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Archive for Sunday, July 28, 2002

Kansas recruits shine

Preps Giddens, Case compete in KC tourney

July 28, 2002

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— J.R. Giddens was outfitted like most of the other basketball players attending this weekend's Price Chopper/Kansas City Prep Invitational Basketball Tournament at the Johnson County Girls Athletic Assn. Complex.

Well, maybe he looked a little different because of the three-striped Michael Jordan headband that kept his Kobe Bryant-style hair in place.

Kansas basketball recruits J.R. Giddens, left, and Jeremy Case say
they're tickled they are playing together this summer and will play
together at KU. The two Oklahoma preps participated in the Price
Chopper/Kansas City Prep Invitational Basketball Tournament on
Saturday in Shawnee.

Kansas basketball recruits J.R. Giddens, left, and Jeremy Case say they're tickled they are playing together this summer and will play together at KU. The two Oklahoma preps participated in the Price Chopper/Kansas City Prep Invitational Basketball Tournament on Saturday in Shawnee.

But his white Nike basketball jersey certainly didn't reveal that the senior-to-be at Oklahoma City's John Marshall High had already given an oral commitment to Kansas earlier this spring.

If anything, the baggy uniform might have suggested he was leaning toward Oklahoma, because those letters were emblazoned on Giddens' back. And although the cotton white tanks and trunks were laced with red and blue diagonal lines, they definitely weren't KU's crimson and blue.

But a closer inspection by a Jayhawk fan might have spotted Giddens' true intentions.

Underneath the navy stripe on his shorts, a strip of Kansas blue peeked through.

"I was like, 'I might as well wear my lucky shorts,'" Giddens said.

Those drawers certainly proved lucky Saturday.

Giddens, a 6-foot-5 guard from Yukon, Okla., erupted for 32 points and seven rebounds to lead his AAU team, Athletes First of Oklahoma City, to a 73-66 victory against the RBS Allstars in its second game on Saturday.






"I'll most definitely be wearing these in the future," Giddens said with a smile. "Hopefully, I can light it up every game."

A partisan crowd of KU fans was in attendance to watch Giddens and his current AAU and future KU teammate Jeremy Case who also gave Kansas an oral commitment last spring in the first elite recruiting camp of its kind in the area.

But the Jayhawk faithful will have to wait a year before the ballyhooed Giddens trades his lucky KU shorts for official Jayhawk gear.

The Oklahoma guards are to make their nonbiding oral commitments binding when they sign letters of intent in November.

Jeremy Case, left, tries to drive on a defender. Case, a Kansas
University recruit, played in a prep tournament Saturday in
Shawnee.

Jeremy Case, left, tries to drive on a defender. Case, a Kansas University recruit, played in a prep tournament Saturday in Shawnee.

Jayhawk fans along with Wayne Simien and some former KU hoopsters did get an early look at the twosome's games though.

While the 6-foot-1 Case struggled with his outside shooting, Giddens created more than a few awe-inspiring highlights, including an exaggerated drop-step slam between his legs in warm-ups.

Although their AAU team has yet to win a tourney but both say this weekend will be their turn Giddens and Case said they've had a good summer playing with each other.

"Playing with J.R. is a lot of fun," said Case, who led Oklahoma's Class 5A division in scoring with 25.4 points per game as a junior at McAlester High. "You can throw him an [alley-]oop on the break. It's exciting playing with him."

Giddens also gushed about his future college teammate.

"It's real good. We're going to be together for a long time," said Giddens, who trailed just Case in scoring during the high school season with 25 ppg. "We kind of feel each other out. I know how he plays and he knows how I play."

The friends had another buddy at the camp who probably wouldn't mind joining them at Kansas Keith Wooden.

"I like those guys. We've been around each other this summer and kind of became friends," said Wooden, a Free State High senior-to-be who scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a first-round win for his Kansas City Nets team. "It's kind of an incentive to be somewhere with your friends."

J.R. Giddens dunks during an AAU tournament game. A Kansas
University recruit, Giddens had 32 points in a second-round game
Saturday in Shawnee.

J.R. Giddens dunks during an AAU tournament game. A Kansas University recruit, Giddens had 32 points in a second-round game Saturday in Shawnee.

The two Oklahomans, regarded as the best two players from the Sooner state , said they were glad they committed early so they could enjoy their senior seasons.

"Kansas just impressed me with everything," said Case, whose father, Win Case, played for Oklahoma State in the mid-1980s and coaches at Oklahoma City University. "The campus, the coach, the players I was real excited about everything down there. I just wanted to get it over with and relax this summer and play well and not be nervous about anything."

While Case didn't have his best day he scored 17 points in two games on 8-of-26 shooting, including an 0-for-9 effort from three-point range he played in limited action.

He had several nice would-be assists that his teammates didn't finish, and he stood out defensively in both games. There were definite glimpses of why he is McAlester's all-time leading scorer after just three seasons.

Giddens, who was 6-of-10 on the day beyond the three-point line, also scored 14 points in Athletes First's initial blowout win Saturday.

He said he might let his "trunk thing" become a fad his senior season.

"I mean, they are just shorts, but they're my lucky shorts," Giddens said, again flashing his charismatic smile.

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