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Archive for Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Self ‘thankful’ pair of players OK

KU coach stresses safety after wreck involving Jackson, Giddens

June 2, 2004

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Bill Self was shocked to learn Kansas University basketball players J.R. Giddens and Darnell Jackson were injured in a Memorial Day weekend automobile accident.

The second-year Jayhawk coach was also relieved Monday morning when told the duo climbed out of a totaled Ford Explorer with bumps and bruises -- and no broken bones.

"First and foremost, we're thankful they were not seriously injured. It'd go for anybody in an accident. That's the primary concern," Self said Tuesday, responding to Monday's wreck, caused when a Toyota Corolla clipped the Explorer as Jackson steered it into a convenience store in Oklahoma City.

"Then, you look how to possibly eliminate it in the future. I want all our players to know it's a wake-up call, to be cautious when driving, to drive defensively -- to take care of yourself the best you can at all times."

Self has been informed Jackson wasn't at fault in the accident. Giddens, who was a passenger in the Explorer, said the Corolla accelerated quickly after stopping at a stop sign, then sped up and clipped the turning Explorer.

The Explorer was knocked on its side. Onlookers put the vehicle back on its wheels, and the Jayhawks quickly exited.

"Basically, he's bruised up," Self said of Jackson. "You always worry about things like whiplash. They'll both probably be sore for a while."

The bumps and bruises will prevent the 6-9, 240-pound Jackson from playing in an all-star game between high schoolers from Texas and Oklahoma on Saturday at Oklahoma Baptist's Noble College.

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Injury update: Wayne Simien (groin) should be cleared to play next week when players report for summer school. Meanwhile, Giddens (knee, foot surgery) should be ready to go in mid-June and Keith Langford (knee surgery) in early July.

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Townsend leading candidate: Kurtis Townsend, who remains the front-runner to replace Norm Roberts as assistant coach at KU, could be tapped as early as next week.

Townsend, 46, worked last season as an assistant under Perry Clark at the University of Miami. Prior to that, he worked two years at USC, three at Michigan, one at Eastern Kentucky and four at California.

Known as a strong recruiter, Townsend has coached or recruited NBA players Jason Kidd, Lamond Murray, Tremaine Fowlkes, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Ed Gray, Sean Marks, Michael Stewart, Jamal Crawford and Lou Bullock.

A native of San Jose, Calif., Townsend played point guard at Western Kentucky for two seasons (1978-80), helping the Hilltoppers to the 1980 Ohio Valley Conference title and an NCAA Tournament bid. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Western Kentucky in 1982.

Prior to transferring to Western Kentucky, Townsend played two seasons at Menlo (Calif.) Junior College, earning first-team All-State and honorable-mention All-America honors in 1978.

He played the 1981 season in the CBA for the Montana Golden Nuggets.

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Miller likely moving on: Ben Miller, who has worked in KU's basketball office in a variety of roles the past nine years, remains the leading candidate to fill an assistant's slot on Barry Hinson's staff at Southwest Missouri State.

There remains a strong possibility Danny Manning will move into Miller's job as director of basketball operations next season. Manning, KU's director of student-athlete development/team manager last season, would not be allowed to coach or hit the road recruiting, but still could scrimmage with the Jayhawks at practice as he did a year ago.

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Recruiting: Terrence Williams, a 6-foot-7 senior-to-be from Seattle's Rainier Beach High, will make an official visit to Kansas from June 15 to 17. Williams will visit Indiana this weekend and Louisville the next. He is a prep teammate of C.J. Giles, who has committed to play at KU.

"On a scale of 1-5, each of the three schools is a five," Williams told Shay Wildeboor of rivals.com. "Well, now that C.J. Giles is at Kansas, I would give them a 5-plus. I talk to C.J., Mario Chalmers and Micah Downs all the time about playing college basketball together. It would be great if that happened, but there are no guarantees."

KU, which has received commitments from prep seniors-to-be Chalmers and Downs, has two remaining scholarships for the class of 2005.

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