So there wasn’t much to worry about.
“We’re so blessed to be able to do things like this as KU players,” he said. “I’m a few years removed and it’s still fun for me to come back, especially being (near) a community I grew up in and see all these people come out and support us, it’s awesome.”
Christian Garrett, the Jayhawks’ sole senior this year, team manager Chris Huey (who got to take the court as a player once this season), and former players Jeff Hawkins, Jordan Juenemann and Tarik Black were also on hand. Black spent last season as a rookie in the NBA, and is currently with the Los Angeles Lakers.
…Fun was the theme of the night on both ends of the court as some younger fans also got into the act, with young children such as Topeka’s Peyton Christiansen, 6, and Marlee Gant, 7, of White City seeing time on the court in the second half. Both had near misses on their own shots, but got some assistance from Black in making good on baskets.
“Tarik...he’s a talent,” Barker said. “But he’s a cool guy too. He was real fun to play with.”
For Reed, it was simply another exciting homecoming, where some other Jayhawks got to see what he already knew.
“That’s the great thing about (the state of) Kansas,” Reed said, “it’s a big family.”
Like Bragg, Diallo is a 6-foot-9 forward, and Bragg got to know him a little during their time in Chicago.
"I talked to him a little bit," Bragg said. "He's not a very talkative guy, but with my personality, you know how it goes. We'll be good friends."
Bragg believes that Diallo possesses a lot of skills that will help Kansas have a successful season in their freshman year.
"I love his game," Bragg said. "He has a high motor. He can rebound the basketball. In transition, he's unstoppable. That adds a piece to the puzzle, and I think we're going to make a big run in the tournament."
Bragg heads to Kansas on June 7, and he is graduating at the end of the month. In the meantime, he's trying to finish strong in school and wants to enjoy his time in high school before the next big step in his life.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Bragg said. "I've been working hard in the classroom and off the court. My training has been going really well. I can't wait to be down there."
The recent Kansas University signee — who first started playing basketball in the winter of 2010 in his home country of Mali — said he enjoys immersing himself in the games of current players such as Monday night’s playoff stars LeBron James, Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol — as well as his favorite player, Blake Griffin of the Clippers, and some past greats.
“I like to go to YouTube and watch those that have played — (Michael) Jordan, Kobe (Bryant), (Hakeem) Olajuwan, (Tim) Duncan,” Diallo said.
…“It means a lot to me,” Diallo said of being tapped MVP after erupting for 18 points and 10 rebounds at McDonald’s in Chicago and 26 points and 11 boards at Jordan Brand in New York “It’s a big honor to me because a lot of players cannot do that. I was proud of myself to get MVP of McDonald’s and Jordan Brand. I give credit to my teammates. There were a lot of great players in those games. They helped get me easy buckets.”
…And where does Diallo’s game need help?
“My weakness was my free throw (shooting) and jump shot, but not really. I think I’ve improved from the free-throw line and shooting. I need to work on post moves, everything,” he said.
Former KU big man Joel Embiid told him he chose the right school to hone his big-man skills.
“I talk to him a lot,” Diallo said of the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft who played a year at KU. “He tells me a lot of things. He said they help the big men. (You learn) a lot of post moves and post-up game. There’s a lot of big-man development.”
Diallo, who visited KU in September, cited other factors in choosing Kansas over St. John’s, Kentucky, Iowa State and Pitt.
“I like the players, and the campus was beautiful,” said Diallo, who has maintained a friendship with Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason III via text. “There were nice people there. Everything was good.”
Diallo said he “would like to” remain on campus more than one year and isn’t thinking about the pros right now. His graduation date is set for mid June, thus he isn’t sure yet when he’ll arrive in Lawrence to begin working out with the Jayhawks.
Kansas University’s men’s basketball team figures to face stiff competition from Iowa State in its quest for a 12th-straight Big 12 title.
“They are going to challenge the Jayhawks, but as we know, the Jayhawks seem to persevere — 11 straight titles,” ESPN hoops analyst Miles Simon told Big12sports.com Tuesday at the league’s spring meetings in Phoenix. “Someone is going to have to knock off the king. Iowa State could be that team next year.”
Simon provided reporter Wendell Barnhouse with a detailed analysis of both teams. KU won the Big 12 regular season at 13-5 a year ago, one game ahead of both ISU and Oklahoma. Iowa State won the conference tournament.
Of KU, Simon said: “First of all, it starts off with Perry Ellis returning. That’s big. He comes back for his senior year. I think he’ll have an All-America type season, pick up right where he left off. Remember, he was hot on Buddy Hield’s heels for Big 12 player of the year (until he hurt his knee), so that’s huge first and foremost, but the recruits (forwards Cheick Diallo, Carlton Bragg) ... you get a guy like Cheick Diallo. He’s a big-time energy guy, plays hard all the time, a good defender. You don’t have to run any plays for him. He’s a huge get for Kansas, especially in the post area.
“He can play alongside Perry because Diallo is going to do most of his work around the basket. Then you look for Frank Mason to continue to make a big jump, also Devonté Graham I think is going to be huge going forward. Brannen Greene I think will have to step up his game on the wing, especially with Kelly Oubre gone,” Simon added.
No Jayhawk can claim that "the whole nation doubted us" this season.
CBSsports' Gary Parrish updated his preseason poll where he has KU third and Iowa State fifth.
He also added this line: "In other words, yes, the Jayhawks should win a 12th straight league title under Bill Self."
There you have it ... not everyone is picking against KU.
Only three programs remained in the top 10 in AAEM in each of those charts: Duke, Kansas and Wisconsin. Even blueblood North Carolina dropped out in the most recent stage, a prime example of just how difficult it is to sustain long-term success in college hoops.
SI Luke Winn
Former Kansas University forward Kevin Young emerged as one of the best players in the National Basketball League of Canada this past season.
Young, 24, who played for the NBL runnerup Halifax Rainmen, averaged 22.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 steals a game during the regular season. In nine playoff games, he averaged 22.4 points and 11.7 boards and, according to the Halifax Chronicle Herald “became a fan favorite at Scotiabank Center (home arena).”
…Young and all his Rainmen teammates have been mired in controversy the past week. They were fined $5,000 apiece and suspended indefinitely for forfeiting Game Seven of the league’s championship series in Windsor, Ontario.
The Rainmen and Windsor Express got into a fight at shootaround the morning of the title game. Halifax merely didn’t show up for Game Seven citing “safety concerns for its players and coaches.”
At a news conference to discuss the controversy, Young told The Canadian Press he and his teammates felt targeted during the series by Windsor players. Young told The Press that owner Andre Levingston first supported the team’s decision to forfeit, then pressured the squad to play a few hours later.
“As someone we put our trust in ... I honestly felt disappointed in him because there was no regard to our safety at all. It’s like he’s just turned his back on us and threw us under the bus and said that this was our decision, when he was there with us to make the decision,” Young said.
The league has appointed former KU forward David Magley, head coach and general manager of the Brampton A’s, to conduct an investigation of the entire incident.
…“There’s no place like Kansas and the fans are amazing and the atmosphere is unbelievable and I do miss it a lot,” Young told the Chronicle Herald. “But I go home after every season and I actually moved my mom out there (to Lawrence), so her and my little brother and my little sister live out there now, so I get to go back a lot.”
Braeden Anderson knows it's going to be tough -- really tough.
Playing Division I college basketball while attending law school is the hardwood equivalent of flying to the moon: Only a few people have done it, and the margin for error is razor thin.
Yet that's the plan when Anderson arrives at Seton Hall this summer, a skilled big man with an enormous appetite for challenges.
"This is a crazy, psycho, ridiculous thing to ask to do, to even want to do," he said earlier this week from California, where he is wrapping up his undergraduate degree at Fresno State before enrolling in Seton Hall's School of Law. "This is going to be absolutely, insanely hard. But I wanted this, and I think it's important to note: This is something I've been planning on doing for a long time."
…A Canada native, Anderson began his college basketball career at Kansas. But he was declared a partial qualifier during his first semester there and relocated to Fresno State, where his two seasons book-ended a broken neck that cost him the 2013-14 campaign. It happened in a car crash.
"I was in that hospital bed for 28 days," he said. "Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I started thinking about the future, the next steps."
Resolved to prepare for life after basketball, he hit the books hard this past year. In the spring semester, Anderson said he took nine courses. Nine!
"I really put the work in," he said. "Homework on the plane, homework in the hotel, writing papers on the bus."
His degree is in forensic behavioral science. Earning it in three years early allows him to use the NCAA's graduate transfer waiver to finish out his playing eligibility elsehwere. As he sifted through options, the 22-year-old Anderson said other schools he considered "were hesitant" to enroll him in law school.
…Anderson will carry a heavier load in the fall semester and a lighter one in the spring, all the while shuttling between the law school in downtown Newark and the basketball facilities on the South Orange campus.
"I'm going to have to wake up early and be in a study group before class, hten be in class from 8 to 12," he said. "I'll have practice in the afternoon, until 5 or 6. Then I'll come back to the law school for other classes or study groups. I'll be reading textbooks until bedtime, 10:30 or 11, and repeat the process every day."
Kansas University coach Bill Self will hold his annual camp for boys grades 3 to 12 on June 7-11 and again June 14-18 in KU’s basketball facilities. Self’s Parent/Child camp is June 12-13 and Team Camp is June 19-21. Details are available at billselfbasketballcamp.com
Ben McLemore of the Sacramento Kings will hold a camp (boys and girls 5-14, all skill levels) June 22-24 at Sports Pavilion Lawrence at Rock Chalk Park. Details at isgcamps.com
Wayne Simien’s Called to Greatness camp for girls second to 12th grade will be July 1-2 and boys third through sixth grade and seventh through 12th grade July 7-8 at Sports Pavilion Lawrence. Details at http://calledtogreatness.com/2230/Basketball-Camps
Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat is bringing his Miracle Shot Basketball Camp to Lawrence after holding it in Olathe the past several years. The camp, for boys and girls sixth through 12th grade, will be held July 18-22 at Sports Pavilion Lawrence. Details at MarioVChalmersFoundation.org and Facebook.com/mchalmers15.
Cole Aldrich of the New York Knicks will not be running a camp this year in Lawrence. Former KU standouts Jeff Gueldner and Mark Randall instead have taken over the camp and are calling it “The Kansas Old School Basketball Camp.” It will be July 20-23 at St. James Academy in Lenexa. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sunflower Showcase AAU Tournament moves from Shawnee to Lawrence this year. It will be held July 23-26 at Sports Pavilion Lawrence at Rock Chalk Park. No word yet on which top prospects will be coming to town. Last year’s tourney in Shawnee featured eventual Arizona signee Allonzo Trier and many other standouts. Information at sunflowershowcase.com.
Bill Self’s ProCamp for boys and girls grades 1-12 on Aug. 8-9 at SM West High School in Overland Park. Details at http://www.procamps.com/BillSelf.
Also, KU’s basketball team will play Team Canada at 7 p.m., both June 23 and 26 in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
Newly named Kansas University women's basketball coach Brandon Schneider, who officially took over the program in April, on Tuesday announced the names of two members of his first KU coaching staff.
Former Kansas assistant Katie O'Connor, who worked under Bonnie Henrickson and served as the program's interim head coach after Henrickson was let go, has been retained.
"From afar, I've always admired the job Coach Katie does both in recruiting and coaching on the floor," Schneider said in a news release. "I greatly respect the role she played in the development of front line players like Crystal Kemp, Carolyn Davis, and most recently, Chelsea Gardner. Her work ethic is second to none and I'm elated we could convince her to remain a Jayhawk."
Schneider also announced the hiring of assistant Damitria Buchanan, who comes to Kansas after two seasons at Texas Tech. Before her time at Tech, Buchanan worked under Schneider at Stephen F. Austin.
"I believe Coach D is one of the top up-and-coming assistants in the country," said Schneider. "She is a relentless recruiter and has a unique ability to build and cultivate relationships with players. She will be a terrific role model for our student-athletes."
A two-time Academic all-Big 12 First Team selection and team captain at Texas A&M, Buchanan helped the Aggies to three Big 12 titles and four top-25 finishes, including three top-10 finishes in each of her final three seasons.
Big 12 / College News
ESPN Look Ahead:
J.D. Collins has one goal as the NCAA’s coordinator of men’s basketball officials: Get it right.
A few hours after Tuesday’s announcement of his new job, Collins told The Associated Press he expects referees to enforce the rules correctly, consistently and efficiently — and that he plans to advocate for refs taking as much time as they need to review late-game replays.
“If you get a play two minutes into the game, it shouldn’t take as long (to review),” Collins said, “whereas if you’re in a conference tournament game and there’s two minutes left, we want to take the extra time to get it right.”
Collins replaces John Adams, who announced last summer he would retire at the end of the season.
After seven mostly good years on the job, Adams’ tenure ended with a mismanaged replay review in Duke’s win over Wisconsin in the national championship game. A replay that aired during the CBS telecast appeared to show a Duke player touched the ball last when Badgers guard Bronson Koenig missed a layup with 1:54 to play and Duke leading 63-58.
Officials never saw the CBS replay because they had already decided to uphold the original decision that the ball went off Wisconsin.
…And though this is Collins’ dream job, it comes at a time college basketball continues to wrestle with how to increase scoring, shorten games and still give refs enough time to correctly interpret replays.
Collins believes he can accomplish those goals if the rules committee, which meets next week, helps simplify things for refs. He plans to use technology to help refs better understand rules, expectations and how coaches think, too.
“I think we can send out repetitive (video) messages to the coaches to the refs, that unless the ref is ignoring those, we can get those messages out,” he said. “It works. Any time I have the ability to communicate with officials, that message is going to be coming through.”
Collins does not intend to publicly scold officials for making the wrong calls, though he explained he would not be shy about privately reprimanding them or explaining where they can improve.
“I can tell you I will have a major focus on the mechanics of the game, where officials are on specific plays,” Collins said. “I don’t think we can overemphasize that enough because we are creatures of habit and we have to be in the right spots to make calls. The bottom line is call accuracy is a key component to getting the game right.”
So what's the answer to increase scoring for a more enjoyable game? How do coaches escape, as Westhead calls it, the "comfort of the herd mentality" by running similar offenses?
Many college basketball observers believe rule changes will have to provide coaches with an incentive to evolve. Reducing the shot clock, widening the lane, extending the 3-point line and lowering the number of timeouts are all possibilities.
This assumes college basketball can muster the leadership to convince enough people in the sport to make changes. This year's scoring decline isn't simply a one-year trend. Scoring has gone down in 11 of the past 15 seasons and has declined by 9 percent since 1995.
Seven of the 12 members of the NCAA men's basketball rules committee are coaches: Akron's Keith Dambrot, Belmont's Rick Byrd, Long Island-Brooklyn's Jack Perri, Fairfield's Sydney Johnson, Division II Caldwell's Mark Corino, Division III Southern University's William Raleigh, and Division III University of La Verne's Richard Reed.
"We shouldn't have coaches on the rules committee," Bilas said. "They have current competitive interests at stake. No multibillion-dollar business would run it like that. The coaches should have a voice in policy, but they shouldn't be making it." [Every NCAA rules committee includes coaches, not just men's basketball.]
Coaches often point to the quality of players they're inheriting -- often nurtured through AAU summer basketball -- as a reason for the game's struggles.
"There's no emphasis on fundamentals [in AAU]," Montgomery said. "Winning is not important. You look at a kid and he loses a game and it doesn't really have that bite because he has another game in two hours."
There's probably some truth to this point. Johnson, the Arizona forward, said players are not developed enough yet when they arrive to college. He found himself this season learning from Arizona coaches how to shoot mid-range, pull-up jumpers and floaters in the lane.
On the other hand, AAU has been around for several decades and the quality of college basketball wasn't always considered this poor. Plus, what choice do players have given that all evidence points to summer hoops -- not high school basketball -- as the best way to get noticed by colleges?
"The way I was raised, if you want to get better, you train by yourself," Johnson said. "I feel like AAU is a place where you can work on how fast you can play, how many athletes you can get in a gym. … It's the best setting to watch players because you have to be able to compete and run and be active in a game like that to be able to compete at a level like this."
Yet once the players come to college, they are often slowed down. Football uses innovation on offense (spread formations, up-tempo, mobile quarterbacks) to both provide entertaining games and create more parity. Basketball slows down the game in the name of parity.
CBS: College Basketball’s Crossroads
If the perception before this spring had been that John Calipari can land whichever recruits he wants, that changed in a hurry the past few weeks.
All five of Calipari's primary targets during the spring signing period selected other schools over Kentucky, forcing the Wildcats to scramble to identify second-tier options.
The sting of losing a series of recruiting battles for the first time in his Kentucky tenure led Calipari to write a blog post Monday morning in which he seemed to speak directly to potential targets in future classes. Calipari hinted that the platoon system he implemented this past season hurt Kentucky with prospects this spring and repeatedly insisted it was a one-time experiment.
In his zeal to emphasize that future recruits should expect to have the chance to play 30-plus minutes per game, Calipari even exaggerated how short his rotations have been in the past. He wrote that his 1996 Final Four team at UMass used only five players when sixth man Tyrone Weeks averaged 18.5 minutes per game and fellow reserves Charlton Clarke and Inus Norville both played nearly 10 apiece.
…None of Kentucky's opponents will take pity on the Wildcats considering they return former McDonald's All-Americans Tyler Ulis, Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress and add highly touted November signees Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe. At the same time, it was unusual to see Calipari trying to fill out next season's roster by signing a junior college prospect and offering a scholarship to a three-star forward who had just committed to N.C. State.
Move over Chad Ochocinco, you’ve got company.
Former Kentucky star Willie Cauley-Stein made an interesting decision last Friday, legally changing his middle name from Durmond to “Trill.”
As in, “true plus real.” As the Sporting News points out, “Trillie Cauley-Stein” would have been a lot cooler.
Reports the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Cauley-Stein’s mother, Marlene Stein, said her son decided to change his middle name since he was already there to change his last name.
Trill is the “nickname his ‘boys’ call him,” Stein said.
Just days after a legendary coach and dear friend embarked on a new challenge, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley looked to sum up coach Billy Donovan's impact on him, the Gators and the Gainesville community.
Foley rarely is at a loss for words, but his silence Monday as he choked back tears spoke volumes.
"Basketball games come and go," Foley concluded. "Relationships like this are once in a generation."
Foley, 61, also knows change is the name of the game in college athletics.
Once Donovan made peace with his decision last Thursday to leave UF after 19 seasons for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, Foley had no choice but to move on himself.
"We've been dealing with a lot of sadness around here," he said. "But at some point you have a job to do and you have to get beyond that."
Foley and his staff met Monday afternoon to map out a plan to hire Donovan's successor.
UF's search actually began weeks, if not months, ago while coach Scott Brooks' future in Oklahoma City was in doubt.
When the Thunder fired Brooks April 22, Donovan became the frontrunner based on his Hall-of-Fame resume, NBA itch and a relationship with Thunder general manager Sam Presti.
“Recruiting is a weird deal,” Self said then, “in that sometimes you don't get what you deserve, and a lot of times you get what you don't deserve.”
Self, perhaps, could have just stopped at “recruiting is a weird deal”. But as the last couple weeks have reminded us, sometimes a program can win in recruiting even as it loses out on players.
Entering May, the Jayhawks had two top-25 players signed in the 2015 class — power forward Cheick Diallo and forward Carlton Bragg. Self is reportedly still targeting swingman Tevin Mack, a former VCU commit, and Kansas has reportedly offered former SMU commit LaGerald Vick, a member of the 2016 class who could re-classify to 2015. With two open scholarships, the Jayhawks’ class is likely not complete. But for now, the main pieces are in place.
It’s a strong class, one that fills needs and infuses two coveted talents into the program. It’s not Self’s best class, but far from his worst. The new faces fit well into Kansas’ current roster.
But here’s the thing: Self and the Jayhawks made some gains in other ways during a busy spring recruiting period. While they missed out on a collection of five-star recruiting targets, the Jayhawks mostly lucked out in terms of where those players landed.
…“I don’t know that it’s unusual,” said Eric Bossi, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “But I think the class of 2015 had a little more independence.”
In a specific sense, it means that a school such as Kentucky has just two recruits ranked in the top 20 after years of stacking super classes on top of each other. In a broad sense, it’s good for program’s in Kansas’ position — at least in 2015-16.
Former VCU commit Tevin Mack, a 6-6, 200-pound senior small forward from Dreher High in Columbia, South Carolina, will announce his college choice next week, his mom, Paula, told wistv.com. Rivals.com’s No. 61-rated player has a final list of KU, Texas, Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina, UCLA and West Virginia. He has not yet made a campus visit to KU.
LeGerald Vick, a 6-5 junior shooting guard from Douglass High in Memphis who has decommitted from SMU, is thinking about reclassifying to the class of 2015. Vick, who is ranked No. 137 in the Class of 2016, initially chose SMU over Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Providence and others. He has heard from KU, Kentucky, Louisville, UCLA, Texas and others.
KeVaughn Allen, a 6-2 senior combo guard from North Little Rock (Arkansas) High, is expected to ask for a release from his Florida letter-of-intent, several outlets reported Tuesday. He’s ranked No. 67 by Rivals.com.
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