Entries from blogs tagged with “basketball”
Five players who will prove they are better than the positions at which they were drafted:
Josh Jackson, Kansas (fourth): He had a hand in dropping by not working out with the Celtics and there was a reason for that. He’s a perfect fit, the defensive dynamo the Suns needed to change their culture.
Malik Monk, Kentucky (11th): A freakish athlete who does a great job of moving without the ball and is a natural scorer who can get really hot from the outside and score from everywhere and he lasts until the 11th pick? Absurd.
Jarrett Allen, Texas (22nd): Smart, good hands, great shooting touch, and has plenty of room for his body to expand.
Frank Mason, Kansas (34th): Don’t forget, Boston Celtics short superstar Isaiah Thomas was the last pick of the draft when he came out of Washington. Mason doesn’t play short.
Semi Ojeleye, SMU (37th): He has an NBA body already, a soft shooting touch with range and he’s super smart, so he’ll figure out how to make himself a player the coach wants to have on the floor and he’ll figure it out in a hurry. Great pick.
Former KU players, current Jayhawks congratulate Josh Jackson and Frank Mason on NBA Draft selections
When Josh Jackson was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday, he continued a long tradition of Kansas players being selected in the lottery — the eighth time in 11 years.
There was still plenty of excitement from people around the KU program when Jackson was picked and Frank Mason III followed in the second round — 34th overall to the Sacramento Kings.
Many current and former KU players expressed their joy for Jackson and Mason on social media during the draft:
The big news about an impending $300 million renovation project for Memorial Stadium came with no details, but since it’s such a huge undertaking it’s easy to draw a few conclusions. First, naming rights are certain to go to the biggest donor or donors.
Second, the renovation will come in stages, not all at once. Since KU doesn’t have a viable option for a temporary home field in the event Memorial Stadium is shut down for a year, it won’t be shut down for a year and all the work will take place from the day after the final home game of each season until the days leading up to the season opener.
TCU and Kansas State underwent their stadium facelifts in phases and so will KU.
Best guess as to the portion of the stadium that will be addressed first is the West side, where the luxury suites and most desirable seats are because the sun isn’t in spectators’ eyes, then maybe the south side end, where the team enters and exits the field.
The stadium will be wired to the max so that fans can watch a play Iive and then watch the instant replay on their phones.
Sports franchises today count man caves as serious competitors for their stadiums, which must include bars, restaurants, family-friendly entertainment options that stretch beyond the field of play.
A sum of $300 million can buy plenty of bells and whistles. And if the money is spent wisely and the stadium sparkles, it also can buy Kansas coaches a seat at the table of big-time recruits more regularly than in the past.
Rehabilitated stadiums tend to become fashionable places to go, even more so if they develop catchy nicknames.
That of course will depend on the name of the new stadium. The identity of the major donor remains a secret, but just for the sake of using an example, let’s suppose it’s David Booth. It wouldn’t take long before the stadium would become known as “The Booth,” as in, “See you at The Booth on Saturday.”
The planned stadium renovations will go down as athletic director’s Sheahon Zenger’s legacy, a big step in his recovery from the program-damaging hire of football coach Charlie Weis.
Zenger initially had announced that a special fundraiser would be in charge of the football-stadium project but never made that hire and let Matt Baty, head of the Williams Fund, and his staff, including closer extraordinaire John Hadl, meet with the donors, explain the goals and ask for the order. They obviously did a terrific job, leading to Wednesday night’s announcement in Kansas City.
The message rings loudly: You don’t spend $300 million on a football-stadium renovation if you don’t care about football.
Now that the Sixers moved into the No. 1 slot of the NBA draft and the Lakers reportedly traded their point guard, D’Angelo Russell, clearing the way to select a point guard (Lonzo Ball or De’Aaron Fox) with the No. 2 pick, all the intrigue shifts to the Celtics and what they will do with the No. 3 pick.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens are of like mind in that they put a premium on intense, defensive-minded competitors. Nobody in the draft fits that type better than Josh Jackson.
Ainge fueled the Jackson-to-the-Celtics speculation by saying, “There is a good chance the player we take at No. 3 will be the exact player we would have taken at No. 1.”
But Jackson apparently doesn’t want to become a Celtic and reportedly has refused to work out for the organization without an assurance that he will be chosen by them and not traded. But why would the Celtics, or any team for that matter, make any such assurance to any player?
Duke’s Jayson Tatum has worked out for the Celtics, which leads some to believe that since he wants to go there and Jackson apparently does not, the Celtics might just take Tatum. Not buying that. Jackson’s a great defender and Tatum’s lateral quickness could prevent him from ever developing into an even average defender.
Should the Celtics decide to deal the pick, no shortage of franchises interested in Jackson would make offers. The Kings hold the fifth and 10th selections.
The Knicks and Bulls reportedly are high on Jackson.
The Knicks reportedly would entertain trade offers for Kristaps Porzingas, the Bulls for Jimmy Butler.
The most intriguing team in the draft at this point is the Celtics, the most intriguing player Jackson. It would come as a bit of a surprise if the Celtics don't select Jackson, whether to keep him or trade him.
Kansas has had trouble blocking, passing and running in recent seasons. Consequently, the Jayhawks tend to have fewer drives into field-goal range than the the rest of the teams in the Big 12.
Still, more than that has led to the Jayhawks consistently ranking last in the Big 12 in field goals.
Too often, KU hasn’t even made the field goal part of its offense because the kickers have been too inconsistent to trust.
In the past seven seasons, a Big 12 team has not reached double figures in field goals just seven times. Four of those belong to Kansas and no other Big 12 squad has done it more than once. Baylor (eight field goals in 2016), Kansas State (eight in 2010) and Iowa State (eight in 2010) had off seasons. KU has had an off decade.
Average field goals for the past seven seasons from Big 12 schools: Oklahoma State (20.9), TCU and West Virginia (19.0), Oklahoma (18.9), Kansas State and Texas (16.4), Texas Tech (14.9), Baylor (13.7), Iowa State (12.3), Kansas (9.0).
Enter Liam Jones, the incoming freshman from Choctaw, Okla., charged with kicking to the curb the program's reputation for lousy kicking. A two-star prospect, per Rivals, Jones earned honorable mention all-state distinction.
A left-footed kicker, can win the job by doing little more than not losing it. He'll replace Matthew Wyman, who had his best season as a senior, making 13 of 19 field-goal attempts and all 26 extra points. Wyman made 5 of 5 field goals from 20-to-29 yards, 5 of 7 from 30 to 39, 2 of 4 from 40 to 49 and 1 of 3 from 50 to 59.
The 13 field goals Wyman kicked last season were the most by a Kansas kicker since 2009 when Jacob Branstetter also made 13 of 19 field goals.
My only question regarding Josh Jackson’s since-deleted, late-night tweet seemingly aimed at projected No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz is why delete the tweet?
It read: “lol anybody with the smallest bit of talent can look good and lose it’s not that hard”.
It serves as a reminder that Jackson knows the best trait a basketball player can bring to a basketball game is a winning trait. He brings it to every possession and that’s why he, as a whole, is a greater prospect than the impressive sum of his parts.
Still, most mock drafts have Jackson going either to the Celtics with the third pick — assuming the trade that gives the 76ers the first pick is finalized — or to the Suns with the fourth pick.
My guess: Jackson will become a Laker, the decision made by fellow native of Michigan, all-time great point guard Magic Johnson, another basketball player who forever put winning first. Magic tried to get Jackson to go to Michigan State out of high school and no doubt sees a little of himself in the versatile 6-foot-8 prospect when Jackson shows great court vision in finding a teammate and zipping a pass through a small window, a little bit of James Worthy when Jackson slams a one-handed dunk in transition, a little bit of Michael Cooper when Jackson locks down his man.
UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, another terrific prospect, has been a mainstay at the No. 2 spot in mock drafts for a long, long time. Jackson’s the superior defender and is even more versatile than Ball. Selecting Jackson would give the Lakers an extremely young perimeter trio that could grow together and flourish once a strong frontcourt is assembled.
Point guard D’Angelo Russell, a two-year veteran out of Ohio State, is 21. Jackson is 20. Wing Brandon Ingram, entering his second season with the Lakers, is 19.
He moved from Kansas City to Tucson, Ariz., when he was 5, but he grew up in a household loyal to Kansas basketball, so wearing the jersey means a lot to sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot.
Given the makeup of the coming season’s roster, his presence means a lot to Kansas basketball, so the feeling’s mutual.
In introducing Lightfoot to campers before Wednesday’s scrimmage, KU coach Bill Self said Lightfoot would play a “huge, huge role” for the Jayhawks this coming season.
Lightfoot heard Self say that and processed the words at a couple of levels.
“So the Kansas side of me, the little kid growing up in Kansas, that kind of gives you butterflies and stuff like that. You feel excited,” Lightfoot said. “But the Kansas basketball player side of me knows that’s what I have to do and that’s what I came here to do and it’s just another step in the process of getting better and becoming a bigger part of this team and helping us win some games.”
In order to do that, Lightfoot knows his game and body must expand from last season. He’s doing that by “working in the weight room, working on the court, working on my jump shot, stuff like that.”
Lightfoot has been spending quality time in the weight room run by strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy.
“Right now I’m 216, 217 (pounds),” Lightfoot said. “By the time the season rolls around I’d like to be in the 223, 224 area, get up around there. Anywhere in the 225 area I’d be happy with. Last year I played at 210, 209. That’s not a Big 12 big man four-man, so eating and lifting with coach Hudy has been big for me.”
Lightfoot feels himself getting stronger, more flexible all the time.
“Last year coming in you get hit and it takes you a couple of seconds to recalibrate and go up again, but now with all the lifting we’re doing, the mobility stuff, we get hit, hit the ground, you go back up,” he said. “So the big thing for me is getting bigger, getting stronger, more body control, stuff like that.”
Strength can be a factor in expanding a player's shooting range, as can putting up more 3-pointers in practice.
“In talking to coach after the season I’m going to have to be able to stretch the floor. As a stretch four that will be part of my game," Lightfoot said. "I also have to be able to guard big guys, like I was guarding Udoka (Azubuike). I’ve got to be able to do both.”
Playing basketball for Kansas means a lot to Lightfoot, who isn't going to cheat himself of playing time by slacking off in any area.
Leading up to next week’s NBA Draft, many have scrutinized the merits of Josh Jackson’s basketball skills and debated just how high those attributes should carry him up the big board of a loaded rookie class.
The defense, passing and athleticism Jackson displayed during his one season at Kansas make him worthy of a top pick, but every time someone takes a deep dive into his draftability, his off-the-court stumbles from his time in Lawrence come up, too.
As the Journal-World reported in May, the 20-year-old prospect reached a diversion agreement in a case of criminal damage to property, which included writing a letter of apology and anger management classes.
Fielding questions from the media for the first time since then earlier this week in Los Angeles, following his second pre-draft workout with the Lakers, Jackson didn’t mind addressing those mandated classes when a reporter asked him about the matter.
“There is some truth to that. I have been taking an anger management course,” Jackson said. “I’m just about wrapping it up right now. It was just something I had to do and I learned from the mistake that I made. I’m making it through it.”
The 6-foot-8 wing, who could end up playing in L.A. if the Lakers decide to take him with the No. 2 overall pick, said he had learned from the experience.
“One of the biggest things I got out of it was just to worry about the things that I can control and not to worry about the things that I can’t,” said Jackson, who never bristled at any topic thrown at him by media during his brief time with the Jayhawks. “It sounds so simple, but I went home and I thought about that a lot. It made a huge amount of sense to me, because there’s a lot of things in this world that we can’t control, yet frustrate us. But you just can’t worry about them too much.”
Jackson, no doubt, has answered questions on the matter every time he has spoken with an NBA decision-maker over the past couple of months. And franchises all have ways of performing in-depth background checks on incoming rookies, especially those who could soon become the young face of the team. Owners and management don’t want to invest their money or the organization’s future in a person who will bring them unnecessary headaches.
It doesn’t appear teams are too worried about Jackson the human being, despite his mistakes. If they were, you would hear predraft reports of his stock dropping and teams leaning toward staying away from him.
With a week to go before the big night in Brooklyn, if anything, Jackson is trending upward, challenging UCLA’s Lonzo Ball for the No. 2 spot. The way he handled the questions regarding the anger management class that accompanied his diversion is a sign he’s addressing his maturity, as well as his game, which will only impress the NBA teams that are paying very close attention.
It’s cooler than Cindy Crawford’s Pepsi commercial, better than Mean Joe Greene’s Coca Cola commercial, more memorable than Larry Bird and Michael Jordan shooting h-o-r-s-e, tougher to shake than the Alka Seltzer plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is jingle.
It’ll cure your Excedrin Headache No. 39, saving you the trouble of swallowing pills.
If not for that fried-egg spot — “This is your brain . . . this is your brain on drugs” — it would rank as the greatest commercial ever filmed.
It’s a Foot Locker “Father’s Day” advertisement and it’s so much more than that. It’s a brilliant marketing scheme that is bound to get UCLA one-and-done sensation Lonzo Ball the fair shake he deserves in next week’s compelling NBA draft. It gives him the separation from his father he so needs and just in the nick of time.
Lavar Ball has attempted to turn his oldest son into a piece of merchandise to be manipulated however he sees fit.
The sane son fights back in a brilliant Father’s Day commercial featuring four one-and-done players expected to go among the first seven picks in next Thursday’s draft. Jonathan Isaac (Florida State), De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky), Jayson Tatum (Duke) and Ball appear in it. Kansas’ Josh Jackson, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and Kentucky’s Malik Monk, also projected to go early in the draft, are not in the commercial.
Isaac, Fox and Tatum share quick thoughts on memories of their fathers.
“All those games of one-on-one in the driveway where he’d let me win,” Fox says with a smile.
An appreciative Tatum says, “Just never missing a game.”
And then Lonzo Ball bleeds painful memories: “Of course there’s that big day when your dad berates your high school coach in front of an entire crowd for not getting you enough touches.”
Said Isaac: “Waking up early to drive to far-away tournaments.”
Then Ball: “Or that special moment when your dad sits you down and tells you where you’re going to college, copyrights your name to make it part of a family lifestyle brand, went on First Take and shouted back and forth with Stephen A. Smith about how you’re already better than the reigning league MVP. All those interviews from the stands during college games. The public spats with the all-time greats. Sound byte after sound byte to the national media. And then tells 29 out of 30 teams to not bother drafting you.”
Nice chin music. I hope every overbearing sports dad sees that commercial and sees himself in it. Better chance of winning the lottery on back-to-back weeks.
Foot Locker released a statement quoting Lonzo as saying, “My dad and I both love the humor of the spot, and I’m glad I got to have a little fun around the topic before going to the league.”
I thought I read a little pain in Lonzo’s expression, but maybe that was just the power of suggestion. Either way, Lonzo speaks far more loudly and my guess would be more from the heart in the commercial than in the corporate statement.
It was impressive of a 19-year-old to lay it all out there for the world to see and hear, no matter whose idea it was. No denial. No walking on eggshells around the issue of the dad. If Lonzo’s agent thought this up, give the man a standing ovation. Nothing could do a more effective job of shrinking concerns that drafting the son means drafting the father too.
Oddsmakers and mock draft makers are in lockstep on which one-and-done talent will go first in the NBA draft.
Sportsbettingdime.com set odds to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft as: Markelle Fultz (Washington): 1/5, Lonzo Ball (UCLA): 7/1 and the field 19/1.
Shocking that a wager on the field would pay 19/1. That means that if KU’s Josh Jackson, Duke’s Jayson Tatum or either of Kentucky’s vastly different but equally intriguing guards De’Aaron Fox or Malik Monk were to go No. 1 it would pay 19/1.
I’d be tempted to take what’s defined as the field here against Fultz straight-up.
The website also released an over/under draft position for the six one-and-done prospects: Fultz: 1.5, Ball 2, Jackson 3.5, Tatum 4, Fox 4.5, Monk 5.5. Jackson, Fox and Monk are the smartest plays there, although Fultz at 1.5 isn’t bad since most believe he’ll be the first selection. The funniest proposition the board is the over/under for the number of Big Baller Brand Z02s sold before the start of the NBA draft: 950.5.
Those are the basketball shoes being marketed by Lavar Ball, father of Lonzo Ball.
If that seems high for a shoe that ranges from $495 to $695 for the Z02: PRIME and anywhere from $995 to $1,195 for Z02: WET - ‘THE AUTOGRAPH,’ keep in mind that they could become collector’s items for the filthy rich who might view them as investments that will appreciate because fewer than 1,000 pairs of shoes will be in circulation.
Sometimes the super rich like to scream, “I’m rich,” without using those words. What better way than to show friends a pair of the most expensive sneakers in history, better yet shoes talked about on SportsCenter.
It turns out the Josh Jackson to Los Angeles buzz was just starting to hum when the one-and-done Kansas standout canceled a workout with Boston the week before the NBA Draft. Less than 24 hours later, Jackson showed up Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility for an examination with the Celtics’ historical rival.
A possible draft target for L.A., which owns the No. 2 pick, Jackson told media following the session he was excited about working out for the Lakers for the second time in a six-day span.
“I was all for it. Of course, I’m not gonna tell them no,” Jackson said. “It was just an honor to be here today. I just want to thank the whole organization for having me.”
The 20-year-old wing who displayed his versatility on both ends of the court throughout his lone season with the Jayhawks met with and played in front of Lakers legend and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, head coach Luke Walton and other members of the organization the previous week, too. That was in Sacramento, with Jackson’s trainer, and more on his terms.
“But today I kind of got out of my comfort zone a little bit working out with their training staff,” Jackson said. “I thought both went pretty good.”
In the mind of the 6-foot-8 prospect from Detroit, he felt in better shape for workout No. 2, and his objective for the on-court job interview was to provide proof that he’s addressed some of his perceived weaknesses as a player, such as 3-point shooting and ball-handling.
“A lot of things people know I can do. I’m athletic, long, lanky,” the 203-pound athlete with a 6-9 3/4 wingspan said, “but I’m just trying to show that I’ve improved since the end of the season at Kansas.”
From the moment the Lakers secured the No. 2 pick via the draft lottery, many assumed the organization would select UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball in that spot — right after the Celtics presumably take Washington guard Markelle Fultz at No. 1. But given the Lakers’ interest in meeting with Jackson a second time (they reportedly are trying to do the same with Ball), the incoming rookie was asked whether his chances of playing for L.A. seem to be improving.
“It was definitely more of a ‘come in, try to impress them.’ And hopefully I impressed them enough,” Jackson replied. “But they can’t look past any guy in this draft because we’re all really, really talented, and I think we all bring a lot to the table.”
Fultz, Jackson, Ball and Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, who worked out for the Lakers before Jackson on Tuesday, all seem to be coveted talents. The rumors and conjecture surrounding who ends up where only will ramp up between now and the June 22 draft.
While the two best teams in the NBA clashed in The Finals Monday night, news of one top incoming rookie canceling a pre-draft workout with a preeminent franchise sneaked out.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman came through with the surprising scoop: One-and-done Kansas wing Josh Jackson scrapped a workout with the Boston Celtics, who own the No. 1 overall pick in next week’s NBA Draft.
This past Thursday, Jackson met with and played in front of the Los Angeles Lakers, who will pick No. 2. So why would he decide against displaying his skills for the Celtics?
It’s not as if Jackson is in Lonzo Ball’s overpriced Big Baller Brand shoes, with his father appearing on every sports-based argument show that will have him, claiming the Lakers are the best fit.
Jackson is fierce on the court, and you know he would take great pride in being selected first overall. So obviously there are other factors at play.
Perhaps Jackson’s management has advised him against a session with Boston because Washington’s Markelle Fultz has emerged as a lock for the No. 1 spot. Or maybe, as many have speculated since Goodman reported the cancellation, a team (conceivably the Lakers) already has made a promise to Jackson that it will draft him.
Who knows? The only conclusion we can really draw from this is there’s little chance of Jackson ending up with the Celtics, unless the team trades down in the draft, with Jackson becoming a piece of a more enticing collection of assets than Fultz alone.
Now it seems — barring some as of yet unforeseen trade, of course — Jackson is bound for either the Lakers at No. 2 or Philadelphia at No. 3. Neither would be a bad place to start for the 20-year-old talent from Detroit. Both the Lakers and Sixers have struggled the past few years. But the NBA’s structure sets such organizations up with high lottery odds, enabling them to stockpile young, talented players.
As a Laker or Sixer, Jackson would join a core built for the future, and that’s certainly not a bad thing, considering Golden State and Cleveland seem bound to meet in The Finals as long as LeBron James plays for the Cavaliers and Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are Warriors.
Maybe three years from now, LeBron finally shows some rust, just as the Sixers are on the come up with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jackson leading the way.
Or, possibly, the Lakers really do prefer Jackson to Ball, L.A. gets Paul George next year and the purple and gold are back to their yearly playoff runs sooner than everybody thought.
Either way, Jackson will be just fine — even if he doesn’t get to join a Celtics organization much closer to contending for a title.
It has been another offseason of roster upheaval for the Kansas women’s basketball program headed by Brandon Schneider.
One year after two-year starter Lauren Aldridge’s surprising decision to transfer to Missouri, three sophomores who combined for 30 starts this past season have left the program.
The departure of McKenzie Calvert, whose sharp decline in production during Big 12 play and team-second attitude led to a permanent spot on the bench by the end of the season, did not come as a surprise. She started 12 games and scored 30 points in a non-conference game vs. UC Riverside before heading into a shooting slump she couldn’t shake.
Jayde Christopher started 16 games, averaged 19.4 minutes and three points and had a team-high 82 assists.
Aisia Robertson started two games, averaged 15.2 minutes, 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds.
All three players who left the program had rough shooting seasons: Robertson (.287 shooting percentage), Calvert (.294), Christopher (.307).
As a team, the Jayhawks shot .338 from the field. TCU was ninth in the conference with a .410 accuracy rate.
At this point, coach Brandon Schneider enters his third season with five returning players, four transfers from junior college and three freshmen.
Three of the returning players started last season for the Jayhawks (8-22 overall, 2-16 in conference). Jessica Washington (17.1 points, 4.1 rebounds) and Chayla Cheadle (4.7, 4.7) are rising seniors, Kaylee Kopatich (9.5, 4.4) a junior. Junior Chelsea Lott played sparingly in her first two seasons. Tyler Johnson spent last season as a redshirt while recovering from a knee injury. During a promising freshman season, Johnson averaged 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds and shot 50 percent from the field. She started seven games, including the final four of the season.
To a large extent, it appears, Schneider is starting over. He has one terrific player in Washington, but she might be forced to look to score too often again this season if more scorers don’t develop around her than was the case last season.
The challenge in taking on a rebuilding project like the one for which Schneider signed up is that moving up the standings in the powerful Big 12 requires climbing past another school.
That’s tough to do without changing perceptions about the program embedded in recruits’ heads. So far, it doesn’t look as if Schneider has been able to do so.
None of the incoming freshmen made the HoopGurlz top 100 recruiting rankings.
Eleven top 100 high school players signed with Big 12 schools. The Jayhawks were not the only school skunked. Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech did not land any top 100 players either. The four schools that didn’t add a top 100 recruit finished seventh through 10th in the Big 12 standings.
Texas (3, 4, 33) and Baylor (19, 20, 64) landed three top 100 recruits apiece, Kansas State picked up two (59, 97) and Oklahoma (32), Iowa State (42) and West Virginia each added one.
Unless a few of the seven newcomers catch on quickly and have productive seasons, Kansas likely is headed for a third consecutive last-place finish in the Big 12.
The two-season conference records of Big 12 women’s basketball teams since Schneider took over for fired Bonnie Henrickson:
The first five-star prospect to ever commit to the University of Kansas football program, New Orleans prep receiver Devonta Jason has heard the murmurs and seen the skepticism floating around the recruiting world in response to the non-binding pledge he made back in February.
That much was clear in Jason’s comments to Bleacher Report, for a feature titled: Do You Believe 5-star WR Devonta Jason is Kansas-bound? LSU and Alabama don’t.
"People were asking me if they gave me something," Jason told Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer. "Everybody was going crazy. They wanted to know what I was thinking. I'm just going to be me."
A 6-foot-3 rising senior at New Orleans’ Landry-Walker High, Jason, of course, is the marquee prospect in third-year KU head coach David Beaty’s Louisiana-heavy 2018 recruiting class. Rivals ranks Jason as the 22nd-best player in the country, and considering KU’s current seven-year streak of winning three games or fewer, many outsiders scratch their heads or scoff at the idea of Jason officially signing with the Jayhawks months from now.
According to Jason, a coach from another program texted him “really?” upon hearing of his verbal commitment to Beaty, associate head coach and Louisiana native Tony Hull and Kansas.
"It really didn't get to me," Jason told Bleacher Report. "I know they went 2-10 and 0-12 the year before. It's really not about what school you go to or being a big fish in a big pond. It's about your future and making an impact on your life. It's about being known and recognized."
Given that most prospects of Jason’s caliber typically sign with the likes of Alabama, Florida State, Clemson, Ohio State or some other renowned program, Rivals’ national recruiting director Mike Farrell characterized Jason as a “unicorn.”
Farrell explained: “I’ve never seen one in person, and I don't know if they exist. If this sticks, it will prove that they do."
Hull, who also helped lure commitments from Jason’s current Landry-Walker teammates, four-star cornerback Corione Harris and three-star defensive end Josh Smith, as well as former L-W standout Mike Lee, gets credit for making this unique recruiting situation possible. Jason said he connected with Hull when he visited Lawrence.
“Being as far away as I was,” he told Bleacher Report, “it still felt like home.”
As Jason had stated previously, he intends to graduate from Landry-Walker early and enroll in college for the spring semester of 2018, ahead of his freshman year of college football.
Verbal commitments from five high school prospects from Louisiana, including a five-star and a four-star, form the heart of a Kansas football recruiting Class of 2018 that has soared to No. 12 nationally in the Rivals.com recruiting rankings.
The Louisiana recruits understandably have generated so much excitement that another commitment that in typical KU recruiting seasons would have been cause for celebration has slipped under the radar.
In the wake of the flurry of Louisiana commitments, KU received a verbal pledge from a three-star Texas quarterback who has thrived against tough competition.
Clayton Tune of Hebron High in Carrollton, Texas, is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound dual-threat quarterback who had been offered a scholarship from Houston. He suffered a knee injury at the end of last season.
Nick Krueger, Texas recruiting analyst for Rivals, liked what he saw from Tune and narrates his highlight video.
Krueger called him “a flat-out effective runner,” and praised his passing ability: “I really like his delivery, how he’s able to fit hard throws into tight windows, and obviously his ability to extend plays.”
Even if his knee injury prevents Tune from playing a full season or at full strength as a senior, Kansas can be patient with his development because the QB position appears to be stabilizing. Peyton Bender has two years of remaining eligibility, Carter Stanley three and Tyriek Starks four.
In addition to Tune, the lone quarterback, KU has received pledges from three defensive tackles, three defensive ends, two defensive backs, two wide receivers, a running back and an offensive lineman.
It’s not unusual for elite football programs to raid recruiting classes of lesser established programs late in the process.
Even so, it has to help KU’s chances that the class’ five-star and four-star recruits both come from the same high school where safety Mike Lee had a great experience as a true freshman in 2016.
Wide receiver Devonta Jason, a five-star, and DB Corione Harris, a four-star, and Lee all are from Landry-Walker High in New Orleans.
It will be difficult for Kansas to maintain its No. 12 national recruiting ranking for the Class of 218, but a top 25 finish is a reasonable expectation.
Here’s how the top 25 shaped up as of this morning:
1 - Miami
2 - Ohio State
3 - LSU
4 - Penn State
5 - Texas
6 - Florida State
7 - Notre Dame
8 - Tennessee
9 - Baylor
10 - Nebraska
11 - Oklahoma State
12 - Kansas
13 - Michigan
14 - Clemson
15 - Texas A&M
16 - Oregon
17 - Minnesota
18 - Northwestern
19 - Washington
20 - Virginia Tech
21 - USC
22 - Oklahoma
23 - Wisconsin
24 - Kentucky
25 - Duke
Candidates for football head coaching vacancies always come to interviews prepared to answer the inevitable question regarding what assistant coaches they hope to have on their staffs.
Two names for offensive coordinator that David Beaty mentioned during his interview for the Kansas job were Doug Meacham and Lincoln Riley.
Initially, Beaty didn’t get either of them. He hired Rob Likens, who handled the job for a year and then demoted him and took over the reins of the offense himself. Beaty hired Riley’s younger brother, Garrett Riley, in advance of the 2016 season to help him behind the scenes as an offensive analyst.
Beaty took another run at Meacham this past offseason, landed him, turned the offense over to him and promoted Garrett Riley to quarterbacks coach, one of Beaty’s nine full-time assistant positions. The younger Riley, 27, is on the young side for a Big 12 assistant coach. Then again, Lincoln Riley is on the young side, 33, for head coach of a perennial powerhouse, Oklahoma.
Getting jobs before their time runs in the Riley family, a sure sign of brains made for learning and teaching football.
“I couldn’t hire (Lincoln), so I hired his brother,” Beaty said at the time he promoted Garrett. At the time, Beaty also referred to Lincoln Riley as a “really, really close, dear friend of mine.” Except, of course, one day a year. That day arrives Nov. 18 this coming season when the Riley brothers will be on opposite sidelines at Memorial Stadium.
Garrett Riley has a $250,000 salary this season and came to KU from East Carolina, where he worked under Lincoln for two seasons and spent another year there. Garrett started his college career as a quarterback learning the Air Raid offense from Mike Leach, then head coach and quarterbacks coach at Texas Tech. Garrett then transferred to Stephen F. Austin but ultimately received his degree from Texas Tech.
He started his coaching career as a high school assistant in 2011, then was running backs coach at Augustana College in 2012, then took the job at East Carolina.
Given that every time Okahoma — which ranked 66th in the nation in defense and third in offense — gave up a touchdown some Sooners fans groused about Bob Stoops having his brother as defensive coordinator, Beaty shouldn't have any cause for concern regarding Lincoln Riley raiding his coaching staff to bring his brother on board.
At least on paper, Beaty's third coaching staff shapes up as his strongest in terms of recruiting, developing and scheming.
This coming season season marks the 10-year anniversary of KU’s most recent basketball national title. The years haven’t dulled the thrill for Darnell Jackson, a member of the KU starting five then and for Rosa Random of the Polish professional basketball league now.
Jackson averaged 10.5 points and six rebounds for the 2007-08 Jayhawks in his senior season. He averaged 10.5 points and six rebounds for Rosa Random this past season.
“I get the chills every time I come back here, look at the posters, the pictures, the jerseys,” Jackson said.
He said he wished he could go back and do it all over again, but knows it doesn’t work that way, so he maintains a positive attitude playing in various foreign countries.
“I’ve been doing it for so long,” Jackson said of playing professionally in Europe. “I enjoy it. I love traveling and seeing different places I’ve never seen before. That’s the blessing I get out of it, just experiencing different people, different foods. The culture, I just soak it all in.”
Jackson played in 138 NBA games for three different teams in three seasons.
He recently finished his sixth season in Europe and is living in Los Angeles with his wife and their 2-year-old son, Maceo. They joined Jackson in Poland this past season, which made it an enjoyable one for him, compared to earlier years.
“The most difficult part is being by yourself for six, seven months and having nobody around," Jackson said of the down side of playing in Europe.
He won't feel alone tonight playing in the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic at Free State High. Jackson was always a fan favorite and he'll feel the love again from the crowd.
Kansas football coach David Beaty has recruited three classes, run three spring football sessions and opens his third season on Sept. 2 at Memorial Stadium against Southeast Missouri.
He’s still a year away from fielding a roster with a full complement of scholarship players, but he’s getting closer.
Beaty has said in the past that he likes to recruit a minimum of two difference-makers per year from the high school ranks.
He certainly did so his first year on the job and it didn’t take long for a pair of high school recruits from Houston to establish themselves as difference makers.
Defensive end Dorance Armstrong became the first Kansas football player to earn unanimous All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore the same year that Steven Sims produced Kansas decade highs in receptions (72), receiving yards (859) and touchdown receptions (seven).
Sims and Armstrong both showed terrific potential as freshmen and made big leaps in their sophomore seasons.
Two players from Beaty’s second recruiting class showed difference-maker potential as freshmen and are candidates for big improvements as sophomores.
Safety Mike Lee quickly gained a reputation as a hard hitter during his true freshman season and had the game-clinching interception in KU’s first victory against Texas since 1938. Lee cemented the hard-hitting rep by slamming teammate Ryan Schadler in the spring exhibition.
Lee was named KU defensive player of the week against Iowa State and Oklahoma and he had 12 tackles and a forced fumble to go with the big pick vs. Texas. He started the final eight games of his freshman season and will start every game for the rest of his career, barring injury.
Left tackle Hakeem Adeniji, simply by showing enough smarts and toughness to start all 12 games in his true freshman season despite carrying just 265 pounds. He has grown to 290 pounds and if he continues to refine his technique and carry the weight without slowing down, he has the potential to become a difference-maker.
It’s too early to say call him that yet. Antoine Frazier, another offensive tackle recruited out of high school the same year as Adeniji, is another potential difference-maker. The coaching staff is excited about how well he moves his feet and he already is up to 285 pounds, quite impressive considering he was at 250 a year ago. Running back Khalil Herbert and cornerback Kyle Mayberry also are worth monitoring closely.
It will be interesting to see which true freshmen show the most potential during the upcoming season.
Linebacker Kyron Johnson moved well and hit hard during spring football. Shifty running back Dom Williams has extremely impressive highlights. Big wide receiver/potential tight end Kenyon Tabor plays with a physical edge and has great hands. Speedy Quan Hampton, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound receiver, has big-play potential.
The Washington Wizards are one of the best teams among the also-rans that comprise the NBA’s
LeBron Conference — sorry, that should read: Eastern Conference. But for all the skills D.C.’s superbly talented backcourt combo of John Wall and Bradley Beal bring to the floor, the Wizards are in obvious need of a backup point guard.
And it just so happens someone who would fit the bill came through Washington’s practice facility on Monday.
His name is Frank Mason III. He’s a national player of the year at the college level. He values toughness and winning. What’s more: he even has a personal history with the Wizards.
“I watched them a lot growing up and now to actually be out here working out in front of everyone that’s going to decide whether they want to pick me or not, I think it’s a really cool experience,” Mason told reporters after his latest pre-NBA Draft workout, roughly two and a half hours from his hometown of Petersburg, Va.
Why would a team that reached the second round of the playoffs and already has two high-priced guards need to draft a 5-foot-11 point guard not expected to be worthy of a first-round pick? The answer to that question came in the playoffs, when neither Brandon Jennings nor Trey Burke provided any punch to the Wizards’ bench combinations. Wall and Beal had to play 39 minutes a game. By the end of a seven-game, second-round series against Boston, both looked too gassed to produce at their typical high-octane levels.
Both Jennings and Burke hit free agency July 1, so Washington doesn’t even have another legitimate point guard under contract for the 2017-18 season. If the Wizards want a relatively cheap answer, drafting Mason in the second round on June 22 would be a low-risk fix. Even if the Wizards fear Mason — currently projected as the 48th pick at Draft Express — won’t be around when it’s their turn at No. 52, second-round slots are easily acquired on draft night, so Washington could move up to make it happen.
Mason wouldn’t have to play a lot of minutes for Washington, because Wall and Beal are so productive and integral to the Wizards’ success. But that would be ideal for Mason, too. In his senior year at Kansas, head coach Bill Self needed all the point guard could give him for 36.1 minutes a game. Obviously his opponents will be far more talented at the NBA level, but if Mason can throw every ounce of energy into 15 or so minutes a game it should highlight his best qualities in his rookie season.
The college star described what he considers some of his most impactful skills after his workout with the Wizards.
“Just my quickness. Just getting around guys and kind of finishing before they get a chance to contest or block the shot. And other than that just getting my body into them and throwing them off balance so I can get the shot over them,” Mason said of how he can score despite his below-average (by NBA standards) height.
“Just how consistently I shoot the ball and my play-making skills,” he added, “and my toughness and my defensive mindset — taking pride and just trying to get a stop every possession.”
There, of course, are other avenues — free agency and the trade market — for Washington to acquire a reliable backup point guard. But why go for a cheap veteran on the down side of his career when you could go get a 23-year-old leader with a history of proving his doubters wrong?
Mason cited his loyalty and other attributes to The Washington Post’s Candace Buckner when explaining why a team should value his experience and the success he had at KU.
“How I’m a team-first guy. It’s always ‘we’ instead of ‘I,’ and if we win, the pie’s big enough for everyone,” Mason said.
Sounds like someone ready to complement an outstanding starting NBA backcourt.
In search of a formula to rank statistical performances of wide receivers with one number I arrived at receptions times 10, plus receiving yards, plus touchdowns times 100.
Until coming up with a better term, we’ll call it “productivity rating,” although it probably ought to be called Brisconomics given the remarkable numbers Dezmon Briscoe posted in 2008.
Anyway, the formula calls attention to what a terrific sophomore season Steven Sims enjoyed in 2016, ranking sixth among seasons produced by Kansas receivers in the 21st century.
Sims came out of Richmond High in the Houston area with a two-star rating from Rivals but judging from the way Kansas football coaches talked about him as a prospect it was evident they disagreed with the rating. Sims entertained offers from McNeese State, Southeastern Louisiana and Stephen F. Austin. Listed at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds in high school, Sims was bypassed by bigger schools looking for bigger receivers. He showed from Day 1 he was worthy of a Big 12 scholarship.
After a promising freshman season, Sims produced Kansas decade highs in receptions (72), receiving yards (859) and touchdown receptions (seven).
The top 21 statistical receiving performances of the 21st century:
1 - Dezmon Briscoe (08).......... 92.....1,407.........15.....3,827
2 - Dezmon Briscoe (09)...........84......1,337..........9.....3,077
3 - Kerry Meier (08)...................97.....1,045...........8.....2,815
4 - Kerry Meier (09).................102.........985..........8.....2,805
5 - Marcus Henry (07)...............54.....1,014..........10....2,554
6 - Steven Sims (16).................72.........859..........7....2,279
7 - Dexton Fields (07)................63.........834.........6.....2,064
8 - Mark Simmons (03)..............40........769..........7....1,869
9 - Charles Gordon (03)..............57........769..........5....1,839
10 - Brandon Rideau (04)...........51.......597..........7....1,807
11 - Brandon Rideau (03)...........51 ......677..........6....1,787
12-LaQuvionte Gonzalez (16).....62.......729...........3....1,649
13 - Dezmon Briscoe (07) ..........43.......496...........5....1,626
14 - Mark Simmons (05)..............44........631.........4....1,471
15 - Nick Harrwell (14).................44........470.........5....1,410
16 - Dexton Fields (06).................45.......455.........5....1,405
17 - Byron Gassaway (02)............39.......490........5....1,380
18 - Jimmay Mundine* (14)...........45.......584........3...1,334
19 - Mark Simmons (04)...............48.......553........3...1,333
20 - Tre’ Parmalee (15)..................41......599........3...1,309
21 - Johnathan Wilson (08)...........43......573........3...1,303
*Only tight end on list. All others are wide receivers.