Archive for Sunday, September 12, 2004

Coach: Kansas basketball recruit real deal

September 12, 2004


Future Kansas University basketball player Julian Wright, who is ranked the No. 5 high school senior in the country by one national recruiting service and No. 10 by another, is not over-hyped.

So says Illinois Warriors AAU coach Larry Butler, who doubles as the Homewood-Flossmoor High senior's summer coach and one of his biggest fans.

"He's the closest thing I've seen to Magic Johnson," Butler said of the versatile 6-foot-8, 220-pound Wright, who committed to KU coach Bill Self on Thursday after Self's in-home visit to Wright's Chicago Heights, Ill., home.

"He played on the wing for us and brought the ball up sometimes. He's athletic. His outside jumpshot is inconsistent, but that will come with time. He's a complete player."

The blue-chipper -- ranked fifth by and 10th by rivals -- also is stellar off the court, Butler said.

"He's a super kid. You can't get any better," Butler said. "He's smiling all the time."

Butler isn't floored Wright chose KU over Illinois and Arizona, schools he has visited, and DePaul, a school -- like KU -- he hasn't visited.

"I'm surprised but not surprised. I knew if Bill could get in the home, he'd get it done. I didn't know it'd be so quick. It's a great fit," Butler said. "The great thing for Kansas is, they can continue to recruit C.J. Miles. Both kids would fit in the lineup well together."

Miles is a 6-5 standout from Dallas who is considering KU, Georgia Tech and Texas.

Wright, who averaged 10.4 points, 7.4 boards and 4.9 assists his junior year, emerged offensively this summer. He's good at taking it to the hole and hitting the mid-range jumper.

"It's inconsistent in that area," Butler said of Wright's deep outside shooting. "But he has the ability to score from outside as well as in."

Wright said one of his strengths was his ability to play anywhere on the court.

"I like Kansas' style of play a lot," he said. "I am versatile, and it's the best offense in terms of me being versatile and showing perimeter skills as well as inside. If you come to a situation where all you think you will do is play one position, it's not in your best interests. There could be fouls or injuries, and you might be needed somewhere else."


Inevitable NBA talk: In a sign of the times, there already has been speculation Wright could head straight to the NBA and not play a minute of college basketball.

"It's too early to think about that," Wright told Chicago's Sun Times. "The season hasn't even started yet."


From nowhere to top on list: Back in July, Wright said Kansas had not made his final list of schools. Thus, at the Price Chopper Invitational in Shawnee, Wright went largely ignored by the fans, who instead watched every move of KU targets Miles, Tyler Hansbrough and Kevin Rogers.

"Kansas had a lot going on with changes in the coaching staff, and I didn't give them a chance to explain. We worked it out. There was nothing else I didn't like about the program," Wright said. "I never stopped liking Kansas."


Top class: KU, which has four scholarships to give, has received commitments from Wright, plus two additional McDonald's All-America candidates in Mario Chalmers, 6-1 from Anchorage and's No. 12-ranked player, and Micah Downs, 6-8 from Bothell, Wash., who is ranked No. 14.


Sight unseen: Wright says it's not unusual to commit without having seen KU's campus.

"I was close. I went to Overland Park for a tournament two years in a row and saw the fans and coaches and players," Wright said. "I just knew it was the place. I have enough confidence in the program and coach that it doesn't matter.

"I never felt pressure to commit, but I'm happy I have this over with now that school has started."

Folks in Illinois, however, are stunned KU landed Wright without a campus visit.

"This may be the most bizarre recruiting situation that we have seen in 20 years," Roy Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye Report told the Sun Times. "Bill Self being able to get a commitment from Julian without a campus visit amazes me and tells you about Self's ability as a recruiter."

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