Tyrone Appleton figures to fill a variety of slots on the basketball court at Kansas University.
"Tyrone is a 'do-everything' guard," KU coach Bill Self said Wednesday upon receiving the letter of intent of the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Midland (Texas) College sophomore on the first day of the month-long spring signing period.
"He's a good shooter, a good handler. ... He will fit in well with the way we play with our interchangeable parts on the perimeter," Self added.
The Gary, Ind., native averaged 13.2 points (off 46 percent shooting including 30-of-77 shooting from three), 5.2 assists and 1.2 steals while playing point guard for 28-4 Midland. The MVP of the Western Junior College Athletic Conference chose KU over Iowa State and Kentucky.
"Coming out of prep school, he was a wing. We turned him into a point guard, but he can play anywhere on the perimeter," Midland coach Grant McCasland said. "He's really special defensively. He takes pride in it. Really he just cares about winning. It's his trademark."
Appleton - who said he "was going crazy" watching KU's national-title victory over Memphis on TV at Buffalo Wild Wings in Midland - said he is a big fan of KU's offense.
"I like coming off ball screens, running up and down the floor like they do at Kansas," Appleton said, adding, "defense is what I strive for."
He's known for shutting down USC sensation O.J. Mayo in an AAU game several years ago.
"He was the best player in the country at the time. I've always felt I had to prove myself every day on the floor and proved myself that day," Appleton said.
Appleton, 21, spent his junior year at Roosevelt High in Gary, Ind., then spent his senior year (2004-05) at Bridgeton Academy in Maine. He was a fifth-year senior at Cincinnati Harmony Prep, where he averaged 19.5 points a game.
He signed with Virginia Tech, but failed to qualify and has spent two seasons at Midland, where he has emerged as Rivals.com's third-ranked juco player. KU signee Mario Little of Chipola (Fla.) CC is rated No. 1 in the country.
"He's 6-5, strong, athletic. I think he's going to surprise a lot of people next year," Appleton said of Little, whose Chipola team lost to Midland in the national finals two seasons ago.
KU will be in need of guard help next season, following the graduations of Russell Robinson, Rodrick Stewart and Jeremy Case and the departure of junior Brandon Rush to the NBA. Junior Mario Chalmers also may be NBA-bound. The only scholarship guards definitely returning are Sherron Collins, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed.
"Both those guys have won a lot of games," Midland's McCasland said of Appleton and Little.
"You'd want to add a deadly shooter to that combination to help offensively a bit (when in game at same time). Both are unbelievably tough and want to win more than anything."
Self seeks toughness and the will to win in players.
"We were sold on Tyrone when we first came in contact with him. He's going to be a terrific addition to a young basketball team from a talent standpoint but most importantly from a leadership standpoint," Self said.
KU also has signed Little and freshmen-to-be Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Travis Releford and Quintrell Thomas.