Jayhawks invite trio to practice with team

Kansas University’s men’s basketball program has held its own version of the TV show “Survivor” the past four days.

In all, 55 contestants  make that prospective players  congregated Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse for the first day of walk-on tryouts.

Ten dropped out on their own after Sunday’s two-hour session.

Twenty seven more were dismissed following Monday’s two-hour workout.

And, finally, 15 additional players were cut Wednesday, meaning three individuals  frontcourt players Tim Alexander, Ryan Woodman and Brett Olson  have been invited to start practicing with the 2002-03 men’s basketball team on Sunday.

By no means have they been guaranteed spots on the team as their quest continues.

“I feel like I survived the first part of it. I’m through Phase One. I feel the real test begins Sunday,” said Alexander, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound senior from Wichita, who played high school ball at Wichita Collegiate. “(I feel) nothing but excitement.”

He’ll be joined at Sunday’s practice  KU coach Roy Williams will decide which players, if any, he’ll keep for the season before the first exhibition game on Nov. 4  by Woodman, a 6-10, 220-pound Andover junior, who played at Washburn University last season, and Olson, a 6-6, 210 pound senior who last played at Chanute High.

“It was very difficult. There were a lot of really good players who gave great effort,” said KU assistant coach Ben Miller, who ran the walk-on practices with administrative assistants Jerod Haase and C.B. McGrath.

“It’s about as good a group as we’ve had try out. We really could put together a good JV team (if it was allowed by Big 12). We had some talented hard-working guys at all positions.”

Only those with size have survived thus far.

“I had talked to coach Miller earlier who told me they were looking for some size. They usually don’t get that in walk-ons. Being 6-9, I felt I might have a chance,” said Alexander, an all-Class 3A pick his senior year at Collegiate.

All three candidates have been working out on their own and getting in top shape for some time now.

“The Final Four got me in the mood to try it. It got me thinking about how the team was losing several (four) walk-ons and if I worked hard all summer this might be my chance to play for the No. 1 team in college basketball. Really I’m just excited about the opportunity,” Alexander said.

Alexander actually played against Woodman, who averaged 1.2 points and 1.0 rebounds in 14 games for Washburn last season, in high school. And he was a teammate of Olson’s in a game that pitted KU’s students against KU’s departing seniors two springs ago. Also, he was a teammate of both Olson and KU’s Haase at last summer’s Sunflower Games.

“Brett’s a good player. He can take it outside as well. He’s a good shooter. Ryan Woodman has great post moves and a good touch around the basket,” Alexander assessed.

If Woodman makes the team, he would be able to practice all year, but not play in games in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.