L.J. Goolsby, who is in his eighth year as head coach of Kansas City Pump N Run’s 17 & under AAU team, came up with some familiar names when asked to rank the top three players in program history.
“That’s hard,” said Goolsby, whose K.C. squad fell to the St. Louis Eagles on Sunday in the 2010 Jayhawk Invitational semifinals after winning the event four of the past five years.
‘Travis was the most impactful for our program,” Goolsby said of Travis Releford, a 6-foot-5 Kansas University sophomore out of Roeland Park’s Bishop Miege. “Trevor is pretty good, too,” he added of Travis’ brother, Trevor Releford, a 5-10, 170-pound Miege senior who has signed with Alabama.
“Those two and I’d probably say Tyrel (Reed, 6-3 KU junior from Burlington). We’ve got a long list ... (including) Ryan Wedel, those are some that come to mind.”
Wedel is a 5-foot-11 guard from Minneapolis, who is a junior at Drake University.
This year’s Pump N Run squad also boasts future college players in Evan Wessel, a 6-5 junior from Wichita Heights, who has committed to Wichita State and JeVon Lyle, a 6-2 junior out of K.C. O’Hara, who has committed to Northern Iowa.
Christian Kirk, a 6-7 junior out of St. Charles (Mo.) West High, is considering Missouri and others. Corey Hilliard, a 6-1 junior out of Raytown (Mo.) South, has also heard from a batch of schools.
“Kirk and Hilliard are getting better and better,” said Goolsby, who annually fields a strong team despite practicing just once a week at any of various schools in the K.C. area.
“Defensively, this is actually the best team we’ve had,” Goolsby said. “They get after it. It says a lot because we’ve had some good teams. They trust each other.”
Goolsby is looking for big things from Pump N Run grad Travis Releford next season. Travis, of course, red-shirted the 2009-10 campaign while working on adding an outside jumper to his game.
“I think he’s going to have a heck of a year,” Goolsby said. “He’s so excited about getting back on the floor. He’s worked so hard on his game. His confidence is back. I think that is what is really going to make a difference. I expect a lot from him. I think a lot of people will be surprised at how well he’ll play.”
Goolsby said many high school players, including Releford, are stunned when they first step foot on a college campus.
“A lot of those guys know what to expect, but the difference is you feel you can beat them out (teammates for playing time). Once you get there, you find out it’s not that easy. You have to beat them out to get those minutes,” Goolsby said. “Once they figure that out, they are OK with it. It took Travis a while to get used to it. The extra year will help him down the line.”
Prep Dawson impresses
Branden Dawson, a 6-foot-6 wing from Lew Wallace High School in Gary, Ind., flew somewhat under the radar at the star-studded Jayhawk Invitational. He didn’t make the all-tournament team, but did score 26 in one game.
“I’d never been to Kansas. The atmosphere here ... I love it,” Dawson said. “The fans here ... they love to win.”
He said he’d love to add KU to a list of schools that consists of Purdue, Indiana, Georgetown, UCLA, Marquette and Michigan State.
“I want to say, ‘What’s up? Why haven’t you contacted me?’’’ he said with a big smile.
Dawson not only is proud of the SYF Players AAU program he’s been part of since sixth grade, but his much-maligned hometown.
“It’s just Gary ... it’s pretty good, you know Michael Jackson,” Dawson said of the late pop star’s hometown. “It’s not like everybody says it is. It’s cool. I like it.”
Dawson said he just wants the opportunity to further his education.
“It feels good to be a recruit, but I’ve got to stay a humble kid. You have to,” he said.
UW still waiting
Washington still hasn’t received a letter-of-intent from Terrence Jones, a 6-8 forward who chose the Huskies over Kentucky, Kansas and others at a news conference last Friday at Portland’s Jefferson High. There have been reports that Jones spoke to UK coach John Calipari after the news conference and is considering playing his college ball at UK.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, who can’t address unsigned recruits by name, was asked if he would like to see lavish news conferences in which preps announce for a college go away.
“I don't know ... If there was a press conference and you’re throwing confetti out of the sky and gold glitter everywhere and everybody is dancing, then maybe that would get out of control at that point,” Romar said in an article in the Seattle Times. “Some of those guys ... I think it’s a pretty special day for them.
“They’re proud of what’s going on. It’s not always the kid’s idea. It’s not always the family’s idea. Sometimes the school says, hey, we want to do this for you. At events they have at graduation in high school, they’ll have everyone that’s getting a scholarship — an academic scholarship — stand up and be recognized. So when it’s done in good taste, I don't have a problem with it.”