t always play right away at Kansas, he says. And he knows that now. And sometimes, you just have to take your lumps and keep working.
Kansas University senior center Jeff Withey, who worked the invitation-only Amar’e Stoudemire and LeBron James camps in Chicago and Las Vegas earlier this summer, may respectfully decline an offer to attend the season-ending Adidas Nations camp, Aug. 3-6 in Orange County, Calif.
“I know I’ve been invited, but I do not know if I’m going to go yet because of the European trip,” Withey said of the Jayhawks’ Aug. 6-14 excursion to Switzerland and Paris. “Obviously, I can’t go if we are going to be in Europe.”
…He has been impressed with the play of KU’s frontcourt newcomers.
“Definitely they are strong. They are a lot more physical than I was when I was a freshman, which is great,” Withey said of Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas and Zach Peters. “They are going to have to learn coach Self’s system. Right now, they are starting to get it. That’s the most important thing. They will all be helping us out a lot.”
He continued ... “I think Landen is ahead right now. He is kind of getting it faster than everybody else with the way we play our offense,” Withey said of Lucas, 6-10, 240 from Portland, Ore. “Perry (6-8, 220, Wichita) is doing great right now. Zach can shoot. Perry can shoot. Landen can shoot. Landen has been knocking down 15-foot jump shots. I like them a lot. It’s going to be a fun year. I can’t wait to play with them.”
As far as 6-8, 220-pound Chicagoan Jamari Traylor, Withey said, “I don’t consider him a freshman. He’s been here a year. He goes after the balls with a lot of aggression. He’s a miniature T-Rob.”
Kevin Young (6-8, 185 senior) can play both small forward and power forward, while 6-9, 220 junior Justin Wesley is primarily an inside presence.
“Justin is an athlete, a freak athlete. I think Justin right now is one of the favorites to take on that starting role, I think personally,” Withey said. “I don’t know what coach (Bill Self) is thinking. He is an athlete. He goes after the ball. If he keeps progressing like this, I think Justin will be a great asset.”
…Self added of McLemore: “Ben should be as good as anybody we’ve ever had at stealing us extra possessions. I think he’ll be the best defender we’ve ever had. I also think he’s as athletic as anybody we’ve ever had, and he can shoot. Fitting in the pieces and getting him to understand how to play, he’s not quite there, obviously. If he keeps improving at the same rate, he’ll make a lot of money.”
Bill Self and John Calipari were in between games at the Nike Global Challenge, and they used that time to talk about last season's title game, debate scheduling philosophies and generally just chit-chat. Then the Kansas coach asked the Kentucky coach to remind him how many freshmen the Wildcats would have on their roster.
"I've got four," Calipari said.
"I've got eight," Self countered.
"You have eight!?!" Calipari asked, and I think this is probably a fact that's been lost on those outside of the state of Kansas -- that the Jayhawks will have eight freshmen this season.
"Eight freshmen," Self said. "And [four] seniors."
Which leads to a simple question: Has a team with eight freshmen ever been ranked in the top five of a preseason poll? I'm going to assume the answer is a negative. But the Jayhawks could really be the first -- for what it's worth, we have them fourth in the preseason Top 25 (and one) -- considering they return Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford, and add, among others, McDonald's All-American Perry Ellis and redshirt freshman Ben McLemore.
McLemore is a 6-5 guard.
My colleague Jeff Goodman projects him as a future lottery pick.
Think you're having a good summer? Last month, Jeff Withey told Amar'e Stoudemire to come get some. A few days ago, the Kansas center found himself rubbing shoulders with LeBron James. Or maybe just elbows. Whatever. It was still pretty cool.
"He didn't play, unfortunately," says the Jayhawks' 7-footer, who spent last weekend at King James' skills camp in Las Vegas. "I think he was too worried about practicing for the USA (Olympic) team. But I got to see him, and everything like that."
Stoudemire actually did play at his camp in late June, even against some of the college pups. During one session, Withey rose up, reached over with those pterodactyl arms of his, and swatted one of the New York Knicks star's offerings off the backboard and into orbit.
"The Amar'e camp was a lot of drills, a lot of skill work, actually," says Withey, whose Vegas sparring partners included Phil Pressey of Missouri, Mason Plumee and Ryan Kelly from Duke, Tim Hardaway Jr. from Michigan, Creighton's Doug McDermott and Tony Mitchell of North Texas. "But LeBron's was more playing, a lot of 5-of-5 situations, more up and down. It was a good time, thought I did pretty well. Been working on my 15-foot jumper and thought I was able to display that there at the camp."
…The $50,000 question on the Kaw is this: Can Withey make the same jump into the spotlight that T-Rob did a year ago? Assuming he can stay out of foul trouble and on the floor, it's not a leap of faith.
…"(Robinson) had the ball a lot of the time; that's kind of half the battle, too," Withey notes. "Having opportunities to score and having (Self) have the confidence in you and wanting you to score. You're going to score more points because you're going to have the ball more."
Withey wants the ball. He wants to brush up on his left-handed hook. He wants more counter moves, so a defender has something else to think about once Withey has the rock on the block. He wants teams to worry about his jumper.
…He wants the garbage points. He wants the same affection that T-Rob gleaned from NBA scouts. He wants the double teams.
"If I don't get double-teamed, I'll be kind of disappointed," Withey chuckles. "It shows respect."
He wants respect. More than that, he wants to earn it.
FS Kansas City
New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Xavier Henry hopes to give a better overall performance tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks. In Sunday night’s 85-82 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Henry missed his first three shots before finishing with 11 points on two-of-seven shooting.
The Hornets blew a 17-point lead and were outscored by the Trail Blazers 31-13 in the third quarter. Rookie point guard Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with a game-high 25 points.
``We just want to get this first win under a our belt,’’ Henry said. ``I had good parts and bad parts but I got to the rim.’’
Hornets rookie point guard Austin Rivers also is seeking improvement after making only three of 13 shots for 14 points against the Trail Blazers. Rivers also had only two assists in 31 minutes.
Power foward: Jason Thompson may start the season, but it won't be long before rookie Thomas Robinson takes over. Reports from rookie minicamp and summer league say he's the real deal.
Center: DeMarcus Cousins is the centerpiece of the Kings' offense, and with continued maturation, he looks to elevate his game to the next level.
NBA Vegas Summer League Schedule
Kansas 2012-13 Schedule
Big 12/College News
It will cost Syracuse significantly less money than it did West Virginia to leave the Big East ahead of schedule.
The Big East announced Monday that Syracuse will pay a $5 million exit fee and an extra $2.5 million to the league in return for the right to join the ACC in time for the 2013-14 school year rather than the following year. Five months ago, West Virginia paid $20 million for the right to break its Big East contract and join the Big 12 for the 2012-13 school year.
Although the loss of Syracuse significantly damages the Big East's brand and tradition of basketball success, interim commissioner Joe Bailey tried to put a happy face on the departure of one of the league's seven flagship schools. The Big East has recently added the likes of Memphis, Houston, SMU and UCF in all sports in hopes of softening the impending loss of West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
"This closes a chapter and opens a new one filled with exciting possibilities for the Big East's future," Bailey said in a statement. "With the recent addition of eight schools to the Big East, the future for the Conference has never been brighter."
One of the questions the remains regarding the future makeup of the Big East is whether Pittsburgh will join Syracuse in leaving for the ACC in 2013 or wait until 2014 to make the move.
ESPN Tip-Off Marathon schedule
2012-13 Early Season Events List
After talking on the phone with coaches from Kansas, Lousiville, and Memphis today received offers from all 3! Great day! #Blessed
Rivals: July evaluation period hits mid-point
Summer Event Schedule
adidas Grassroots schedule
Nike EYBL Schedule
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