Jeff Hawkins' close friend/workout partner/brother figure is the newest member of Kansas University's basketball team.
"I'm going to be Jordan's biggest fan the next four years," former KU point guard Hawkins said of Jordan Juenemann, Hawkins' buddy from Hays who on Monday accepted Bill Self's invitation to join the Jayhawks as a non-scholarship walk-on.
"Jordan comes to my house all the time, plays with my son. He's definitely like a family member. The way I see it is he has three families now: his family, my family and the Jayhawk family," added Hawkins, a 2005 KU graduate.
Hawkins, a Kansas City native who has lived in Hays the past couple years, explained how his friendship with 6-foot-4 former Hays High guard Juenemann was hatched:
"When I was working in the kitchen (of a Hays restaurant), one of the assistant coaches (at Hays High) would come in to do part-time chef stuff," Hawkins said. "He said to me, 'I know of one kid dying to work out with you.'
"I went to work the Hays High School coach's camp ... that's where I met Jordan. He's one of those kids you fall in love with right after you meet him."
So Hawkins and lifelong KU fan Juenemann last year became running partners and weightlifting partners. Hawkins quickly agreed to help Juenemann attain his goal of becoming a KU walk-on.
"We mimicked workouts from KU. We'd work out (last summer) from 10:30 in the morning until 1 (p.m.) or so," Hawkins said. "Sometimes we'd sprint the football field at the high school or we'd go to the trail and run long distance as well. I helped him. He helped me. It was a trade-off deal."
Hawkins this weekend will try out for a CBA team in Lawton, Okla. He also last summer practiced with players on the Iowa Energy - an NBA Developmental League team located in Des Moines, Iowa.
Energy officials have told Hawkins they may select him in next week's league draft.
Hawkins figures if Juenemann can beat the odds ... so can he.
"I told him I've never met a person like him before," Hawkins said of Juenemann. "His good qualities can't help but rub off on other people. He made me sit down and evaluate my life. I don't think he even knows how he did that for me.
"Seeing how hard he works, how perfect a kid he is made me evaluate where I am in my life. He is a unique kid, smart, a 4.0 student, has big goals outside of basketball. He's just a focused kid from what I've seen," Hawkins added.
Hawkins early-on knew Juenemann was talented enough to earn a spot on KU's roster.
"He always wanted to play at KU," Hawkins said of the point guard/shooting guard who averaged 17.0 points and 6.0 boards a game for 14-7 Hays last season, "but he said, 'Are you serious? Me playing at KU?'
"I said, 'Yes, you are good enough.' Once Jordan puts his mind to something, he'll go after it until gets it. I told him anybody who gets up at 7 a.m. for yoga, do weightlifting, work out in the gym all day without being told to, has a chance to do great things."
Juenemann returns the compliments toward Hawkins.
"I've never met anybody who works so hard," Juenemann said. "I met him and our friendship grew and grew. He's done a lot for me. I think he's going to play this season. There's a good chance he'll be drafted (by NBADL)."
Hawkins was one of the first persons to learn of Juenemann achieving the biggest goal of his young life.
"There were three calls on my cell phone - back to back to back - that I missed (Monday night)," Hawkins said. "It was either he made the team or something bad happened. I didn't want to believe something bad happened. I called him back and said, 'You made the team didn't you?' He was really excited. I felt so happy for him."
Juenemann will be just as happy if Hawkins is drafted by an NBADL team on Nov. 7.
¢KU to play Memphis?: Memphis coach John Calipari told Memphis radio station 560 WHBQ on Wednesday that the Tigers likely will play KU next season in St. Louis.
"The reason you do it at a neutral site is both teams make money," Calipari said. "For our university it's important you find revenue, especially in this economy."
If KU plays Memphis next year, the game would be part of the Memphis Tiger Invitational - an event similar to last year's Jayhawk Invitational.
KU would play three games in Allen Fieldhouse, then meet Memphis (likely in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis) in the final game of the tourney. It would be a one-year, one-time game played at the neutral site.
KU officials do not comment on possible games until contracts are signed.
¢Henry update: Xavier Henry, a 6-6 guard from Putnam City (Okla.) High, likely will make his college decision sometime next week, his dad, Carl, told Rivals.com. Xavier is recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident last week. He will meet with family members next Wednesday, then perhaps announce late next week on ESPNU.