At the beginning of the month, when the Kansas football team reported to Lawrence for preseason camp, David Beaty invited another head coach on campus to give the Jayhawks a pep talk.
Behind closed doors, KU basketball coach Bill Self didn’t gloss over the football program’s struggles. He instead referenced the present as a place to start assembling a product that will make Kansas fans proud.
We know this now thanks to Time Warner Cable Sports Channel - Kansas City, which tweeted out a video of Self’s speech Thursday morning.
While Self hailed the importance of the football players being a part of the “Jayhawk family” he also informed them that he and the rest of the basketball program want to see them succeed.
“Get this in your head: We want you to win and win big,” Self said.
The way the 14th-year KU hoops coach explained it, the university’s storied basketball program has reached a place where their jobs as players and coaches are pretty obvious, and they’re constantly trying to match their historical predecessors.
“I’m never gonna be the best coach ever here,” Self told the KU football team. “Phog Allen coached here. And whoever we recruit is never gonna be the best player that ever played here. Hell, Wilt (Chamberlain) played here, OK.
“Our job is to maintain,” he continued. “You know what your job is? To build.”
While the first season under Beaty didn’t produce a victory, Self asked the players whether that difficult fall also served as the starting line for establishing a new culture.
“Now, deep in your core, if you’re worth your salt at all, would it mean more to you to be a builder or a maintainer? Think about it,” Self said. “Being a builder means maybe going 0-12 your first year, ’cause you don’t have as many bullets, all right? But being a builder is developing a culture. How are you gonna work? How responsible are you gonna be? How hard are you gonna study film? How good of leadership you’re gonna have. Are we gonna pick each other up? How good a teammate you’re gonna be. That’s the culture. That’s how you have a program.”
Before wishing the Jayhawks luck in the coming months, Self rattled off some of the universities where basketball and football have had great success, referencing Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida and Michigan State. Then the basketball coach reminded the players it wasn’t that long ago that KU football was great, too.
“That means it can be done again. You guys agree?” Self asked. “There’s been some brothers pave the way before, OK. Now you’ll get to pave the way for future teams coming.”
If the players in the football program now can lay the groundwork for another successful run like Kansas experienced with Todd Reesing, Aqib Talib, Mark Mangino and company, Self said they too will be “remembered forever” and understand what it’s like to be a part of the “Jayhawk family.”
— Watch TWC Sports Channel KC’s entire video below.
This is a strange new world for Kansas football.
Former Alabama players are transferring to play for the Jayhawks. Like THE Alabama. Not South Alabama. Not Alabama-Birmingham. The Alabama with Nick Saban and all those national championships.
Charlot already has participated in preseason practices at KU and Baldwin is expected to do so soon. While neither Alabama transfer will be able to help Kansas win games until the 2017 season, they join junior receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Texas A&M), junior running back Denzell Evans (Arkansas) and senior linebacker Marcquis Roberts (South Carolina) as former players from the mighty SEC who have relocated to KU.
So what are we to make of this? Do we need to pay attention to every single SEC player who decides to move on?
No. But it’s at least an intriguing trend and another reminder that second-year coach David Beaty and his staff are doing the right things in recruiting.
Which brings us to the case of former LSU receiver Tyron Johnson. On Thursday, Johnson announced on Twitter he’s transferring from LSU. What does this have to do with Kansas? Funny you should ask.
Johnson, a sophomore who had nine receptions, 150 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers as a freshman, was a five-star receiver at Warren Easton High in New Orleans. If that school sounds familiar to you, it’s because first-year KU running backs coach Tony Hull used to coach there.
So a 6-foot-1 receiver ranked 11th nationally in the Class of 2015 who received scholarship offers from LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon and others is available.
I wonder if Kansas would have any interest in that kind of talented player?
Obviously this doesn’t guarantee anything for KU. Johnson seems to be the type of athlete who could choose to go just about anywhere in the country at this point, even if things didn’t work out for him at LSU.
But given Johnson’s connection with Hull and the way recruits seem to believe in Beaty and his staff, it’s definitely a plot worth watching.
The Kansas football team is now a week into its preseason camp. How do the Jayhawks, who went 0-12 a year ago, look? Let’s try to piece some clues together.
Second-year head coach David Beaty, his assistants and the players meet with media for interviews a couple times a week in August. So that definitely helps. One can get a sense of the vibe at the football complex through those sessions and Beaty divulges enough that it’s easy to tell the Jayhawks are upbeat about their progress. All the while, the coaches are smart enough to know they haven’t made some miraculous turnaround over the course of one offseason that will have them contending for bowl berths this winter.
The trickier part in all this, though, is determining exactly how much more smoothly things are running during practices. Kansas lets media check out portions twice a week this time of year, but those only last around 15 minutes and include warmups and stretching.
That’s definitely better than nothing, but we’re not exactly watching the first-string offense and defense square off — at least not yet. On Monday afternoon, following some special teams work at the opening of KU’s first practice in full pads, red-shirt freshman quarterback Carter Stanley took the field for some reps and repeatedly handed off to junior running back Denzell Evans (the transfer from Arkansas). Evans ran low to the ground and picked up nice chunks of yardage each time.
Next came the most interesting play of camp thus far — during the windows open to the media at least. Freshman running back Khalil Herbert checked in and on his first touch the 5-foot-9 newcomer from Coral Springs, Fla., bursted up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown.
Before the Jayhawks got back to their behind-the-scenes progress, sophomore running back Taylor Martin and junior QB Deondre Ford picked up a few yards on an option and Ford connected with sophomore receiver Tyler Patrick on a quick-hitter for a short gain.
Obviously it would be far more interesting to see how sophomore QB Ryan Willis, the favorite to start at this point, looks in Beaty’s Air Raid, as well as how the offense will incorporate the likes of junior receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez, senior running back Ke’aun Kinner and the rest of the skill players.
Maybe those peeks will come, but in the meantime we’ll have to rely upon KU-produced practice reports that are sent out to the media for nuggets of information.
Thursday was a two-practice day for the Jayhawks, and the first one began early in the morning. Here are the notes from that session, courtesy of the KU media relations department:
Willis hit red-shirt freshman tight end Jace Sternberger for a 17-yard gain over the middle during 7-on-7
Willis found senior receiver Shakiem Barbel for 20 yards along the sideline
Red-shirt freshman receiver Chase Harrell jumped up to haul in a 25-yard pass form red-shirt junior QB Montell Cozart
Cozart came away with back-to-back touchdown passes — one to sophomore receiver Jeremiah Booker and another to Barbel
Sophomore receiver Daylon Charlot, a transfer from Alabama who will have to sit out this season, took several reps and has “speed to burn” and a “great work ethic,” according to the KU-produced report
The following defensive players recorded tackles for loss: senior safety Tevin Shaw, junior defensive tackle Isi Holani and sophomore defensive tackle Daniel Wise
Both Wise and senior linebacker Cameron Rosser had a sack
There you have it. KU’s first Thursday practice delivered some highlights, it sounds like. Of course, we don’t know the things that broke down for Kansas during the practice, because KU has no reason to include those in its press release, but it’s a starting point.
We’ll continue to try and fill in the blanks in the weeks to come. In the meantime, here’s special teams coordinator Joe DeForest speaking with new KU play-by-play man Brian Hanni about the the Jayhawks who will play critical roles in between possessions. DeForest says freshman Kyle Thompson and junior Cole Moos are battling for the starting punter spot, while incumbent place kicker Matt Wyman, a senior, is competing with junior Gabriel Rui.
Beaty and the Jayhawks will speak with the media on Friday, which also includes another peek into practice.
After spending a few weeks in early July playing for the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA Summer League team, former Kansas basketball star Perry Ellis describes how his first few months as a professional have been different than his college experience.
“It’s different, you know,” Ellis says. “Everybody’s fighting for a job. When I got the opportunity, I tried to make the most of it when I was out there…
“It’s just all a process,” Ellis adds. “I just want to keep working and just keep fighting and try to get a place.”
Undrafted out of KU, Ellis, doesn’t have an NBA contract. Nor has he officially received an invitation to be a part of an organization’s training camp.
According to the four-year Kansas standout, he will weigh his options in the weeks ahead. Ellis says one possible path could be playing overseas.
It’s been close to 20 months since JaCorey Shepherd last played in a football game. Yet the former Kansas defensive back feels more prepared than ever as he embarks on the first true season of his professional career.
Poised to start as a rookie nickel corner for Philadelphia last year, Shepherd tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in preseason camp and, instead, spent all of 2015 as an observer.
A 2015 sixth-round draft pick still awaiting to make his NFL debut, Shepherd at least sensed the next portion of his football life inching closer Monday, when the 23-year-old corner reported early to Philadelphia’s training camp.
“I never had to miss a season,” Shepherd told CSNPhilly.com upon arriving with rookies, quarterbacks and other returning players who finished last season on injured reserve. “I never had to really miss a game. Missed two games in college but other than that, I never missed anything.
“Game days were the toughest — sitting on the sideline and I couldn’t do anything,” Shepherd recalled. “Practice was tough, but I got used to it. But games? That was the hardest.”
Still, according to one Eagles veteran, Shepherd found a way to grow as a player while injured. Nolan Carroll told CSNPhilly former head coach Chip Kelly allowed wounded players to watch games on the sidelines and even travel with the team for away games. Carroll said he would leave the field after a series and always notice Shepherd listening closely as the secondary reviewed its performance and made necessary adjustments.
“You could see that he wanted to make the best of his situation,” Carroll shared, “and learn as much as possible, even though he couldn’t play. That’s not always easy for a young guy to do, but JaCorey, you could tell he just wanted to learn as much as possible.”
Although Kelly and Philadelphia parted ways following a 7-9 season, new Eagles head coach Doug Pederson retained defensive backs coach Cory Undlin, who kept Shepherd engaged as an inactive participant on game days.
“The older guys would always question me to make sure I was on my P’s and Q’s,” Shepherd said of Undlin’s approach, which allowed the rookie corner to absorb NFL-level defensive knowledge, “so that way when I got back, I had the mental part down and it was really just a matter of getting my feet down under me, and I’d be ready to go.”
The 5-foot-11 corner, as planned, arrived at preseason training camp knee-brace free. Shepherd told NJ.com he kept training in the brace back home up until the last couple of weeks. Now he feels like he’s back at 100 percent, just in time to fully prepare for the upcoming season.
"I'm just getting my groove back, getting my feet back under me,” Shepherd said. “It's really just learning the playbook. It's kind of different getting out there, making the calls and trying to be consistent.”
Of course, the competitor in Shepherd has him gunning for a No. 1 spot on the depth chart, too. He told The Inquirer he doesn’t want the Eagles to relegate him to a role within specific packages. He aims to win one of the starting spots as an outside cornerback.
"Hell, yeah. It's open, baby," Shepherd told The Inquirer of the competition. "No job is taken yet, and that's the way I'm going to attack it. Regardless of how many [defensive backs] we have in the room, I know I'm going for a starting spot."
Surely the Eagles’ other corners will take the same approach. Along with Carroll, Philadelphia has Leodis McKelvin, Eric Rowe, Ron Brooks, rookie Jalen Mills, Randall Evans, Jaylen Walker and Denzel Rice to consider at corner.
"I pretty much think I can get out there and cover whoever," Shepherd said. "I'm big enough, fast enough. It's just getting thrown out there and playing."
A draft pick from the previous regime, Shepherd told CSNPhilly he can’t afford to worry about Pederson or new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz perhaps holding a different opinion of him than Kelly and other former staff members.
“All I can do is continue to do what I do, and control what I can control,” he said. “You know? That’s the way the game is. There’s always going to be competition. Frankly, I love competition, so that doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve never been worried about competition, and I’m not going to start now…
“If there’s not a job here, there’s a job somewhere else,” Shepherd added. “All I can control is give it my all on every play.”
If nothing else, Shepherd enters his second season in the NFL as a more patient player, thanks to his injury-forced apprenticeship.
“I feel like I’m a lot smarter than last year after sitting on the sideline for a year, having to pay attention and learn,” Shepherd said. “I feel like I’m a better player this year than last year, even though I didn’t play a snap.”
Lawrence native Joe Dineen, who grew up watching Kansas football, represented his hometown program in Dallas at Big 12 Football Media Days this week.
Dineen, a junior linebacker, took pride in wearing a Jayhawk lapel pin on his suit and talking KU football with sports reporters from around the country, with teammates Montell Cozart and Fish Smithson by his side.
“It’s awesome for me,” Dineen said of the experience. “… I grew up (in Lawrence) and to be able to represent the school and my hometown, it’s a lot of fun.”
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Dineen’s Monday at the Omni Dallas Hotel.
Projected as a mid- to late-second-round pick after leaving Kansas a year early to enter the NBA Draft, Wayne Selden Jr. remained mostly silent in the days following what had to be a disappointing night for the 21-year-old guard, who watched from afar as 60 other players realized their dreams of being drafted into the world’s best basketball league.
In perhaps an even more surprising development for the undrafted Selden, no news regarding a free-agent deal or summer league assignment popped up for him after the June 23 draft, while his KU teammates Perry Ellis, Brannen Greene, Jamari Traylor and Hunter Mickelson filled out summer rosters for various organizations.
A week after posting a photo on Instagram of what looked to be a shot taken inside the Memphis Grizzlies’ locker room, Selden finally took to Twitter Friday afternoon to share what has been on his mind, as a pro basketball player in limbo.
“You know, I was real frustrated when I didn’t hear my name called on draft night,” Selden wrote in the note he posted, along with the hashtag: TrustTheProcess. “Something I worked my whole life for, something I dreamed of. But I didn’t just work to hear my name called, I worked and continue to work to have a successful NBA career.
“After draft night, I felt like everything I worked for was a waste and got real down,” Selden continued in the note. “But now as I sit back and put everything into perspective, I’m truly blessed to be in this position I’m in. I know there are others out there that would kill to be where I’m at.
“Growing up coming where I’m from, all we wanted was an opportunity, a chance,” Selden added. “And the Memphis Grizzlies did just that by giving me a chance. God bless.”
According to The Commercial Appeal, Selden will be a non-roster player with the Grizzlies, meaning he’ll be a part of their preseason training camp in the fall, and the organization will decide from there how or if they want to move forward with the former KU guard, who averaged 13.6 points and shot 38.3% from 3-point range during his junior season.
Selden is not playing for the Grizzlies’ summer league entry in Las Vegas, a couple months removed from a “small” meniscus tear in his right knee, which kept him from participating in drills and scrimmages at the NBA Draft Combine. So he can’t even use July as a springboard for something bigger a few months from now.
Obviously, this path to the NBA isn’t an easy one. Nor is it what Selden envisioned when he decided to leave Kansas a year early. But if the thoughts highlighted in his note are genuine, he at least now has harnessed the right approach to work toward making that dream come true.
Although, as the Commercial Appeal’s Chris Herrington’s projected Grizzlies depth chart highlights, Selden truly will have to impress Memphis to stick around, because they’re not desperate to add a wing. The Grizzlies already have Tony Allen, Troy Daniels and Jordan Adams at shooting guard, and Chandler Parsons, James Ennis and Vince Carter at small forward.
The process and timeline for Selden reaching the NBA appear to be lengthy. Perhaps now that he understands that, he’ll become even more inspired to make it happen.
Four years worth of work with Kansas basketball wasn’t enough to get Perry Ellis drafted into the NBA. Now the 22-year-old forward has a few days in Las Vegas to secure a spot in the league the hard way.
A free agent playing for the Mavericks’ summer league entry beginning Saturday night, Ellis will try to convince the same coaches and executives who passed on him on draft night that he actually belongs on a regular-season roster.
Right now, the people Ellis needs to impress the most are Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle and owner Mark Cuban. The Mavs’ Vegas team will focus on the development of second-year wing Justin Anderson and second-round draft pick A.J. Hammons, a 7-foot center out of Purdue. However, while speaking to media members earlier this week, Cuban made it sound as if the other summertime Mavericks won’t be an afterthought for the organization.
“We’ve got a bunch of roster spots,” Cuban said Wednesday, in a video posted on the Mavs’ website. “We put our money where our mouth is in cap room, so there’s a lot of spots for guys to make, and they know if they do what we expect them to do, probably three guys, maybe four, from this group are gonna make the team.”
Cuban made that statement as Ellis and other Dallas hopefuls worked behind him. It has to be a strange dynamic for all the players except Anderson and Hammons. The rest are not only trying to play well, but also, in a sense, beat out the guys next to them for a coveted roster spot or training camp invite.
So who is Ellis playing with/competing against? Here’s a look at the rest of the Mavericks’ Vegas lineup, excluding the aforementioned Anderson and Hammons:
Chane Behanan, 6-6 forward from Louisville
Vander Blue, 6-4 guard from Marquette, who has played in 5 NBA games (none since the 2014-15 season)
Kyle Collinsworth, 6-6 guard from BYU
Dorian Finney-Smith, 6-8 forward from Florida
Jonathan Gibson, 6-2 guard from New Mexico
Isaiah Miles, 6-7 forward from St. Joseph’s
McKenzie Moore, 6-6 guard from UTEP
Giovan Oniangue, 6-6 forward from Congo
Satnam Singh, 7-2 center from India (Mavs’ Round 2 pick in 2015)
Jameel Warney, 6-8 forward from Stony Brook
Dallas hasn’t retained undrafted rookies from its summer teams of late, but if what Cuban said is true, this year could be different.
Ellis, a 6-foot-8 All-American who averaged 17 points and shot 53.2% from the field in his senior season at Kansas, surely understands the scope of what he could do for his professional career in the days ahed.
“You know, I’m just going to come out here and play hard,” Ellis told the Mavs’ website. “It’s a great opportunity for me. You know, it’s an honor to be here, and I just want to go out here and just play my game and play with a high energy.”
It sounds as if Dallas expects Ellis to fit in nicely with this makeshift unit that spent the past few days practicing together. The Mavericks’ summer league head coach, Jamahl Mosely, hailed the Jayhawk’s college résumé as a strength that should help Ellis and the Vegas version of the Mavs.
“He’s played a great amount of basketball,” Mosley said on the team’s website. “I mean, he played four years in college, and he’s very experienced. He knows how to play the game, so I think that’s going to be a big key for us. He knows how to play, he’s in the right position, and he makes the simple and easy play.”
Regardless of what transpires on the floor in Vegas, the Mavs likely won’t need any of these free agents to play critical roles in their regular-season rotation. But Cuban appears more inclined to give one or more of them a roster spot than he has in the past.
“We want to have a good crew of young guns that we develop,” the Dallas owner said.
If Ellis fits in as seamlessly as Mosley suggested and goes on scoring tears like he did at KU, the Wichita native just might land a spot in the NBA next season after all. And Ellis knows how significant this business trip to Las Vegas will be for his future. His first game is Saturday night against Miami (9 p.m., NBA TV).
In typical Perry Ellis fashion, he said his main focus for his summer league experience will be to play well and play hard.
“We’ll go from there,” he added, “and see what happens.”
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has to love bringing in some of the country’s top-ranked freshmen year after year.
Naturally, some first-year players are more exciting than others — even if Self, like a proud father, wouldn’t admit it. As a coach, few recruiting experiences could possibly match the satisfaction of landing the No. 1 overall high school senior.
And the more you hear about Josh Jackson, the top prep in the Class of 2016, the more it seems Self will be gushing about him for years to come.
Self enjoys coaching talented Jayhawks who possess an array of skills, sure, but he also values toughness and competitive drive — perhaps even more than other discernible traits.
Jackson already has drawn comparisons to the likes of Andrew Wiggins. His wingspan stretches 6 feet, 9 inches, and he’s a 6-foot-8 wing who can handle the ball, finish inside and make plays for his teammates.
But there’s more to Jackson than that. By many accounts, he might end up becoming the most passionate competitor Self has coached at KU. You probably read or heard about ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla claiming back in March that Jackson approaches the game with the motor of one of the NBA’s all-time ruthless spirits, Kevin Garnett.
Well, according to a profile written by Marc J. Spears for The Undefeated, Jackson is so cutthroat he trash-talked a hall of famer during a high school game earlier this year.
One of the NBA’s legendary distributors of dis, Gary Payton sat in the bleachers watching Jackson play against his son, Julian Payton. Jackson, so the story goes, gave the elder Payton a look after blocking his son’s shot. And things escalated from there.
“It was crazy,” Jackson recalled, speaking to The Undefeated. “It was real funny. In my years I never thought I would be in a gym talking smack to Gary Payton.”
Jot it down as just another glimpse at what Fraschilla calls Jackson’s “alpha dog mentality,” which should only help his stock during what is expected to be a one-and-done season at Kansas, followed by a spot among the top five picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. Fraschilla said Jackson is as intense a player as he has seen in the past five to 10 seasons.
Where does he get that volatile alter ego? Jackson explained his penchant for basketball gab and vehement behavior to The Undefeated.
“I want to win. I feel like any player, if you play the sport of basketball, on the court you have to be a tough guy no matter what,” said Jackson, who hails from Southfield, Mich. “I don’t care who you are. Off the court, I don’t necessarily need to be that guy. But you do on the court.”
Just how fervent is Jackson? He actually considers Golden State forward Draymond Green “a big brother” of sorts after the two matched up in a pickup game in Detroit a couple years back.
As hardcore a trash-talker and villain as exists in the NBA, Green left the chance encounter a fan of Jackson’s, too.
“He just got that dog in him,” Green told The Undefeated. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he were the No. 1 pick next year.”
And we shouldn’t be surprised if Jackson quickly becomes one of Self’s favorite Jayhawks.
— Read The Undefeated’s entire profile on Josh Jackson: He’s got a game to match his mouth
Kansas basketball fans will have to wait a while to see the team’s newest member, Malik Newman, suit up and contribute for the Jayhawks. NCAA transfer rules dictate Newman, a guard who spent his freshman year with Mississippi State, won’t be eligible to play for KU until the 2017-18 season.
Still, plenty of intrigue surrounds the 6-foot-3 guard from Jackson, Miss., who Rivals.com ranked the eighth-best player in the Class of 2015.
Considering Newman’s Bulldogs went 14-17 and weren’t exactly on the national radar, now is the perfect time to catch up on what you missed from his freshman season. Playing in 29 games, Newman averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists for MSU, while making 61 of 161 3-pointers (37.9%).
Statistics are a nice starting point for any player, but thanks to the power of YouTube we also can get a glimpse of his strengths and weaknesses after one season of college basketball in the SEC.
One of the first things that jumps out about Newman in his highlight reels is his natural feel for the transition game. He is able to attack and score inside with the ball or space the floor on the fly and drift out to the 3-point line to score from there.
Plus, Newman seems to be a strong finisher against bigs at the rim for someone his size.
At the NBA Draft Combine, the 19-year-old guard had the following measurements: 6-foot-3.5 in shoes, 182 pounds, 6-foot-5.75 wingspan and a 35.5-inch maximum vertical. Honestly, the numbers kind of surprised me, because I thought he might be closer to a Wayne Selden Jr. type. Selden obviously has some years and weight-room experience on Newman, but also some size: Selden measured 6-5.75 in shoes, 232 pounds, with a 6-10.5 wingspan.
But you can see some similarities in their games, so maybe Newman can occupy a Selden-type role when he finally plays for Kansas over a year from now.
One of the coolest things you’ll find on Newman is DraftExpress.com’s breakdown of his one meeting with Kentucky this past season. He put together 14 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound and 1 turnover in 27 minutes of what turned out to be an 80-74 loss at Rupp Arena. Newman shot 1-for-3 inside the arc and 2-for-4 from deep, while going 6-for-6 at the foul line.
The greatest part of this particular clip, though, is that DraftExpress breaks down the positives and negatives of Newman’s game against the Wildcats — remember, Newman was expected to be a one-and-done college player and did test out the draft process before returning and transferring to Kansas.
As detailed in the DraftExpress video (posted below), here is how Newman looked against the SEC’s best program.
Showed the ability to put pressure on a retreating transition defense, and either scored or got to the free-throw line early in the shot clock.
Moved without the ball after penetrating to set himself up for a wide-open 3-pointer.
With time running out in the first half, turned a ball-screen up top into a successful 3-pointer.
On an in-bound set, remained patient when he didn’t have an angle or shot on the catch, then prodded and created a lane to drive for a layup.
Caught a swing pass for what would’ve been a great look at a 3-pointer but blew by the closing out defender instead and exploded to the rim to draw a foul.
Though Newman isn’t a traditional point guard, he made plays to set up teammates .
Threw the ball ahead to a big man running the floor in transition.
Attacked off the dribble to draw the defense’s attention and kicked out a pass for an open 3.
Got to the paint off the bounce and created a passing lane for a post player, who finished inside.
Showed some defensive lapses in the half court, even though Mississippi State was playing a 2-3 zone at the time.
Didn’t prepare himself to properly defend a screen away from the ball, then couldn’t recover to stop his man.
Failed to help defensively as a weak-side defender when a UK player drove in for a layup.
Court vision wasn’t always 20/20, and missed some chances to drive and kick, instead forcing missed layups.
Obviously no player is perfect, but you can see why Bill Self would want to bring in someone with Newman’s skills. Self and his staff will develop Newman behind the scenes next year at KU practices in preparation for what will be Newman’s sophomore season.
By the time Newman finally plays for Kansas, he won’t look like a freshman anymore, and just might play like a junior.
The Malik Newman we just met should be a more complete product by then. And you know he’ll be hungry to get back on the floor and prove he’s good enough to live up to that top-10 ranking he had coming out of high school.
— For more discussion about KU's latest addition, check out our latest Spodcasters episode.