Archive for Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Walk-on guard joins Jayhawks

Invitation to play for KU a ‘dream come true’ for Hays High grad Juenemann

Jordan Juenemann

Jordan Juenemann

October 28, 2008


Jordan Juenemann was studying biology Monday morning when he received a cell-phone call from Kansas University's men's basketball office.

"Brett Ballard said, 'Jordan, come to coach Self's office. There's some good news for you,'" Juenemann, a 6-foot-4 KU freshman from Hays, related.

Shortly after hearing from KU's director of basketball operations, Juenemann huddled with head coach Bill Self behind closed doors.

"Coach Self said, 'Hey, I want you on the squad,''' Juenemann said, quickly accepting a walk-on spot on KU's defending national championship basketball team.

The 195-pound point guard/shooting guard out of Hays High, who wants to be a surgeon or radiologist someday, impressed enough at Sunday's walk-on tryouts to garner an invitation to be the fifth walk-on on KU's 2008-09 team.

"It's a blessing, a dream come true. If someone told me a year ago I'd go to the University of Kansas and play basketball, I'd have told them they were crazy," said Juenemann, a lifelong KU fan who averaged 17 points and six rebounds his senior season at 14-7 Hays High.

Juenemann - a 2008 third-team all-Class 5A player - first thanked God, then in no particular order the likes of his parents, high school coach, Kansas City Premiere AAU coaches, as well as former Jayhawks Jeff Hawkins, Wayne Simien and Brad Witherspoon, who all helped him achieve his dream.

Juenemann worked out with Hawkins in Hays last summer, met his boyhood basketball idol Simien at church services in Lawrence and sought input from former KU walk-on Witherspoon on how best to prepare to make the team.

"I knew the hard work would pay off," said Juenemann, who never will forget the first KU game he witnessed in person after watching so many on TV as a youngster.

"It was 2005. I sat in the second row of the student section with my sister (recent KU grad Jessica) at the New Year's Day thriller," Juenemann said of KU's 70-68 overtime victory over Georgia Tech.

Juenemann, who attended KU hoops summer camps and holiday clinics, as well as Self's team camp his junior year of high school, had this wild dream of playing for the Jayhawks.

"I watched Paul Pierce play (on TV as youth)," he said. "After that, the biggest thing for me was watching (Kirk) Hinrich and Simien. Simien was my idol. I wanted to be like him."

He now has much in common with the sports idols of his youth: He's also wearing the Crimson and Blue.

"We're happy to have Jordan on our team," Self said. "We had 17 try out. This is probably the best talent we've had throughout an entire group (in Self's six years here). The guys tried hard. Jordan stood out. He's in good shape.

"I was told all along he was a nice player and a good kid. We've found out this has proven to be true. He'll have to pay his dues playing a lot of defense the next three to four months."

Hays High coach Rick Keltner says Juenemann will do anything he's asked.

"I use him as an example to our younger players about what can happen when you set goals and work to reach them," said Keltner, in his 24th year at Hays High.

"He wanted to play college ball. He could have played at any junior college in the state," added Keltner, noting UMKC, Wichita State and Creighton also showed interest. "(But) he always wanted to play for KU. Going up to the gym in the summer six to seven hours a day and lifting weights paid off for him. He loves the game and will keep getting better."

Juenemann said though he'd love someday to see meaningful minutes like former walk-on Christian Moody, he'll do whatever it takes just to be a productive member of the squad.

"My goal is in practice to be the best I can to help the team," he said. "I'll play defense on the guys and try to make them better. I've not even thought about playing (in games) yet. It'll be a huge adjustment for me to help them in practice."

Juenemann attended his first practice Monday, and his presence was needed. Sophomore Conner Teahan, who is day-to-day because of a sprained ankle, missed the practice. He was joined on the sidelines by injured juco transfers Mario Little (stress fracture lower leg) and Tyrone Appleton (hip flexor).


NotMrRight 9 years, 4 months ago

Now, THERE is an example for all of us, young and old. Congratulations, Jordan. Will be cheering for you on the court.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

"did Bozo actually answer his own question"It appears-------------------------------I'd say your reading comprehension is very suspect-- but then again, you obviously believe in Republican fairy tales, too.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 4 months ago

Good for him. Hope he makes the best of it and his memories are wonderful.

D_Puddy 9 years, 4 months ago

Congrats Jordan! Make the most of it!

davidsmom 9 years, 4 months ago

Plans to be a surgeon...I love it when we have smart athletes!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

"Has a walk-on spot ever gone to anyone besides a white, Kansas kid with good grades?"Just to generalize, most black kids who are good enough to make it as walk-ons probably can't afford to pay their own way, so they are on scholarship at jucos and division II schools, not playing for free at division I schools.

nobody1793 9 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations--now go take a charge from Sherron at full speed! :)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

"bozo - who are you quoting in your 8:28 post?"I'm posting on the JW side-- you can see all of the posts here--

Confrontation 9 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations, Jordan! If you're reading this, don't mind the idiot posters who post anti-KU stuff. They're either K-Suck fans, Missery fans, or they're just jealous that they never attended college (not smart enough to get in). In fact, most of them didn't even finish high school.

kujhawkfan 9 years, 4 months ago

Jeff Hawkins was considered a walk on his first year at KU. He came on a partial academic scholarship.

Matt Bowers 9 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations Jordan. This is a very cool opportunity for you. Keep working hard and you will continue to be successful. Invictus, did it make you happy to be the idiot blogger of the day? Is there really so little to do in Missouri, that you have got to find ways to upset KU fans?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

"What the hell is this black and white thing going on here? It still amazes me how much judging goes on:"I'm not judging-- just stating the obvious. But I guess I should realize that any thread about sports is mostly for those living in fantasy worlds.

julius23 9 years, 4 months ago

i know jordan personally... and he is a wonderful kid. one of the most respectful kids i will ever meet. he knows the lord and has his head on straight... he will be a great addition to the team! im glad your dreams finally came true! congratulations bud!

Tony Kisner 9 years, 4 months ago

"did Bozo actually answer his own question"It appears so. Bozo you self-admittedly are using a generalization regarding a group of people. There is a Black middle class, just like white folk, and just like white folk not all of their children can jump or shoot a basketball.You need to let go of your racial stereotypes, time is moving along and you are being left in its wake.Quite possibly Jordan won this spot because of his effort on and off the court. I am not sure how the team grade point average is calculated but if it includes walk on kids, I would lean towards the smartest ones I could. Probably more to the issue for walk on athletes as well as those on scholarship is the time commitment 3-4 hours of practice, 2-3 games a week and a full load of classes. Takes a special kid regardless of race or financial status.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

" Probably more to the issue for walk on athletes as well as those on scholarship is the time commitment 3-4 hours of practice, 2-3 games a week and a full load of classes."Exactly, and a poor kid who is working his way through school will likely not have the luxury of committing that much time to basketball. And just to dispel your fairy-tale world, the average income of blacks is still much lower than that of whites."Takes a special kid regardless of race or financial status."Financial status is hardly irrelevant. Look at the kids who are walkons on this team, and then look at who their parents are, especially their income levels.

drake 9 years, 4 months ago

bozo says- "Just to generalize, most black kids who are good enough to make it as walk-ons probably can't afford to pay their own way"Looks like we are finally able to see how bozo feels about "black kids".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 4 months ago

"Personally I don't care. But it amused me how upset people get about race."Me, too, hutchjayhawk. I'm sure that all the walkons at KU are good, hard-working kids, and they've earned their spots on the team. But that doesn't change the fact that there are a lot of poor black (and white and indian and asian) kids out there who are just as deserving, but they can't afford the luxury of playing for free. As I noted before, all those guys are on scholarship at jucos, division II and mid-major schools.

hawkinfreak08 9 years, 4 months ago

Way to go Jordan! What a huge inspiration for all the young boys out there! It makes all of us proud to be a jayhawk knowing boys like you are a part of the program. Jordan comes from a wonderful family and I know he will use his academic and athletic ability to represent KU with class! Rock chalk Jayhawk!!

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