Kansas versus TCU didn’t exactly stand out on the college basketball schedule Wednesday night in terms of mass appeal, what with Duke facing Syracuse and North Carolina tangling with Louisville. But there’s something about a team winning its league 13 seasons in a row that will capture any college basketball observer’s attention.
Though some might have considered it a foregone conclusion, the Jayhawks officially became Big 12 champions yet again, sealing at least a share of the title with an 87-68 win over the Horned Frogs, allowing them to hoist a league championship trophy at Allen Fieldhouse afterward.
KU’s latest hardware put the program in a tie with the UCLA teams of the 1960s and ’70s for most consecutive conference championships in a row and set off reactions from current and former KU players on social media platforms.
National analysts, too, weighed in on the Jayhawks’ long run of dominance. Below are some of the highlights from the aftermath.
— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.
More news and notes from Kansas vs. TCU
- Historic Achievement: Jayhawks crush TCU, earn 13th-straight Big 12 title
- Benton Smith: Carlton Bragg looked more like the player KU hoped for
- Notebook: Birthday Boy Graham celebrates ‘special’ day; Jackson OK after injury scare
- Brandon Rush fights back emotions during jersey retirement ceremony
- The Keegan Ratings: All-around action puts Josh Jackson at top of ratings in title-clincher vs. TCU
- Matt Tait's Postgame Report Card
- Make it 13: Jayhawks match UCLA’s league-title run
A five-star point guard from the heart of Big 12 country, Norman North High (Okla.) senior Trae Young made his college basketball destination official Thursday just after noon.
A dynamic 6-foot-2, 170-pound play-maker who is ranked the 14th-best prospect nationally in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, Young’s options came down to choosing between the University of Kansas and Oklahoma.
Play for Bill Self at Allen Fieldhouse? Or stay at home and star in your own backyard for Lon Kruger at OU?
Ultimately, Young went with the Sooners.
It had to be a difficult, yet exciting, decision for Young, as he weighed the pros and cons of his options.
Young’s choice was big news not just in Lawrence, but also in his home state, where The Oklahoman covered his announcement live.
Watch Young's press conference from the NewsOK.com live feed below.
No one who stuck around for the entirety of the Kansas Jayhawks’ Big Monday showdown versus West Virginia could quite believe what they witnessed.
The No. 9-ranked Mountaineers let a 14-point lead with less than three minutes remaining in the second half slip from their grasps and the No. 3 Jayhawks happily took advantage, setting up an epic rally and 84-80 overtime victory that seemed just about impossible minutes earlier.
From Super Bowl comparisons, to bewilderment regarding the Mountaineers’ collapse, to giving KU credit for pulling it off, the college basketball world had plenty to say about the Kansas comeback.
Some famous Jayhawks who used to call Lawrence home had to hop on Twitter to let their followers and fans know about the victory, while a number of college basketball media members chimed in, as well.
Even a few of the players who helped pull off the unlikely victory shared some of their thoughts.
Below are the social media highlights from the aftermath of an absurd night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Bill Self will tell you his Kansas basketball team’s game at Kentucky Saturday night doesn’t mean as much as the Big 12 games against West Virginia and Baylor that bookend it. But the KU coach also realizes how important a showcase matchup such as KU versus UK is to fans and the people who follow college basketball closely.
As you might have guessed, when the Jayhawks toppled Kentucky Saturday night at Rupp Arena, it sent KU fans, and even some former and future players, into a frenzy on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Analysts and national journalists, too, had plenty of praise to send KU’s was following an impressive road victory.
Below are some of the highlight reactions to the Jayhawks’ win in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, including some from the men who made it happen.
Nearly every time Kansas basketball coach Bill Self fields questions from the media, someone will bring up Jayhawks senior point guard Frank Mason III and the impact he has made this season.
“How good has Frank been?”
“What has Mason meant to your team?”
“Did you think when you were recruiting him Frank would turn out this good?”
Without hesitation, Self will highlight Mason’s toughness, driving, shooting, passing, rebounding, etc., and share his opinion that his senior point guard has been as good as any player in the country at this juncture.
Self isn’t the type to campaign for his players to win national awards, but such statements are his way of doing so in a low-key fashion. When Self talks, people around the college basketball world listen.
Anyone who has watched No. 2 Kansas (17-1 overall, 6-0 Big 12) play this year knows where the team would be without Mason, who is averaging a team-best 20.3 points per game, while also contributing 5.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds. The 5-foot-11 senior from Petersburg, Virginia, is even shooting 52.4% from the field and connecting more often from 3-point range, where he is 42-for-78 (53.8%).
As KU keeps on winning and Mason continues to carry the team, it boosts his case for national player of the year honors. At CBSSports.com, Gary Parrish ranked the top 25 candidates for the ultimate individual award gave Mason No. 1 billing, edging out the heart and soul of defending national champion Villanova, senior guard Josh Hart.
Neither Mason nor Hart are going to be NBA lottery picks the way past Wooden Award winners such as Buddy Hield, Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin were, but both are integral parts of two of the nation’s best teams, so Parrish ranks them ahead of UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, who many expect to have a long, successful NBA career.
As can be found on sports-reference.com, Hart’s player efficiency rating of 29.5 is one of the best in the country, ranking sixth overall. But Mason isn’t too far behind, with a PER of 26.1 (27th nationally).
Likewise, the debate between Hart and Mason, Parrish wrote, is close:
“I’ve had Josh Hart atop these Player of the Year rankings, and it's reasonable to keep the Villanova senior there. He's still fabulous and leading a team ranked No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one). But Frank Mason has never been far behind. And he's playing better than Hart lately. So now the Kansas senior is the headliner.”
The top 10 players in the running, according to Parrish, also includes one of Mason’s teammates, freshman Josh Jackson.
No. 1: Frank Mason III, Kansas
No. 2: Josh Hart, Villanova
No. 3: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
No. 4: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
No. 5: De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky
No. 6: Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
No. 7: Johnathan Motley, Baylor
No. 8: TJ Leaf, UCLA
No. 9: Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
No. 10: Josh Jackson, Kansas
— See the complete list: KU’s Frank Mason moves to No. 1
When a team such as Duke squares off with a team the likes of Kansas, the entire college basketball universe tunes in to see what happens.
Such was the case Tuesday night, when Bill Self’s No. 7-ranked Jayhawks battled Mike Krzyzewski’s No. 1 Blue Devils at the Champions Classic, inside Madison Square Garden.
KU’s victory over Duke, as you’d expect, set off a flurry of reaction all over social media — particularly from those with Kansas ties, after they watched Frank Mason hit a clutch, game-winning jumper.
From former Mason teammates singing his praises, to a former Duke star losing a bet, to media and analysts weighing in on the significance of the Kansas win, there was plenty to digest on Twitter.
Below are some of the many social media highlights that accompanied the memorable regular-season classic.
— See what people were saying about KU's matchup against Duke during KUsports.com’s live coverage.
More news and notes from the win against Duke
- Fearless Frank: Mason drills game-winning shot for 77-75 win over No. 1 Duke
- Tom Keegan: KU’s bench delivers big punch during win against Duke
- Notebook: Jackson ‘sparked’ Jayhawks in second half; KU-Stanford create series
- Duke’s Krzyzewski on Kansas: ‘They’re really good’
- The Keegan Ratings
- Matt Tait's postgame Report Card
In the two-plus years since Joel Embiid left Kansas for the NBA, his injury-plagued career has kept him from playing any games for the Philadelphia 76ers. But the 7-foot-2 center from Cameroon somehow found a way to stay relevant in the league’s zeitgeist by becoming an internet/Twitter/Instagram star.
In particular, videos of Embiid going through basketball workouts during his rehab process became both wildly popular for fans of the Sixers and the young big man, while simultaneously serving as fodder for jokes about him never appearing in an actual professional game.
Well, The Ringer took the Embiid mythology to another level Wednesday, when Kevin O’Connor’s story on the 22-year-old prospect included a mockumentary on the former KU star.
Titled, “Joel Embiid: Legacy of a Legend,” the video includes such one-liners as:
“This is what watching Wilt Chamberlain in person must’ve felt like.”
“And there’s a revelation: Oh my God. LeBron James is trash.”
“Joel Embiid is one of the bravest men, probably on the face of the planet.”
Perhaps the jokes will stop this coming season, when Embiid is on schedule to make his NBA debut. Or perhaps more injury setbacks will continue to group the promising center with the likes of Greg Oden.
Some people think Embiid could win Rookie of the Year, and others will remain skeptical until he proves them wrong.
No matter where you stand on the Embiid debate, The Ringer’s video tribute is worth checking out.
— Watch the mockumentary below:
As sweet a life as the NBA provides its players, it honestly can’t be all that much fun to play for one of the league’s struggling franchises.
Still, former one-year Kansas standout Ben McLemore proved to be a good sport when someone with Sacramento pitched him the idea of paying tribute to a viral video that exploded across social media a few days ago.
If you’ve been on Twitter or Facebook or any other social media platform in the past 72 hours, surely you’ve come across the video of a woman laughing hysterically as she tries on her Star Wars Chewbacca mask.
In a parody of the latest queen of the Internet, the third-year Kings guard claims on camera he just got back from the store and is excited about his purchase.
What did McLemore supposedly buy?
A Chewbacca mask. The Sacramento guard isn’t moved to hysteria over trying out the mask, which comes with a recorded Wookiee roar, but he enjoyed the gag all the same.
Check out the video, tweeted out by the Kings, below:
Former Kansas football star and Super Bowl champion Chris Harris of the Denver Broncos didn’t hold back Thursday in an appearance on ESPN’s Highly Questionable.
In the midst of an interview with co-hosts Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones, Harris offered his recollection of an infamous on-campus altercation between members of the KU basketball and football teams, back in 2009.
“Were you on the Kansas football team that lost the fight to the basketball Morris twins?” Le Batard asked.
Smiling, Harris responded: “We definitely won that fight.”
Jones followed up: “We hear the other way.”
As reported by the Lawrence Journal-World at the time, the brawl left KU guard Tyshawn Taylor with a dislocated left thumb weeks before the start of the 2009-10 basketball season.
According to LeBetard, Marcus and Markieff Morris’ account of the incident includes them back-to-back, taking on football players “over someone who was on the track team.”
Harris remembers the fracas differently.
“Nah, man. I mean that story right there, I think it was over one of the little track girls, but, I mean, we had 300-pound dudes fighting these basketball guys, so they definitely didn’t win,” Harris said. “I definitely watched it and seen it with my own eyes. We definitely won that for sure. I love the Morris twins, though. Those my boys, though.”
Furthermore, Harris claimed there wasn’t really a football versus basketball dynamic at KU.
“We (the football team, coming off back-to-back bowl-win seasons) were actually pretty good at that time,” Harris said. “I guess you could say they were running the campus. We were, too.”
Reiterating his love for the Morris twins, Harris said he had to have his football teammates’ backs during the heated disagreement, before again laughing at the idea of a humongous defensive tackles in a melee against slighter basketball players.
“It’s not fair to fight a 6-foot point guard or 6-7, 6-9 power forward. I think we had a little advantage,” Harris recalled, wearing a grin.
Harris, who played with volatile cornerback Aqib Talib at Kansas and is teamed up with him again in Denver, also shared on ESPN one of his favorite Talib stories from back in the day.
“I was a true freshman, and I was starting opposite of Talib, who was an All-American. We were playing Missouri. They had their whole team on the 50-yard line, and Talib just like ran through their whole team,” Harris said. “And they were warming up, running plays, and he like, they had to get the cops to come drag him off there, off their side of the field for warmups, back in the tunnel. So I was like, ‘Man.’ That was one of the craziest times I’ve seen Talib right there.”
Watch the entire entertaining segment with Harris below:
Hey, everyone. You’ll never believe this. Cheick Diallo is entering the NBA Draft.
This obviously isn’t news at this point, but we do have Diallo’s somewhat official statement on the matter as of Monday afternoon.
The big man who spent one season at Kansas tweeted out a letter regarding his decision to sign with an agent and forego his college eligibility.
“After spending the last couple of weeks thinking about my future,” Diallo stated in his Twitter message, “I took the decision to enter the 2016 NBA Draft, and signed with an agent today.
“It was not an easy call, but time has come for me to take that step up to the next level and make my goal of joining the NBA come true.”
Diallo details his unlikely life path from Kayes, Mali, to where he is now in the open letter, which includes thank-yous to those he encountered along the way.
The gregarious post player also thanks his fans, and declares himself “a Jayhawk for life.”
“This is the first step of many more to come,” Diallo says in the closing paragraph, “and I am looking forward to the new challenges with confidence and determination.”
Read Diallo’s entire letter below.