“The two best gaurds that we have recruited have been Sherron Collins and Elijah Johnson,” Self said.
Quite a high praise for a player who averaged just 10.2 points this season. But anyone who watched Johnson flourish in the NCAA Tournament can understand why Self set expectations at an All-American status.
Actually, anyone who watched just the second half of the championship game could see the junior guard’s potential.
When Kansas was in trouble late against Kentucky, the ball found its way into Johnson’s hands. When Kansas needed a basket, Johnson would dance with his defenders and get to the rim. He was the guy who would hit the three when Kansas needed it most.
He had been doing it most of the season, but it was hard to see his real abilities through the inconsistent fits of play that plagued him throughout the year. When Kansas was trailing Duke by two with time running out, Johnson was the guy to hit the three.
When Kansas needed to beat No. 2 Ohio State — and they did need that win — it was Johnson who came through by hitting five three-point shots to send the Buckeyes back to Columbus with a loss.
For the past three seasons, Johnson has been in the shadows of great Kansas point guards. But, just as Tyhsawn Taylor waited three years to shine, Johnson will do the same. Taylor flourished when he was finally put in charge, so Johnson will ideally prove himself next year with the same responsibility.
Coach Bill Self would like to add another point guard before next season. For now, the guard rotation figures to include seniors Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford, sophomore Naadir Tharpe, second-year freshman Ben McLemore and White. Only Tharpe and Johnson possess true point-guard skills, while Releford, White and McLemore are all bigger, slasher-type guards. In the frontcourt, Ellis is a likely candidate to step in for the departed Thomas Robinson. Peters, Lucas and second-year freshman Jamari Traylor will also be in the mix. And, of course, Self has never been shy about adding more talent late — if the right situation arises.
KU’s fax machine won’t be idle, with small forward Andrew White expected to sign during the spring period. White, rated the No. 56 player in the 2012 class by Rivals.com, committed to KU in December after receiving scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Georgetown, Texas and others.
The Jayhawks also have a commitment from Anrio Adams, a three-star shooting guard from Seattle, to go with three fall signees: forwards Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas and Zach Peters.
Coach Bill Self can’t comment on unsigned prospects, but he told reporters the Jayhawks are “nowhere near done” with the 2012 class and indicated KU would like to add a point guard.
KU lists nine returning scholarship players, plus three fall signees. The scholarship limit is 13.
Andrew White, a 6-6, 210-pound guard/forward from Miller School in Chester, Va., who committed to KU in December, has received his scholarship papers in the mail and will sign in a ceremony at his high school sometime early next week, his dad, Andrew White Sr., said Tuesday.
White, the No. 56-ranked player in the Class of 2012 by Rivals.com, averaged 22.9 points and 10 rebounds a game for 20-10 Miller School. He chose KU over North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Richmond, Texas, Georgetown and others. He will play in the Capital Classic all-star game on April 21 in Alexandria, Va.
“Because of needs on the team he was on, he played some 5 (center) and 4 (power forward). His natural position is the 2 (shooting guard),” White’s dad said Tuesday. “His court vision is very good. We’ve been working hard on lateral foot movement so he can guard a smaller player with his length (6-11 wingspan). He’s working so much on defense. We’ve been watching Baylor games and K-State games to see how to defend some of the quick players and jump shooters in the league.”
KU in November received an oral commitment from unranked Anrio Adams, a 6-3 combo guard from Seattle’s Rainier Beach High, who averaged 19.8 points a game for Washington’s 27-3 state title team. Adams tells Rivals.com he will take the ACT test Saturday and visit KU the following weekend. It’s possible he may not sign his letter until scores of that test are tabulated. He tells Rivals.com he is still planning on “moving to Kansas for good on July 3.”
…KU currently has 14 scholarship players on next year’s projected roster. The NCAA limit for scholarships is 13. Sophomore Justin Wesley was on scholarship this past season after arriving as a walk-on.
Big 12/College News
If the past three months (or longer, depending on your viewpoint) in Illinois basketball weren't unusual enough, Tuesday's annual banquet made it so.
Where to start?
The central figure of the event — former coach Bruce Weber — admitted he initially didn't want to return for the banquet. But the new Kansas State coach said he accepted the invitation because of the players he recruited and coached before being fired March 9.
"I felt it was my obligation to come back for them," said Weber, the Illini coach for nine seasons.
Really, the atmosphere inside the Holiday Inn ballroom summed up the last half-decade of Illinois basketball: never boring, at times uncomfortable and certainly dramatic.
There were several members of the former staff in attendance — Weber, Jerrance Howard, Jay Price and Sean Harrington. Athletic director Mike Thomas and the new staff weren't in attendance.
Awkward? Yes. Understandable? That, too.
The 90th annual banquet again was sponsored by the Champaign-Urbana Kiwanis Club. There were 480 tickets sold.
Tracy Abrams was named Team MVP, as voted on by his teammates. The gutsy lead guard is the first true freshman to win the award.
Cory Bradford was the most recent freshman to be named Team MVP when he won it after his redshirt freshman season in 1998-99. The honor was a telling indicator of Abrams' impact in the locker room.
"To see teammates, brothers, feel that way about me, it's motivation," Abrams said.
Weber said his MVP vote would have gone to freshman Mike Shaw, who played a minor role but maintained a positive attitude, regardless.
"I'm proud of you, Mike," Weber said.
SE: Your philosophy on defense?
BW: I've always been a man-to-man coach, and that's our pride and joy. If you look at our stats, we were always among the league leaders in the Big Ten and Missouri Valley. I'm sure you could ask coach (Bill) Snyder and he would tell you that the key to winning championships is a good defense. If you can have both, that's when you're really successful.
The people at Illinois got mad at me because I didn't play much zone, but to me with a man-to-man defense there are rules and if there's a breakdown, you know who did it. With a zone, there are gray areas where there can be finger pointing, and I like definites. In a man-to-man, you know where you should be because we practice it. But sure, a zone can be good as a change of pace.
SE: And on offense?
BW: I like to attack teams through transition, or attack with good movement on offense to make it hard for people to guard you. I'm known as a motion coach, and I do clinics on motion offenses, but I'm also smart enough to know if you run motion you better have people who can pass and dribble. Today if there there's an area that is lacking, it's in young players not knowing how to pass and dribble.
SE: How excited are you to be a part of the Kansas State - Kansas rivalry?
BW: I'm excited about it. I was part of Indiana and Purdue and I know how much it means to a state. Obviously, Kansas is on quite a run and that's how we should look at ourselves. You get into this business to play the best and be the best. They were in the championship game last week and are one of the best teams in the country. I've never coached in Allen Field House, so I'm looking forward to that.
Illinois basketball coach John Groce has decided to “start with a clean slate’’ and will not offer Jerrance Howard one of the Illini’s three full-time assistant coaching slots.
Groce, hired last month as head coach, met with Howard three times but informed the Illini recruiting specialist on Monday night of his final decision. Groce has one full-time assistant coaching spot open.
“I made the decision that I’m going to hire outside,” Groce said Tuesday afternoon.
Howard declined an offer to comment.
…Memphis, DePaul and Florida have shown interest in Howard, according to a source.
Quincy Miller has decided to stay at Baylor to play his sophomore season.
…Texas freshman guard Sterling Gibbs says he is transferring after a freshman season of battling to get playing time.
Gibbs says he's leaving because of family reasons but did not elaborate in a statement released Tuesday by the school.
…Christian Watford and Cody Zeller helped Indiana's basketball program turn things around this past season. They have even bigger plans for next season.
The two players said Tuesday they would return to school next season, putting off the NBA and making the Hoosiers one of the Big Ten favorites.
…University of Tulsa officials say starting forward Kodi Maduka has been released from a Tulsa hospital after collapsing during a pickup basketball game last week.
Officials say Maduka collapsed April 4 during the game on campus and had remained hospitalized for observation and tests. In a statement from his family released through the school, relatives said Maduka is recovering. They thanked the athletic department, athletic trainers, teammates and new coach Danny Manning and his staff for their rapid response to the situation. The statement didn't specify why Maduka collapsed.
The Arizona Wildcats have picked up two basketball players in the past few days, stashing them away for the 2013-14 season.
Former Sabino forward Matt Korcheck, most recently of Cochise College, committed to coach Sean Miller with the understanding that he would like to redshirt next season in an effort to get stronger and adjusted to a high level of college basketball.
And on Tuesday morning, Duquesne transfer point guard T.J. McConnell committed to Arizona over Virginia. Like Miller, McConnell is a Pittsburgh kid; their prominent basketball families have known each other for many years.
…What does this mean for the rest of the roster?
It means somebody has to go.
Is it Turner, who ended the season on indefinite suspension? Is it Mayes, who might never see a path toward being a starter at Arizona (especially if Turner stays for this season)? Is it Natyazhko, whose role disappeared last season after starting the first six games? It's also certainly possible that multiple players could leave.
Over the course of his career, Bob Huggins has made a lot of friends, but not many of those relationships go back as far as the one West Virginia’s head coach has with Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
The two got to know each other through Huggins’ teammate at WVU, Joe Fryz – who played high school basketball with Calipari. The two stayed friends during Calipari’s time as an assistant at Kansas and Pittsburgh.
Once Calipari took his first head-coaching job at Massachusetts, a unique rivalry was born.
They’ve competed head-to-head for 20 years now as head coaches, chasing the ultimate goal of getting to cut down the nets at the end of the season. Huggins has made it to two Final Fours – including one in 2010 to which he had to beat one of Cal’s best teams to get – but hasn’t been able to make it to the title game yet.
Calipari, on the other hand, has made four trips to the Final Four with three different teams during that time. His fourth trip ended with the Kentucky coach holding that coveted national championship trophy after a 67-59 win over Kansas.
You better believe Huggins was watching his friend.
"I enjoyed it very much," Huggins said.
"(Kansas head coach) Bill Self’s a friend too, but Bill and I don’t go back nearly as far as Cal and I."
In the end, TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte settled on a coach that fit his criteria. He wanted someone with a track record of turning around a program that was struggling (Johnson did that at Nevada) and someone who had taken teams to the NCAA tournament (he did that at Nevada, Stanford and LSU). But he also wanted someone who would run the program with honesty and integrity. Johnson has done that at every stop.
Johnson will make $1.5 million base, but I'm told he's got incentives that could push things toward $2 million. It shows much more of a commitment than TCU has made in the past (the departed Jim Christian made around $600,000).
Johnson inherited some good teams at Stanford and LSU, and in Baton Rouge, after going to the NCAA tournament his first season, Johnson's teams struggled the next two seasons before going to the NIT last year with the same number of wins as TCU had under Christian.
What does it all mean? We'll see. The bottom line: The only buzz that matters is on the recruiting trail and, consequently, on the court. TCU loses its three top players next season and the roster has players from all over the place, though not that many from the Dallas-Fort Worth area (or Houston, for that matter). Those are two fertile recruiting areas and Johnson recruited some there while at LSU. It's critical that his staff establish relationships with those coaches. Maybe the move to the Big 12 will get more players interested.
Ernie Kent, who coached the Oregon men's basketball team for 13 seasons before being fired in 2010, was "close" to be hired Tuesday night by Colorado State, according to a report from cbssports.com.
The former Ducks coach did not respond to messages left for him Tuesday night by The Oregonian.
Kent, 57, was an assistant in Fort Collins from 1987-89 – his first two seasons as a coach on the collegiate level. He'd fill the vacancy created by Tim Miles, who accepted the same position at Nebraska in late March.
An announcement from Colorado State could come Wednesday.
The NCAA has hired Mark Lewis as its new vice president overseeing national championship events, bringing in someone with a résumé that includes TV and sponsorship experience.
Lewis will replace Greg Shaheen, who took the position on an interim basis in late 2010. The NCAA announced the move Tuesday, a week after the men's and women's basketball tournaments concluded.
…Emmert said he would meet with Shaheen in the next several days to discuss his future role with the governing body. One possibility is that Shaheen stays with the organization but returns to his previous role, running just the men's tourney.
NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said Emmert would have no additional comments on the change Tuesday.
Shaheen, who did not respond to a request for comment, has been a popular figure with reporters and others.
The NCAA should be embarrassed by this rule, ashamed it over the years continually has made such a decision tougher and tougher and, in the case of this new deadline, nearly impossible for many players to make with a clear head.
The hilarious part: One of the main reasons the NCAA gives for again moving up the deadline is to ensure student-athletes remain focused on academics during the spring semester, which is great news for all those programs that spend at least parts of March -- if not most of the month -- on the road at conference and postseason tournaments.
Academics. Come on.
The truth: Coaches -- specifically, ones from the Atlantic Coast Conference, who spearheaded the proposal for this early deadline -- grew tired of not owning a tighter grasp on what their roster might look like the following season, tired of losing a star player or more in the summer, tired of having to fill major holes they didn't anticipate, tired of fighting others for those last uncommitted players who most often aren't nearly as good as those leaving.
This is about the NCAA appeasing its coaches and not about what's best for those players seeking an honest evaluation of their NBA potential. This is about the NCAA failing to help the group that does the most good for college basketball.
Do you realize there was a time when an athlete could enter the draft, be selected and still return to school? Now, they barely can begin the process without having to declare one way or the other.
This is an NCAA problem. The NBA gives players who have not hired agents a deadline of April 29 to withdraw, meaning there still is a 19-day window for some to secretly consider options. But personnel from NBA teams can't have direct contact with draft-eligible players until around May 3 or 4, far past this ridiculous deadline of April 10.
If the NCAA is about what's best for its student-athletes, it failed miserably in this case.
College basketball will be better next season for the fact players such as Cody Zeller and Christian Watford of Indiana and Trey Burke of Michigan and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State and Mason Plumlee of Duke have chosen to return to school.
They considered leaving, gathered what little information they could through their head coach and an undergraduate advisory committee and decided against leaping into the unknown world of a draft pool.
But as of Monday, two dozen players had announced their intentions of leaving school early and entering the draft. That list didn't include anyone from Kentucky, which could send five underclassmen to the draft by the NBA's deadline of April 29. None of the Wildcats has declared anything.
Maybe that's the answer to this foolish new rule.
Hold out to the final seconds, walk into your coach's office and wish him and the program the best.
Treat them as players now are being treated.
One year ago, Le'Bryan Nash was the can't-miss kid. He was rated by recruiting services as one of the top 10 high school basketball prospects in the class of 2011.
Now colleges are finalizing class of 2012 recruiting. The spring signing period begins Wednesday.
Before the next guys arrive, here are two questions about the crown jewel of Oklahoma State's last recruiting class:
What should people think about Nash's freshman season? And what does the future hold for him?
Nash's rookie year was a mixed bag.
The good: He led all Big 12 freshmen in scoring and rebounding. He became the first Cowboy to be named the league's freshman of the year.
The bad: He was inconsistent and everything including his effort and body language got questioned by critics. And while other high-profile freshmen were leading their teams to the NCAA Tournament, Nash started on the first OSU team to suffer a losing season in 24 years.
After several weeks of “agonizing” over the choice of entering the NBA draft or returning to Duke for his final college season, Mason Plumlee has decided to remain a Blue Devil.
Plumlee, a 6-foot-11 center, informed coach Duke Mike Krzyzewski of his decision on Monday. It was announced in a statement released by the school’s sports information department on Tuesday.
…Plumlee’s decision has already had a direct impact on at least one player considering coming to Duke. UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi told Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com shortly after Plumlee’s announcement that he has cut the Blue Devils from the list of schools he is considering. Top big man recruits Tony Parker and Amile Jefferson are also seriously considering Duke and are expected announce their decisions this week
My screen saver ! #idol
Parker, one of the nation’s top uncommitted basketball prospects, has seven schools as his finalists: Duke, UGA, Kansas, UCLA, Ohio State, Georgetown and Memphis.
Tonight at 7:30 p.m., Parker is scheduled to appear on a signing-day show on ESPNU but he will likely just discuss his finalists rather than sign any papers.
The 6-foot-9, 280-pounder has remained poker-faced throughout the recruiting process, rarely revealing any hints. One noted basketball recruiting analyst said that he’s never been “more at a loss” with predicting Parker’s final resting place for college basketball.
We’re going to take our best shot at where we think things stand with TP:
Duke – Pros: Duke is one of college basketball’s top five programs, and has a living legend as a head coach. They play in the ACC, many games will be within driving distance (including the annual clobbering of Georgia Tech), and Tony’s father favors Duke. Cons: Coach K has a lackluster reputation for developing big men, Tony is not sure how he fits into the offensive scheme, and if Duke really had that overpowering “deer in the headlights” effect on Parker … he would’ve committed or signed with them a long time ago. Final opinion: The fading frontrunner.
Kansas – Pros: This was Parker’s best official visit and he was blown away by the atmosphere. Cons: The Jayhawks got in the Parker sweepstakes too late. Former NBA star Danny Manning, who specialized in training big men at Kansas, was hired away as Tulsa’s coach. Out of our four finalists, Kansas would be the toughest place for Parker to have an instant impact because of team depth. Final opinion: When Manning left the building, so did Kansas’ best chances. Otherwise, they might be our frontrunner. Timing is everything in life, isn’t it?
UCLA – Pros: Tony’s former AAU coach with the Atlanta Celtics was hired as an assistant at UCLA. They’re tight. Tony loves the basketball tradition and the sunny California weather. Cons: Distance. Final opinion: They are the new darkhorse.
UGA – Pros: Tony feels extra comfortable at UGA because two of his high school teammates will be playing for the Bulldogs next year – they were ultra-successful at Miller Grove, so why not in college? Parker likes Mark Fox’s track record of putting guys in the NBA and pointed out to us that Fox was ranked No. 1 in player development by TheRealGM.com. Tony loves Fox’s triangle offense and how it uses big men. UGA is close to home, allowing his legion of Miller Grove fans to attend his games. Tony would be “just another great player” at the other schools, while he could be the face of the program for decades, like Dominique Wilkins. Perhaps, most importantly, his mother favors UGA. Cons: UGA has an NBA-like practice facility but its gym is still perceived to be a like a cow barn. UGA has disappointing fan support for basketball. Then again, Parker may feel like he can be part of a group to bring the fans back. Final opinion: We formerly called UGA “the darkest darkhorse ever” but now we feel like the Bulldogs are second in line and charging fast. We think every day that passes without Parker signing anywhere, it increases UGA’s chances. And if Parker makes an unofficial visit to UGA in the next few weeks, the Bulldogs will shoot to the moon and become our bona-fide frontrunner.
Memphis, Georgetown and Ohio State: It may be time to go to Plan B.
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
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