Archive for Thursday, May 11, 2006

Arthur’s signing cause for celebration

May 11, 2006

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After one of the most mentally exhausting recruiting efforts of his career came to a satisfying conclusion early Tuesday afternoon, Bill Self, his assistant coaches and family members gathered for a mild celebration Tuesday night.

"We went to dinner at J.B. Stout's," Self, Kansas University's third-year basketball boss, said of a meal during which the coaches were able to reflect on the signing of McDonald's All-American Darrell Arthur, a 6-foot-9 forward from Dallas' South Oak Cliff High.

"Winning a game, we don't sit around and congratulate each other, because we've got the next game. Getting Darrell : he is a great recruit on paper, but we've still got work to do with him and our present players. We've got to get better every day. We've got enough on our plate to not celebrate much. Every day is an adventure," Self added.

Landing a top-20 player - Arthur is rivals.com's No. 16-rated player overall in the Class of 2006 - always puts a smile on the faces of KU's coaches, who make countless trips to the hometowns of prospects for two to three years during the recruiting process.

As far as those who wind up the runners-up, it's always tough to take when a player like Arthur respectfully declines.

"We all look like we've just come from a funeral. I just want to go jump in Lake Waco," Baylor coach Scott Drew told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, realizing the Bears would have landed Arthur had he not postponed his Monday news conference for 24 hours as he pondered his decision one final day.

"We had him, and then we didn't," Drew lamented.

Waco's Tribune-Herald reports that a South Oak Cliff High assistant coach called to congratulate Drew just before the start of Tuesday's noon news session, indicating Arthur was BU-bound.

That coach obviously was misinformed.

"Our staff is tremendously disappointed because we worked extremely hard to try to sign Darrell," Drew said. "We had developed a good relationship with Darrell and his family. But we wish him the best, and we'll cheer for him the rest of his career, except when he plays against Baylor."

Third-year coach Drew is known as a strong recruiter. He landed McDonald's All-America guard, Demond "Tweety" Carter in November. A year ago, he signed Kevin Rogers, who, next to Arthur, won a state title two seasons ago at South Oak Cliff High.

"It's kind of heartbreaking because I thought he'd come to Baylor," Rogers said. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen. I know it's been a tough couple of weeks for him, and I'm happy that he made a decision."

Arthur's other finalist, LSU, now will continue to recruit Arthur's buddy, 6-1 guard Scottie Reynolds, who visited LSU with Arthur recently and will visit Villanova this weekend. He has a list of LSU, 'Nova, Michigan, Wake Forest and Illinois.

"I really didn't think Darrell was going to Kansas, but when it comes down to a last-second decision, anything can happen," Reynolds told the Baton Rouge Advocate. "I'm happy for him."

¢ Sasha's trip home: Self is not sweating over the fact Sasha Kaun must return to Tomsk, Russia, this summer to renew his passport.

"No, because we've hopefully done all our homework," Self said of the junior-to-be's trip home. "We think he handled it properly. He has to attend to his affairs. We feel he handled it appropriately going back."

The trip won't be all business for Kaun. He'll be able to spend quality time with his mom, who he hasn't seen much the past four years.

¢ Invitational coming: The Jayhawk Invitational basketball tournament kicks off with a marquee game at 8:50 p.m. Friday at Allen Fieldhouse. Future KU center Cole Aldrich, 6-11 from Bloomington, Minn., will lead the Minnesota Magic Elite against K.C. Pump N Run.

The K.C. team features three KU prospects - Tyrel Reed, a 6-3 junior from Burlington; Travis Releford, a 6-5 sophomore from Roeland Park Miege; and Connor Teahan, a 6-5 football/basketball standout from K.C. (Mo.) Rockhurst.

Blake Griffin, a 6-8 junior from Edmond, Okla., will play for Athletes First at 10 p.m. Friday at Allen. Anthony Randolph, a 6-10 junior from Dallas, will play for the Dallas Mustangs at 10:20 a.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. The tourney runs Friday night through Sunday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse, Robinson and Lawrence High. Brackets are available at sport2sport.com.

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