Entries from blogs tagged with “KU football”

Is top prep talent Marvin Bagley III a real option for Kansas basketball?

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Within minutes, possibly even seconds, of the news breaking Wednesday night that William & Mary transfer forward Jack Whitman was leaving the Kansas basketball program, eager and uneasy KU fans alike were connecting the dots to Marvin Bagley III.

Late Thursday morning, KU coach Bill Self confirmed Whitman's departure, saying, "Jack called me last night and informed me that he would not be playing basketball at Kansas for his fifth year. I do not know what his plans are moving forward. All I know is he will not be part of our basketball program. We wish Jack the best with his future endeavors.” But that confirmation did not include anything about what the Jayhawks will do to replace him.

It sounds good on the surface, replacing Frank Mason III with Marvin Bagley III, who just so happens to be the No. 1 ranked prospect in the Class of 2018.

And, yeah, there were rumors floating around earlier this week that Bagley was at least considering reclassifying into the 2017 class so he could play college basketball this season.

But the whole thing is far from a slam dunk, and there are a lot of moves that need to happen before Jayhawk fans can even begin to dream of seeing the 6-foot-10, 230-pound big man in crimson and blue next season.

Before we look at what factors are stacked against them, let’s first look at what the Jayhawks have working in their favor.

• First and most obvious is the fact that Kansas, no matter who you talk to, is one of the few true blue blood schools in the country and one that most all of the top prospects in class after class at least like to check the temperature on to see if the program might be the right fit for them. It was recently for Josh Selby, Andrew Wiggins and Josh Jackson. And, in time, it could be for Bagley, too. So it’s not as if KU fans are crazy for thinking he might come to Lawrence the way it might sound silly for fans in Boulder, Colo., to think Bagley might want to be a Buff.

• Beyond that, Bagley does already have KU on his short list of finalists. Those schools, in alphabetical order, are Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and USC. Big time programs, all of them, but Kansas is on the list.

• The big-picture timing of trying to woo Bagley to town really couldn’t be better for Bill Self and the Jayhawks, as Kansas currently has the reigning college player of the year in Mason and also just put Josh Jackson into the NBA via the No. 4 pick in the draft. Seeing that kind of exposure on the college level and path to professional ball no doubt would seem awfully appealing to a player of Bagley’s caliber. Beyond that, KU’s recent surge of putting players into the NBA — often via the draft lottery — has inspired top-tier prospects to look at KU’s ability to develop NBA talent in a fresh and more favorable light.

Now, let’s take a look at what might make this less than likely, both now and in the future.

• For one, reclassifying is not a slam dunk. It happens, but it’s not automatic and there is a process that Bagley would have to go through to make it happen. Beyond that, his family recently told Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, that those rumors about Bagley’s reclassification were just that, rumors, and that the elite talent had not yet made any such decision. So it’s possible that all of the Bagley talk was much ado about nothing. And if that’s the case, Kansas will still continue to pursue him, but it won’t be as a replacement for Whitman this season. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish is absolutely convinced that Bagley is en route to reclassifying and Parrish said on his recent radio show that he had been told that Bagley (a) had the grades to get it done and (b) was moving forward full speed ahead. Having said that, one source familiar with Bagley's recruitment told me Thursday that it'll take "a miracle" for him to be able to reclassify and added that Duke and USC were the likely front-runners.

• Even if the reclassification comes and KU gets a real crack at him in time for the 2017-18 season, it’s not as if it’s automatic that KU would get him. Bagley already may have visited Duke, and he’s scheduled to visit USC on July 26-27 and Arizona during the first week of August, when KU is playing overseas in Italy. “The Duke visit was completely geographical and we can drive, and we chose those three because we can drive to all of them,” Bagley’s father recently told FanRagSports.com. “And then we’ll get UCLA after, and then Kentucky and Kansas. We plan to visit them all. We’re going to try to get them in the best way we can.” For what it's worth, most national recruiting analysts seem to believe Duke is the team to beat for Bagley.

• The timing of this whole thing is nuts. Because summer workouts get going almost as soon as the Jayhawks get back from Italy, it’s hard to envision them putting in the kind of work necessary to land him while they’re in Italy. Then again, three members of Self’s staff did not make the trip to South Korea for the World University Games a couple of summers ago, and given that these Italian exhibitions are much less intense and important than those games, it’s not hard to imagine someone such as assistant Kurtis Townsend staying back to make a run at Bagley if that’s on the table. Having said that, Bagley’s also the type of talent that you’d easily still welcome into your program even in September or later if that’s what it takes to get him.

• Perhaps one of the most important things to remember about this deal is that Bagley’s whole motivation for reclassifying is not because he cannot wait to play college basketball for his school of choice. Instead, it’s because doing so provides him with the quickest path to the NBA and the money that awaits there. If Bagley is able to play college ball in 2017-18, he would be eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft, where he would at least be in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick and certainly would be a surefire Top 5 choice. “I want to go the NBA,” Bagley recently told Andrew Slater of 247Sports. “That's my goal and those schools help get you there. They prepare you for that. That's why they made my list.”

• As for what he’s hoping to get out of whichever college program he signs with, Bagley said his whole mindset was focused on development. “I just want to get better,” he told Slater. “Wherever I feel like that is, wherever I feel like I'm around good people, around people who push me every day and tell me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear, that's where I see myself.”

At this point, it’s hard to picture exactly how all of this is going to play out. Bagley has not given any kind of time frame for a decision about his school or a decision about reclassifying and, even though there still is time to iron it all out, August is quickly approaching and things get a little tighter from there.

According to Slater’s report, Duke and now Kansas, thanks to Whitman’s departure, might be in the best shape of the bunch should Bagley reclassify because they have spots available immediately.

Regardless of KU’s chances of landing him or what his immediate future holds, this much we know: For at least the next few weeks, those interested in Kansas basketball would be wise to pay attention to whatever news comes out of the Bagley camp.

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After NBA summer league, Perry Ellis looking forward to playing in Australia

Perry Ellis drives the lane for a slam dunk during the 2017 Rock Chalk Roundball Classic Thursday evening at Lawrence Free State High School. The annual charity event benefits local families fighting cancer

Perry Ellis drives the lane for a slam dunk during the 2017 Rock Chalk Roundball Classic Thursday evening at Lawrence Free State High School. The annual charity event benefits local families fighting cancer by Mike Yoder

After attempting to land a spot in the NBA during the Las Vegas Summer League, former Kansas basketball standout Perry Ellis is looking ahead to his future in Australia’s National Basketball League.

Ellis signed a contract with the Sydney Kings in May, but the club allowed him to play in the summer league because of his NBA aspirations.

Following his summer league tryout and one season in the NBA’s Developmental League, Ellis hasn't received an NBA contract offer and is moving ahead with his career overseas.

Playing for the Greensboro Swarm in the D League (recently renamed the G League because of a Gatorade sponsorship deal), Ellis averaged 9.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 50 games last season.

"There's a lot of things you can't control but I want to play basketball as long as I can, and whatever path is met, that's the path I'm going,” Ellis told ESPN Australia. “Some other options were mentioned but nothing that was really eye-opening. Playing with Sydney seemed like the best option.”

In five summer league games with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Ellis averaged 11.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game. He shot 42 percent from the floor.

Ellis, who went undrafted in 2016, was a two-time all-Big 12 selection at Kansas, and ranks ninth on the all-time scoring list with 1,798 points.

According to ESPN Australia, Ellis is expected to arrive in Australia in September.

"I've heard a lot of good things about it, that it's a beautiful place, and I'm just grateful for the opportunity,” Ellis said. ”I feel like I hear a lot more about Australia than you used to hear, that more people are going there to play.”

Some of the top American players from Australia’s National Basketball League have turned a season overseas into NBA opportunities.

James Ennis, who spent last season with the Memphis Grizzlies, led his club to a NBL championship in 2014. Jordan McCrae spent a season in the NBL in 2014-15 before playing in 37 games with the Cavaliers last year.

Of course, there’s a much longer list of American players who didn’t reach the NBA after playing in Australia.

"My ultimate goal is to get to the NBA, but if it doesn't happen, it is what it is,” Ellis said. “You move on and continue playing, wherever that might be. That's my mindset.”

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Beaty: It was a ‘miracle’ KU landed Dorance Armstrong in recruiting

The Big 12's preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Kansas junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. answers questions at the Big 12 Media Days, in Frisco, Texas, on July 17, 2017.

The Big 12's preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Kansas junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. answers questions at the Big 12 Media Days, in Frisco, Texas, on July 17, 2017. by Benton Smith

Frisco, Texas — It’s difficult to make up time in recruiting, but that’s exactly what Kansas football coach David Beaty and his staff had to do when he first arrived on campus.

Looking over to junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., the Big 12’s preseason defensive player of the year, at the conference’s media days Monday, Beaty said it was a “miracle” that he was suiting up for the Jayhawks.

When Beaty was hired in December 2014, he had about a month to solidify his recruiting class prior to Signing Day. Back then, Armstrong was seen as an undersized defensive end and still looking for a landing spot.

Searching for hidden gems, Beaty and his staff identified Armstrong as one of their top targets. But they were still reaching out to Armstrong much, much later than most of the schools recruiting him.

Armstrong remembered when he received text messages from former KU defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux, who is now at Oklahoma, and realized that he watched him at one of his basketball games.

“I was like, ‘He was at a basketball game?’” Armstrong said. “(Thibodeaux) motivated me so much. He spoke positive to me all the time about what I could be and just put that in my head. I think I built on everything that he told me. I just kept that mindset of being humble and always wanted more.”

Following his final prep football season, Armstrong immediately turned his attention to his basketball team. Playing in the low post for North Shore High in Houston, Armstrong averaged 7.2 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds. His school won a state championship in his junior year.

How much ground did Kansas have to make up in recruiting?

Armstrong said he didn’t have a relationship with Beaty or really anyone from Kansas before the start of his basketball season.

“I think coach Beaty came to my high school, but he came for someone else,” Armstrong said. “I didn’t remember him at the time.”

One of the things that drew Armstrong to Kansas was the chance to play defensive end.

It seems like an obvious decision now, but some schools tried to convince Armstrong, who showed up to campus weighing around 210 pounds, to move to linebacker because of his size.

“I never played linebacker,” Armstrong said. “I was always a D-end. I kind of made myself stay at that same spot.”

During one in-home visit, Kansas coaches Clint Bowen and Thibodeaux were visiting with Armstrong and his family when assistant coaches from Missouri showed up outside of the home. The KU coaches did their best to stall, forcing the Missouri coaches to wait outside.

Focused on playing throughout the basketball season, Armstrong was on a limited schedule in terms of making visits to schools.

After traveling to Kansas, he decided it was the only place he wanted to check out.

“My mom came on the visit and she loved it,” Armstrong said. “She loved the coaches. Even the players made her feel like they were going to take care of me. That’s what they were doing. We don’t bring anyone in to just leave them hanging.”

Three years later and Armstrong arrived back in his home state as the face of the Kansas football program.

“We had literally a month to recruit this kid — a month,” Beaty said. “It was difficult because Missouri came in late. Thankfully they didn’t go on that visit because it made it a little bit easier for us.”

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Jackson, Selden, Diallo earn NBA Summer League honors

Memphis Grizzlies guard Wayne Selden, center, attempts a 3-point shot as Dallas Mavericks forward Dwight Powell, from left, guard Devin Harris, and Grizzlies forward Brandan Wright look on in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Memphis Grizzlies guard Wayne Selden, center, attempts a 3-point shot as Dallas Mavericks forward Dwight Powell, from left, guard Devin Harris, and Grizzlies forward Brandan Wright look on in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 12, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) by Matt Tait

Three former Kansas basketball players earned all-Summer League honors this week following strong showings in Las Vegas during the past couple of weeks.

Phoenix rookie Josh Jackson, the No. 4 overall pick in June's draft, landed on the first team while second-year pros Wayne Selden Jr., and Cheick Diallo both earned second-team nods.

The accolades represent a couple of key things for the players and their franchises, with the Suns receiving validation of a job well done after selecting Jackson when they did and Selden and Diallo gaining even more crucial confidence as they strive to find their way and make an impact on their respective rosters.

Selden was oh so close to being named a first-team selection and he easily could've been on the first team, which was made up of Jackson, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith, Caleb Swanigan and John Collins.

The former KU standout was fourth in the entire league at 22.7 points per game and helped lead the Memphis Grizzlies to the semifinals of the Summer League tournament. Not only did Selden score in bunches — with deep jumpers, dazzling dunks and repeated trips to the free throw line — but he also emerged as the go-to scorer on Memphis' young squad.

Not bad for a guy who didn’t even play a dozen games with the team last season and spent three times as much time in the D League as he did on an NBA roster.

It's likely that Selden missed out on making the first team because his rebound (3.8) and assists (3.0) totals were not as high as some would've liked to see. While those areas clearly are important parts of the game, Selden's emergence as a take-over type of player was one of the better stories of the Vegas circuit.

He looked strong, confident, crazy athletic and comfortable in any and all situations. In short, he looked a lot like the guy KU fans got glimpses of during his three years at Kansas, most notably during his 33-point outburst in a home victory over Kentucky during his junior season.

While some might perceive Selden’s second-team selection as a snub or a slight, the guess here is that Selden’s just fine with it. Ever since going undrafted in 2016, the former Jayhawk guard has taken full advantage of any and all opportunities to fill his tank with fuel for motivation.

The result was his stellar summer and a two-year contract with the Grizzlies. If this latest dose of motivation delivers the same way the previous fuel did, Selden could be poised for a breakout season when NBA action returns this fall.

As for Diallo and Jackson, both used their athleticism and high motors to become big time factors in Vegas.

Jackson, as he did during his one year at Kansas, consistently flashed his all-around game, putting up points, playing tough defense and getting on the glass game in and game out. The Detroit native averaged 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in five outings with the Suns, and routinely found his way into highlight shows with his play on both ends of the floor.

Diallo, who has opened some eyes in New Orleans with his growth and maturity as a player, not only scored 18.6 points per game in Vegas, but also averaged 9.8 rebounds per night, good for third in the league. Diallo enjoyed three 20-point outings, recorded a double-double three times and never finished with fewer than five rebounds in New Orleans’ five games.

Other former KU players who recently wrapped up play in the Vegas summer league include Perry Ellis, who averaged 11.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in five games with Minnesota; Landen Lucas, who averaged 1.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in two games with Boston; Frank Mason III, who averaged 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 16.5 minutes per game with Sacramento; and Julian Wright, who tallied 3.0 points per game in four games with Utah.

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What the potential reclassification of the top hoops prospect in 2018 class could mean for Kansas

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

So last week news broke that Marvin Bagley III, currently the No. 1 ranked prospect in the Class of 2018 according to Rivals.com, was considering reclassifying and heading to school this Fall for what likely would be his lone season of college basketball.

Many recruiting analysts have said that Bagley is the clear-cut No. 1 player in the 2018 class and the 6-foot-10, 220-pound, 5-star prospect brings a well-rounded and explosive game to the floor every time he suits up.

As you would expect with a player of that caliber, all of the major players in college basketball are in on him and any one of them — Kansas included — would love to have him playing in their colors when he hits the college hoops scene.

At this point, Bagley has a Top 6 of Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and USC, with only a visit to Duke scheduled so far.

He grew up in Southern California and also spent some time living in Arizona. So it’s easy to see why those three schools are in play here, as well. And then Kansas and Kentucky are, well, Kansas and Kentucky so that makes sense, too.

What does not make sense is the belief that Bagley would consider reclassifying without knowing where he wants to play his college ball.

I’m not saying it’s a done deal. Not even close. In fact, Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, recently spoke with Bagley's family and reported that they're calling the news "rumors" and saying they have not made any such decision about jumping up a class.

I don’t know the kid and barely know the circumstances surrounding his recruitment. But I find it hard to imagine that he would make a major move — or even consider one — like reclassifying in order to attend college a full year before he previously was expected to without having a pretty good feel for where he wants to go after the paperwork is done.

The guess here is that place will be Duke.

In order for it to be Kansas, the Jayhawks likely would need Bagley to decide against reclassifying and to stay in the 2018 class, which certainly is possible and definitely would give Bill Self and company more time to make their pitch and also time to find room to add him.

As of today, the Jayhawks are full and bringing on another player — whether he’s a monster player like Bagley or a 3-star big man for added depth — would require some movement on the scholarship front in order to open up a spot.

With the trip to Italy coming in two weeks and preseason camp starting shortly after their return, it’s hard to imagine anyone from the current roster moving on for one reason or another at this point.

The Bagley thing is interesting, not because it’s rare — reclassifying has become more and more common during recent years — but because he’s such a big time talent.

But his move, should he make it, probably would not mean much for the Jayhawks at this point in time. Now, if he stays in the Class of 2018, stay tuned...

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Big 12 commish would like to see a revamped football signing period

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to reporters during the Big 12 NCAA college football media day at the Dallas Cowboys practice facilities in Frisco, Texas, Monday, July 17, 2017.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to reporters during the Big 12 NCAA college football media day at the Dallas Cowboys practice facilities in Frisco, Texas, Monday, July 17, 2017.

Frisco, Texas — Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby was happy to see the NCAA adopt a December signing period for football teams, but wants it to go a step further.

During the spring, the NCAA approved an early football signing period for high school recruits in December, which will run for 72 hours from Dec. 20-22. Those dates coincide with first three days of the midyear JUCO signing period.

For players who don't utilize the early signing period, the usual National Signing Day will remain on the first Wednesday in February, which will land on Feb. 7 for Class of 2018 recruits.

“I would suggest that we still have a lot of work to do there,” Bowlsby said at Big 12 Media Days at Ford Center. “We have data that indicates that about 70 percent of the Division I football prospects make their decision before the 1st of October and really would like to get the recruitment process over with.”

Instead of a formal signing day, Bowlsby mentioned recruiting windows, which he suggested teams could issue letters of intent and players have 14 days to sign it.

One of the statistics that Bowlsby cited was the average FBS team issues 233 oral offers to players, though only 25 players can sign per recruiting class.

“I'm not sure that a signing date is exactly what we need in today's environment,” Bowlsby said. “I have asked coaches, athletic directors, conference commissioners repeatedly over the last 12 months why we have a signing date…. The only answer I've ever gotten is because we've always had a signing date.”

Of course, there’s always potential pitfalls with an earlier recruiting window, which include coaching changes and cause-and-effect problems.

But Bowlsby said his main motivation for a new signing period system is a more genuine recruiting process.

“There's a lot of disingenuousness in the system, and I think we need to try to clean that up as much as we possibly can,” Bowlsby said. “It seems to me that maybe a signing window might be the answer to it, but we have a lot more work to do on it, and I wouldn't presume to say how it's going to turn out at this point.”

TCU coach Gary Patterson said it would be difficult to move signing dates to the beginning of the football season because coaches would have limited time for evaluations, along with time to work on their current team.

"All the mistakes that everybody's talking about right now with players, kids want to decommit, well, a lot of it is because they get talked into going to a place they don't know anything about," Patterson said. "They just read the name, and they really don't fit in. We've got to get back to kids going to our campus and see if they like the coaches, see if they like everything."

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The ultimate KU fan favorites of the Bill Self era

The other night, when I was perusing yet another NBA Summer League box score, a thought occurred to me that inspired a little extra examination.

Why is it that a short story about an average game by new Sacramento Kings point guard Frank Mason III gets a ton of love on our site, while a similar note about former KU forward Cheick Diallo topping 20 points and impressing New Orleans’ coaches entering Year 2 of his pro career draws far less interest?

The answer was easy to find. And it has everything to do with how long the two players were in Lawrence and what they did while they were here.

With Mason, a four-year player and three-year leader who capped his KU career with the best individual season by a guard in Big 12 history, the opportunity for fans to watch him succeed and fail, to share the ride through college basketball’s ups and downs with him, took KU fans on a long journey and provided time for them to feel a true connection with the once-quiet Petersburg, Va., native.

With Diallo, and others like him, the time was short-lived and left many Kansas fans with a ‘We hardly knew ya,’ attitude toward the once-hyped, highly coveted former prep standout.

I’ve long been a believer that the Kansas basketball players who are remembered the longest — and the fondest — are the ones with whom the fans feel a true connection.

Sure, winning a title trumps everything. So, yeah, Danny Manning, Milt Newton, Kevin Pritchard, Chris Piper, Scooter Barry and that gang, along with Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Sasha Kaun and the 2008 crew will always be beloved for bringing home the hardware.

But there’s more to the college basketball experience than cutting down nets. Especially for the fans. And there have been more than a few KU players throughout the decades who have held a special place in the hearts of thousands of rabid KU fans for reasons beyond their basketball accomplishments.

Be them personality traits, hardships, memorable moments or unforgettable toughness and courage, those players have endeared themselves to Kansas fans everywhere for eternity and will not soon be forgotten.

For this exercise, and because KU coach Bill Self last season called Mason the greatest guard he’s ever coached, let’s take a quick look at the most memorable fan favorites of the Self era.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) shoots a selfie with some Jayhawk fans awaiting autographs following the Jayhawks' practice on Wednesday at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) shoots a selfie with some Jayhawk fans awaiting autographs following the Jayhawks' practice on Wednesday at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug


1. Frank Mason III

Heading into his senior season, I’m not sure I would’ve put Mason on this list, let alone this high on it. But then he became the unanimous national player of the year, turned in one of the best seasons in Big 12 history and did it all while being the face of the standard of toughness for all past and future Kansas players. Add to that his sudden rise in the NBA Draft, which came with Mason still maintaining his underdog persona, and you’re talking about a player who every KU fan felt like they knew on a personal level and rooted for like family.

Kansas fans reach out to forward Thomas Robinson as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 90-66 win over Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Robinson scored 17 points in his return to the Fieldhouse after Thursday's funeral for his mother, Lisa Robinson, who died last Friday of a heart attack.

Kansas fans reach out to forward Thomas Robinson as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 90-66 win over Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Robinson scored 17 points in his return to the Fieldhouse after Thursday's funeral for his mother, Lisa Robinson, who died last Friday of a heart attack. by Nick Krug

2. Thomas Robinson

This is tied directly to the death of his mother, Lisa Robinson, who passed away unexpectedly during T-Rob’s sophomore season, just weeks after the powerful power forward lost two of his grandparents. At such a heartbreaking time in the young man’s life, the Kansas faithful opened their collective arms as wide as possible and wrapped them around the KU forward, who, beyond using the KU family to help him get through such a tough time, also turned in All-American numbers in leading the Jayhawks to the national title game one year later. The wins were great. But it was the bond created between player and fan — one that later even extended to Robinson’s younger sister, Jayla — that landed Robinson so high on this list.

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers claps as the Jayhawks begin to widen their lead in the second half of Monday night's game against the Wildcats at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers claps as the Jayhawks begin to widen their lead in the second half of Monday night's game against the Wildcats at Bramlage Coliseum. by Nick Krug

3. Mario Chalmers

Yes, Chalmers is on this list — and dozens of others — because he hit arguably the biggest shot in the storied history of Kansas basketball. But his status as a fan favorite was cemented long before the 3-pointer to tie Memphis in the 2008 national title game. That, obviously, did not hurt his standing, but more than the shot, or any number of deadly 3-pointers and steals that Chalmers drained or swiped during his time at KU, was the smirk. The look on Chalmers’ face that surfaced when KU had an opponent beaten or when the outcome was still uncertain, but Mario wasn’t, was the stuff of legends and endeared him to KU fans everywhere. It was the kind of look that you loved if it was on your side and absolutely despised with every fiber of your being if you were on the other side.

Kansas forward Darnell Jackson roars as he trots back on defense following a bucket in the second half Saturday, April 5, 2008 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Kansas forward Darnell Jackson roars as he trots back on defense following a bucket in the second half Saturday, April 5, 2008 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. by Nick Krug

4. Darnell Jackson

One of the true all-heart players to come through Kansas, Jackson enjoyed the perfect career trajectory, from seldom-used sub as a true freshman to national champion starter as a senior. Sometimes, simply paying your dues along that path is enough to inspire grand appreciation from the KU fan base, but, with Jackson, there was much more that went into it. For starters, his personality. A no-nonsense guy on the court, with a fun-loving and expressive personality off of it, Jackson carried with him that lovable teddy bear vibe, provided that teddy bear came in a 6-foot-8, 250-pound, rock solid frame. As was the case with Robinson, the personal tragedies Jackson endured during his life, both while at KU and after, (his grandmother died in a car wreck and mother later passed away after an overdose of pain pills) tugged at the heart strings of many KU fans and created that deeper connection between the player and the fans.

Kansas University guard Sherron Collins trots back on defense with a wide smile after drilling a three-pointer in the Jayhawks' 88-74 victory over Kansas State. Collins hit three of seven treys - and KU 11 of 23 - in the victory Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University guard Sherron Collins trots back on defense with a wide smile after drilling a three-pointer in the Jayhawks' 88-74 victory over Kansas State. Collins hit three of seven treys - and KU 11 of 23 - in the victory Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

5. Sherron Collins

The perfect combination of Mario Chalmers’ swagger and Frank Mason’s toughness, with the bulk of his playing career sandwiched right between the two, Collins’ Chicago-style persona and constant willingness to sacrifice his body in any and every way for the KU basketball program in pursuit of the next bucket or victory made him one of the most beloved Jayhawks of the past couple of decades. His passion for the game, ability to play bigger than his size and raw emotion and fiery mentality provided Self’s post-title teams with the perfect leader for the next era. Add to that the huge role he played in delivering the 2008 title and it’s easy to see why Collins was so loved and still is.

Have an opinion about which one of these Jayhawks stands above the rest? Or maybe your guy didn't make this list? Vote here in our fan favorite poll and/or name your guy and why in the comment section below.

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Say What? Tait’s weekly appearance on Rock Chalk Sports Talk

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Wayne Selden Jr. showing that his mind, body and soul are in a good place

Memphis Grizzlies guard Wayne Selden Jr. poses for a picture on NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Memphis Grizzlies guard Wayne Selden Jr. poses for a picture on NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) by Matt Tait

The best thing that ever happened to Wayne Selden Jr., came on draft night 2016, when 30 NBA teams told him for 60 picks that they did not believe he was good enough to play in their league.

Until that very moment, Selden spent most of his life thinking otherwise and doing it with pretty strong conviction.

That night, however, lit a fire under Selden that led him to last weekend, when he signed a two-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies and, in doing so, became a bona fide NBA player.

Sure Selden played a handful of games with New Orleans and Memphis during his rookie season. And, yeah, he even started two games in the freakin’ playoffs. But those moments were short-lived and did not guarantee the former Jayhawk anything.

This contract does. It guarantees Selden a real chance. It guarantees that he will be able to work and fail, grow and learn, win and lose, without having to worry about what every move he makes, good or bad, will mean for his future.

Give a guy like Selden, who stands 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and appears to have his explosive athleticism back, that kind of freedom and relief and there’s no telling what’s possible.

Is Selden going to take this chance and turn it into the first chapter in an All-Star story? Doubtful. But is it possible that this chance will be the one that allows Selden to stick around the league for the next 5-7 years, providing him the opportunity to live out a dream and make some good coin while doing it? You bet.

And speaking of betting, I’d be more than willing to bet that’s exactly the way this will go down.

Selden is talented enough to play in the NBA. He’s fast, physical, can shoot it well enough and has that inner drive that is required to keep up with the best basketball players in the world.

He showed that throughout his stint in the NBA’s Developmental League (now known as the G League), where he often looked much more angry than happy to be there.

There was a reason for all of it. Selden was angry. Angry at the ball, angry at the rim, angry at the hand the basketball gods had dealt him. But instead of allowing that anger to eat him up, Selden used every ounce of it to prove himself. Talk about a heck of a success story.

When I caught up with Selden in early June after the annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, the anger was gone. Not only was he cool to talk to and happy to share his story, but he also seemed very much at peace with his life and career. That was before the guaranteed, two-year contract. And you know what? Something tells me Selden was that way because he believed good news was coming.

Now that it has, and now that Selden appears to be comfortable with where he’s at again, don’t expect him to pull back or ease up an ounce.

Selden’s smart – one of the more intelligent KU basketball players I’ve dealt with. He knows what got him here. And he knows what it will take to stick.

Now he just has to do it.

So far so good in that department. Through the first two games of Summer League action in Las Vegas, Selden has made two starts and is averaging 25 points per game on 16-of-33 shooting (48.5 percent), including a 6-of-11 clip from 3-point range.

Selden and the Grizzlies (2-0) will return to action at 3:30 p.m. today against Utah.

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Frank Mason III explodes during 3rd NBA game; plans summer camps after summer league

Sacramento Kings' Frank Mason III drives around Los Angeles Lakers' Alex Caruso during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Monday, July 10, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Sacramento Kings' Frank Mason III drives around Los Angeles Lakers' Alex Caruso during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Monday, July 10, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) by Matt Tait

The wild ride as an NBA rookie soon may be slowing down for former Kansas point guard Frank Mason III, but that does not mean the reigning national player of the year will be.

Mason, who will wrap up summer league action in Las Vegas with the Kings later this week, will jump into the camp circuit shortly thereafter.

The former KU standout will host four camps in the next couple of weeks, with three of them coming on consecutive days in late July in Kansas.

The first, July 27, will take place at Olathe Community Center. One day later, Mason will return to Lawrence for a camp at Lawrence High on July 28. And he will follow that up with a July 29 camp at Wichita Hoops. The final camp will take place Aug. 5 in Sacramento.

All three Kansas camps will feature two sessions (9 a.m.-Noon and 1-4 p.m.), will be open to young athletes in grades K-12 and will cost $50 for one day and $90 for a two-day pass in two locations. The price rises to $60 and $110 after July 18.

For more information, or to sign up, visit www.frankmasonbasketball.com.

As for Mason’s latest showing in Vegas, the reserve guard exploded for 24 points in 24 minutes during the Kings' 95-92 loss to the Lakers.

Mason, who shot 9-of-13 from the floor, was 2-of-3 from 3-point range and added five rebounds, six assists and two steals in what was easily his best game of the summer to date.

Mason looked a lot like his old, national-player-of-the-year, KU self during this one, showing extreme confidence with his handles and driving to the rim for tough finishes over the L.A. defense.

His play also led the Kings on a wild comeback. After trailing by more than 20 in the first half, Mason went off for 20 points in the second half alone and brought the Kings all the way back before watching L.A. hang on late.

One night earlier, Mason's Kings fell to former KU teammate Wayne Selden Jr., and the Memphis Grizzlies on a night when Selden kept his positive momentum going.

Mason tallied just six points, three rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes in that one, but Selden dropped in 21 points in 29 minutes on 6-of-13 shooting and a 7-of-8 mark at the free throw line.

It marked the second consecutive game of 20 or more points for Selden, who, earlier this summer, signed a two-year deal with the Grizzlies.

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Reports: Marcus Morris traded to Boston

Thanks to reports of a Friday trade, Marcus Morris seems poised to be going from defending players like Al Horford (pictured) to playing alongside him in Boston. (AP Photo)

Thanks to reports of a Friday trade, Marcus Morris seems poised to be going from defending players like Al Horford (pictured) to playing alongside him in Boston. (AP Photo) by Matt Tait

With a surplus of guards and a need up front, the Boston Celtics made somewhat of an inevitable move on Friday. And it involved a former Kansas basketball player.

According to multiple reports citing sources, the Celtics have agreed to send guard Avery Bradley to Detroit for former KU standout Marcus Morris. The Pistons also will be getting a future second-round draft pick in the deal.

Morris, if the trade goes through, will be playing for his fifth team in his first seven NBA seasons. And there’s no doubt that this next squad will represent his best opportunity at team success.

The Celtics, who earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, reached the conference finals a year ago and added prized free agent Gordon Hayward, along with No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum, during the offseason.

The key portion of the deal for Boston was to move Avery's contract so they could sign Hayward to a max deal. But getting a young forward with size and good athleticism in return certainly does not represent the Celtics walking away as the losers in this deal. It seems to have the potential to be mutually beneficial for both sides and all parties.

Bringing the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Morris twin into the fold gives Boston coach Brad Stevens even more flexibility and versatility and also brings some beef and attitude to the team trying to break through and reach the NBA Finals.

Stevens has talked recently about moving more toward positionless basketball, playing with three positions instead of five — guard, wing and big man. Morris fits into that idea very well and should give Stevens a variety of options on the perimeter and down low.

Morris made news last postseason by showing up to a Washington Wizards playoff game to support twin brother, Markieff, in an authentic Washington Markieff Morris jersey. The move opened eyes throughout the arena and even led some to speculate that Marcus may have filled in for Markieff following an injury in the postseason.

Morris enjoyed one of the better and more consistent years of his career last season, averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds in 79 games with Detroit.

He has career averages of 10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 416 NBA games, but surrounded by all of that talent in Boston, it’s easy to see how he could carve out a key role and improve on those numbers in the coming years.

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KU coach Bill Self joins the #VoteMoose craze

None by Bill Self

July 4, as you well know, is known as Independence Day in the United State of America, but there’s a developing situation for another, lesser-known holiday a couple of days later.

Thanks to the last-chance vote for this year’s Major League Baseball All Star Game, July 6 might forever be known as Moose Day.

All morning and afternoon, Twitter has been on fire with Kansas City Royals fans — and therefore many KU basketball and football fans, as well — Tweeting #VoteMoose in an attempt to get Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas into this year’s All Star Game next week in Miami.

While the fun has extended to all walks of life, with people adding “#VoteMoose” to the end of Tweets that have absolutely nothing to do with sports, and others getting creative and putting out movie challenges in which you replace a word or two in a popular movie with the words Vote Moose for a good laugh, the movement officially reached KU at 2:16 p.m. Thursday afternoon, when Kansas basketball coach Bill Self joined the fun.

Self, who has more than 220,000 followers but just 261 Tweets to his name — including a whopping nine so far this year — wrote simply, “Let’s get another Royal into the All Star Game. #VoteMoose.”

As of 2:57 p.m., Self’s Tweet had 1,264 likes, 667 ReTweets and 24 replies.

Self’s Tweet will only count once in the voting, but you can bet there were a few folks out there who follow the KU program and its coach that followed suit after they saw Self fire off his Tweet.

Falling in the "Go Figure" category, Self's Twitter picture is actually of him and his son, Tyler, at Kauffman Stadium.

Moustakas, who reached the All Star Game in 2015 via this very same path is expected to find out at a 5 p.m. announcement whether he received enough votes to make the team.

KU basketball coach Bill Self, pounds his glove and takes in the All-Star atmosphere before starting at second base for the American League in the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game Sunday, July 8, 2012, at Kauffman Stadium.

KU basketball coach Bill Self, pounds his glove and takes in the All-Star atmosphere before starting at second base for the American League in the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game Sunday, July 8, 2012, at Kauffman Stadium. by Mike Yoder

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Former KU lottery pick Julian Wright running with the Utah Jazz this summer

Toronto Raptors' Julian Wright (14) reacts after dunking the ball against the Houston Rockets during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 31, 2010, in Houston.

Toronto Raptors' Julian Wright (14) reacts after dunking the ball against the Houston Rockets during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 31, 2010, in Houston. by Nick Gerik

In 2007, Kansas forward Julian Wright, whom some called a young Magic Johnson because of his size, athletic ability and vision as a passer, became an NBA lottery pick when the New Orleans Hornets made him the No. 13 overall pick following two stellar seasons at Kansas.

Today, Wright is trying to make it back into the league as a center.

Listed on the Utah Jazz summer league roster, with a big C by his name, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound former Jayhawk Wright again is knocking on the door of the league he played in from 2007-2011.

During that time, Wright played in 231 games in three seasons with New Orleans and a fourth with Toronto, making a total of 40 starts and underwhelming most of the way.

Though plenty gifted athletically, Wright struggled to transition to the pro game, primarily because his jump shot was not where it needed to be, and that led him to more bench time than playing time. His four-year averages landed at 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, and, from there, he jumped overseas, where he has continued his playing career to this day.

Last listed as a member of Pallacanestro Reggiana, of Italy’s LBA, Serie A Basketball League, Wright has played with eight different franchises overseas from 2012 to today, with two stints in Israel, two in Italy and at least part of one season in Greece, Puerto Rico, Russia and Turkey, as well.

While it remains to be seen what comes of Wright’s summer tryout with the Jazz, Kansas coach Bill Self told the Journal-World on Wednesday that he had heard some favorable feedback on Wright already this summer.

“Somebody told me he’s big enough, he can switch screens, he could do some good things if he could get in shape, and maybe he could make a team,” Self said of his former Chicago standout. “But who knows?”

Wright’s presence on the Utah roster has caught the attention of those who cover the Jazz on a regular basis. So, too, has his physical presence. Much larger than he ever was during his days as a thin, dynamic play maker in Kansas, Wright looks like a completely different player today and, in many ways, is almost unrecognizable on the floor.

Calling him a Center might have caught some off guard, but at least one outlet, Utah’s SB Nation site, believes that Wright could be auditioning as a stretch big, which, given his height, was the way some of his overseas clubs used him during recent years.

Evidence of this guess appears in the following video clip, where Wright (No. 30) can be seen fading to the corner at the bottom of the screen.

None by Utah Jazz

While playing a stretch four (provided his shot has improved to that level) might be Wright’s best path toward getting a legitimate look, don’t expect it to be one that leads to a roster spot.

Here’s another quick video in which you get a little closer look at Wright, with that beard that has been a part of his signature look for the past several years.

And here's a video interview from a couple of years ago, which opens with Wright talking about his Kansas experience.

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KU’s Louisiana football commits receive high marks entering final prep seasons

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

Preparing for the upcoming high school football season, the Times-Picayune created a countdown of the top 20 players in the New Orleans metro area, and two Kansas commits made the list.

In fact, both of the KU commits — Corione Harris and Anthony Williams — were selected in the Top 5.

Harris, a four-star cornerback from Landry Walker High, was ranked No. 2 in the countdown. The Times-Picayune noted his stellar defense in the playoffs last season against Terrace Marshall, the nation’s third-ranked wide receiver in the Class of 2018.

“Harris was one of the top cornerbacks in the state drawing each teams’ top receiver,” wrote Amos Morale III, of the Times-Picayune. “He was instrumental in making the Landry-Walker secondary one of the state's most difficult to play against.”

Harris is expected to play quarterback, along with cornerback, in his senior season at Landry Walker, which is looking to repeat as state champions. One of his top targets will be fellow KU commit Devonta Jason, a five-star receiver. Jason was not ranked in the Times-Picayune’s countdown.

Starting last weekend, Harris played in Nike’s The Opening, a premier 7-on-7 event in Oregon.

None by Sam Spiegelman

Along with Harris, running back “Pooka” Williams was ranked fourth. From Hahnville High, Williams runs past defenses with his elite-level speed and strong vision.

Last season, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Williams led the New Orleans area with 26 touchdowns in the regular season, which included 1,831 yards on offense.

“Williams, who has been clocked running a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash, now has three years under his belt and that experience will help him take that next step in 2017,” Julie Boudwin wrote for the Times-Picayune. “The Tigers will also be starting four 300-pounders on the offensive line which will open up the running lanes for Williams, a Kansas commit.”

KU’s fourth Louisiana commit, defensive end Josh Smith, didn’t make the Times-Picayune’s rankings.

The No. 1 player in the countdown, receiver Ja’Marr Chase, de-committed from Kansas in February, about a week after announcing his commitment. He’s expected to choose between TCU and LSU on Monday afternoon.

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Landen Lucas ready to tip off his time with the Celtics

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) turns for a shot during a day of practices and press conferences prior to Thursday's game at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) turns for a shot during a day of practices and press conferences prior to Thursday's game at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

With recent draft picks Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III preparing for their first taste of life in the NBA during their upcoming summer league sessions, former Jackson and Mason teammate Landen Lucas will be beating both draftees to the punch.

Lucas, an undrafted free agent center with the Boston Celtics’ summer league squad, will kick off his extended tryout today in Salt Lake City, when the Celtics take on Philadelphia at 6 p.m. central time.

Lucas is one of just three players on the Celtics’ summer league roster who stands 6-foot-10 or taller — Boston’s 2016 first-round pick, 7-footer Ante Zizic is another — and he will be wearing No. 63 in green and white.

A couple of quick tidbits about Lucas’ situation heading into his first crack at pro basketball:

• Although Lucas’ ultimate dream is to play in the NBA, this is far from a Celtics-or-bust situation for the former Jayhawk. Lucas entered the draft process with heavy interest and even guaranteed offers from a handful of foreign teams and would no doubt be scooped up quickly overseas if things don’t work out in Boston.

• Lucas is the only player in this year’s draft class on the Celtics’ entire summer league roster who went through an individual workout with the team prior to the June 22 draft. Celtics boss Danny Ainge has long been known to appreciate toughness, maturity and character in the players he signs and drafts and Lucas grades out highly in all three areas.

• One thing worth keeping an eye on with Boston is the status of free agent forward Gordon Hayward. If Hayward decides to sign with Boston, likely on a max deal or something close to it, the Celtics would have much less room under the salary cap and could be looking to fill the final couple of spots on their roster with less expensive options. Hayward to the C’s certainly would not guarantee Lucas anything. And he likely remains a long shot to make the roster anyway. But Boston adding Hayward would be noteworthy for Lucas provided he plays well during the next couple of weeks.

• Boston will play in two summer league sessions, with the first running July 3-6 in Salt Lake City and the second coming July 7-17 in Las Vegas. Mason and Jackson will kick off their summer league careers Friday in Vegas against one another.

• As for his work with the Landen Lucas Foundation, it continues at full speed even with its namesake busy trying to catch on in the NBA. The foundation already has given out nearly 40 scholarships to young people in Lawrence and continues to search for ways to raise more money to sustain the vision and help as many local children as possible in their quest to get involved with their chosen sports. The Foundation’s goal is to raise $100,000 and give away 200 more scholarships in the next year.

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Reviewing offseason changes around Big 12 basketball teams

Blue Team guard Malik Newman laughs with teammate Devonte Graham before a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Blue Team guard Malik Newman laughs with teammate Devonte Graham before a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. by Nick Krug

With the college basketball offseason in full swing, and teams preparing for their overseas trips to play exhibition games, it’s time to take a look at all of the roster changes.

In the Big 12, the early predictions for next season have Kansas winning another conference title, West Virginia giving KU the biggest challenge and Texas emerging as a sleeper pick following a strong recruiting class.

Here’s a look at all of the incoming and outgoing players in the Big 12:

Kansas
In: Billy Preston, Marcus Garrett, Malik Newman, Jack Whitman, Sam Cunliffe (eligible to play in December)
Out: Frank Mason III, Landen Lucas, Josh Jackson, Carlton Bragg, Dwight Coleby

In three of the past five seasons, the school that lost the national player of the year didn’t make it to the NCAA Tournament in the following year. Of course, the Jayhawks will feel the losses of Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson, but it’s pretty remarkable they remain odds-on favorites to capture another Big 12 title.

Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman is expected to contend for the team’s leading scorer, while freshman Billy Preston, one of the conference's three McDonald's All-Americans, will compete for a spot in the starting lineup. But the best news of the offseason for KU was the return of senior Devonte Graham and a now-healthy Udoka Azubuike.

Baylor
In: Tristan Clark, Leonard Allen
Out: Johnathan Motley, Ishamil Wainright, Al Freeman

After reaching a No. 1 ranking in the middle of the season and exiting in the Sweet 16, Baylor will attempt to reload following the loss of standout forward Johnathan Motley, who wasn’t picked in the NBA Draft.

Coach Scott Drew can still rely on point guard Manu Lecomte and center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., and the incoming recruiting class includes four-star forward Tristan Clark, who led his high school to the state championship game. But like most programs who lose one of the top players in the country, it’s hard to avoid a step back in the following season.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis drives to the basket in a Team USA double-overtime win against Germany Monday, July 13, at the World University Games in South Korea.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis drives to the basket in a Team USA double-overtime win against Germany Monday, July 13, at the World University Games in South Korea. by Mike Yoder

Iowa State
In: Lindell Wigginton, Terrence Lewis, Hans Brase, Jeff Beverly
Out: Monte Morris, Deonte Burton, Naz Mitrou-Long, Matt Thomas, Merrill Holden, Darrell Bowie

Many of Iowa State's familiar faces from the past few years have finally graduated, and the Cyclones lost their top four scorers. Perhaps no team in the Big 12 lost more talent once the season ended. 


Coach Steve Prohm will enter rebuilding mode with five-star point guard Lindell Wigginton, who was teammates with KU’s Billy Preston at Oak Hill Academy, and four-star forward Terrence Lewis out of Milwaukee. Graduate transfer Hans Brase, from Princeton, played against the Jayhawks in the World University Games for Germany (six points and six rebounds).

Kansas State
In: Levi Stockard III, Nigel Shadd, Mike McGuirl, Makol Mawien, Amaad Wainright, Mawdo Sallah
Out: Wesley Iwundu, D.J. Johnson, Carlbe Ervin II, Isaiah Maurice

Despite losing leading scorer Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State returns four of its top six scorers from last season. It didn’t help that Isaiah Maurice was dismissed from the team earlier this month, but the Wildcats have a foundation to keep progressing from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad. 


Among the newcomers, there’s three transfers and three players from high school. Levi Stockard, a 6-foot-8 forward, led Vashon High to its second straight Class 4 Missouri state title. Amaad Wainright, younger brother of Baylor’s Ish Wainright, averaged 14 points at a junior college in Texas.

Kansas basketball recruit Trae Young (11) weaves his way though traffic as he drives to the hoop  during AAU competition Saturday afternoon at Lawrence Sports Pavilion.

Kansas basketball recruit Trae Young (11) weaves his way though traffic as he drives to the hoop during AAU competition Saturday afternoon at Lawrence Sports Pavilion. by John Young

Oklahoma
In: Trae Young, Brady Manek, Hannes Polla, Ty Lazenby
Out: Jordan Woodard, Darrion Strong-Moore

In a fierce recruiting battle, the Sooners beat out a few blue bloods, including Kansas, for hometown point guard Trae Young. He’s surrounded by a strong group of guards including Kameron McGusty, Rashard Odomes and Christian James.

Oklahoma will likely go as far as Young can take them after he averaged 44 points per game at nearby Norman North High. Jordan Woodard is the toughest loss (14.6 points per game), but the fact that the Sooners return so much of their team can only help them try to return to the NCAA Tournament.

Oklahoma State
In: Zack Dawson, Kendall Smith, Yankuba Sima (December)
Out: Phil Forte III, Leyton Hammonds, Jawun Evans

After building momentum last season, winning nine of their final 12 games in the conference and suffering a one-point loss to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, the Cowboys will be rebuilding after coach Brad Underwood departed for Illinois.

Oklahoma State lost three of its top four scorers, including second-round NBA draft pick Jawun Evans, and will learn to play under its new coach, Mike Boynton. Among the newcomers, the Cowboys picked up two transfers, Kendall Smith (CSUN) and Yankuba Sima (St. John’s), and four-star guard Zack Dawson.

TCU
In: Kevin Samuel, RJ Nembhard, Lat Mayen, Shawn Olden, Ahmed Hamdy
Out: Brandon Parrish, Michael Williams, Karviar Shepherd, Chris Washburn

Under first-year coach Jamie Dixon, the Horned Frogs made a strong push at the end of last season, including a Big 12 Tournament win over Kansas, and won the NIT. If that wasn’t already a good sign, TCU brings back its top six scorers from last year.

TCU will have to replace some depth with the loss of a few seniors, but there’s a solid group of newcomers that should compete for playing time. Ahmed Hamdy is a graduate transfer from VCU where he averaged five points per game.

Westtown School's Mo Bamba #11 in action against Hillcrest Prep during a high school basketball game at the 2017 Hoophall Classic on Saturday, January 14,, 2017, in Springfield, MA..

Westtown School's Mo Bamba #11 in action against Hillcrest Prep during a high school basketball game at the 2017 Hoophall Classic on Saturday, January 14,, 2017, in Springfield, MA..

Texas
In: Mo Bamba, Matt Coleman, Jericho Sims, Jase Febres, Royce Hamm Jr., Dylan Osetkowski
Out: Shaquille Cleare, Kendal Yancy, Jarrett Allen, Tevin Mack

One of the popular picks to surprise teams next winter after Shaka Smart secured a strong recruiting class, highlighted by Mo Bamba, a top-five player in the nation, and Matt Coleman, a true point guard that the team lacked last season. Bamba was in the news this week when his brother accused him of accepting cash and gifts, though Texas released a statement saying, "the NCAA has not informed us of any pending issues or eligibility concerns at this time."

The Longhorns lost some of their inside presence when Shaquille Cleare graduated and Jarrett Allen went to the NBA. But they received good news when Andrew Jones announced he would return for another season. He averaged 11.4 points last season, the school’s top returning scorer.

Texas Tech
In: Malik Ondigo, Jarett Culver, Daniel Mading, Zhaire Smith, Tommy Hamilton IV, Brandone Francis, Davide Moretti, Josh Webster, Hyron Edwards
Out: Anthony Livingston, Aaron Ross, Devon Thomas, Matthew Temple

Texas Tech returns its only double-digit scorers from last season, Keenan Evans and Zach Smith, but coach Chris Beard will infuse a large group of newcomers to the rotation. That includes Depaul transfer Tommy Hamilton IV and Florida transfer Brandone Francis, who both sat out all of last season. Hamilton averaged 8.6 points and 5.5 boards in his junior year at Depaul. 


The Red Raiders lost several close games in last year’s 18-14 campaign and should receive a boost from their mix of returners and newcomers. Newcomer Davide Moretti starred in Italy, playing for the u18 and u20 national teams.

West Virginia
In: Brandon Knapper, Derek Culver, Teddy Allen, D’Angelo Hunter, Wesley Harris
Out: Tarik Phillip, Nathan Adrian, Teyvon Myers, Brandon Watkins, Elijah Macon

It wasn’t unexpected, but West Virginia received good news in the offseason when Jevon Carter announced he was going to return for his senior season. He briefly tested the waters for the NBA Draft. That meant the Mountaineers return their top two scorers, including Esa Ahmad, and a perfect fit for their full-court pressure defense.

West Virginia lost three key contributors: Tarik Phillip, Nathan Adrian and Elijah Macon, but there’s confidence younger players and the newcomers can step up into key positions. However, the Mountaineers’ top incoming recruit, Derek Culver, hasn’t arrived on campus yet. Coach Bob Huggins said he’s awaiting a test score to determine his eligibility.

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KU basketball newcomers reveal chosen jersey numbers for 2017-18 season

None by Kansas Basketball

Although it's unlikely that he’ll be asked to fill Frank Mason III’s shoes in Kansas’ starting lineup, KU freshman Marcus Garrett will be looking to do just that in his chosen jersey.

Garrett, one of nine newcomers on this year’s Kansas basketball team, will wear No. 0 during his first season with the Jayhawks.

KU Athletics last weekend released a short video with the newcomers — six of which will be eligible during the 2017-18 season — revealing their jersey numbers and talking about the experience of wearing a KU uniform for the first time.

“Today we’re taking action shots to put up in our locker and just to feel the Jayhawk uniform,” said Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson, who will wear No. 1, the same number he wore at Memphis.

Added Cal transfer Charlie Moore, who wore No. 13 with the Golden Bears and will wear No. 5 at Kansas: “I’m just excited to put on this uniform and represent.”

The other newcomers featured in the video were William & Mary graduate transfer Jack Whitman, who will wear No. 41, Memphis transfer K.J. Lawson, who has chosen to wear No. 13; freshman Billy Preston, who picked No. 23; and walk-on Chris Teahan, the younger brother of Conner Teahan, who will wear No. 12 during the upcoming season.

Although Garrett did not address wearing the same number as the reigning national player of the year, the group expressed similar thoughts when talking about putting a KU uniform for the first time.

“I’m thrilled to be here and can’t wait to get started,” said Whitman, who will be eligible to play immediately.

Added Preston: “I’m excited to play in front of the crowd, the most crazy fans and the best fans in the country.”

As for Garrett and K.J. Lawson, they seemed most excited about joining the tradition-rich Kansas program.

“This town loves basketball,” K.J. Lawson said. “And I’m just excited to be a part of a great tradition.”

Added Garrett: “I’m very excited for Late Night. Everybody tells me how many people are gonna be there and I just can’t wait.”

Two other newly eligible faces on this year’s roster are guard Malik Newman, who will wear No. 14, and Sam Cunliffe, who will wear No. 3 when he’s eligible to play following the end of the first semester.

Here’s a quick look at the entire numerical roster:

0 – Marcus Garrett, Fr. G

1 – Dedric Lawson, Jr. F

2 – Lagerald Vick, Jr. G

3 – Sam Cunliffe, Soph. G

4 – Devonte’ Graham, Sr. G

5 – Charlie Moore, Soph. G

10 – Svi Mykhailiuk, Sr. G

12 – Chris Teahan, Fr. G

13 – K.J. Lawson, Soph. F

14 – Malik Newman, Jr. G

21 – Clay Young, Sr. G

23 – Billy Preston, Fr. F

35 – Udoka Azubuike, Soph. C

41 – Jack Whitman, Sr. F

44 – Mitch Lightfoot, Soph. F

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Aqib Talib, Chris Harris rated among top 20 players in the NFL

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris greets David Beaty prior to the start of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris greets David Beaty prior to the start of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

It’s been several years since Aqib Talib and Chris Harris suited up for the Kansas football team, but they continue to make a big impact for the Jayhawks.

Both Harris and Talib remain actively involved with their alma mater. Harris attended KU's spring football game in April. Two weeks later, Talib went to the team’s meet-and-greet event in Dallas.

On the recruiting trail, the pair of cornerbacks have helped shape an image of KU as one of the top places to develop defensive backs. And their play in the Denver Broncos secondary last season only strengthened that notion.

Pro Football Focus, which grades players on each snap during the season, ranked Talib as the 18th-best player in the NFL and Harris followed in 19th. They were the top two cornerbacks in the league.

Talib, entering his 10th season in the NFL, had one of his most consistent years in the Broncos secondary. He grabbed three interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, and had 12 pass deflections.

“Aqib Talib has always had the potential to be the game’s best cornerback, but in the past, we have only ever seen it in flashes, or for brief stretches before he lapsed and we saw him surrender big plays,” Pro Football Focus wrote. “2016 was the first year he put it all together, and went the entire year without surrendering a touchdown.”

Pro Football Focus noted Talib didn’t allow a catch longer than 26 yards last year. Plus, quarterbacks had trouble completing short passes against him.

“Talib allowed just 53.0 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught, for a passer rating of only 49.5, and for much of the year, quarterbacks were statistically better off just throwing the ball away than they were testing Talib in coverage,” PFF wrote.

Harris, who has been ranked as high as No. 4 by PFF in his career, had another all-pro season where he recorded two interceptions, 11 pass deflections and 57 tackles.

Entering his seventh year with the Broncos, Harris, an undrafted free agent out of KU, continues to make the most of his opportunities when the ball is thrown in his direction.

“Harris allowed an average of only 8.9 yards per reception in 2016, and 126 total yards after the catch, despite being targeted 84 times," PFF wrote.

Harris combined with Talib, and the rest of Denver's secondary, for the top passing defense in the league (185.8 yards per game).

According to PFF, Harris had 28 defensive stops, which was two more than any other cornerback.

Even with all of these all-pro distinctions, Harris doesn’t need to look far to find more motivation for next season.

In a vote from their peers, conducted by the NFL Network, Talib was ranked as the 37th-best player in the league and Harris was 63rd. When Harris was asked by Denver reporters about his ranking, he laughed.

“Just adds more fuel to the fire,” Harris told the Denver Post. “I might be the only first-team all-pro that didn’t make it into the top 50 probably. But, no, I need something like that. Getting all these awards and accolades and things, I guess it’s good to have one thing that keeps me motivated.”

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$300 million Memorial Stadium project about much more than KU’s shiny new digs

Kansas fans watch the Jayhawk football team on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas fans watch the Jayhawk football team on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Last week, while Kansas fans were speculating, dreaming and debating about what the $300 million announced renovation budget for Memorial Stadium could look like and include, Dennis Dodd of CBSsports.com had another thought.

And it was a good one.

Sure, Kansas fans everywhere would like to know what that money will be used for and how the project will look when completed.

Will Memorial Stadium receive a facelift or a complete overhaul? Are we talking about something like what happened at K-State with Bill Snyder Family Stadium or something like what happened at TCU, where they basically built the entire thing from scratch?

For what it’s worth, both are sharp, modern venues and either direction would go a long way toward improving the Kansas football experience.

But, as Dodd pointed out, there’s much, much more to the story here than the fact that all of that coin can deliver shiny new concession stands, an upgraded wireless experience and a much better looking stadium, inside and out, top to bottom.

There’s also the statement about what this kind of commitment means for the program and the university. And there’s no denying that it means a ton.

One of the more popular groans I’ve heard throughout the years about the Kansas football program is that athletic director Sheahon Zenger and his department are not committed to football. Those who know him and have been paying attention know that could not be farther from the truth. Suggesting otherwise is laughable.

But in the world we live in today, it’s dollars not determination that shows commitment, so all of that behind-the-scenes stuff and all of those hours of sleepless nights or endless meetings don’t mean nearly as much to the general public as the sound of a $300 million commitment to renovating the stadium.

Today you’ve got both, and now the real fun can begin.

While the public won’t know exactly what the plan is until blueprints are released by KU sometime in September, what is known today is that the Jayhawks are serious about positioning the program to be in as good of shape as possible for the near future and beyond.

The reason that’s so important, as Dodd points out, is something we’ve all heard for years now, so much so that it almost has become common knowledge for fans of all ages — it’s football that drives realignment and will shape the college athletics landscape of the future. Not having your shop in order in that area could be devastating.

Zenger knows this. He always has. And he’s spent hundreds of hours contemplating all of the things Kansas can do to get on the right track in the event that realignment rears its ugly head once more sometime in the near future.

While things have been calm and quiet at the Power 5 level for the past few years, those grant of rights agreements are eventually going to expire and, when they do, it’s anybody’s guess as to where things go from there. Better to be prepared well in advance than to be forced to scramble if/when it all goes down.

And so the Jayhawks are doing just that. Forget the $300 million stadium plans for a second. That’s big. Huge, in fact. And it will go a long way toward showing the world — read: television networks and Power 5 conferences — that KU is serious about football again.

But there have been plenty of smaller, less-talked-about signs that say the same thing along the way.

The first was hiring Beaty in the first place. In doing so, Zenger put an end to the idea of dishing out disproportionate salaries to football coaches taking the Jayhawks nowhere and provided the program with the foundation it needed for a true rebuild. As was said when Beaty was hired, the process was going to take time and patience would be important, but as Beaty and company head into Year 3, things definitely appear to be headed in a better direction.

The second came last year, when Zenger extended Beaty’s contract and doubled his salary. While that meant bumping his compensation from $800,000 to $1.6 million, numbers that pale in comparison to the $300 million renovation budget, it also meant that the Jayhawks were serious about providing this guy what he needs to keep the momentum moving.

Don't overlook Zenger's recent extension itself in this whole thing, too. It's much easier for an AD to ask for $300 million in donations if there's an indication that he's going to be around long enough to make sure the money is used the way donors are told it will be.

The third and most overlooked aspect of KU's commitment to football was to Beaty’s coaching staff. Rather than using money to make hires elsewhere in the department — needed or otherwise — Zenger set aside a significant amount of cash for Beaty to use on his staff. While a big chunk of that went to new offensive coordinator Doug Meachem — who, for what it’s worth, absolutely could be a difference-maker right away — it also allowed Beaty to bump up the salaries of several other assistant coaches, most notable of which was Tony Hull, whose ties to Louisiana have been an enormous part of KU’s recruiting success of late.

Those three things were all in place well before any kind of $300 million stadium announcement saw the light of day. And together, those moves, along with a handful of others, (most notably the million-dollar renovation of the football locker room) should put an end, once and for all, to the ridiculous talk about KU and Zenger not being committed to the football program.

They are. It’s as clear as can be. And, if Dodd is right and realignment does hit hard again in the next 5-8 years, it’s moves like these that could keep Kansas — and, therefore, it’s blue blood basketball program — relevant among the rest of the power players in college athletics.

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Graham, Mykhailiuk in position to make their marks on KU’s 3-point record books

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and forward Carlton Bragg Jr. react to a big three from Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and forward Carlton Bragg Jr. react to a big three from Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan. by Nick Krug

It’s not a complete rarity just yet, and some very, very good Kansas basketball players recently have stuck around to play all four seasons at KU.

While that often endears them to the hearts and minds of KU fans much more than those phenoms who come and go in a year or two — think recently beloved ballers Frank Mason III, Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Devonte’ Graham, Tyshawn Taylor and more — it also gives them quite an advantage in their assault on the record books.

Sticking around for four years gives a player, on average, 35 more games to rack up stats than a player who left after his junior season, 70 more than a two-year player and more than 100 more games to rack up stats than the one-and-done superstars who no doubt would have a much more prominent place in the KU record books if four-year college careers were required or the norm.

Just think about the numbers Andrew Wiggins and Josh Jackson would’ve put up. (Wiggins, by the way, would have just finished his senior season at KU if that were the case).

Another one in this area that always gets me is Paul Pierce, who played three stellar seasons at KU before turning pro and would no doubt have been the second leading scorer in KU history (behind only Danny Manning) had he stayed for his senior year. As it is, Pierce, in three seasons, climbed all the way to sixth place on KU’s scoring chart and currently sits 10th after Keith Langford, Sherron Collins, Perry Ellis and, of course, Frank Mason III all passed him. All four were four-year players.

And that brings me to my point. With Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham announcing this spring that they would be back for their senior seasons, both have a chance to move up on a handful of KU all-time lists, including total points, 3-point shooting and games played.

Graham, who eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone during his junior season, figures to be in position for a jump in scoring with several other big time scorers who he called teammates now gone.

After a modest, 164-point freshman year, the senior from Raleigh, N.C., has averaged 456 points per season during the past two seasons and sits in 45th place on KU’s all-time scoring list, a few points ahead of Rex Walters.

Assuming Graham at least hits his two-year average during the 2017-18 season, that would move him into the Top 20, just ahead of Drew Gooden, who capped his three-year KU career with 1,526 points.

If Graham is able to even come close to duplicating what Mason did during national-player-of-the-year campaign last season, that would give Graham a shot at cracking the Top 10.

The best guess here is that he’ll land somewhere between his 456 average and that 700-point ceiling, putting him comfortably in the Top 15 by the time he says goodbye to Lawrence.

Now let’s turn our attention to KU’s all-time 3-point shooting records, an area in which both Graham and Mykhailiuk can do some damage before they’re done.

Neither player is going to come anywhere close to catching all-time leader Jeff Boschee, whose 338 career 3-pointers are 69 (a good season) more than second-place Billy Thomas.

But there’s a shot that Graham could catch Thomas for second and Svi could move into the Top 5.

To do so, Graham would need to knock down 84 triples during his senior season. While that’s far from a given, considering the amount of attention Graham figures to get from opposing defenses during his final season as a Jayhawk, it’s certainly possible. As a sophomore, Graham drilled 75 3-pointers and, last season, while playing third fiddle to Mason and Josh Jackson, Graham upped the total to 94.

Given the presence of Malik Newman and the fact that KU coach Bill Self has said next season’s team is likely to play a little more inside out than last year’s team did, it’s certainly possible that Graham could get free enough times to knock down the 84 shots he needs to slide into second place. If not, third place seems all but certain, as he needs just 51 3-point makes to move past Kirk Hinrich.

For what it’s worth, Frank Mason III currently sits in seventh place (185), five 3-point makes ahead of Mario Chalmers.

Graham’s 94 3-point makes as a junior was good for the fourth best single-season mark in KU history. And his .411 career percentage has him on the brink of the Top 10 in all-time 3-point percentage already.

And then there’s Svi, who, after a relatively slow start to his career, stepped up big time with 70 3-point makes during his junior season. Another season like that would put the young Ukrainian on the doorstep of the Top 5, as he needs 84 3-point makes as a senior to pass Brandon Rush (205) for fifth place on KU’s 3-point chart.

Regardless of how it all plays out, both Graham and Mykhailiuk, thanks largely to their status as four-year players, should be mainstays in the KU record books for quite a while.

That’s not a knock on the one-and-done phenomenon or me saying one way is better than the other. The bottom line is this: It’s every player’s goal to make it to the NBA and if you’re ready you should be able to go.

But it’s cool to see that, beyond getting an education and enjoying the college experience, there are a few other perks of staying in school for all four years.

Records are cool anywhere, but at a place like Kansas, with all of its rich history and tradition, being a part of them, can wind up being even more meaningful later in life.

Thanks to their decisions to return for one more go — not to mention one more stab at a national title — Graham and Mykhailiuk now are in position to experience that.

Kansas guards Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Devonte' Graham (4) make conversation during the second half, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guards Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Devonte' Graham (4) make conversation during the second half, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

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