Entries from blogs tagged with “KU football”

Former Jayhawk Carlton Bragg Jr. eyeing five schools for fresh start

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) flashes a smile while waiting for a free throw during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) flashes a smile while waiting for a free throw during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman on Wednesday revealed five possible destinations for former Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr., who decided after two seasons as a Jayhawk to leave Lawrence during the offseason.

According to Goodman and several other reports, Bragg is considering Arizona State, Cincinnati, Illinois, North Carolina State and Xavier.

Reports last week indicated that there might be mutual interest between Ohio State and Bragg, but, at least as of now, the Buckeyes do not appear to be in the running for the former McDonald’s All-American who hails from Cleveland.

Bragg’s departure was one of the surprise storylines of the 2016-17 season, as many had him pegged as a potential early-entry NBA prospect and expected him to have a breakout season while sliding into the role vacated by departing senior Perry Ellis. It never happened, though, and Bragg’s struggles on the floor carried over to his personal life, where he twice was suspended by Bill Self for off-the-court issues.

Bragg averaged just 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game.

It does not appear that things will move too quickly here, with Bragg likely to take at least a few visits before deciding on his next school. That certainly could change with one visit, but either way it seems likely that Bragg will make a decision in time to report to his new program in time for summer workouts.

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KU one of the leaders for Cal transfer Charlie Moore?

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

According to a Tweet from college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein, Kansas and Illinois have emerged as the two favorites to land Cal point guard Charlie Moore, who plans to transfer in the offseason.

Moore, a 5-foot-11, former four-star prospect in the Class of 2016, averaged 12 points and 3.5 assists per game for the Bears this season. He played in 34 games and averaged 29 minutes per game during his freshman season.

Moore originally committed to Memphis prior to last season but backed out of that commitment when then-Memphis coach Josh Pastner left for Georgia Tech.

That sent Moore to Cal, where he played one year for Cuonzo Martin, who left this offseason to take over at Missouri. Despite praising Cal’s promotion of assistant coach Wyking Jones into the head coach’s office, Moore elected to transfer in order to be closer to his ailing father, who, in 2015, suffered a stroke.

“After many discussions with my family, I’ve made the decision to transfer to be closer to home,” Moore said in a statement earlier this month. “This was an extremely difficult decision for me, but the opportunity to be closer to my family is one that I feel is necessary for me at this time. I am grateful for my first year at California and for teammates, who became my brothers.”

Called by Rivals.com during his recruitment, “a dynamo who can score,” Moore carries a toughness typical of Chicago prospects and is known for his explosive abilities and on-court personality.

Although Rothstein’s report merely mentioned KU as one of two frontrunners for Moore, there’s a lot about the link to Kansas that makes sense.

For one, signing with KU would give him the opportunity to play with former Memphis players Dedric and K.J. Lawson, who also are transferring to KU this offseason. Although the trio never played together at Memphis, the Lawson brothers no doubt had an impact during Memphis recruitment of Moore.

For two, with KU losing Devonte’ Graham and possibly Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk following the 2017-18 season, the Jayhawks will be looking to restock the cupboard with guards heading into the 2018-19 season, when Moore would become eligible after sitting out in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

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More final rankings for the Class of 2017

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

As Kansas coach Bill Self and his staff continue to try to put the finishing touches on the 2017 recruiting classes, recruiting services everywhere are doing the same.

This week, both ESPN and 247 Sports released their final rankings of the 2017 class, which, to date, includes two KU commitments and a couple of known targets still trying to make their decisions.

6-foot-5 combo guard Marcus Garrett, who committed to KU last August, finished ranked as the No. 47-ranked player in the class according to 247 Sports and 61st in the ESPN rankings.

Five-star prospect Billy Preston, a 6-9, 220-pound forward from Oak Hill Academy finished ranked No. 21 on the 247 list and No. 17 according to ESPN.

Those two players finished ranked No. 10 and No. 37 in the final Rivals.com rankings for the 2017 class.

Other notable names and rankings on the final 247 Sports list include KU targets Trevon Duval (No. 6), recently released Illinois big man Jeremiah Tilmon (No. 39) and guard Thomas Allen, another player who recently was given a release from his previous choice after a coaching change, who came in ranked 126th on the final list.

Duval, who has been one of KU's top targets for months and would pair nicely in the Kansas backcourt next to Devonte' Graham and Malik Newman, was rumored to be making an unofficial visit to Duke this week — the Blue Devils may represent KU's stiffest challenge for the dynamic guard — but Duval wrote on Twitter that such reports were untrue.

It should be noted that this is the same Duval, who earlier this month, Tweeted that he would announce a final two only to reveal later that his plans of narrowing down his list from five (Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Seton Hall) to two were merely an April Fool's joke.

Thanks to Josh Jackson's formal announcement that he would enter the NBA Draft, the Jayhawks now have one remaining scholarship to pass out. Should Svi Mykhailiuk, who is testing his merits but has not yet hired an agent, elect to stay in the draft, Kansas would have two scholarships to give in the current class.

As always, Self and his staff also are lining up visits and making the rounds with players in an ultra-talented 2018 class, with power forward Marvin Bagley III, small forward Zion Williamson, shooting guard Romeo Langford, power forward Jordan Brown, power forward Bol Bol and point guard Darius Garland representing a few of the highest-ranked names to keep an eye on.

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

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Most memorable Josh Jackson moments of 2016-17 season

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) raises up his arms as he leaves the court with little time remaining during the Jayhawks' 90-70 win over Michigan State on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) raises up his arms as he leaves the court with little time remaining during the Jayhawks' 90-70 win over Michigan State on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. by Nick Krug

With Josh Jackson announcing his inevitable decision to turn pro on Monday, it seems like a good time to take a quick look back at the Detroit native’s short but oh-so-sweet Kansas career.

In one year, Jackson cemented himself in KU history by sticking his name all over the freshman record book.

He set the KU freshman record for double-doubles in a single season (13), shots made (220) and shots attempted (429) and also tied Danny Manning for second among all KU freshmen with 258 rebounds.

His 572 points were the third most in KU freshman history, 25 points behind Andrew Wiggins’ record, and his 16.3 points-per-game averaged ranks second to Wiggins’ mark of 17.1.

Jackson also attempted the second most free throws in a single season by a freshman (173) and, believe it or not, made the third most free throws (98). His 1,077 minutes played were the fourth most in KU history by a freshman and his 55 steals put him fifth on KU’s all-time freshman list.

In short, Jackson, as you all surely saw with your own eyes, was nothing shy of remarkable during his lone season of college basketball, getting better month after month and week after week and providing Kansas with an incredible advantage most nights out.

His presence in the uniform and on the floor will be missed by the program and the fans, who finally got to see a one-and-done Jayhawk live up to the expectations they have for these types of players.

Before Jackson’s name merely becomes a part of the record books, let’s take one look back at some of his best moments at Kansas, followed by a few highlight videos that, after watching them, reminded me just how good he was and how lucky we were to get to see him play, up close and personal, 36 times last season.

Jackson is destined for big things in the NBA and it should fun to watch how his career unfolds, starting with this June’s draft and the unveiling of what NBA city he’s headed to next.

Although there were dozens of memorable Josh Jackson moments this season, from monster dunks to sweet dimes and everything in between, here are 10 that stood out to me as both big time highlights and moments or plays that fully encapsulate the kind of player Jackson is.

10 – Baseline, under-the-basket scoop shot vs. UC Davis in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Jackson filled the highlight reel in his first ever NCAA tourney game, finishing with a number of athletic plays on both ends of the floor and filling up the stat sheet. For my money, though, it was this shot that stood out above all of them. Midway through the game, Jackson drove right and was funneled to the baseline by the Davis defender. Undeterred, he kept going through the lane and kissed a reverse layup off the glass with reverse english. Dr. J it was not, but it was close, just as athletic and a good look at just how many tricks this guy had in his repertoire.

9 – Step-back 3 over Miles Bridges in NCAA Tournament second round. Another game filled with Jackson highlights — most of them at his good buddy Bridges’ expense — this smooth 3-pointer gave KU a 60-53 with 11 minutes to play and demonstrated just how confident Jackson had become in his 3-point shot. After catching it with his back to the basket outside of the paint, Jackson used his dribble to face up and get Bridges on his heels, took one quick jab step and then a long hop back behind line for 3-pointer right in front of KU bench.

8 – One-handed, transition bounce pass to Svi in traffic vs. Long Beach State. Often called the best passer on the team, Jackson showed it time and time again, finding the open man and setting up teammates inside for easy buckets. None of his passes were as impressive as this one, though, when he found Svi streaking to the rim just a couple of steps past half-court and, in one motion, picked up his dribble with his right hand and fired a pass from right to left between two guys and around another that hit Svi in stride for the layup.

7 – Vicious alley-oop dunk vs TCU at home. I’ll always remember this one because of Jackson’s explanation of it. Flying down the floor with Frank Mason III in a two-on-one fastbreak, Jackson rose high and flushed it with force like he had done so many times this season. This one though, was a little different. He went up and caught it with two hands and looked like he was going to flush it quickly without making much fuss. But in mid air he decided to turn it into a one-handed hammer because, as he said, he wanted to give the fans a little show. Oh to be able to do things like that on the basketball court.

6 – Deep 3-pointer to close the 1st half at Baylor. Not exactly known for his outside shot, Jackson, who shot well above 40 percent from 3-point range in conference play, improved so much in that area throughout the season and hit some big ones along the way. Few were as big as this one against Baylor that just beat the buzzer and helped pull the Jayhawks within six points at the break instead of being down nine.

5 – Game-winning free throw at Texas Tech. A day after his 20th birthday and on an afternoon when he scored a career-high 31 points, it was a Jackson free throw in the final seconds of a tough road win at Texas Tech that stole the headlines. Just a 57 percent shooter from the free throw line all season, Jackson stepped up big time in this moment, knocking down the second of two free throws with 2.8 seconds to play to break a tie and give Kansas the win.

4 – Back-to-back 3-pointers to open 2nd half at Kentucky. After trailing by double digits in the first half in hostile Rupp Arena, the Jayhawks hung tough and went to the locker room down just five at the break. That in itself gave Kansas a bit of momentum, but the fact that the Kentucky lead was gone altogether one minute into the second half was what really propelled the Jayhawks to victory. And Josh Jackson, almost single-handedly was to thank for that. He buried a couple of 3-pointers, one from the left wing 15 seconds into the half and the other from the right wing 45 seconds later.

3 – Late dunk at Baylor. Jackson actually had four monster dunks in this tough road win, but the most critical came in the final two minutes on a sweet drive and dish by Mason, who found Jackson slipping behind Baylor 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil. Jackson did the rest, destroying the rim with one hand to pull KU within two in yet another dramatic, late-game comeback that delivered a tough road victory.

2 – Steal and flush at Kentucky that kept Kansas in it. Jackson had a similar play against Duke in New York City — proving that he likes the big stage just a little — but in this one he flashed his defensive effort, intensity and motor to pick up some easy points for Kansas. After jumping in front of a D’Aaron Fox pass intended for Derek Willis, Jackson cruised in for the uncontested, right-handed hammer jam to pull KU within eight instead of falling behind by 12 or 13.

1 – One-handed exclamation point vs. Michigan State. It was a game that meant a lot to him on a personal level and he showed it. Playing brilliantly all over the floor in KU’s second-round NCAA Tournament victory over the Spartans, Jackson capped his monster night with a come-fly-with-me dunk down the heart of the lane that served as the exclamation point on KU’s second victory in Tulsa. After catching a pass from a scrambling Lagerald Vick at top of the key, Jackson gave a quick hesitation move to make old pal Miles Bridges think jumper, and then blew by Bridges and elevated over everyone to send it in and seal the KU victory.

• NCAA Tournament 2017

• KU at Kentucky

• General Jackson highlights from 2016-17 season

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K.J. Lawson delivers harsh goodbye

South Carolina forward Mindaugas Kacinas (25) fouls Memphis forward K.J. Lawson, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

South Carolina forward Mindaugas Kacinas (25) fouls Memphis forward K.J. Lawson, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Call it a parting shot or a bad way to make a first impression, either way a snapchat video of newly acquired Kansas forward K.J. Lawson, the former Memphis Tiger who, along with his brother, Dedric, committed to KU earlier this week, recently surfaced that showed Lawson using profanity which seems to be directed at Memphis coach Tubby Smith.

If Smith was indeed the target of Lawson's rant, the reason is likely his frustration with the way his father, Keelon Lawson, was treated during the Lawson brothers' final season with the program.

Hired by former Memphis coach Josh Pastner as a full-time assistant coach, Keelon Lawson was demoted to director of player development by Smith for the one season that the two sides were together.

That, in part, led to the transfer of his two sons, both Memphis natives, and may have cost the Tigers a heck of a lot more. Not only do K.J. and Dedric have two younger brothers who are rated among the top players in their classes, the whole thing serves a serious blow to Smith's standing in talent-rich Memphis, which has been vital in the Tigers' success for years.

According to a recent column from Gary Parrish, Memphis is now down to just two returning scholarship players, after a couple of graduations and mass transfers decimated the program.

While cleaning up that mess will be Smith's responsibility, the Lawson brothers soon will be the responsibility of KU and the guess here is that K.J. will learn sooner rather than later that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in Lawrence.

Keelon Lawson said on Parrish's radio show earlier this week that his sons would have stayed at Memphis had he been allowed to keep his job as a full-time assistant. Instead, they're now Kansas bound.

Dedric and K.J. Lawson will sit out the 2017-18 college basketball season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules and become eligible to play before the start of the 2018-19 season. They will be able to practice with the Jayhawks throughout their transfer season, which should give Kansas' eligible players an added edge in practices.

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Update: Lawson took to Twitter Thursday night to issue an apology for the video and his comments.

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Miles Bridges news unlikely to have any impact on Josh Jackson’s decision

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) lofts a shot over Michigan State guard Miles Bridges (22) during the first half on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) lofts a shot over Michigan State guard Miles Bridges (22) during the first half on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. by Nick Krug

I get it. I really do. And I’m right there with you. Sort of.

The idea of Kansas freshman Josh Jackson returning for his sophomore season is wonderful to think about. But it’s a total waste of time and, therefore, is hazardous to the health of Kansas basketball fans.

Like so many one-and-done Jayhawks before him, I’d love nothing more than to see Jackson return so we can watch a player of his ability, up close and personal, for another year.

But it’s not happening.

Not might. Not maybe he’ll be the guy who does it differently. Not Lloyd Christmas’ “So you’re telling me there’s a chance” line. Just not.

I’m sure most people know this. And I’m sure you all know the reasons why, so I won’t waste your time or mine rehashing that here. Jackson’s lifelong dream has been to play in the NBA and he’s about to be one of the top players picked in the draft. Easy decision.

With that said, I can’t blame those KU fans who do know it but are such die-hard Jayhawks that they can’t help but wish for even the longest of long shots to come through. That’s part of what being a fan is all about. As long as you can handle it when the bubble bursts.

In a move that has shocked all kinds of college basketball analysts, Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges, a likely lottery pick himself, appears to be returning for his sophomore year. He’ll make an announcement at Michigan State’s arena tonight, and, much like Roy Williams’ announcement the first time he was courted by North Carolina, you generally don’t get a bunch of people together to give them bad news.

So the likely assumption is that Bridges is staying. Good for him. He’s got Top 3 potential and could — could — help himself a little by returning for a second season in East Lansing.

His return, if that’s what’s happening, will be great for college basketball and, obviously, even greater for Tom Izzo and the Spartans.

Because Bridges and Jackson grew up together and come from the same environment, many KU fans have spun the Bridges news into having some kind of impact on Jackson’s decision.

I also get that. But I don’t really see it changing anything for the Big 12 freshman of the year.

Let me put it this way: Before I heard about Bridges, I thought there was a 0.0 percent chance that Jackson would return to Kansas. Now that I know about Bridges’ upcoming announcement, I’ve moved my thinking about a possible Jackson return to 0.5 percent. That’s still less than 1 percent and every inch of my brain believes Jackson is leaving.

And good for him. He’s ready. He’ll be an incredible pro and I think he’ll wind up being even better in the NBA than Andrew Wiggins already is. He may never be the scorer that Wiggins is — although I wouldn’t rule it out — but I think he’ll be a much, much better all-around player and he’ll be in position to make a big time impact on whatever team is lucky enough to land him as soon as next season.

For the selfish side of getting to cover and watch Jackson play for one more season, and for the incredible story side of covering the guy who, like Tim Duncan 20 years ago, would be turning down an opportunity to be a Top 3 pick and all of that money for another season of college basketball, I’d love for Jackson to return.

But I haven’t spent even a total of one minute thinking it was going to happen and I don’t think those close to him have either. Remember, KU coach Bill Self has said repeatedly, both recently and as far back as last fall, that Jackson's a one-year guy and that he's not holding his breath for him to return. That's not a coach guarding his heart. That's a coach being realistic.

Bridges news or not, Jackson’s turning pro and the delay in his announcement, which has contributed to the sliver of hope that KU fans still have for him to shock the world, is merely circumstantial. He’s in no hurry. Nor does he need to be. He’ll announce it when he’s ready, just like he’ll be turning pro when he’s ready.

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Say What? Tait’s Wednesday appearance on 810 WHB’s Sports Night with Cody Tapp

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News, notes and updated Rivals.com rankings for the KU recruiting Class of 2017

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

While the Kansas basketball program’s 2017 recruiting class remains incomplete and a work in progress, the folks at Rivals.com have released their updated and final Rivals 150 rankings for the current class.

The two future Jayhawks on the list who already have signed with Kansas both dropped a couple of spots but more or less held their ground and maintained their status in the same tiers they were in during the previous update.

Billy Preston, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound McDonald’s All-American from Oak Hill Academy landed in the No. 10 spot in the final rankings. That was two spots down from his previous ranking of No. 8 but allowed Preston to maintain the distinction by which many had known him throughout the recruiting process — a Top 10 player in the class. Preston also remained a 5-star prospect.

Of Preston, who averaged a double-double (15.3 points and 10.4 rebounds) during his final prep season, KU coach Bill Self recently said: “He’s a prototypical 4 man. He’s a big guy that can handle the ball and shoot. He’s really a good prospect.”

Marcus Garrett, a 6-foot-5, combo guard from Dallas’ Skyline High, dropped one spot from No. 37 to 38 but remained higher than his initial ranking of No. 44 when he committed to Kansas last August. Garrett also held his status as a 4-star recruit.

Of Garrett, who nearly averaged a triple-double (17.3 points, 10.4 points and 9.1 assists) during his senior season while earning Texas Gatorade Player of the Year honors, Self recently said: “I think Marcus is gonna be good. Marcus is a 6-5 guard, he’s strong and he’s gonna be a really good player.”

The two players already officially committed to the program were not the only noteworthy prospects listed in the final Rivals 150 rankings.

Trevon Duval, the top-ranked point guard in the class who has narrowed down his list to a final five of Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Seton Hall, dropped one spot, from No. 3 to No. 4 as he reached the homestretch of his recruitment.

The arrival of the spring signing period, which opened Wednesday and runs through May 17, creates a situation where Duval will not have to wait to sign whenever he makes his final decision. He can both commit and sign on the same day or, possibly even sign an official letter of intent with his chosen school before making his choice public.

Most recruiting analysts believe that Duval’s decision will come sometime later this month or early in May. But the reality is that it could come any day.

KU target Jeremiah Tilmon, a 6-10, 235-pound big man from East St. Louis, Ill., also received a new ranking in the updated list, falling from No. 25 to No. 42. Tilmon, who had committed to Illinois but asked for a release after the Illini changed coaches, is expected to receive a visit from Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard on Friday.

Self recently told the Journal-World that he would like to add a “quick-twitch 4 man” in the current class to back-up Preston, but added that, “If he’s not a quick-twitch guy, then hopefully (he’s) a guy that’s big enough to play the five. But there’s some guys out there and there’s gonna be a lot of seniors that will look to transfer so hopefully we’ll find one.”

Other names of note on the list include: Brewster Academy guard Thomas Allen, who recently was released from his commitment to NC State after the Wolfpack coaching change. Allen jumped from No. 149 on the list to No. 99.

Former Arizona State commitment Kenny Wooten, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward who recently reopened his recruitment and checks in at No. 140 on the list. Wooten, according to Rivals, had an offer from KU prior to committing to Arizona State.

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Stock Watch: Mykhailiuk on first-round bubble in ‘18 draft ahead of Wednesday’s announcement

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In a move that didn’t surprise many people around the program, Kansas junior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk announced Wednesday that he was testing the waters for the NBA Draft.

What kind of feedback will the 6-foot-8, 205-pound guard from Cherkasy, Ukraine receive? That’s what he will find out over the next couple of weeks, especially if he’s one of the 70-or-so players invited to the NBA combine, which takes place from May 9-14 in Chicago.

Mykhailiuk didn’t sign with an agent, allowing himself an opportunity to return for his senior season if he chooses before the NCAA’s May 24 deadline.

During the 2016-17 season, Mykhailiuk averaged 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds on 44.3 percent shooting from the floor, including a 39.8 percent mark behind the 3-point line in 36 games (25 starts). He had 46 assists compared to 40 turnovers.

Nearly all of the top mock draft websites have Mykhailiuk in the 2018 draft class, assuming he will return to Kansas for his senior season — at least before Wednesday’s announcement.

In Draft Express’s latest 2018 mock draft, updated Wednesday, Mykhailiuk is the 29th pick overall, three slots ahead of KU guard Devonté Graham. NBADraft.net has Mykhailiuk a little lower — 46th overall, second round — in the ’18 draft, again slightly ahead of Graham.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) stuffs a shot by UC Davis forward Chima Moneke (11) during the first half on Friday, March 17, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) stuffs a shot by UC Davis forward Chima Moneke (11) during the first half on Friday, March 17, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

Mykhailiuk projects well into the NBA because of his size, ability to spot up from behind the arc, and the fact that he’s only 19 years old — four months younger than Kansas freshman Josh Jackson.

Playing for Ukraine’s Under 20 national team last summer in the 2016 adidas Eurocamp, Mykhailiuk showcased himself as a point guard, which included a triple-double against a USA Select Team (12 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists).

At the FIBA U20 European Championship in Finland, Mykhailiuk led Ukraine with 14.9 points per game.

So there definitely is some intrigue when Mykhailiuk sets up workouts with NBA teams on how he will grade out. Draft Express once had Mykhailiuk slated as a lottery pick for last year’s draft throughout parts of 2015.

“It’s everyone’s dream to play in the NBA," Mykhailiuk said in Wednesday's statement.

“I have matured a lot in my three seasons at KU as a player and a person, playing for great coaches and with great teammates, many who are in the NBA," he added. "I have got a lot stronger under coach (Andrea) Hudy and have improved my overall game every year."

None by Devonte' Graham

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Highlights and one-liners from Tuesday’s KU basketball banquet

The news last night came from the opportunity to talk to Devonte’ Graham for the first time since he announced on Twitter last Sunday that he was returning for his senior season.

So that’s what I wrote. But there were plenty of moments from last night’s Kansas basketball banquet that were more of the light-hearted variety and produced some memorable laughs and good one-liners.

KU coach Bill Self, not surprisingly, was the source of several of those and here’s a quick recap of some of the highlights.

• As the featured speaker of the event, Self took the stage after the season highlight video had finished. He was introduced as a first-ballot Hall of Famer and received a standing ovation when he went to grab the mic. His response? “I appreciate that deeply,” he said. “But I know it was a long video and everybody just needed to stretch.”

• In talking about strength coach Andrea Hudy, who has worked wonders with dozens of Jayhawks during her time at Kansas, Self referenced Devonte’ Graham and his tendency to flex after big plays, be them by him or a teammate. Self’s jab? “You need to get in the weight room if you’re gonna do that,” he joked.

• And then there was Josh Jackson, the Big 12 freshman of the year and second-team All-American whom Self marveled about for his strong season and steady growth and improvement. “I don’t tell our guys very often how good they are,” Self began. “But do you guys realize how good Josh Jackson is? Danny was a really good player here and he averaged 14 as a freshman. (Andrew Wiggins) was a really good player here and averaged a little bit more, he averaged 17 and Josh averaged 16.5. But Josh came in here and this dude shot 44 percent in league play from 3. He has unbelievable vision. And we asked him to guard (Purdue big man) Caleb Swanigan. And what’d he do? He locked him up. That’s just who he is. So competitive. And to see him grow as the season went on was so fun to watch.” Then, never missing an opportunity to take a shot at former Jayhawk and current KU broadcaster Greg Gurley, Self jokingly said to Jackson, “You passed Greg Gurley in freshman scoring, which was kind of a goal of ours...... in Game 1.” Naturally, the crowd of more than 600 on hand cracked up at that line, Gurley included. Looking back, it actually took Jackson four games before he passed Gurley’s freshman output of 47 points, but the point still stands.

• Scott “Scooter” Ward was in attendance at Tuesday’s banquet and Self said KU’s academic counselor was, “close to being 100 percent and back at work with us.... One wasn’t enough, he had to have two torn aortas to prove how tough he was, as if we didn’t know that already.”

• After going through the roster, player by player, with a funny story, memorable moment or both about each guy, Self got to the seniors and explained how the 2016-17 KU basketball team had a solid trio of senior leaders. “They say your team is only as good as your seniors allow ‘em to be and we had three studs as seniors,” Self began. “One of ’em, obviously, his mother wished he’d play a heck of a lot more,” Self grumbled. “But he did have his shining moment in the NCAA Tournament.” That senior, of course, was Self’s son, Tyler.

• There were, as you know, a couple of players on the roster who did not play this season, in transfers Sam Cunliffe (Arizona State) and Malik Newman (Mississippi State), and Self addressed both of them while sounding optimistic and excited about their potential for the future. “Sam Cunliffe is as good a athlete as we have in our gym,” Self began. “He won’t be eligible until next Christmas, but, Sam, you’ve got a huge responsibility ahead of you to work like the guys before you to put yourself in a position to help win trophies like this. And then one other transfer, Malik Newman, you know, I’ll be disappointed if Malik’s not an all-league or All-American player next year. I mean, he’s talented. He’s good. And these guys played such a huge role in any success we had this year as far as competing and pushing guys and making ’em better.” Self added: “To think that you’ve got Udoka (Azubuike) and Sam and Malik sitting out, that brings me so much excitement about what’s getting ready to happen next year with our program.”

• And then there was Frank Mason III, whose national player of the year trophies sparkled on the stage and ferocious competitive spirit served as one of the themes of the night. Self became emotional and occasionally had to fight back tears when talking about Mason to close the banquet. I can’t remember ever seeing that. Self is not a guy who is easily moved to emotion and to see it happen while he was talking about the player that he has called before the toughest player and best guard he’s ever coached. “You always want good things to happen to good people,” Self began, with his voice cracking toward the end of that sentence. “I think we all wanted Frank to win these awards, but it wouldn’t have made any difference to me. What he’s given us goes way beyond an award or awards. He’s just so damn tough and he’s so competitive and he has done as much for our culture as anybody that we’ve ever been around. I’m not gonna sit here and say that Frank’s the best player to ever play at Kansas. No offense, Frank; you’re not. I know everybody’s kissed your tail and said you’re the greatest, but, nah, nah. Wilt played at Kansas. To just think about the consistency and everything.... to think about the break we got. Thank God for that government teacher.”

• Before giving Mason the team MVP award known as the Danny Manning “Mr. Jayhawk” Award, Self also shared a story about Mason’s stubborn nature. “You can’t tell him anything at all without him thinking he knows better,” Self said. “He’s having one of his practices that he was maybe a little moody, a little stubborn and I said, ‘Frank, you don’t get it. If you would just, basically, pull your head out, your name’s gonna live up in the rafters forever. Because you’re gonna be Big 12 player of the year.’ Little did we all know, he was the best player in our league, but he was the best player in the United States, and, Frank, I appreciate everything you’ve done.”

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

* Recorded the afternoon of Tuesday, April 11, before the men's basketball banuqet.

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

  • Recorded Tuesday afternoon, before the men's basketball banuqet.
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Five-star point guard Trevon Duval open to playing alongside Devonte Graham: ‘Frank did it’

East's Trevon Duval, right, drives to the basket against West's Brandon L. McCoy during the second half of the McDonald's All- American boys high school basketball game in Chicago, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. West won 109-107.

East's Trevon Duval, right, drives to the basket against West's Brandon L. McCoy during the second half of the McDonald's All- American boys high school basketball game in Chicago, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. West won 109-107.

When Kansas guard Devonté Graham announced earlier this week that he was going to return for his senior season, it put into question whether that would end KU's recruitment for five-star point guard Trevon Duval.

In an interview with 247Sports’ Andrew Slater, Duval said it wouldn’t be a problem to play alongside Graham, transfer Malik Newman or anybody else on KU’s roster.

“I don’t really care who’s there,” Duval told Slater. “I can play with anyone. I’ve played with everyone. As long as everyone plays the game the right way, I’m not worried about playing with anyone.”

Along with the Jayhawks, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Duval is considering Duke, Seton Hall, Arizona and Baylor. He told USA Today that he was planning on making a decision sometime this month.

Duval, ranked No. 3 in the country by Rivals, is the highest remaining unsigned senior in the Class of 2017, presumably waiting to see how teams look after players transfer and/or declare for the NBA Draft. He averaged 16 points and eight assists during his senior season.

When asked by Slater whether it mattered that Graham returned when he was weighing his options, he responded, “No, cause Frank (Mason) did it.”

Duval visited Kansas at the beginning of February, traveling to Allen Fieldhouse to watch KU’s 73-68 win over Baylor.

“Their atmosphere was at an 11, Duke was at a 10,” Duval said. “Kansas was great. It was nice. It’s unbelievable, especially for a big game. I went to Kansas-Baylor, so that’s big time.”

The main message from Self and the rest of the coaching staff?

“That they need someone to come in and kind of take Frank’s spot,” Duval said.

Duval, a Delaware native, ended his high school career at IMG Academy in Florida. He had eight points and three assists in the McDonald’s All-American Game and is set to play in the Jordan Brand Classic in New York this week.

In the interview with Slater, Duval dished on his other top contenders:

Duke — “Duke is different. They have a lot of different guys that are declaring, so just trying to see and wait, but they’re a really good school. The visit I took there was really good. They played against North Carolina and I feel as if their atmosphere was off the charts.”

Seton Hall — “Seton Hall, that’s home for me, basically. You know, my best friend goes there … and the majority of them are all juniors and next year, if I were to go there, they need a point guard, that could be good. And the Big East is the Big East. It has a lot of good history and a lot of basketball and the Big East Tournament is also something that’s really big.”

Arizona — “Arizona, it was a really good visit. They talk to me. They try to talk to me every day. The decision’s starting to get closer and closer…. The best thing about the visit I would say is the weather is just like amazing. It’s hard to not include that in your decision. It’s just that great.”

Baylor — “Baylor’s campus was humongous and their facilities were really good. I feel like their weight program was the best thing that they had.”

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Report: Jayhawks expected to land Memphis transfers

Memphis’ Dedric Lawson in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Memphis’ Dedric Lawson in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) by Matt Tait

Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reported Monday, through information obtained from their father, that former Memphis standouts Dedric and K.J. Lawson plan to transfer to Kansas.

The two brothers, who are natives of Memphis, where they attended Hamilton High, will sit out the 2017-18 season per NCAA transfer rules and be eligible in time for the 2018-19 season,

Last season, they combined to average more than 30 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists per game for Tubby Smith's Tigers, who finished the season 19-13.

Dedric Lawson, a 6-foot-9, 236-pound sophomore and former McDonald's All-American, averaged a double-double — 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game — while his brother, K.J Lawson, a 6-7, 210-pound, red-shirt freshman, averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Both players committed to former Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who has since moved on to Georgia Tech. Their father, Keelon Lawson, held a position on Pastner's staff but was demoted after Smith arrived in town.

Just after noon on Monday, K.J. confirmed the news with a Tweet that read, "ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK"

None by Keelon Lawson

According to Parish's report, the latest recruiting haul by Kansas might pay dividends beyond the next two seasons, as Dedric and K.J. have two younger brothers — Chandler and Johnathan — who are top prospects in the 2019 and 2021 classes. Beyond that, a cousin, D.J. Jeffries, also is a Top 10 player in the 2019 class.

Though ineligible next season, the Lawson brothers will be able to practice with the team all year, providing some tough competition for KU's rotation players to battle on a daily basis throughout the year.

Dedric Lawson will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the upcoming season and K.J. Lawson, if he applies for and is granted a sixth year of eligibility because of injury issues earlier in his career, would have three years of eligibility remaining.

Stay tuned to KUsports.com for more...

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Tonight’s Wooden Award ceremony will mark the final act of Frank Mason’s magical season

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) smiles during the Senior Night speeches following the JayhawksÕ 73-63, comeback win over Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) smiles during the Senior Night speeches following the JayhawksÕ 73-63, comeback win over Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

Kansas senior Frank Mason III is in Los Angeles today for the annual ceremony that announces the Wooden Award winner (7 p.m. on ESPN2).

Given the fact that Mason already has swept nine of nine national player of the year awards in the past few weeks and the regularity with which the Naismith and Associated Press players of the year also have won the Wooden (18 of the past 20 seasons), it seems likely that Mason has one more acceptance speech to make.

With that, his Kansas career will officially be over, when the walk to accept the Wooden Award — should he win it — will mark the final time that Mason represents KU on a national stage.

Sure there will be other times that Mason will be mentioned as “that stud from Kansas,” and he always will be a Jayhawk. But, from tomorrow on, Frank Mason will be representing himself, working his butt off morning, noon and night to impress pro scouts and become an NBA player.

For a guy who was all about the team during his four-year Kansas career, ending with so many individual moments is not the way he pictured it. But he is deserving and it’s for more than just the work he put in or the numbers he put up.

See, in the middle of all of that blood, sweat and tears, between the monster games and memorable moments, Mason actually made it a point to soak all of this up. And that was cool to see.

I’m not gonna sit here and tell you I knew that Frank Mason III was going to have a national player of the year kind of season. Heck, before the year began, if you would’ve told me that Kansas would have one player sweep the national player of the year awards, I probably would’ve made Mason my third guess, behind Josh Jackson and Devonte’ Graham.

My bad. And, boy am I glad.

Watching Mason do his thing from courtside all season long, from Honolulu to New York City and the Big 12 backyards to the NCAA Tournament, was an absolute pleasure.

KU, as you know, tends to bring in the best of the best and puts players on the floor that have incredible skills and talent. From Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor to Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid to Josh Jackson this year and dozens of others in the past decade, I’ve enjoyed covering them all and have been wowed by their wizardry on the basketball court.

But I’m not sure I’ve appreciated anyone quite the way I appreciated Mason this season. Maybe it was because he was so consistent and so solid from start to finish. Maybe it was because, no matter what the night or who the opponent, I almost always was amazed when I looked down at his final line and saw huge totals in nearly every category. Offensive efficiency at its finest, right there.

But, again, it also was about more than basketball. My appreciation for Mason’s season grew from week to week in large part because I could tell, in just about every way, how much it meant to him. That’s cool. That’s something I’ll always remember.

I first sensed there was something different about Mason early in the season, when his answers to questions after a number of non-conference games were more engaging and even longer than in years past. Instead of being the quiet guy who didn’t like to say much, Mason spoke up and spoke for the team the way real leaders do.

But it wasn’t just the way Mason responded to questions or handled interviews that put Mason’s monster season on my radar.

In Honolulu, Mason openly invited Journal-World photographer Nick Krug into a Facebook Live session with him on the beach when Nick was trying to get a few shots of the team relaxing in paradise.

Later, at the team’s annual holiday shopping session in late December, Mason jumped at the opportunity to talk to the couple of media members there, making sure that a KU basketball official captured the moment on his cell phone, presumably for some kind of digital scrapbook of his last go ’round as a Jayhawk.

And, again, toward the end of the regular season, as I interviewed Mason while walking with him out of the locker room and down the halls toward the weight room, I caught a quick glimpse of him capturing the whole thing on Snap Chat.

These moments, and many others like them I’m sure, as much as the clutch 3-pointers, ridiculous finishes in traffic or dagger jumpers that buried teams all season, were a huge part of Frank Mason’s memorable senior year. And it was fun to see him embrace them instead of carrying a too-cool-for-school attitude into his final season in Lawrence.

What he did on the floor made him an All-American and led to all of that hardware he collected during the past few weeks.

But what he did off of it, made those words he uttered on Senior Night ring true. “If I had the chance to play four more years here, I swear I would,” he said.

Frank Mason clearly will miss Kansas. But not nearly as much as Kansas will miss him.

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With Bragg gone, where will the Jayhawks look to fill his role?

Kansas sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr. throws down a dunk prior to Friday's game at TCU in the Jayhawks' Big 12 opener.

Kansas sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr. throws down a dunk prior to Friday's game at TCU in the Jayhawks' Big 12 opener. by Nick Krug

Now that it’s all over, it’s hard to believe that the Carlton Bragg Jr. era in Kansas basketball will go down as an experiment.

But that’s exactly what it was.

Despite earning high praise throughout his prep career and becoming another in a long line of McDonald’s All-Americans to join the Jayhawks, Bragg’s two years in Lawrence were mostly about unfilled potential and missed opportunities.

As a freshman, when he showed promise and seemed to be smiling all the time, Bragg went into games with little pressure and often gave the Jayhawks solid minutes when he was on the floor.

Playing him then was not much of a gamble for the Jayhawks, but on a veteran team with so much talent in the front court, there really was no need for Bragg to be a big time player.

That all changed during his sophomore season, when the Cleveland native was in perfect position to pick up the slack left by Perry Ellis’ departure but could never get it done, mentally or physically, off the court or on.

Bragg’s entire sophomore season was a mess and he rarely — if ever — looked like the kind of player many expected and hoped he would be.

That reality, along with his inability to deliver when the pressure was on — and, really, even when it wasn’t — led to today and Bragg’s decision to leave KU for a fresh start.

It’s a good decision. And it will benefit both sides. While Bragg gets a chance to start over at a program that no doubt will be excited about his physical tools, wherever that may be, Kansas gets his scholarship back and can add another body in the 2017 recruiting class.

Already with combo guard Marcus Garrett and Oak Hill big man Billy Preston in the mix, the Jayhawks now can address both need and desire with the remaining spots.

KU coach Bill Self said the other night that he’d like to add another ball handler for insurance at the guard position and a quick-twitch 4 man to back up Preston.

That was before Bragg’s scholarship was available. Now, with another offer to hand out if Self so chooses (and as long as Josh Jackson declares for the NBA Draft) the Jayhawks can double up on either position and take the best available player out there, be that a high school senior or a college transfer.

By quick-twitch 4 man, Self is talking about a player who owns everything that everyone thought Bragg had and everything former KU stud Kevin Young did have.

If Self could find a Kevin Young type of player, he would almost immediately have some kind of role and impact on next year’s team.

The extra energy, toughness inside and ability to keep up with the fast pace set by KU’s talented backcourt would be an absolute bonus and a nice change from what Bragg offered on the floor.

There are others who have filled this role in recent years, with Jamari Traylor, Cheick Diallo and even Thomas Robinson (before his monster junior season) also fitting that description while playing a supporting role.

Whether Self can find a guy like Young, Traylor, Robinson or Diallo at this point in the process remains to be seen. And with the spring signing period beginning next Wednesday, it seems more likely that such a player would come via the graduate transfer route that delivered Tarik Black a couple of years back.

Here are a couple of names worth familiarizing yourselves with as Self and his assistants scan the country for a player who could fill this role.

• Jeremiah Tilmon, 6-foot-10, 235-pound center from East St. Louis, Ill., recently requested his release from Illinois, where he committed last July. With the coaching change to Brad Underwood, Tilmon, a 5-star prospect and the No. 25-ranked player in the 2017 class according to Rivals.com, reconsidered his commitment and, given that he had Kansas on his list initially, may eventually be on the Jayhawks’ radar again.

• Shakur Juiston, 6-foot-7, 215-pound prospect from Hutchinson Community College has been on KU’s radar for a while and, according to 247 Sports, he received an offer from Kansas on March 6. In fact, Matt Scott of TheShiver.com, reported earlier today that Self and KU assistant Norm Roberts paid Juiston a visit today.

There are, of course, many more names that might surface in the coming days and weeks, as the Jayhawks look to finalize their 2017 class and set their roster entering the offseason.

Stay tuned...

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Best dunks of the NCAA Tournament video features 4 by Jayhawks

With March Madness now behind us — good, bad or indifferent, it always goes so fast — the folks at CBS are starting to roll out some of their look-back content that covers everything from spectacular plays and buzzer-beating shots to big time dunks and monster blocks.

These are always fun to watch because, when you're in the middle of the madness you become fixated on looking ahead and worrying about what's next — with your bracket, your favorite team or the team(s) you cover — that you sometimes forget some of the most amazing plays and moments that made the first couple of rounds.

Kansas certainly had its share of those moments in this tournament, as the Jayhawks rolled through the first three rounds by a combined 90 points before falling to Oregon in the Elite Eight. Naturally, that Elite Eight loss has received most of the attention in the past week. And understandably so. It's far more common to look back and try to figure out what went wrong or what could've been done differently in these circumstances than it is to look back and celebrate what went right.

For this year's Jayhawks, what went right was a lot and this video features just a few of those moments.

In all, there are six dunks from KU games in this highlight video, three by Jayhawks and two by KU opponents.

The first two come in the 5:15-5:45 range from Josh Jackson, the third, is Jackson's exclamation point against Michigan State in the second round at the 8:22 mark and the fourth, as you probably guessed, is that 360 show stopper from Lagerald Vick against Purdue in the Sweet 16.

Fast forward (and rewind) to those dunks or watch the whole thing for a little trip down memory lane.

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

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KU Recruiting Update: Who is Thomas Allen?

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Thomas Allen, the No. 149-ranked player in the 2017 class, according to Rivals.com, revealed on Twitter on Monday night that he had received a scholarship offer from Kansas.

Allen, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard who spent the past season playing at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire — former home of current KU guard Devonte’ Graham and former KU players Naadir Tharpe and Thomas Robinson — and, initially had committed to North Carolina State. But when the Wolfpack fired coach Mark Gottfried, that opened the door for Allen to look around and he recently was granted a release from NC State.

The 3-star prospect who helped Brewster to a 33-0 season and national prep school championship, scored 19 points in the championship game that delivered Brewster its third national title in the past four seasons.

His lone season at the prep school proved memorable in other ways, as well, with Allen netting a school record 50 points in a single game in January. He went 18 of 23 from the floor in that game, with 11 of the makes coming from 3-point range.

According to Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, Allen’s strong season and sudden availability has received plenty of attention throughout college basketball.

“More of a scorer and perhaps a natural two guard, Allen can really shoot from deep and has heard from Kansas, Auburn, Michigan, Tennessee, Providence, Butler, Nebraska and many others,” Bossi wrote this week.

What exactly KU’s immediate needs are in the 2017 recruiting class remain in flux. With Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk likely at least consider leaving early, KU remains in search of a point guard for next season and beyond.

If Graham returns for his senior season, the need is not as great. But KU would love nothing more than for Graham to return and to pair him with 5-star point guard Trevon Duval, the No. 3 player in the 2017 class who remains undecided and is zeroing in on his decision.

Duval is considering KU along with finalists Arizona, Baylor, Duke and Seton Hall.

If the Jayhawks miss out on Duval, there are still a few other point guard options out there, and even though Allen is not a true point guard, adding him to the class would certainly add depth in the backcourt in the form of a player who might stick around for a few years.

One of the available point guards is Allen’s Brewster teammate, Makai Ashton-Langford, the No. 38 player in the Class of 2017 who recently was released from his letter of intent with UConn, but his Rivals.com bio does not list Kansas as an option.

Others who have had ties to Kansas include 4-star prospect, Tremont Waters, who is ranked No. 36 in the class and has asked for a release from Georgetown, with whom he signed in November, and 4-star prospect, Mark Smith, an up-and-comer ranked No. 78 from Edwardsville, Illinois.

Duval remains the top choice for Kansas, and the rest of his finalists, but if the electric McDonald’s All-American elects to sign elsewhere, the pool of options after him is not as shallow as it once seemed to be.

The next signing period is slated to begin April 12 (next Wednesday) and will run through May 17.

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