Jayhawks are one of 10 college basketball teams licensed in NBA video game

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) dunks against Kansas State during the second half, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 at Bramlage Coliseum.

The virtual high school phenom sits on a virtual couch in a virtual living room. As his virtual parents erupt in cheers behind him, he picks up a virtual ball cap — with a real university mascot on the front.

It’s a Jayhawk. This guy picked Kansas University to launch his basketball career, and so can you, at least in the new “NBA 2K16” video game, which came out this week.

KU is one of 10 universities 2K Sports licensed for use of their names and logos in the game, according to the company. The colleges appear in the game’s MyCAREER mode, where you can create your own player, pick where you go to college and even decide “who surrounds you on your journey to the NBA,” according to a 2K trailer explaining MyCAREER.



Having Jayhawks in the game is a plus for KU, image-wise and financially, KU Athletics spokesman Jim Marchiony said. “It’s certainly good for us to be one of only 10 universities featured in this game. It will certainly add revenue to our licensing efforts, which helps both athletics and the university as a whole.”

“NBA 2K16” players may be able to wear Jayhawk jerseys and play on a court painted exactly like Allen Fieldhouse’s, but Marchiony emphasizes the game has no names or likenesses of active KU players. “The avatars, or the characters, are very generic,” he said. Without digressing too much, the reason colleges haven’t been in basketball video games for the past few years involved a dispute with the NCAA about just that.

In game mode, though, you can supposedly play a certain fresh-out-of-KU NBA draftee. (Hint: tall hair.)

2K contracted with and is paying several recent draftees, Marchiony said, and “apparently one of them is Kelly Oubre (Jr.).” Marchiony said he can’t judge how much the player really looks like Oubre, now of the Washington Wizards, because he hasn’t played the game and admittedly probably won’t.

Same here. So if you spot Oubre in “NBA 2K16,” let me know how the game creators did. It will be interesting to see whether they were any more successful than these gamers who apparently have been playing Oubre for a while now and — if you have the time — will show you how to turn a generic avatar into one that looks just like him through simple step-by-step YouTube tutorials, here and here. (Who knew this was a thing?)



• World University Rankings: Another day, another college rankings list. Kansas State University seems to have made this list of 800 universities worldwide put out by Times Higher Education, though KU did not. I checked with KU to see whether they were concerned about this and got a more-amusing-than-expected response from spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson:

“KU is familiar with this ranking, because two years ago, they had KU mixed up with K-State and sent a note congratulating KU on its high ranking in Agriculture & Forestry, departments which KU does not have. About once a month I get an email about one of KU’s programs showing up in rankings put out by a new or little-known website.”

• Astronaut talk on Monday: KU professor of physics and astronomy Steve Hawley — a former NASA astronaut who served on a Hubble Space Telescope crew — will deliver a lecture marking the Hubble’s anniversary. “Hubble Space Telescope at 25: How Our Understanding of the Universe Has Changed” is set for 5 p.m. Monday at the Commons in Spooner Hall, 1340 Jayhawk Blvd. More information here.

• Blue dinosaurs … er, phones: “Those blue emergency phones on campus? Turns out not many people use them because they have cellphones,” the Kansan recently reported. According to the article, 199 calls were made from the emergency phones in 2014, though a student safety rep says they are still necessary and cheap to maintain. The KU Office of Public Safety says it actually prefers getting 911 calls on cellphones, but if your cell isn’t handy and you see something suspicious, by all means press the red button.


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By email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187 or on Twitter @saramarieshep.