“From day one we all came in with the same goals and sometimes it didn’t go how we planned or how we wanted to but we kept fighting and fighting,” Taylor said when at the podium. “This team will always be special to me, mainly because of all the guys (teammates) involved. I’d like to give a shout out to the guys. They are like my brothers, always.”
...“It’s pretty much beyond my words what this program means to me,” Robinson told the crowd. “The past three years have definitely helped me as a man. The credit goes to the coaches and the staff and my teammates. I love them like my brothers.”
KU AD Banquet recap
“Don’t think for a second we’re not going to be good,” Self said. “If these guys can learn from this year’s team, anything can happen. Somebody’s got to do it, it might as well be us.”
In five years, Thomas Robinson’s jersey will hang at the top of Allen Fieldhouse due to his first team All-American status. Until then, Robinson’s future no longer rests with Kansas basketball.
In a press conference at Allen Fieldhouse, with his younger sister Jayla to his right and coach Bill Self to his left, Robinson said he will bypass his senior season at the University and declare for the NBA Draft.
“I’ve been up all night trying to come up with a thank you note or something to show my appreciation, but I couldn’t get anything,” Robinson said. “I think it’s beyond words what this program meant to me.”
…“He’s a guy that’s probably as loved as anybody that’s played here in a long, long time,” Self said.
Current Tulsa coach and former Kansas assistant Danny Manning even stood in the back of the room as Robinson made his announcement. Manning worked with him for the past three years, helping Robinson become a likely top five draft pick.
DraftExpress.com currently has Robinson as the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and nbadraft.net has Robinson slated second. Even with the high projections, Robinson gave a pitch to NBA teams who may be interested in him.
“I’m going to be a workhorse,” Robinson said. “I’m going to do what everybody else is not going to want to do.”
And while his playing days at Kansas may be over, Robinson said he does plan to pursue a college degree.
“That’s something that my mother would want me to get,” Robinson said.
UDK: Recapping Robinson's best moments
Robinson said, so much of this decision was tethered to the birthday girl sitting to his right. It had been nearly 15 months since Jayla had called her brother from Washington D.C. to let him know that their mother, Lisa Robinson, had died suddenly. Finally, Robinson was able to take the next step in what he says has been a personal mission.
“I gotta chance to take care of my family,” he said.
On Monday, Jayla leaned in close and smiled at all the attention on her big brother. When asked if there was anything specific he wanted to buy for Jayla, Robinson paused and stumbled on his words for just a second.
“Whatever it is she wants,” he said.
KC Star (Some brief video of pc at the link)
Robinson kept making the best of his situation for himself and his sister. He never thought he was too smart to listen to coaches. Now here is his situation: He leaves Kansas as a three-time Big 12 champion, a first-team All-American, the best player on a team that battled all the way to a national-title game in which he motored his way to 18 points and 17 rebounds. All of that is another way of saying he’ll never leave Kansas because his No. 0 jersey will hang from the Allen Fieldhouse rafters for an eternity.
More on his situation: The education of Jayla, 9, is paid for even if she gets multiple doctorates, thanks to the generosity of Kansas basketball fans and others who contributed to her NCAA-approved education fund. Robinson will be a lottery pick in the June draft, a multi-millionaire within a couple of years.
Many a lottery pick has faded fast in the NBA, but Robinson doesn’t figure to be one of them. His greatest physical skills (strength, explosiveness and sure hands) and his greatest intangible (a strong will) happen to translate best to his best basketball skill. He’s a monster rebounder and can remain so against the world’s best competition.
AP: Robinson declares for NBA Draft
It was, as Kansas coach Bill Self told the crowd inside the Holidome, perhaps the final time the entire 2011-2012 basketball team will be together.
On Monday night, before Danny Manning headed back to Tulsa, before Thomas Robinson turned pro and before Tyshawn Taylor, Conner Teahan and Jordan Juenemann graduated, the Jayhawks looked back once more at their improbable run.
“I’ve never coached a team that argued more, fought more and can be as combative and yet still know you’d want to go in a foxhole with every one of these guys,” Self said.
Departing Kansas University basketball players Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor were named co-winners of the coveted Danny Manning “Mr. Jayhawk” Award at the conclusion of Monday’s postseason banquet at the Holidome.
Manning, the new head coach at Tulsa University, was on hand to present the hardware to Robinson, a junior who earlier Monday declared for the NBA Draft, and Taylor, a senior expected to be taken somewhere late in the first round or in the second round.
There were standing ovations from 600 banquet-goers for not only those two, but some of the marquee players on next year’s team — junior starters Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey.
“He’s the unsung hero of our team, our glue guy,” KU coach Bill Self gushed of small forward Releford.
Of junior combo guard Johnson, Self said: “The two most talented guards we’ve recruited since we’ve been here, taking everything into consideration — speed, strength, slide, stroke, vision, handles — are Sherron Collins and Elijah Johnson.”
Saving perhaps the greatest compliment for 7-foot center Withey, Self said: “All he did was set the all-time record in the history of our school in blocks and in the history of the NCAA Tournament. If Jeff gets a little bit better, little bit stronger, he can go down as one of the best big men Kansas has had not in recent memory, but the last half century. I really believe that.”
…Self isn’t expecting any surprises regarding Withey and/or Johnson as far as leaving for the 2012 NBA Draft. Players have until April 29 to enter their names in the draft. However, if they wish to return to school, they’d have to withdraw from the draft pool by today.
“I think Elijah could play himself into the first round, and Jeff could play himself into the first round (in 2013 Draft),” Self said. “I don’t think it’d be in their best interests to come out now because the reality of it is, they are probably on the outside looking in.”
Withey was asked if he considered entering the draft.
“Of course,” he said, noting he hadn’t spoken to Self about the matter. “Definitely that goes through your mind. As of right now, I’m staying. I’m really happy with my decision (to stay), and I’m excited for next year.”
…Self said the Jayhawks will likely take a foreign tour to someplace like Italy in August.
He said KU could play some teams that fail to qualify for the Olympics.
“If we can go in the summer and take freshmen, which is the rule, why wouldn’t we go to Italy or somewhere, play six games in eight days, do some sightseeing and actually enjoy each other?” he said.
Kansas coach Bill Self said Ben McLemore is eligible and ready to go for next season. Self said in the preseason that McLemore might have been the team’s most-ready NBA level talent. That was before Thomas Robinson had a breakthrough season. But if McLemore has the impact projected then the Jayhawks should be in the thick of the title race again next season.
How instrumental was Bill Self in pushing you to the Tulsa job?
“Very instrumental. He helped educate me on Tulsa. He was in conversation with different people on the search committee, not just me, but the university and the direction of the program in general and as it played out. I guess my name kept sticking around and floating to the top. I guess I kind of waited out the rest of the potential candidates and I am very happy and pleased that President [Steadman] Upham and Ross [Parmley] our AD gave me this opportunity.”
Danny Manning on 610 radio
“This is a great opportunity. I loved my time at Kansas. I always thought my time there was too short,” Roberts, assistant coach at the Florida during the 2011-12 season, said in a phone interview. “I was only there one year, but I loved KU, loved Lawrence. The opportunity to go back and be part of that program again is awesome.”
Roberts, the father of KU sophomore guard Niko Roberts, is expected to be in town Wednesday gearing for the start of spring recruiting.
“Working for Coach for nine years (at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois, KU) has helped my foundation as a coach,” Roberts said. “The opportunity to work with Joe (Dooley) and Kurtis (Townsend) and the rest of the staff will be great as well.
“It’s going to be even more special because my son is there. He’s built his own life at KU. He wanted us to come and be there, and obviously the mom and dad want to be near their son. His brother, Justin (eighth grader who is a point guard), is really excited. The opportunity to reunite our family in a place we love and enjoy is awesome.
“Obviously my wife (Pascale) is close with Cindy (Self), and our families are very close. This is a great opportunity for me and my family. I’m really blessed.”
Self said he’s “thrilled” that Roberts has re-joined his staff. Manning left KU to become head coach at Tulsa.
“We were together for nine years. My family helped raise his kids. His family has helped raise mine. We’re close,” Self said. “Certainly we hate to see Danny go, but Norm coming back will be a big bonus to our program.
“He’s always been a Kansas guy, having worked Kansas basketball camps in the 1980s for coach (Larry) Brown,” Self added of the 46-year-old Roberts. “As good as he was when he left, now he’s got six years of head-coaching experience under his belt in addition to all the recruiting experience. I think he’s going to be a huge asset to our program.”
“Norm Roberts did a great job on our staff the past year here at Florida,” Donovan said in a statement. “I have a lot of respect for the Kansas program and Bill Self, and I know this is a great opportunity for Norm and his family to all be together.”
Markieff Morris led five players in double figures with 21 points and six rebounds as the Phoenix Suns routed the Minnesota Timberwolves, 114-90, at Target Center on Monday.
Big 12/College News
The team announced the winners of its annual awards Monday night. They are:
*Marcus Denmon (Team MVP, Clutch Tiger)
*Matt Pressey (Ultimate Teammate)
*Michael Dixon (Outstanding Defender)
*Steve Moore (Most Improved, Iron Man, Rim Protector and Hustlin’ Tiger)
*Kim English (Sharp Shooter, Tiger in Charge, Heart and Soul)
*Phil Pressey (Good Hands, Playmaker)
*Jarrett Sutton (Student Athlete)
…Senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe, a starter who averaged 13.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, did not receive an award and did not show up. He opted to stay in Newark, where he is working out in preparation for the Portsmouth Invitational, a predraft camp for outgoing college players.
English will also take part in the camp, which takes place Wednesday through Saturday in Portsmouth, Va.
Missouri's other top senior, guard Marcus Denmon said he opted not to attend the Portsmouth Camp because he expects to earn an invitation to the more prestigious predraft camp held in May in Chicago.
"I feel like with my accolades, I should be at the one in Chicago," Denmon said. "I was an All-American. Usually, All-Americans aren't left off the Chicago combine."
*Senior center Steve Moore, who emerged as a valuable defensive presence off the bench for Missouri this season, said he expects to continue his playing career. Moore was planning to quit basketball once the season was over, but his strong campaign apparently changed his mind.
(All I want to know is, was there confetti?)
During an interview last week with the Manhattan (Kan.) Mercury, Weber said Thomas’ radio interview gutted the Illini, who lost 12 of the last 14 games before Weber was fired on March 9. He was hired at Kansas State on March 31.
“I think it’s so important to have support,’’ Weber told the newspaper. “When you don’t have support, I think you coach defensive, you coach not with the confidence you need to. It was hard. It was really hard on our kids more than anything. When the situation occurred, I think we lost our spirit, the heart of our team. It hurt the team, especially a young team that was very fragile.’’
Weber will attend the Illini basketball banquet Tuesday. Thomas will not attend, he said.
The Illinois basketball strength and conditioning coach will join Bruce Weber at Kansas State.
Jimmy Price, who has worked with the Illini men’s and women’s programs for the past nine years, has accepted an offer to become the strength coach for the Wildcats, he said today.
“It was a tough decision because I've loved my time at Illinois and the players I’ve been fortunate to work with,” Price said. “I’ve worked with coach Weber for nine years. He’s been a great friend and someone I trust, and I’m looking forward to continuing that at K-State.”
Price has experience working in the Big 12. Prior to arriving at Illinois, Price worked with Texas Tech men’s basketball under Bob Knight. The Texas native served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1996-2002.
Baylor forward Perry Jones III is skipping his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft.
Jones made the announcement Monday in a statement issued by the school. He had returned for his sophomore season after being projected as a top pick last year.
Instead of becoming Baylor's first one-and-done player, Jones sat through a five-game suspension to start his sophomore season after the NCAA determined he accepted improper benefits before coming to Baylor.
TCU formally introduced Johnson as its new basketball coach Monday, a day after he resigned from LSU.
“I can’t express how excited I am about the challenge ahead of us,” Johnson said. “This is where I want to lay my bed and lay my stone. I’m completely so comfortable, I want to be here the rest of my life and get this to the elite level. ... I have no doubts and reservations in my mind.”
Before going 67-64 the past four years at LSU, Johnson took Nevada and Stanford to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Johnson has a 226-185 record over 13 seasons with Nevada (1999- 2004), Stanford (2004-08) and LSU (2008-12).
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been to the tournament, and you’ve tasted the tournament,” TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said when introducing Johnson. “And we hope in short order you’ll take us there.”
FIU basketball team walks out of bball banquet in protest of Isiah Thomas firing
ESPN: Murky future for Jim Calhoun's team
Sitting in front of the an old picture of himself playing against Boston Celtics' Larry Bird, Earvin “Magic" Johnson takes a moment to reflect of the rivalry that ruled the National Basketball Association during the 1980s.
"We were winners, we were competitors, we would do anything to win. And I think both guys, were there looking up at the ball, they can't believe right now that we have a play coming out on Broadway and it's blowing both our minds," said Johnson sitting in the Longacre Theater in New York City.
Basketball legends, Johnson and Bird are now the subject of a new Broadway play called Magic/Bird, which gives the audience a peek inside their unique friendship. Laced with archival NBA footage, the play starts during their college years and ends after the pair win Olympic gold in 1992.
Both Bird and Johnson worked closely with the play's producers Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo in order to ensure authenticity.
"We were concerned about helping out with the script and making sure our voices came out the right way. And making sure that the story was good so that the fans could relate to it — and both of us had input there. I came to the rehearsals, making sure that, Kevin (actor who plays Magic), making sure that, you know, he was smiling like I smile, so I gave some notes there," said Johnson.
The Jayhawks, who are expected to receive a letter-of-intent from Andrew White (6-6, Chester, Va.) on Wednesday, are not finished recruiting. KU also has a spring commitment from Seattle guard Anrio Adams, who still needs to receive a qualifying score on the ACT and may wait before signing.
“We are not close to being done,” Self said, not discussing specific recruits in accordance with NCAA rules. “If we get lucky late or get the right transfer, we’d certainly be open to taking them.”
As far as possibly finding a point guard: “I’m hopeful we can tighten that up through recruiting in the spring. If not, I think Elijah can be your primary point. I’d like to recruit one more, without question.”
Tony Parker, the AJC’s Mr. Basketball and one of the nation’s top uncommitted basketball prospects, is unlikely to make his highly-anticipated decision on Wednesday – the first day of the NCAA’s late signing period.
“What I’m getting from his family is that there’s a good chance it won’t be Wednesday,” said Miller Grove High School coach Sharman White.
“I don’t think he’s just quite ready. He’s trying to figure out the last intricate parts of this decision … so he can make the best choice.”
The 6-foot-9, 280-pound power forward has seven finalists: Duke, UGA, Ohio State, Kansas, UCLA, Memphis and Georgetown. Parker, who is ranked as the nation’s No. 21 overall prospect by ESPN, claims no leaders.
Over the weekend, there were rumors that Parker had eliminated Ohio State. Parker “has stopped returning calls from Buckeyes coaches, a sign that OSU is out of the picture,” according to a report in The Columbus Dispatch.
Parker’s coach responded to the report: “I’d say no comment about that. Well, I don’t think that’s correct. I don’t know. I’m not sure about that. They [Ohio State] are calling me so I know there’s some kind of contact.”
What’s next for Parker? He will leave on Wednesday with his coach for The Jordan Brand Classic in Charlotte. White will serve as a coach for Saturday’s all-star game.
Parker may make unofficial visits to a few of his finalists, although his coach did not know specifics. Parker told the AJC last month that he will likely make one more trip to UGA before signing because two of his high school teammates will be playing for the Bulldogs next season.
How much pressure if Parker feeling? “I just think he’s trying to get to a clear place in his mind where he wants to go,” White said. “It’s a really tough position to be in, and I don’t envy him one bit. All things considered, he’s handling it very well and trying to figure out what’s best for him.”
Basketball’s late signing period runs from April 11 to May 16.
Isaiah Lewis (Albany City Rocks 2013) – Lewis acknowledged his top 5 as Florida State, Memphis, Georgia Tech, Kansas, and Louisville. He holds offers from all five schools. UCLA, Ohio State, and USC (offer) have also shown interest and all 3 have told Lewis they plan to watch him at the Nike EYBL event in Minnesota once the live period kicks off in a couple weeks. While Lewis stressed that his top 5 is solid right now, he is open to other schools entering the mix throughout the summer. He plans to make a decision sometime after the AAU season.
Nike Hoop Summit Recap
Nike Hoop Summit complete broadcast
4/14 Jordan Brand Classic
4/21 Capital Classic (Andrew White)
4/27-29 Jayhawk Invitational
4/27-29 Real Deal in the Rock
adidas Grassroots schedule
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar
My 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, KU Alumni games, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos and more now on Youtube