Entries from blogs tagged with “Kansas”

Luke Bakula: The nephew also rises for KU baseball

Luke Bakula

Luke Bakula

His desire to become a student at the University of Kansas outweighed his thirst for continuing his baseball career, so Luke Bakula gave up the game and enrolled at KU.

“My dad went here,” Bakula said. “My brother went here. I’ve always been a Jayhawk guy.”

Not recruited by any school beyond the junior-college level, Bakula thought he was ready to give up the game. He quickly learned otherwise.

A shoulder injury wiped out most of his high school career, except his senior year.

“It was tough leaving the game,” Bakula said. “I missed it. I transferred to a junior college and I figured if I played well enough I’d be able to come back and play for KU. Luckily I did. It’s been awesome.”

Especially this past weekend.

In Thursday night’s game against Oklahoma, Bakula hit a two-run home run during a four-run rally in the ninth inning to tie a game James Cosentino won with a walk-off home run in the 10th. A senior reserve first baseman, Bakula went 3 for 5 in the first two games of the series and takes a .327 batting average into the postseason.

Bakula’s big hit Thursday night triggered a celebration in the Jayhawks’ dugout and in the stands. He received a big ovation, but he has a way to go to become the family’s most famous Bakula.

His uncle, Scott Bakula, made his name as an actor nearly 30 years ago in the TV series “Quantum Leap” from 1989-93. He now as a starring role in NCIS: New Orleans.

His nephew isn’t Scott Bakula’s only connection to baseball. In his first Broadway role, in 1976, he played Joe DiMaggio opposite Alyson Reed in “Marilyn: An American Fable.”

“He’s actually a Jayhawk himself,” Luke Bakula said of his uncle, a native of St. Louis. “He went here for about a year and a half, then went out to Hollywood to try his luck there and became really successful.”

Luke hasn’t taken any drama classes at KU, but if his uncle came calling, he’d answer.

“My brothers and I always joke about trying to get on a TV show with him, maybe some throw-back episodes where we can play him as a child or something,” he said. “He’s really good at what he does.”

Bakula and his teammates play Texas at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in the opener of the double-elimination Big 12 tournament at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

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Top Class of 2020 Kansas basketball target playing in Lawrence Saturday night

Dante N'Faly, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound center, from the Class of 2020, already has been offered scholarships by Kansas and Kentucky. (Photo by Darryl Woods/810 Varsity)

Dante N'Faly, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound center, from the Class of 2020, already has been offered scholarships by Kansas and Kentucky. (Photo by Darryl Woods/810 Varsity) by Darryl Woods/810 Varsity

Local basketball fans won’t have to go far for a first look at a possible Kansas star of the future.

N’Faly Dante, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound center from Mali ranked No. 4 by Rivals in the Class of 2020, is scheduled to play at 7:55 p.m. Saturday at the Lawrence Sports Pavilion at Rock Chalk Park.

Dante, who already has received scholarship offers from Kansas, Kentucky and countless others, plays for MoKan EYBL, which takes on the Colorado Hawks in the showcase game of the KC Classic. It will be the only game MoKan plays during the event.

"He can really move up and down the court and he's a great rim protector," said Matt Scott of The Shiver. "He's got a nice little jump shot, too. He can hit all the way out to 3. Once he learns more of a back-to-basket game he's going to be really special."

The AAU tournament, which features games on eight different courts, begins this evening and extends through Sunday afternoon.

Malik Hall, a 6-7, 210-pound forward, is Dante’s teammate at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita and with MoKan’s 17-and-under team. Hall, ranked No. 49 in the Class of 2019, also is being recruited by Kansas.

Prepare to be blown away by this video of Dante:

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Steady Kansas one of seven Big 12 schools in men’s golf finals

In becoming one of four Big 12 schools to win one of the six NCAA men's golf regionals and one of seven Big 12 schools to advance to the finals, Kansas was a model of steadiness and consistency.

KU's team score for the three days was -7, -6, -7. For comparison purposes, second-place Stanford scored -3, -5, -11. All five KU golfers finished in the top 23 in the 75-man regional. Stanford had just two in the top 23.

Eleven of the 13 teams in the Pacific Regional in Stockton, California, had at least one eagle during the tournament. Kansas and Southern California were the lone exceptions.

All 15 rounds played by KU's five golfers fell in the 67-to-74 range and 11 of the 15 were in the 69-to-72 range.

Name Class Hometown NCAA Regional score NCAA Regional tidbits
Andy Spencer Sophomore Leawood 69-69-70—208 3.77 average on par-4 holes
lowest in regional.
Daniel Sutton Senior Birmingham, England
67-73-71—211
Opening-day 67 team's best
score for tournament.
Charlie Hillier Junior Te Puke, New Zealand 72-73-69—214 KU's low scorer on final day.
Harry Hillier Freshman Te Puke, New Zealand 74-69-72—215 Averaged team-best 4.5
on par-5 holes.
Daniel Hudson Senior Lagrange, Illinois 73-71-71—215 Team-best 1-under
on par-3 holes.

The regional round of tournament amounted to a resounding endorsement for the Big 12.

Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State won a regional, and Baylor, Iowa State and Texas Tech also will be among the field of 30 at the NCAA men's golf championships at Oklahoma State's home course, Karsten Creek, May 25-30.

This is the first time the Big 12 has had seven schools advance to the finals. TCU, which finished eighth in the Pacific Regional won by Kansas, was the only Big 12 school in the NCAA tournament that did not advance.

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New mock draft projects just 2 Jayhawks getting selected in 2018

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) celebrate a three in overtime by Newman, Sunday, March 25, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) celebrate a three in overtime by Newman, Sunday, March 25, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. by Nick Krug

As the NBA Draft Combine gets underway in Chicago, it’s important to remember that not all analysts are as high on this year’s crop of Kansas prospects as others.

While ESPN long has included Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk among its list of projected second-rounders for 2018, the newly unveiled mock draft at The Ringer only expects two Jayhawks to earn selections.

A little more than a month ahead of the draft, The Ringer’s guide forecasts Newman as the first Kansas player off the board, with the 21-year-old guard going 44th overall (14th in the second round).

Unlike ESPN’s mock, which currently values Graham as the best player from KU, The Ringer slotted the 23-year-old point guard at No. 53 in the 60-pick draft.

Graham’s four-year year teammate and on-and-off-the-court running mate, Mykhailiuk, didn’t appear on the list.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) pulls back to shoot against Villanova guard Phil Booth (5) during the second half, Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) pulls back to shoot against Villanova guard Phil Booth (5) during the second half, Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. by Nick Krug

Ringer draft pundit Kevin O’Connor, who provided scouting reports on the likely draftees, touted Newman for his “spark-plug scoring,” describing the redshirt sophomore guard who helped KU reach the Final Four as “a pure bucket-getter who can generate offense off the bench, though his defense limits his upside.”

And because it’s officially player comp season, The Ringer’s comprehensive guide includes a handy profile of each draft hopeful. Likely in order to tone down any basketball-internet backlash against the analysis, instead of straight comparisons — which typically are unfair anyway — each profile includes names of past or current NBA players who one might see “shades of” while watching a prospect.

When inspecting video of Newman, O’Connor noticed some similarities to Monta Ellis, Dion Waiters and Seth Curry.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) runs up the court with the ball during the first half, Friday, March 23, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) runs up the court with the ball during the first half, Friday, March 23, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. by Nick Krug

As far as Graham’s potential is concerned, his main selling point was described as “gritty defense.”

O’Connor’s scouting report described the KU All-American as “a high-energy, hard-nosed defender who improved his point guard skills as a senior.”

In Graham’s footage, he saw “shades of” a “lean” Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Scottie Wilbekin.

O’Connor lists Newman as the No. 41 prospect in the draft class, and Graham at No. 48. Ringer staffers Danny Chau and Jonathan Tjarks also provided their own big boards. Chau placed Newman 48th, with Graham 50th. Tjarks gauged Newman as the 42nd-best player, and had Graham 44th.

The good news for Newman and Graham, as well as Mykhailiuk, and former KU teammates Billy Preston, Lagerald Vick and Udoka Azubuike is the pre-draft process is just beginning. The days and weeks ahead — and how they perform in workouts, scrimmages and interviews — will ultimately determine their draft stock. Now it’s up to them to prove themselves to NBA coaches and executives.

Check out The Ringer’s complete draft guide

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Marcus Morris and Celtics ‘gooning’ their way to 2-0 lead in East finals

Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, left, during the second half in Game 2 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, left, during the second half in Game 2 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Marcus Morris learned a new word following his team’s Tuesday victory over perennial Eastern Conference champion LeBron James and Cleveland.

After a physical Game 2 in the conference finals, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue described how Boston took a 2-0 lead.

“I think they're playing tougher than we are. We see that,” Lue said. “They're being physical. They're gooning the game up, and we've got to do the same thing. We've got to be tougher, mentally and physically.”

When media members presented Lue’s assessment to the Celtic who exudes his tough guy persona constantly on the court, Morris liked what he heard.

“Gooning? That’s a good word,” Morris told the Boston Herald. “(Expletive), we’re doing what it takes. Whatever it takes, every player 1-15, whatever it takes, that’s what we’re doing. You call it what you want to call it. We’re just trying to get the win.”

While Morris didn’t replicate his double-double production from Game 1 versus Cleveland, the former Kansas standout played a key role in a playoff victory yet again, contributing 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Boston trailed by 7 at halftime before making a critical run in the third quarter. Morris came through with some timely plays during the push, including a 3-pointer that cut the Cavs’ lead to 2 less than four minutes into the second half and a crowd-igniting and-1 that tied the game at 69.

The seventh-year forward attacked Tristan Thompson off the dribble, and after drawing a foul that sent both bigs tumbling onto the baseline out of bounds, Morris roared in Thompson’s face while flexing.

None by SportsCenter

The sequence quickly became a meme on NBA Twitter, but more importantly for the Celtics, it seemed to fuel the rest of the quarter, as the home team out-scored the three-time defending East champs by 14 in the third, paving the way for a 107-94 win.

None by Taco Trey Kerby

As expected, the Celtics weren’t able to relatively shut down James in Game 2 after Morris and his “gooning” band of long, strong wings held the league’s brightest superstar to 15 points in Game 1. James torched Boston for 21 first-quarter points Tuesday and finished with 42.

However, Morris once again held his own when defending James. A change in Cleveland’s starting lineup meant Morris didn’t draw the assignment as often in the second go-round. Still, the numbers showed afterward that Morris’ defense impacted James’ effectiveness. Per ESPN, James scored 6 points on 2-for-8 shooting with 2 turnovers when guarded by Morris.

None by NBA on ESPN

None by ESPN Stats & Info

Now a Boston team without its two best players, injured Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, needs just two more victories to reach The Finals. But Game 3 in Cleveland isn’t until Saturday, and James has plenty of time to figure out ways to better carve up the Celtics’ defense.

Morris described his group as “very confident” at this juncture of the series.

“But we’re gonna stay humble, man,” he added. “The work is not done. We up 2-0. But we done seen crazier things happen. The goal is to go to Cleveland and at least steal one and come back and play in front of these great fans.”

None by Celtics on NBC Sports Boston

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Kansas wins regional, advances to NCAA national championships in men’s golf for first time since 2000

When Kansas last advanced beyond the NCAA regionals in men’s golf, President Bill Clinton had recently announced that GPS access would no longer be restricted to just the U.S. military, and the Xbox did not yet exist.

It had been that long, 2000, to be exact. The drought has ended.

The Jayhawks played their way into the NCAA national championships by winning the Pacific Retional in most impressive fashion Wednesday at Spanos Regional Course in Stockton, California.

The top five schools among 13 competing at the regional qualified and Kansas left no doubt from start to finish in the final round that it would be included.

The Jayhawks finished one stroke ahead of Stanford, two ahead of Iowa State and five in front of Alabama. Oregon was in safe position to secure the final spot.

Each school had five golfers competing, but just the four best rounds each day counted toward the team score.

KU’s strong depth proved to the be the difference. All five golfers finished the regional with under-par scores.

KU’s individual finishes and places at the time its last player finished his round: Andy Spencer (-8, T5), Daniel Sutton (-5, T10), Charlie Hillier (-2, T24).Harry Hillier and Daniel Hudson both finished the tournament at 1-under.

The national championships take place May 25-30 at Karsten Creek, Oklahoma State’s home course.

Oregon’s Norman Xiong shot a 62 Wednesday and was low medalist at 15-under for the three rounds, edging Stanford’s Brandon Wu (-14).

I filed updates throughout the day, tracking the scores on golfstat.com:

3 p.m.: Andy Spencer, who birdied No. 17 to get back to 2-under on the day and 8-under for the tournament, is KU’s lone remaining player on the course. Daniel Sutton finished at 5-under, Charlie Hillier at 2-under, Harry Hillier and Daniel Hudson at 1-under.

2:45 p.m.: Freshman Harry Hillier (-20) finished his third and final round at -1, which also was his score for the tournament and Kansas expanded its lead over second-place Iowa State to three strokes.

2:30 p.m.: Junior Charlie Hillier, the first KU player to complete his round, carded a bogey on No. 18, but still shot a 3-under 69 for the Jayhawks, tied for first with Iowa State at 19-under.

2:15 p.m.: In a remarkable show of depth and consistency, all five Kansas players are under par in today's round. Andy Spencer, Daniel Sutton and Daniel Hudson each have birdied their most recent holes and Charlie and Harry Hillier have gone birdie, par in their most recent two holes. Kansas (-22) is in first place, four strokes ahead of second-place Iowa State.

2 p.m.: How is that Iowa State and Kansas are doing so well in a sport that warm-weather schools tend to dominate?

Kansas coach Jamie Bermel and Cyclones coach Andrew Tank have taken similar paths in building their rosters. Both coaches try to land the best players in their states and then head overseas to recruit tough-minded players.

KU’s five players competing in the regional come from Kansas (Andy Spencer), Illinois (Daniel Hudson), England (Daniel Sutton) and New Zealand (Charlie and Harry Hillier).

Iowa State has two players from Iowa competing, two from New Zealand and one from Australia.

With their five players having anywhere from two to three holes remaining, Kansas stands in first at 21-under, three strokes ahead of Iowa State and Alabama, who are tied for second.

Oregon’s Norman Xiong and Stanford’s Brandon Wu are tied for the individual lead at 12-under and KU’s Andy Spencer is tied for fifth at 8-under.

1:45 p.m.: Junior Charlie Hillier of New Zealand is having a terrific final round in the Pacific Regional at Spanos Regional Course in Stockton, California. Through 16 holes, Hillier had made five birdies and one bogey. His brother Harry is a bomber off the tee, but Charlie’s strength is his exceptional short game. Kansas (-21) has opened a three-stroke lead on second-place Iowa State and is 16 strokes ahead of sixth-place LSU.

1:30 p.m.: On a day when the pressure was greatest, all five Jayhawks have delivered steady rounds and not one is over par. Charlie Hillier is -3 for the day, Daniel Sutton -2, Andy Spencer -1 and Daniel Hudson and Harry Hillier are even par and Kansas remains atop the leaderboard at 19-under, one stroke in front of Iowa State.

1:15 p.m.: KU's impressive performance in the clutch continues and the Jayhawks are back on top at 20-under, two strokes ahead of Iowa State. Senior Daniel Hudson of Birmingham, England, birdied the first three holes of the back nine to move into a tie for eighth at 6-under, two strokes behind sophomore Andy Spencer of Leawood, who is tied for third.

1 p.m.: The Big 12 certainly is flexing its golf muscles in regionals across the country.

Iowa State (-20) leads Kansas by a stroke in the Pacific Regional.

Oklahoma State has an eight-stroke lead at the Columbus Regional and Texas Tech is fifth there.

Texas has a 27-stroke lead in the Raleigh Regional and Baylor is in third at the College Station Regional.

The NCAA Championships will be held from May 25-30 at Karsten Creek, home course of Oklahoma State.

12:45 p.m. The Jayhawks' aren't taking any chances and are delivering clutch performances up and down the lineup. They are tied with Iowa State for first at 19-under, 16 strokes ahead of sixth-place LSU.

Andy Spencer is tied for third at 8-under and all five golfers are tied for 24th or better in a field of 75 golfers.

12:30 p.m.: Kansas sophomore Andy Spencer, the team’s steadiest performer throughout the regional, finished his front nine with consecutive birdies to move into a tie for third place with Iowa State’s Sam Vincent at 8-under. Spencer shot 69-69 the first two rounds.

Kansas, in second place at 18-under, one stroke behind Iowa State, has a 15-stroke lead on sixth-place Colorado.

The regional includes four schools ranked int the top 20 nationally, but it looks as if just two, No. 7 Alabama and No. 18 Stanford, will qualify. No. 6 LSU is in eighth, five strokes out of fifth at even par, and No. 19 Southern California is a stroke behind LSU.

12:15 p.m.: New Zealand has been very, very good to Big 12 schools at the Pacific Regional.

Sam Vincent and Denzel Ieremia of New Zealand are Iowa State's two top scorers. Vincent is in third, Ieremia in fifth on the individual leaderboard, helping the Cyclones to the top of the team standings at 19-under, one stroke ahead of second-place Kansas. Brothers Charlie (tied for 20th) and Harry Hillier (tied for 24th) of New Zealand are competing well for KU.

Midway through the round, Kansas has a 12-stroke cushion on fifth-place Oregon.

Noon: Tied for first with Iowa State at 18-under, KU is 12 strokes ahead of fifth-place Oregon. KU has shown remarkable balance and depth. All five players are under par for the tournament. Andy Spencer is tied for fifth at 6-under. Daniel Sutton (-4) is tied for 11th. Charlie Hillier (-2) is tied for 19th and Harry Hillier and Daniel Hudson are tied for 22nd at 1-under.

11:45 a.m.: Junior Charlie Hillier has finished his front nine in 3-under with six pars and three birdies and Kansas is tied with Iowa State at 19-under, 12 strokes in front of fifth-place TCU. Things are looking good.

11:30 a.m.: Harry Hillier, Daniel Sutton and Daniel Hudson all have carded a bogey since the last update and KU has fallen into second place at 16-under and the Jayhawks' lead over fifth-place TCU has dropped from 11 to eight strokes.

11:15 a.m.: The Hillier brothers from New Zealand came to play today. Charlie a junior is 2-under through seven holes. Harry, a freshman, is 2-under through six holes. Kansas sits atop the leaderboard at 19-under, two strokes ahead of second-place Iowa State, and 11 strokes ahead of fifth-place TCU.

11 a.m.: Kansas is off to a blistering start in the third and final round of the Pacific Regional of the NCAA men's golf tournament.

With their five players (only four best count toward team score) having played through anywhere from two to six holes, the Jayhawks are 5-under on the day and in a first-place tie with Iowa State at 18-under.

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KU’s Malik Newman has heard his game reminiscent of a couple NBA guards

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) heads in against the Clemson defense during the first half, Friday, March 23, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) heads in against the Clemson defense during the first half, Friday, March 23, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. by Nick Krug

While four of the league’s best teams remain alive (technically) for the 2018 championship, it’s currently pre-draft season for most NBA franchises.

Prospects and evaluations will dominate conversations in the coming days at the NBA Draft Combine, in Chicago, as executives, coaches and scouts scrutinize the viability of the 69 draft hopefuls in attendance. As everyone involved with the combine attempts to forecast the careers of the candidates on display, player comparisons almost become unavoidable.

From his days as a five-star prospect in Jackson, Miss., to the past three years as an aspiring NBA player at Mississippi State and the University of Kansas, Malik Newman has heard his name tied with various supposedly similar professional guards who came before him.

In the midst of his stunning NCAA Tournament run with the Jayhawks — 21. 6 points per game, 47.1% shooting, 15-for-34 on 3-pointers, 27-for-30 on free throws — Newman was presented with a player comparison, courtesy of a former KU guard. While watching Newman go against Clemson in the Sweet 16, former Bill Self pupil Russell Robinson tweeted out that Newman’s game reminded him of 13-year NBA veteran Lou Williams.

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Like Newman, Williams was a McDonald’s All-American in high school. Since bypassing college for the NBA in 2005, the 6-foot-1 guard has scored 11,807 career points, picking up the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2015. Williams’ most recent season, his 13th, was his best, as he averaged 22.6 points and 5.3 assists — both career highs — garnering all-star consideration while primarily coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Listed at 6-3 and more of a scorer than distributor at heart, did Newman like being connected him Williams?

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) pulls up for a three during the first half, Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) pulls up for a three during the first half, Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan. by Nick Krug

“Yeah. I love Lou Will’s game,” Newman replied in late March. “I feel like he’s an underrated scorer in the league. That’s what he’s known for is getting buckets. So, I mean, I’ll definitely take that.”

Oddly enough, Newman said two comparisons he often had received were to Williams and another former Sixth Man of the Year (2005), 6-3 guard Ben Gordon, the third overall pick by Chicago in 2004.

“So I’ll definitely take both of those,” Newman added.

He won’t be a lottery pick like Gordon was coming out of UConn. But if Newman wants to follow someone’s career trajectory to NBA success, Williams would serve as an ideal role model. In 2005, Philadelphia selected Williams in the middle of the second round (No. 45 overall). Entering this week’s combine, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony projects Newman as a mid-second round pick (No. 44 overall).

Some players go into this pre-draft process with unrealistic expectations for themselves. In fact, it’s possible for some to entertain impractical ideas after hearing from people employed in the NBA. This past March, one league executive told TNT’s David Aldridge that Newman reminded him of Ray Allen “in size, personality and shooting ability,” characterizing the possibly overlooked Newman as a “value pick.” Allen is a 10-time all-star and hall of famer.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) puts up a three over Duke guard Grayson Allen (3) during the second half, Sunday, March 25, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) puts up a three over Duke guard Grayson Allen (3) during the second half, Sunday, March 25, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. by Nick Krug

It’s to Newman’s credit that someone would even conjure up such a career track for him. It’s also encouraging that he isn’t headed to the combine thinking he’s about to become an all-time great.

Newman said he doesn’t even have a specific NBA player he tries to model his game after. His two favorites are Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard. But he’s not claiming to be either of those all-stars. He’s not even hyping himself as the next Lou Williams or Ben Gordon — though he’d leave the league fulfilled if able to mirror either of their careers.

Grounded while confident is an ideal approach for a prospect entering the pre-draft process, and it seems Newman is willing to follow that strategy, even as more player comparisons are likely to be thrown his way in the weeks leading up to the June 21 draft.

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Kansas gunning for first appearance in NCAA golf championships since 2000

The Kansas men’s golf team made it to an NCAA regional nine times in Ross Randall’s final 10 seasons of a 27-year career as head coach, a stretch that included eight consecutive appearances (1998-2005). Upon Randall’s retirement after the 2007 season, KU experienced an eight-year drought and is in the midst of a revival under sixth-year coach Jamie Bermel.

The Jayhawks are playing in an NCAA Regional for the third consecutive year, this time the Pacific Regional in Stockton.

If KU can finish in the top five, it will advance to the NCAA Finals for the first time since 2000. Off to a good start, the Jayhawks were in second at the beginning of the second of three days of competition.

Kansas is seeking its sixth appearance in the NCAA Championships.

A look at some details of the first five:

Year Place in NCAA
Championships
Top Individual
at regional
Top individual
at championships
1989 22 John Ogden/ John Sinovic
Sean Thayer MC/148
1993 15 Matt Gogel Matt Gogel (T-34)
1996 15 Dan Rooney Slade Adams (T-21)
1999 22 Chris Thompson Ryan Vermeer (T-23)
2000 21 Conrad Roberts Ryan Vermeer (T-30)

Live scoring is available at golfstat.com. It offers a hole-by-hole scorecard for each player. A quick check of it this morning revealed that Daniel Sutton had carded an early bogey, Andy Spencer an early birdie, drawing them into a tie for fourth place in the individual standings. Shortly after that, KU had pulled within a stroke of first-place Iowa State in the team standings, thanks to consecutive birdies from Harry Hillier.

Warning: Tracking golfers via live scoring can be very addictive.

2:08 p.m. update: Kansas is in first place in the team standings, one stroke ahead of Alabama, the nation's No. 7-ranked team.

2:12 p.m. update: Kansas has fallen two strokes behind Alabama.

2:19 p.m. update: The Jayhawks have drawn within one stroke of Alabama.

2:32 p.m. update: KU and the Crimson Tide are tied for first at 14-under.

2:48 p.m. update: Kansas has fallen into second-place tie with Iowa State at 13-under, one stroke behind Alabama.

2:56 p.m. update: Kansas has dropped into third place, one stroke behind co-leaders at 14-under Alabama and Iowa State.

3:09 p.m. update: The top four scores from the five golfers competing for each team count, so after two days, that's eight rounds per team, a lot of room for separation, yet somehow the team scores are almost always so close. That always blows me away.

Alabama and Iowa State are atop the team leaderboard with 562 strokes (14-under) and Kansas is third with 563 (13-under). The rest of the schools still have golfers on the course. At the moment, Stanford stands four at 8-under, TCU fifth at 7-under.

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Lance Legendre’s quick feet and strong arm make him potential Kansas legend

Kansas has scored just one non-binding football commitment from the Class of 2019, but it's an exciting one, which in turn makes it one that will be difficult to secure through the December signing day.

Four-star quarterback Lance Legendre's Feb. 26 verbal commitment to Kansas triggered much skepticism in the way the early commitments of receiver Devonta Jason and cornerback Corione Harris did from the Class of 2018.

Jason ultimately signed with Mississippi State, but Harris honored his verbal commitment to Kansas, enrolled at the semester and impressed the coaching staff with his attitude during 15 spring practices.

Jason and Harris both attended Landry-Walker High in New Orleans and were recruited by former Warren Easton High (New Orleans) head coach Tony Hull, KU's running backs coach. If Legendre signs with Kansas in December, he'll become the second quarterback from Warren Easton to do so in recent years. Tyriek Starks, a three-star prospect in high school from the Class of 2016, spent two years in the program before transferring to Southwest Mississippi Community College.

Legendre is a four-star prospect per Rivals and already has received scholarship offers from Alabama and Tennessee.

As impressive as his crazy arm strength is in the dropped pass shown in the video below, it's not my favorite moment capture in the video. When pressured before throwing the bomb, Legendre changed directions so sharply that the pursuing defender fell to the ground, not something you see every day in a football game.

The fact that Hull landed Harris and highly regarded running back Pooka Williams, also out of Louisiana, gives more credence to the possibility that Legendre will honor his commitment to Kansas. The more Louisiana players Hull adds to the roster, the more likely other recruits from The Boot will become comfortable heading to the Big 12 school that last had a winning season in 2008.

Rivals ranks Legendre as the eight-best dual-threat quarterback prospect in the Class of 2019 and the 15th-best recruit in Louisiana.

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Marcus Morris helps Celtics curb LeBron James — at least for 1 game

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, right, fights for position against Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) during the third quarter of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference Finals, Sunday, May 13, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, right, fights for position against Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) during the third quarter of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference Finals, Sunday, May 13, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The mere concept of successfully defending otherworldly NBA superstar LeBron James borders on laughable.

So plenty around The Association likely recalled their favorite eye-roll meme or GIF when Marcus Morris stated his belief leading up to Boston’s Eastern Conference Finals series with Cleveland that he’s “probably the best guy defending (James) in the league, outside of Kawhi (Leonard.)”

Prior to this postseason, Morris had experienced exactly four NBA playoff games since leaving Kansas for the pros in 2011. Tactfully, Morris at least made it clear while discussing his matchup with the four-time league MVP, aka “King James,” that it would take a full team effort to try and defend “the best player in this game.”

Surprisingly, at least in the aftermath of Game 1, Morris’ predictive assessment didn’t look completely insane. He started for the first time this postseason specifically to match up with James, and the Celtics took a 1-0 lead as the man who has played in seven straight NBA Finals registered personal 2018 postseason lows with 15 points, 31.3% shooting and 7 turnovers.

Morris, meanwhile, delivered a double-double performance (21 points, 10 rebounds). He was asked during Sunday’s post-game press conference why James doesn’t intimidate him.

“It's a team effort, man,” Morris replied. “It's not just me. Everybody played their part in guarding him. He's obviously the best player in the game, and you need multiple guys and a team to guard him an entire game. I just think we did a great job of that.”

While that appraisal seems dead on, ESPN’s Chris Forsberg shared some interesting advanced data on Morris vs. LeBron, via Second Spectrum. Morris defended James 39 times — the most of any defender — during Boston’s 108-83 win. The Cavs averaged 89.7 points per 100 possessions when Morris defended James, compared to Cleveland’s postseason average of 108 points per 100 possessions.

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Morris said he looked forward to guarding James because of his competitive nature, and that “I’m going to be able to tell my kids this one day.” But the seventh-year forward didn’t necessarily notice a change in James’ approach because of the way he and Boston went about defending one of the game’s all-time greats.

While James didn’t dominate inside the way one might assume, his ability to attack the paint was hindered somewhat by the Cavs’ poor 3-point shooting (4 of 26). Obviously, Boston coach Brad Stevens wasn’t about to anoint Morris and his teammates as LeBron-stoppers.

“I thought by committee everybody worked hard. You just have to keep making it as hard as possible on LeBron. Easier said than done,” Stevens added. “He's obviously not going to have many games like that. Their shooters around him won't have many games like that. But I thought our guys were locked in.”

Al Horford credited Morris for embracing the impossible mission of checking James.

“Marcus is one of our leaders, and he's been a presence since the first day he got here,” Horford said of his 6-foot-9 teammate, still in his first season with Boston. “So I think that taking on this challenge is something that we expect out of him. We have his back out there. Like he said, we're doing it as a unit. It's not all on him. But you do have to give him credit for his focus and his commitment for the team.”

Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) makes a dribble move against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference Finals, Sunday, May 13, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) makes a dribble move against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference Finals, Sunday, May 13, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Could Morris be the man who keeps James from reaching his eighth straight NBA Finals? Probably not. I mean, why would anyone even ask that question or type it out?

The King, likely waiting to unleash countless retaliatory plays the remainder of the series, complimented his adversary following the Cavs’ loss.

“I thought they had great game plan Game 1. He was the start of it. He was my matchup, and I think they did a great job of communicating throughout the whole game, knowing where I was and knowing where our teammates was,” James said. “Brad and the coaching staff did a great job in Game 1. You commend that. We have an opportunity to look at a lot of film (Monday), and see ways they were making us uncomfortable, making myself off balance and not have a rhythm all game. So we'll be much better in Game 2.”

James added the first game of any series always doubles as a “feel-out game” for him, so he will adjust to the Celtics’ defense accordingly.

Translation: Morris might require the aid of all the leprechauns in TD Garden to get out of another game this series relatively unscathed by LeBron.

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KU will face highly motivated K-State baseball team in Manhattan this weekend

Kansas baseball coach Ritch Price watches the Jayhawks from the dugout during a home game against No. 5 Texas Tech, Saturday, April 8, 2018, at Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas baseball coach Ritch Price watches the Jayhawks from the dugout during a home game against No. 5 Texas Tech, Saturday, April 8, 2018, at Hoglund Ballpark. by Mike Yoder

Kansas State baseball coach Brad Hill’s contract is up at season’s end. He knew it wasn’t going to be renewed, so he decided to announce his resignation Tuesday with a couple of weeks remaining in the season.

The timing could not have been worse for K-State’s chief rival, Kansas, because the Jayhawks visit Manhattan for a three-game series, today through Saturday.

“I told our guys there is going to be some emotion in their dugout and they’re going to play their rear ends off,” Kansas coach Ritch Price said.

Hill, an assistant at KU in the school’s lone College World Series appearance in 1993, has been Kansas State’s head coach since 2004, one year after Price took over the Kansas program.

“We have a really good relationship,” Price said. “We have two of the hardest jobs in America. I have incredible respect for how hard he’s worked and the success he’s had. I know the obstacles he’s had to overcome, competing with warm-weather schools with unbelievable facilities and great recruiting bases and he’s done an outstanding job.”

The Wildcats have fallen on hard times since winning the Big 12 regular-season title in 2013.

They are in danger of finishing last in the Big 12 for the third time in five seasons since then. K-State’s four NCAA tournament appearances came in a five-year span from 2009 through 2013.

Hill has a .376 winning percentage in Big 12 play. Price is .400 in conference games at KU. Price has taken the Jayhawks to the NCAA tournament three times: 2006, 2009, 2014.

KU heads into the weekend series 5-12 in Big 12 play, K-State 3-18.

Staying out of last place in the nine-team Big 12 is a big deal because only eight teams qualify for the conference tournament.

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Recent Final Four history shows more than 3-point bombers taste success

Villanova forward Omari Spellman (14) fakes out Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) during the second half, Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Villanova forward Omari Spellman (14) fakes out Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) during the second half, Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. by Nick Krug

This new-age philosophy that if you don't shoot a ton of 3-pointers you're doomed to fail rubs me so wrong that I decided to look at the past 16 Final Four teams in four different categories listed on Kenpom.com, the first two dealing with the volume of 3-pointers taken, another with 3-point accuracy and a fourth with the size of teams.

Size turned out to be the most common thread for Final Four squads, only slightly ahead of 3-point accuracy, and the two least important factors are 3-point frequency.

So the idea that teams that don't chuck 3-pointers don't cut it anymore is hogwash. A look at Final Four teams from the past four NCAA tournaments:

Final Four Team Pct. of points
on 3-pointers
(National rank)
3-pt. FG/FGA
(National rank)
3-pt FG pct.
(National rank)
Avg. inches
per player
(National rank)
2015 Duke* 27.5 (205) 33.4 (198) 38.7 (26) 77.5 (57)
2015 Wisconsin 29.8 (139) 37.4 (89) 36.5 (79) 79.2 (2)
2015 Michigan State 31.8 (88) 35 (153) 38.5 (29) 76.2 (240)
2015 Kentucky 21.0 (326) 27.1 (325) 34.9 (143) 79.3 (1)
2016 Villanova* 33.4 (71) 42.7 (31) 36.2 (105) 77.3 (93)
2016 North Carolina 20.3 (342) 26.7 (338) 32.7 (259) 77.8 (59)
2016 Oklahoma 38.9 (14) 40.7 (59) 42.2 (2) 77 (122)
2016 Syracuse 36.5 (27) 42.1 (41) 36 (114) 78.6 (11)
2017 North Carolina* 25.3 (294)
30.3 (306) 35.5 (148) 77.9 (35)
2017 Gonzaga 26.6 (270) 32.8 (258) 38.2 (42) 78.5 (8)
2017 Oregon 32.8 (111) 38.9 (112) 38 (47) 77.4 (91)
2017 South Carolina 27.3 (254) 33.5 (247) 33.4 (245) 77.1 (127)
2018 Villanova* 40.2 (15) 47.5 (12) 40.1 (11) 77.3 (96)
2018 Michigan 35.6 (81) 43.2 (59) 35.2 (156) 77.8 (50)
2018 Kansas 37 (50) 41.2 (84) 40.1 (10) 77.7 (55)
2018 Loyola-Chicago 30.4 (189) 35.4 (229)
39.8 (17) 76.5 (229)
Source: Kenpom.com
*National champion
Color key: Top third Middle third Bottom third
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Closing moments of season-ending playoff loss will motivate Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) drops to the floor as the ball bounces out of bounds after hitting him, as Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier, right, points during the final seconds of Game 5 of an NBA basketball playoff series in Boston, Wednesday, May 9, 2018. The turnover helped the Celtics keep the lead as they defeated the 76ers 114-112. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) drops to the floor as the ball bounces out of bounds after hitting him, as Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier, right, points during the final seconds of Game 5 of an NBA basketball playoff series in Boston, Wednesday, May 9, 2018. The turnover helped the Celtics keep the lead as they defeated the 76ers 114-112. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

In every great NBA player’s narrative there’s a moment he’d like to forget that actually turns into a point in time that shapes the rest of his career for the better. For Philadelphia uber-center Joel Embiid, that instant might have come Wednesday night in a season-ending loss.

Trailing Boston by two with the shot clock off in the fourth quarter of Game 5, the Sixers turned to a suddenly unmasked Embiid for a potential game-tying basket. The former Kansas big man faced up Celtics center Aron Baynes, drove to the paint and couldn’t finish a layup or secure the ensuing offensive rebound, as Boston point guard Terry Rozier snuck in to swipe at the ball, which went out of bounds off of Embiid with just more than 10 seconds on the game clock.

Already down on the court, Embiid slammed his hands on the floor in disbelief and let his 7-foot-2 body fall prostrate. The Celtics went on to win 114-112, ending Philadelphia’s season in the second round of the playoffs.

The play was the antithesis of the rest of Embiid’s night, as his second season in the NBA concluded shortly after unleashing his array of talents. Smooth jumpers, graceful finishes around the rim, protecting the paint on defense. Peak Embiid. The only thing lacking was a 3-pointer, but he finished with 27 points (9-for-18 shooting), 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks in his best performance of the postseason.

“It’s hard, because I feel like we had a pretty good chance of beating them,” Embiid said during his post-game press conference. “You’ve gotta learn from it and come back next year and do better.”

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Some observers didn’t even expect the Sixers, a league laughingstock during their rebuild, to reach the playoffs this season. But by pairing Embiid with 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, Philadelphia found a young one-two punch as intimidating as any in the NBA. The duo helped Philly finish the regular season 52-30, capturing the No. 3 seed, before the 76ers disposed of Miami, 4-1, in the first round.

Considering Embiid is just 24 years old, Simmons is 21, Dario Saric is 24 and 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz (a non-factor this year) is 19, the confident, young Sixers rightfully anticipate better playoff finishes to come. But they also thought they were capable of more right now.

“We feel like when everybody’s on we’re unbeatable,” the always self-assured Embiid shared. “But we committed a lot of mistakes. We’ve gotta learn from it. But we definitely have more to show.”

The spectacle known as the Sixers will keep the NBA Playoffs compelling for years to come if — and this caveat always must be included when discussing Embiid, who missed his first two pro seasons due to injuries — the multi-skilled Cameroonian known as “The Process” can remain healthy.

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“I feel like this season was kind of like a success,” Embiid said. “Our goal was to make the playoffs. And then we changed it and we wanted to get the third seed. And then it was the 50 wins. And going into the playoffs we felt like we had a really good chance, especially after winning 16 in a row (to close the regular season). We felt like we had a good chance to get to at least the conference finals and that was our goal. We didn’t make it, but the whole season we changed the goals we set at the beginning of the season.”

The franchise center said he and Simmons “have a lot of room to grow,” and referenced the beginning of the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook era in Oklahoma City as an example of how two young talents can reshape an organization.

“I think we’ve got a bright future,” Embiid said, and related an exchange he and Simmons shared after their loss to the Celtics, when the guard pointed to the center’s hands and predicted there would be “a lot of rings” on Embiid’s fingers.

“I’m excited to learn from this stuff, because I felt like we had a pretty good chance,” the big man continued, “but you’ve just gotta learn from it and we’re gonna be fine.”

As a wise man once said: Trust the process.

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KU’s Peyton Bender projected in bottom 20 percent of FBS starting QBs

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) throws during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) throws during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Spring football came and went in Lawrence without anyone knowing for sure who will open the 2018 season as the starting quarterback at Kansas. But if forced today to take a stab at the winner of the competition nearly four months ahead of the Jayhawks’ season opener, the safest bet would be senior Peyton Bender.

So even though some KU football supporters might think new sophomore QB Miles Kendrick or redshirt junior Carter Stanley would be better suited for the job, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, given the unpredictability of the battle, that Athlon Sports rolled with Bender when ranking the top starting quarterbacks in FBS.

A 6-foot-1 senior who began his college career at Washington State and played at Itawamba Community College (Miss.) one season before transferring to Kansas, Bender started eight games and threw for 1,609 yards (20th all-time at KU), 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while completing 54.2 percent of his 273 throws in 2017. Those numbers landed Bender at No. 108 out of 130 passers on the list.

“The Jayhawks have finished last in the Big 12 in scoring offense for eight consecutive seasons,” Steven Lassan wrote for Athlon. “Without better play under center in 2018, that streak is likely to extend to nine.”

Bender didn’t finish last among Power Five quarterbacks. That unflattering distinction went to Illinois’ Cam Thomas (116th). Another Big Ten QB, who happens to be on KU’s schedule this fall, Rutgers’ Artur Sitkowski (110th) also ranked behind Bender. The only other QB from a power conference lower than Bender was Oregon State’s Jake Luton (109th).

While Bender registered closer to 130th-ranked Kilton Anderson of Coastal Carolina, one of his Big 12 peers, West Virginia senior Will Grier, is Athlon’s No. 1 QB in the country.

The majority of the league’s other quarterbacks ended up closer to, or in, the middle of the pack: Baylor’s Charlie Brewer (32nd), Iowa State’s Kyle Kempt (33rd), Texas’ Sam Ehlinger (34th), Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (35th), Kansas State’s Skylar Thompson (54th), TCU’s Shawn Robinson (70th) and Oklahoma State’s Dru Brown (77th). The only Big 12 QB in Bender’s neighborhood was Texas Tech’s McLane Carter (97th).

Although Bender experienced enough turmoil in his debut season with KU that he lost the starting job seven games into 2017, Stanley didn’t show enough to win the gig for himself entering the off-season, and Kansas brought in sophomore junior college transfer Kendrick to enter the fray this spring.

The battle to become KU’s starting QB could very well continue through the week of preparation leading up to the team’s Sept. 1 opener versus Nicholls State. Bender didn’t do well during his junior year when the offensive line broke down, so if the coaching staff envisions such scenarios becoming commonplace again in 2018, Bender might not end up starting.

But if head coach David Beaty and offensive coordinator Doug Meacham see enough promise and improvement up front from O-line coach A.J. Ricker’s group, it could become Bender’s job to lose. A fifth-year player — he took a redshirt his first season at WSU, in 2014 — Bender has studied and made throws in some version or other of the Air Raid longer than Stanley or Kendrick. Plus, Bender projects as the most consistent downfield passer.

If Kansas can find a way to balance its offense by featuring Khalil Herbert, Dom Williams and Pooka Williams in the run game, it might help the offense play to Bender’s strengths and make him a more effective QB.

Of course, all of those best-case scenarios hinge on the success of the offensive line, which lost center Mesa Ribordy to retirement this off-season.

As usual with KU football, more questions exist than easy solutions.

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Quan Hampton potential spark for Kansas offense

Kansas wide receiver Quan Hampton (6) jumps in the air to catch a pass between defender during the Jayhawks game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium. When Hampton landed CMU defenders stripped him of the ball and were awarded an interception call.

Kansas wide receiver Quan Hampton (6) jumps in the air to catch a pass between defender during the Jayhawks game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium. When Hampton landed CMU defenders stripped him of the ball and were awarded an interception call. by Mike Yoder

He didn’t post loud statistics during his freshman season and suffered an injury that took him off the field for half the season, so it’s easy to overlook Quan Hampton when listing potential playmakers for a Kansas football offense that has been stuck in neutral for several years.

Yet, something about the way he moved when healthy indicated he had potential to develop into an exciting playmaker. Hampton showed speed, quickness and agility on his way to 21 catches for 145 yards (just a 6.9-yard average) as a true freshman last season.

In the second game of his college career, Hampton had six receptions for 67 yards, one rush for 13 yards and 22-yard kick return in a 45-27 loss to Central Michigan.

His favorite play came that week.

“It came on a corner route,” Hampton said. “I showed people I could jump.”

Listed at 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, Hampton acknowledged he’s closer to 5-7, but the former high school basketball player added that his height doesn’t prevent him from dunking. He is the one throwing it down with back to the basket during warmups here:

“I was a junior in high school the last time I had my vertical measured,” Hampton said. “It was 40 inches.”

Hampton started in the slot the first six games of last season and will compete again for one of the starting inside receiver positions. He also is in the mix as a return man for punts and kickoffs.

“I got injured halfway through the season, so I wasn’t able to keep on playing but I feel like the experience that I got when I did play I learned a lot from and it will carry over to this season,” Hampton said.

An extra year in the weight room will enable him to get more of the 50-50 balls that he was able to gain possession of a year ago.

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On list of college football’s top Power Five coaches, David Beaty finishes last

Kansas head coach David Beaty shows his frustration after a West Virginia touchdown during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty shows his frustration after a West Virginia touchdown during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Headed into his fourth season in charge of the ever-floundering Kansas football program, David Beaty has boundless miles to go before proving he is capable of making the Jayhawks winners.

A reminder of the deficit in which Beaty finds himself operating surfaced Tuesday, when CBS Sports published the first installment of its Power Five conference coaches rankings.

On the worst-to-best ordered countdown of head coaches employed in the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12, Beaty’s name popped up at the top — that is to say, the writers at CBS judged KU’s coach as the worst among the 65 candidates.

Beaty inherited a challenging situation at Kansas when he took over in December of 2014, for sure. After an 0-12 debut season, the Jayhawks went 2-12 in Beaty’s second year on the job, prompting some hope for the future. But 2017 bottomed out with an 11-game losing streak following KU’s season-opening win over outmatched Southeast Missouri State.

Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports explained no specific guidelines were used for the rankings. Still, it’s easy to quickly dissect the list and determine how Beaty landed at No. 65. KU’s coach is 1-26 in Big 12 games and 1-32 versus Power Five competition. The only head coach from a major conference Beaty has defeated is Charlie Strong, whom Texas fired a week later. Strong resurfaced outside of the Power Five, as head coach at South Florida.

In what some thought could be a relatively competitive season for KU football, the Jayhawks not only went winless in the Big 12 in 2017, but also were outscored on average, 46.4-14.3, in league games.

Kansas finished Beaty’s third season at the helm ranked 100th or worse among 129 FBS programs in 26 of 47 statistical categories tracked on the NCAA’s official website.

“I’m not sure how my colleagues based their rankings,” Fornelli wrote, “but my approach was likely similar to theirs. I took into account all that a coach has accomplished, and then I considered which coach I'd want to hire the most were I an athletic director with deep pockets and a vacancy to fill. Then we put the results together, and we got our final rankings.”

Beaty dropped five spots from a year ago on the CBS Sports list. He finished behind Arizona State’s Herm Edwards (No. 64), Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith, Ole Miss coach Matt Luke, Indiana’s Tom Allen and Rutgers’ Chris Ash. The Jayhawks play host to Rutgers on Sept. 15 this coming fall.

The Big 12 coach closest to Beaty in the rankings was Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury, at No. 49.

See the entire list at CBS Sports: Power Five coaches ranked 65-26

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Over/under for victories in regular season opens at three for Kansas football

Kansas head coach David Beaty talks with his players following an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty talks with his players following an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

You see men crawling all over Las Vegas who are different versions of the same person. Greasy hair. Bulging bags under their eyes. Brown double-knit pants decorated by weeks-old donut stains.

They have one thing in common. They couldn’t convince themselves that when odds look too good to be true, turn around and run away from the smoke and cacophony of bells and into the sunlight.

It simply does not pay to gamble. The house always wins and in turn you might lose your house. So often, the odds that look to good to be true have the sharpest fangs.

That brings us to BetDSI setting its over/under win totals for Big 12 schools:

School Over/Under
(regular season)
2017 record
(regular season)
Oklahoma 10.5 11-1
TCU 8 10-2
Kansas State 7 7-5
West Virginia
7 7-5
Texas 7 6-6
Iowa State 6 7-5
Texas Tech 5.5 6-6
Baylor 5 1-11
Kansas 3 1-11

So in order to lose a wager that looks to good to be true, betting on Kansas to have fewer than three victories, the Jayhawks would have to win four or more games. Three would be a push.

Kansas opens with Nicholls State, which has made steady progress under fourth-year head coach Tim Rebowe, who inherited an 0-12 program. The Colonels have gone 3-8, 5-6 and 8-4 under Rebowe and have most of the players returning from last year's squad. They're no pushovers, but are ranked no better than 25th in the Stats FCS preseason poll. Kansas should win that game.

The Jayhawks then travel to Mount Pleasant, Mich., where they will try to snap a 46-game road losing streak against Central Michigan. The Chippewas handled Kansas in Lawrence pretty easily last season, 45-27. Shane Morris, who started his career at Michigan, threw for 467 yards and five touchdowns without throwing an interception. He graduated and Kansas has upgraded its secondary, so it's not unreasonable to think the road slide could end and the Jayhawks could bring a 2-0 record back home for a Week 3 clash with Rutgers, picked for last in the East division of the 14-team Big 10.

Kansas ranked 120th in the nation with 18.7 points per game last season. Rutgers averaged 18 points a game and ranked 121st. They have very little experience back at quarterback. Strange as it sounds, the Jayhawks have a realistic shot at opening the season 3-0. A 2-1 or 1-2 start is more likely, but 3-0 is not an absurd thought. But even if they do start 3-0, the search for a fourth victory is contained to the Big 12.

Baylor returns most of its key players from a team that smoked KU, 38-9, in Lawrence. This year's game is in Waco. The rest of the road games are against West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Not feeling an upset at any of those places, not even with two weeks to prepare for the trip to Lubbock.

Kansas was outscored 88-0 in consecutive road games vs. Iowa State and TCU last season. TCU visits David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Week 8, the Cyclones in Week 9. A change in venue isn't enough to compensate for 88 points. Quarterback Kenny Hill no longer is with the Horned Frogs, but he had nothing to do with Kansas managing just 21 total yards in Fort Worth last season.

Then it's off to Manhattan to play Bill Snyder's experienced Kansas State Wildcats. Kansas has hung tough against K-State the past two seasons, losing in Manhattan, 34-19, in 2016 and losing at home last season, 30-20. K-State will be sky high for this one.

A trip to Norman is next, so the search continues in the season-finale at home vs. Texas. The Longhorns won't look past KU. The memory of an overtime loss to the Jayhawks in 2016 is too fresh.

I purposely skipped over one game because I consider it KU's best shot at a Big 12 victory. Oklahoma State visits Lawrence on Sept. 29, the second game of the Big 12 schedule.

Mason Rudolph, who threw for 494 yards in KU's season finale, and receiver James Washington, are with the Pittsburgh Steelers now.

If the Cowboys were confident they had Rudolph's replacement in house they would not have welcomed Hawaii graduate transfer Dru Brown, who will join the program in the summer. Oklahoma State will be bigger and faster than Kansas, but if the quarterback spot isn't settled by the last week of September, it's conceivable the Jayhawks could score a monster upset. Conceivable is a long, long way from probable. There's a chance, but it's a small one.

So many things would have to go right for Kansas to win four games, what would be the most since 2009, that it seems as if the under is just too good to be true.

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Joel Embiid more deferential offensively in Sixers win, but assertive in run-ins with Celtics

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid in action during Game 4 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Monday, May 7, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid in action during Game 4 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Monday, May 7, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

In the first three games of Philadelphia’s Eastern Conference semifinal matchup with Boston, star center Joel Embiid averaged 24.3 points and often became the focal point of his team’s offense. The problem with this particular approach for “The Process” was the Celtics entered Game 4 with a 3-0 lead.

In the former Kansas big man’s first playoff elimination game, Embiid and the Sixers took a different approach and, with the help of a career night from new starting guard T.J. McConnell, knocked off Boston to stay alive.

Leading up to Monday’s win-or-go-home outing for Philadelphia, both ESPN’s Zach Lowe and The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor pointed out the lack of success the Sixers had offensively when feeding Embiid in the post.

During the first three games of the series, when Embiid received the ball via post-up and shot — an approach welcomed by Boston, by not sending double-teams — the Sixers only produced 23 points on 42 such plays.

From the opening minutes of Game 4, Philadelphia clearly had a different agenda, showing a concerted effort to bring some variation to its offense, with more actions designed to free cutters headed for the paint and the Sixers opting to post up Dario Saric or Ben Simmons when a smaller Boston defender ended up on one of them. Philly didn’t force-feed Embiid and the rest of the team benefited as a result.

While the 24-year-old 7-footer only scored on 1 of 4 shots directly off his post-ups, Philadelphia actually fared far better on his post touches overall. During Embiid’s 35 minutes on the floor, he received the ball 10 times on post-ups and the Sixers scored on 5 of them, netting 11 points (1.1 points per possession).

Embiid finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers and looked comfortable deferring more often for the well-being of his team. The masked face of the franchise — or “Phantom of The Process” — shot 6-for-15, while Saric (25 points) led Philly in shot attempts (9 of 17) and Simmons (19 points) got more involved as a scorer (6 of 15).

When his teammate did seek out Embiid in the post, unlike earlier in the series, it tended to work out. In the opening minutes, the starting center went old school, scoring over Al Horford with a jump-hook after backing him down

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In the second quarter, Embiid first made an impact in the post by drawing a foul on Marcus Morris, whom he pinned beneath the rim (more on that KU connection to come). He later posted up Aron Baynes on the right block and passed out of a double team to feed McConnell (19 points, 9-for-12 shooting) for a score inside.

The Sixers finished the half in style on a set that began with Embiid posting at the left elbow. After giving the ball to J.J. Redick on a handoff and rolling to the paint, the big man threw down a jam for a 47-43 halftime advantage.

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In the third quarter, one Embiid post-up on the left elbow eventually turned into a wide-open McConnell 3 that pushed the margin to 76-62. In the fourth, after Embiid drew a foul while posting up Greg Monroe, the side out of bounds play that followed concluded with a McConnell layup.

Amid all the countable contributions Embiid made to the win, he also kept the raucous Philly crowd involved, sometimes with the help of his opponents.

In the second quarter Marcus Smart reached in after Embiid secured a defensive board and knocked the visor on the big man’s mask, giving the Sixers star the chance to play to the crowd and for the fans to boo Smart — a pastime with which Kansas fans surely are familiar.

The intensity turned up even more a few minutes later, when Embiid tried taking the ball from Terry Rozier after the point guard was whistled for an offensive foul. The two had to be separated after Rozier pushed Embiid and swung at them, leading to double technical fouls.

None by gifdsports

Of course, Embiid had something to say about it during his post-game press conference.

“Too bad he’s so short that he couldn’t get to my face,” Embiid deadpanned.

In the third quarter, with Philadelphia making a run, Embiid let another former Kansas standout, Morris, know the Sixers were getting in the Celtics’ heads. Morris responded by first flashing three fingers, then zero, referencing the state of the series entering Game 4.

None by Keith Pompey

Dull moments don’t exist in Joel Embiid’s world. Check in to see what he has in store on Wednesday, when the Celtics and Sixers play Game 5, in Boston.

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‘I think he’s here to stay’: KU’s Daylon Charlot reinvigorated by return to WR

Kansas wide receiver Daylon Charlot (2) gets past Kansas linebacker Denzel Feaster (18) during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas wide receiver Daylon Charlot (2) gets past Kansas linebacker Denzel Feaster (18) during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Daylon Charlot didn’t transfer from Alabama to Kansas to play safety.

So this spring, and a return to his old position, wide receiver, invigorated one of the most intriguing talents on the Jayhawks’ roster.

Late this past fall, Charlot’s first as an active member of KU’s roster, a void at safety, as well as the apparent inability of the one-time four-star prep prospect form Patterson, La., to crack the offense’s two-deep, inspired coaches to move Charlot into the secondary.

Too raw and inexperienced at his new position to get onto the field in any of the Jayhawks’ final five games, Charlot tried to make the best of his predicament at practices. In that setting, he often let the receivers he had spent more than a year working alongside know he looked forward to squaring off with them.

“Daylon always tried to hit us,” KU receiver Steven Sims Jr. said, grinning. “That’s all he talked about, ‘He’s gonna catch us slipping,’ and stuff like that. It’s good to have him back.”

The extent to which Charlot feels revitalized, for now, is known only by the the 6-foot, 209-pound receiver and those with which he has shared that notion directly. Though requested for interviews throughout the spring, a KU communications staff member said Charlot had a schedule conflict on each of the three days in April when players were made available. Interview requests were not taken following the spring’s final, open-to-the-public practice.

Sims, who has spent plenty of downtime and prep time around Charlot since the Class of 2015 Alabama signee arrived in Lawrence as a ballyhooed transfer in 2016, shared his assessment of Charlot’s mindset this spring.

“I know he’s happy to be back. He feels a little rusty, but I know he’s happy to be back on offense,” Sims said. “Nobody wants to play defense. He got abused by us every day in practice.”

The KU offense needs Charlot to start resembling the type of receiver many envisioned when he was a consensus four-star prospect in Louisiana, as a high schooler. The kind of player renowned Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban didn’t want leaving his program.

Kansas wide receiver Daylon Charlot (2) works out his arms on the ropes during practice on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

Kansas wide receiver Daylon Charlot (2) works out his arms on the ropes during practice on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. by Nick Krug

Redshirt junior Carter Stanley said he and KU’s other quarterbacks noticed the short-lived safety responding positively this spring upon returning to the offense.

“I think it’s his natural spot. I really like Daylon as a receiver. He’s put in great work already,” Stanley said. “I think he’s there to stay.”

According to fourth-year Kansas coach David Beaty, the need for some depth at safety forced what proved to be a temporary relocation project for Charlot.

“You know, we always knew that if we were able to go and get what we needed in recruiting, we wanted to bring him back over (to offense),” Beaty remarked. “So he's back in the position that he started at. I know he's excited about that.”

Charlot added 14 pounds to his frame from a year ago this offseason, but Sims related his fellow receiver might cut some of that weight in the weeks ahead in hopes of maximizing his speed.

“I do think moving him back refocused him,” Sims observed. “I feel like Daylon’s ready to take on his role now at wide receiver and I feel like he’s focused. He’s learning it over again, because he kind of forgot the stuff a little bit,” Sims noted early in the spring. “He’s getting his confidence back. It’s good to see that.”

Among the 15 Jayhawks who caught a pass in 2017, Charlot ranked last in productivity. His one reception, in a Week 2 loss to Central Michigan, registered no gain — a zero-yard catch. Kansas has to get substantially more out of the receiver in his upcoming junior season.

Kansas loses two of its top three receivers from a year ago, with Ben Johnson graduating and Chase Harrell transferring. While Sims, Evan Fairs, Jeremiah Booker, Ryan Schadler and Quan Hampton give the receiving corps capable options with varying degrees of experience, Charlot finally living up to his potential and performing like one of the Big 12’s top-flight receivers should stimulate the offense.

Remember: KU only averaged 14.3 points and 237.8 yards per game in Big 12 play in 2017. The Jayhawks will take an uplift anywhere they can find one, and Charlot holds the pedigree and potential to do his part in putting a more effective offense on the field, if focused and eager.

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Kansas ranked ahead of one of its FBS opponents in magazine rankings

Central Michigan running back Devon Spalding (13) lands on two KU defender after scoring a touchdown in CMU’s win over KU Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium.

Central Michigan running back Devon Spalding (13) lands on two KU defender after scoring a touchdown in CMU’s win over KU Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

Athlon Sports updates throughout the year its rankings of the 130 FBS football programs. Athlon ranked Kansas 107th in its most recent update, nine spots ahead of Central Michigan, which KU faces in a road game Sept. 8. Michigan transfer Shane Morris threw for 467 yards and five touchdowns without throwing an interception in last season's 45-27 victory vs. Kansas in Memorial Stadium, since renamed David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Morris is gone and this season's game will be played in Kelly/Shorts Stadium, which could spell the end of KU's 46-game road losing streak. The record doesn't count three losses to Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium, a neutral site.

A look at the Athlon rankings of the 11 FBS schools on KU's 2018 schedule:

Athlon
Ranking
School Most recent
result vs. KU
6 Oklahoma L, 41-3
18 Texas L, 42-27
21 West Virginia L, 56-34
24 Kansas State L, 30-20
26 TCU L, 43-0
33 Iowa State L, 45-0
39 Oklahoma St. L, 58-17
49 Texas Tech L, 65-19
78 Baylor L, 38-9
85 Rutgers L, 27-14 (2015)
116 Central Michigan L, 45-27
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