On Self's radar :
Kansas University has received oral commitments from a pair of players in the Class of 2008. They are: Travis Releford, 6-5, 190, Sr., Roeland Park Miege High School; Mario Little, 6-5, 210, Soph., Chipola (Fla.) Junior College.
Here are some others on coach Bill Self's radar with KU looking at signing between five and seven players:
J'Mison Morgan, 6-10, 275, South Oak Cliff High, Dallas: Has visited KU, LSU, UCLA and Alabama. Also has had Kentucky and Baylor on his list. Will choose a school on his birthday, Nov. 2.
Willie Warren, 6-3, 195, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va., originally from Fort Worth, Texas: Will visit Oklahoma for Midnight Madness and KU the following weekend. Also considering Cincinnati, UConn and perhaps others.
Marcus Morris and Markieff Morrris, 6-7, 215 and 6-8, 226, Pennsauken (N.J.) APEX Academies, originally from Philadelphia: Twins, who decommitted from Memphis, will visit KU for Late Night in the Phog and Villanova the following week with a possible visit to St. John's to be scheduled.
Quintrell Thomas, 6-8, 225, St. Patrick High, Elizabeth, N.J.: Has already visited KU, Maryland and Rutgers. Will visit UNLV for its Midnight Madness.
Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3, 160, St. Anthony High, Jersey City, N.J.: Has visited Virginia Tech and Marquette, will visit Georgia Tech or KU next weekend; may visit West Virginia or Cincinnati.
Mario Little was tempted to commit orally to play basketball at Kansas University following his Sept. 7-9 campus visit.
"I loved the players, fans, coaches, the tradition. I was ready, but you can't commit on your first visit. You have to see the other schools," Little, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound small forward from Chipola (Fla.) Junior College, said Sunday afternoon in announcing his decision to attend KU.
Little received offers "from pretty much the whole Big Ten," his senior year at Chicago's Washington High, but failed to qualify for a scholarship academically.
He chose coach Bill Self's program over Kansas State and Illinois, schools he visited in successive weeks after the KU trip.
"For me, it's about winning. I wanted to go to a spot we can win every year," Little said.
He said he knew for sure he was KU-bound Wednesday (Oct. 3), "But I wanted to sleep on it."
He told Self of his decision Saturday night, then the media Sunday.
"He's cool. He's country, but he's cool," Little said of Self, adding, "I know this is the right decision for me. It is a dream come true. Every basketball player would love to play at Kansas.
"When I was little, I thought I could be real good. I never thought I'd be at Kansas. It will be fun. I've worked really hard. I'm excited about this next chapter in my life."
Little, who played post and power forward in high school, averaged 10 points and six rebounds a game last season as sixth man for Chipola's national junior-college runner-up team. He's known as an athletic player with slashing ability, good rebounding sense and range out to the three-point line.
Chipola coach Greg Heiar said Little actually "was the third best player on the team, but accepted that role because it helped us win."
"I am not a selfish player. I will do whatever it takes to win," Little explained. "Last year we had a lot of bodies. I think I proved I will do what coach wants. I was happy to come off the bench, get some rebounds, block some shots."
He's ticketed to start at small forward this season and likely play both small forward and shooting guard at KU.
"He can play anywhere in the country now as a 3," Heiar said of the small-forward slot. "He is a scorer from the wing position. He can play in and out with bounce. He's a very skilled offensive player. He will have a great future as a scorer.
"Mario will fit in. His teammates will love him. The fans will love him. He is a great kid, smart. He has a good basketball IQ and is not scared to work hard. He's relentless."
He's also surviving in the classroom.
"He's on track to graduate. He has to do well in class, keep going to study halls and tutors, and he'll be all right academically," Heiar said.
Little - KU's first juco commitment since Jeff Graves (2002-04) - said he's encouraged by the possibility of immediate playing time. The Jayhawks will lose five seniors and also could lose Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins to the pros.
"Oh, yeah, it was a big factor," Little said of court time. "I think I'll fit right in. I'll do whatever they ask."
He said he hopes his former AAU teammate Collins sticks around for his junior season.
"Sherron calls me all the time. I'd love to play on the same team," Little said. "That would be great."
Little is the third Chicagoan who will play for Self at KU; Collins and Julian Wright are the others.
"It was tough (turning down Illinois) being my hometown school," Little acknowledged. "I don't really want to talk about the other schools. I want to talk about Kansas. It's the right place for me."
Chipola is a school that continues to churn out major-college players. In Heiar's three seasons, 18 players have gone on to play in Div. I. Counting his one year as assistant coach, 24 have gone on to Div. I, including Missouri's Stefhon Hannah, Oklahoma State's Mario Boggan and Iowa State's Michael Taylor, who has been dismissed from the Cyclone team.
"I said when I recruited him he's the best player I've ever coached," Heiar said of Little. "We work them extremely hard here. We try to get them prepared for the next level. We try to run a Div. I program here.
"Mario still has 12 full months before he steps on the court for KU. That's 37 college games. He's going to continue to get better," Heiar added.
It could be a special year at Chipola.
"I want to have an undefeated season, win the national championship and go on with my career to Kansas," Little said, adding he's eager to practice. "I'm relieved. I can actually think now."