Archive for Monday, October 13, 2008

Keegan: The race to say yes to Kansas

October 13, 2008

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On Wall Street of late, the rich have gotten poorer. Not the case in college basketball, where defending national champion Kansas University is involved strictly with McDonald's All-American-caliber recruits, even having to say no thanks to some.

Another packed Allen Fieldhouse for Friday night's annual Late Night in the Phog could seal the deal for coach Bill Self's recruiting class.

The guys Self doesn't have room for could form a recruiting class that would rank among the nation's top handful.

The remaining players on KU's wish list are so talented that it has become a race to say yes. You lose that race, you can't come play for Kansas.

Power forward Thomas Robinson, ranked No. 18 in the class of 2009 by Rivals.com, said yes to Kansas, so there wasn't any room for No. 22 Daniel Orton. He settled for Kentucky.

KU has one more scholarship, but with Sherron Collins a lock to leave after his junior season, Self comfortably can recruit a class of three. The first of two point guards he's still recruiting to say yes gets to play for the defending national champs. So does the first of four shooting guards.

Point guard John Wall of Raleigh, N.C., is ranked No. 1 and considered by many sharp eyes for talent to be an equal to Memphis lead guard Derrick Rose. If Wall isn't KU's point guard next season, then Elijah Johnson of Las Vegas likely will be Collins' successor. Johnson's ranked 27th in the class, but that doesn't mean he necessarily would be a worse get than Wall. Johnson would stick around a few years, getting better each winter the way Mario Chalmers did. Wall's a one-and-done lottery pick.

At shooting guard, Oklahoma City's Xavier Henry, son of former KU player Carl Henry, is ranked third in the nation. He, too, is a definite one-and-done prospect. Lance Stephenson (No. 9) of Brooklyn might be a none-and-done risk. He and his father have talked about the possibility of his playing professionally in Europe right out of high school.

No. 11 Michael Snaer of California and No. 16 Dominic Cheek of New Jersey, a high school teammate of Kansas freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor, have outstanding range on their jumpers.

Henry, Snaer, Cheek, Stephenson and Johnson are scheduled to attend Late Night.

When all the decisions are made, Self will end up with a power forward (Robinson), a point guard (Wall or Johnson) and a shooting guard (Henry, Stephenson, Snaer or Cheek), all virtual locks to be named McDonald's All-Americans. Clearly, after winning the national title and signing a 10-year contract, Self has become a better recruiter than ever.

Friday will be an interesting night for coach Bonnie Henrickson's women's basketball team as well. The public will get its first glimpse of 5-foot-3 freshman point guard Angel Goodrich, a talent from Tahlequah, Okla., who has the chance to become a program-changer.

Recruits making their official visits to KU - Lawrence High's Tania Jackson, San Antonio wing Monica Engleman, Dallas guard Chynna Brown and guard Marisha Brown of Kansas City - shouldn't have any trouble envisioning Goodrich setting them up for scoring opportunities.

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