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Archive for Thursday, February 21, 2002

February 21, 2002

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Kansas is trying to catch its breath after a stretch of four straight Saturday/Monday men's basketball games.

The No. 1-ranked Jayhawks (24-2, 13-0 Big 12), of course, won all eight games, including a month's worth of Big Monday appearances. In front of national TV audiences on ESPN, the Jayhawks outran Missouri (105-73), Kansas State (98-71), Texas (110-103) and Iowa State (102-66) the past four Mondays.

Those games followed Saturday wins over Texas A&M (86-74), Colorado (100-73), Texas Tech (108-81) and Baylor (87-72).

Whew ...

"It's something the kids ought to feel really good about, feel proud of what they did," KU coach Roy Williams said Tuesday. "I think they are tired. I'm tired. I got on an airplane today, trying to get out recruiting. I know I'm worn out and I don't even run up and down the court, have some coach screaming at me three or four times a week much less playing a game."

Williams, who flew to Portland, Ore., on Tuesday to watch 6-foot-5 Jefferson High junior Thomas Gardner, has been a man possessed since Christmas, recruiting on virtually all of the Jayhawks' off days. He was gone Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Jayhawks were given a day off Tuesday with shooting workouts on tap Wednesday.

"Let me tell you. It's kind of non-stop around the calendar the entire year, but during the season when you are trying to coach and recruit it really gets hectic, specifically for coach Williams," KU assistant Neil Dougherty said Tuesday. "He's trying to do the very best for the team now and do the very best for the program later. Both at the same time.

"There just aren't a lot of head coaches who: 1) can handle that situation or 2) want to even decide to do it, to spend the time it takes to do it at the very best level. I think one of the reasons this program is where it is today is because he has spent the same amount of time worried about the future as he does about the present."

Williams and his staff have been out recruiting both high school juniors and junior college sophomores.

KU, which has signed Iowa Western Community College power forward Jeff Graves and El Cajon, Calif., High senior center Moulaye Niang, still has two scholarships to give.

Williams  he doesn't discuss specific recruits  was spotted Tuesday at a game of Gardner, a junior swingman from the same high school as KU freshmen Aaron Miles and Michael Lee. Gardner scored 20 points, including two free throws to clinch a 78-74 win over Portland Benson.

He is a hot target of Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan State, Connecticut, Cincinnati and others.

Portland AAU coach Troy Berry visited with Williams at the game.

"He seemed a little tired. He had a 7 a.m. flight," Berry said, "but I'll tell you something  the man loves basketball. I was watching him. He was really into the game. He is really an impressive man."

Williams also has attended games or practices of juniors J.R. Giddens (6-5, Oklahoma City), Ronnie Brewer (6-5, Fayetteville, Ark.), Shannon Brown (6-2, Maywood, Ill.) and Kris Humphries, 6-8, Minnetonka, Minn).

He's also been on the West coast, possibly to see juniors Dave Padgett (6-10, Reno, Nev.), Leon Powe (6-7, Oakland, Calif.), Omar Wilkes (6-2, Los Angeles), Trevor Ariza (6-7, Los Angeles) and /or Richard Cobbs (6-6, Mereno Valley).

The Jayhawks also are said to have an early interest in juniors Keith Wooden, 6-9, Lawrence Free State; Brian Randle, 6-7, Peoria, Ill.; 6-3 Richard McBride, Springfield, Ill.; Tyrone Nelson, 6-11, Hempstead, Texas; Tyler Koenig, 6-8, Fargo, N.D.; Brian Butch, 6-11, Appleton, Wis.; and Nick Bahe, a 6-3 football/basketball standout from Lincoln, Neb.

As far as prospects the Jayhawks could sign in April, Williams has been to California to recruit Jamal Hill, a 6-5 sophomore swingman from San Jose City College. Hill, a high school teammate of KU's Drew Gooden, has heard from KU, Texas Tech, Illinois, Colorado, Virginia, Arizona State and Oregon.

"Jamal really likes Kansas," San Jose assistant James Giacomazzi told recruiting analyst Jon Kirby, indicating Hill likely will make a campus visit.

The Jayhawks are looking at Prileu Davis, a 6-4 sophomore combo guard from Phoenix Community College. Davis is being recruited by Louisville, Texas A&M and Cal-Irvine, with interest growing daily.

"I guess Kansas is afraid they will lose both of their guards, not only (Jeff) Boschee, but maybe (Kirk) Hinrich too, because he is getting interest from NBA scouts," Phoenix coach Kip Barnes told Russ Blake of rivalshoops.com.

Two other junior college possibilities are Johnny Story, 6-5, North Idaho Junior College and Tony Allen, 6-4, Wabash Valley Community College.

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