Future Kansas basketball player Wayne Simien is taking the country by storm.
Simien, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound senior power forward from Leavenworth High, has emerged as one of the country's top basketball prospects by virtue of his play at this summer's Nike all-star camp and Las Vegas Big Time AAU Tournament.
Simien, who committed to Kansas University last spring, helped the Kansas City 76ers to a 5-1 record and a spot in the quarterfinals in Vegas. Averaging more than 20 points a game, he was named to the 30-player all-tourney team.
More than 700 athletes competed at the Big Time Tourney.
"I was out to prove myself (this summer)," Simien said Friday. "Coming from a small town in Kansas, I didn't get a lot of recognition at first. It's good to see all the hard work pay off and people know kids from Kansas can play, too."
One recruiting service listed Simien one of the top 13 players at Nike camp and one of the top four power forwards in the country. Scouts from the McDonald's All-America game told Simien in Vegas he was on their short list of players for the all-star game next spring.
"It's been a good learning experience, to know I can match up with some of the best in the country and know I'm one of the best in the country," Simien said.
"As far as improving myself, I feel I've done that. I feel fortunate to get the opportunity to improve and represent Kansas at these events."
The Sixers will head to the national AAUs next week in Orlando, Fla.
Jeff Hawkins, a point guard from Kansas City Sumner and Jamar Howard, a shooting guard from SM Miege, are also on the Sixers' team. The Jayhawks have looked at Howard in the past and will be evaluating Hawkins this weekend.
"He's really good, probably another one of those guys who slip through the cracks," Simien said of Hawkins, who could emerge as a KU recruit.
Kansas coach Roy Williams has basically been flip flopping from coast-to-coast the past eight days.
Williams scouted last week's Big Time Tourney and also the Peach Jam in Atlanta. On Friday, he flew from Georgia to Los Angeles for the start of the Best of the Summer Tourney in Carson, Calif.
"Most of the college coaches come up to me and say, 'Man that's great. I can't believe you did that.' Then they'll say, 'But are ya crazy?''' Williams said Friday, referring to his decision to decline an offer from his alma mater, North Carolina, to stay as coach at Kansas.
"I feel good about it," Williams added, referring to his decision.
Williams said the summer evaluation period has come at a good time, right after he reported his decision to stay at KU.
"For me it was a blessing to get right out, get back to work," Williams said. "It really got to be a media crunch. It was not really pleasant having all my thoughts in the public view so much."
Williams finally hooked up with national talk show host Jim Rome Friday, calling the show a week after he was booked to be on the air.
He reiterated the fact KU athletics director Bob Frederick and chancellor Robert Hemenway were keys in his decision to remain with the Jayhawks.
"Our chancellor ... the first thing he said to me was, 'Please promise you'll come back and talk to us before you give them a commitment, before you tell them you'll take the job,''' Williams said. "Getting back to KU, walking on that campus the last time ... I don't mind telling you the people there, the emotion they put out for me is something that was extremely important. I'll still go back to the thought, 'I've got to be loyal to my players.'''
More on recruiting: Josh Childress, 6-6 from Lakewood, Calif., has sliced his list to KU, Stanford, UCLA and Arizona. He had been considering North Carolina and Duke also.
Aaron Miles, 6-1 from Portland, told Cat Tracks he'll be making unofficial visits to UCLA and Arizona in the next two weeks. He's already been on Duke's campus. He's yet to come to KU but is expected to make an official visit this fall.