Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self arrived in Springfield, Mass., and kicked off his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame events Thursday.
Self received his Hall of Fame jacket, which is made of a color described as "Naismith Orange," and gave brief remarks about starting his enshrinement week alongside several new Hall of Famers.
"When we all found out, I think, in April, I think we were all pretty overwhelmed with this. But this really hasn't hit me until we actually got to Springfield. Being in this arena, looking around, and seeing all the portraits is something that is very humbling and I certainly feel inadequate to be before you this afternoon."
— KUSports.com's Matt Tait and Nick Krug are in Springfield to provide all kinds of coverage of Self's enshrinement week, so stay tuned to KUsports.com for more stories, videos and more.
Former KU players, current Jayhawks congratulate Josh Jackson and Frank Mason on NBA Draft selections
When Josh Jackson was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday, he continued a long tradition of Kansas players being selected in the lottery — the eighth time in 11 years.
There was still plenty of excitement from people around the KU program when Jackson was picked and Frank Mason III followed in the second round — 34th overall to the Sacramento Kings.
Many current and former KU players expressed their joy for Jackson and Mason on social media during the draft:
After a vulgar Snapchat video circulated through social media Thursday, incoming Kansas transfer K.J. Lawson issued an apology through Twitter.
Lawson, a 6-foot-7 forward, made disparaging comments toward Memphis head coach Tubby Smith, his former coach, in a three-second clip. Lawson and his older brother, Dedric, announced their intention to transfer to play for the Jayhawks earlier this week.
“This is what we do when we leave Tubby,” Lawson said on the undated video, “(expletive) Tubby.”
Lawson expressed his dissatisfaction with his former school when he announced his intention to transfer earlier this month. Lawson quoted a song from Drake, which mentioned, “two middle fingers as I make an exit,” in a tweet that he later deleted.
“On behalf of my family and myself I would like to issue an apology to Coach Tubby Smith and Tiger Nation,” Lawson wrote Thursday night. “Despite my frustrations of this past year, my words and actions at the time were immature, thoughtless, and not becoming of who I am as a person or how my family raised me. Memphis will forever be my home and I wish Coach Tubby Smith and Tiger Nation the best moving forward.”
Lawson captioned his apologetic tweet: “This momentary (indiscretion) can jeopardize the most important thing in my life. I apologize for my inexcusable behavior.”
Lawson averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds for the Tigers this season in 33.7 minutes per game, earning American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors.
Another day, another national player of the year award for Kansas senior point guard Frank Mason III.
Well, make that two awards Sunday.
After one of the best individual seasons in program history, Mason was named the Naismith Trophy Winner and the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ player of the year on Sunday in Arizona.
Mason, the consensus national player of the year, has swept all of the major awards for national player of the year ahead of Friday's Wooden Award announcement.
Several of Mason’s teammates — and Villanova coach Jay Wright — congratulated him on a successful award season through social media:
A first-time member of the Hall of Fame ballot, Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self received plenty of support leading up to Saturday’s announcement that he was a part of the 2017 Hall of Fame class.
Many opposing coaches throughout the season expressed their appreciation for Self’s accomplishments, which includes 13 straight Big 12 titles, seven trips to the Elite Eight in 14 seasons at Kansas, two Final Fours and a national title in 2008.
Then there were all of the former players, administrators, analysts and others who offered their endorsements for one of the newest members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
After Saturday's announcement, several current players, former players and others sent a message of support to Self through social media:
Our Series on Bill Self's Journey to the Hall of Fame
• Hall of Fame Material Part I: Larry Brown ‘in awe’ of Bill Self’s stellar run at Kansas
• Hall of Fame Material Part II: Daughter Lauren most impressed by Bill Self’s ability to mentor
• Hall of Fame Material Part III: Frank Mason III knew right away that Bill Self was the coach for him
• Hall of Fame Material Part IV: Doc Sadler says Bill Self same (sarcastic) guy as the day he met him
• Hall of Fame Material Part V: Bill Self’s style, passion make Danny Manning a proud alum
Kansas versus TCU didn’t exactly stand out on the college basketball schedule Wednesday night in terms of mass appeal, what with Duke facing Syracuse and North Carolina tangling with Louisville. But there’s something about a team winning its league 13 seasons in a row that will capture any college basketball observer’s attention.
Though some might have considered it a foregone conclusion, the Jayhawks officially became Big 12 champions yet again, sealing at least a share of the title with an 87-68 win over the Horned Frogs, allowing them to hoist a league championship trophy at Allen Fieldhouse afterward.
KU’s latest hardware put the program in a tie with the UCLA teams of the 1960s and ’70s for most consecutive conference championships in a row and set off reactions from current and former KU players on social media platforms.
National analysts, too, weighed in on the Jayhawks’ long run of dominance. Below are some of the highlights from the aftermath.
— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.
More news and notes from Kansas vs. TCU
- Historic Achievement: Jayhawks crush TCU, earn 13th-straight Big 12 title
- Benton Smith: Carlton Bragg looked more like the player KU hoped for
- Notebook: Birthday Boy Graham celebrates ‘special’ day; Jackson OK after injury scare
- Brandon Rush fights back emotions during jersey retirement ceremony
- The Keegan Ratings: All-around action puts Josh Jackson at top of ratings in title-clincher vs. TCU
- Matt Tait's Postgame Report Card
- Make it 13: Jayhawks match UCLA’s league-title run
A five-star point guard from the heart of Big 12 country, Norman North High (Okla.) senior Trae Young made his college basketball destination official Thursday just after noon.
A dynamic 6-foot-2, 170-pound play-maker who is ranked the 14th-best prospect nationally in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, Young’s options came down to choosing between the University of Kansas and Oklahoma.
Play for Bill Self at Allen Fieldhouse? Or stay at home and star in your own backyard for Lon Kruger at OU?
Ultimately, Young went with the Sooners.
It had to be a difficult, yet exciting, decision for Young, as he weighed the pros and cons of his options.
Young’s choice was big news not just in Lawrence, but also in his home state, where The Oklahoman covered his announcement live.
Watch Young's press conference from the NewsOK.com live feed below.
No one who stuck around for the entirety of the Kansas Jayhawks’ Big Monday showdown versus West Virginia could quite believe what they witnessed.
The No. 9-ranked Mountaineers let a 14-point lead with less than three minutes remaining in the second half slip from their grasps and the No. 3 Jayhawks happily took advantage, setting up an epic rally and 84-80 overtime victory that seemed just about impossible minutes earlier.
From Super Bowl comparisons, to bewilderment regarding the Mountaineers’ collapse, to giving KU credit for pulling it off, the college basketball world had plenty to say about the Kansas comeback.
Some famous Jayhawks who used to call Lawrence home had to hop on Twitter to let their followers and fans know about the victory, while a number of college basketball media members chimed in, as well.
Even a few of the players who helped pull off the unlikely victory shared some of their thoughts.
Below are the social media highlights from the aftermath of an absurd night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Bill Self will tell you his Kansas basketball team’s game at Kentucky Saturday night doesn’t mean as much as the Big 12 games against West Virginia and Baylor that bookend it. But the KU coach also realizes how important a showcase matchup such as KU versus UK is to fans and the people who follow college basketball closely.
As you might have guessed, when the Jayhawks toppled Kentucky Saturday night at Rupp Arena, it sent KU fans, and even some former and future players, into a frenzy on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Analysts and national journalists, too, had plenty of praise to send KU’s was following an impressive road victory.
Below are some of the highlight reactions to the Jayhawks’ win in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, including some from the men who made it happen.
Nearly every time Kansas basketball coach Bill Self fields questions from the media, someone will bring up Jayhawks senior point guard Frank Mason III and the impact he has made this season.
“How good has Frank been?”
“What has Mason meant to your team?”
“Did you think when you were recruiting him Frank would turn out this good?”
Without hesitation, Self will highlight Mason’s toughness, driving, shooting, passing, rebounding, etc., and share his opinion that his senior point guard has been as good as any player in the country at this juncture.
Self isn’t the type to campaign for his players to win national awards, but such statements are his way of doing so in a low-key fashion. When Self talks, people around the college basketball world listen.
Anyone who has watched No. 2 Kansas (17-1 overall, 6-0 Big 12) play this year knows where the team would be without Mason, who is averaging a team-best 20.3 points per game, while also contributing 5.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds. The 5-foot-11 senior from Petersburg, Virginia, is even shooting 52.4% from the field and connecting more often from 3-point range, where he is 42-for-78 (53.8%).
As KU keeps on winning and Mason continues to carry the team, it boosts his case for national player of the year honors. At CBSSports.com, Gary Parrish ranked the top 25 candidates for the ultimate individual award gave Mason No. 1 billing, edging out the heart and soul of defending national champion Villanova, senior guard Josh Hart.
Neither Mason nor Hart are going to be NBA lottery picks the way past Wooden Award winners such as Buddy Hield, Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin were, but both are integral parts of two of the nation’s best teams, so Parrish ranks them ahead of UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, who many expect to have a long, successful NBA career.
As can be found on sports-reference.com, Hart’s player efficiency rating of 29.5 is one of the best in the country, ranking sixth overall. But Mason isn’t too far behind, with a PER of 26.1 (27th nationally).
Likewise, the debate between Hart and Mason, Parrish wrote, is close:
“I’ve had Josh Hart atop these Player of the Year rankings, and it's reasonable to keep the Villanova senior there. He's still fabulous and leading a team ranked No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one). But Frank Mason has never been far behind. And he's playing better than Hart lately. So now the Kansas senior is the headliner.”
The top 10 players in the running, according to Parrish, also includes one of Mason’s teammates, freshman Josh Jackson.
No. 1: Frank Mason III, Kansas
No. 2: Josh Hart, Villanova
No. 3: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
No. 4: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
No. 5: De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky
No. 6: Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
No. 7: Johnathan Motley, Baylor
No. 8: TJ Leaf, UCLA
No. 9: Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
No. 10: Josh Jackson, Kansas
— See the complete list: KU’s Frank Mason moves to No. 1
Kansas senior point guard Frank Mason III has put himself on the shortlist of candidates for national player of the year.
He's playing in one of the best stretches of his career, averaging 22.8 points, 5 assists and 3.5 rebounds through his first four Big 12 games. He's shooting 12-of-15 from behind the 3-point line in the past three games.
But there was a time when Mason wasn't considered to be one of the top players in the country. Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn wrote about Mason and Devonte' Graham this week, and one part of his story includes KU head coach Bill Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend discussing Mason's recruitment.
Self: “When Frank came out, was that the same year we were recruiting Cat Barber and Chris Jones?”
Townsend: “And Demetrius Jackson. Frank was kind of our fourth option.”
Self: “That left us really kind of—”
Townsend: “Scrambling. Then we were recruiting Jordan McLaughlin [for the following class], who ended up canceling our visit and committing to USC. But I went to see him [at the Adidas Fab 48] in Vegas; Frank was playing against him, and Frank kicked his ass.... I knew Frank’s AAU coach, Ty White, so I called him and asked, ‘Does that little dude with the braids play like that all the time?’ He said, ‘Every day, Coach. He don’t know no better.’ ... I went and saw him twice more, and each time he was good.”
Of course, back then, not many people predicted Mason would potentially outplay all of the players that spurned the Jayhawks during recruiting. Mason, a former Towson commit, was ranked much lower than the others.
Cat Barber averaged 23.5 points per game at North Carolina State last season before declaring for the NBA draft. Demetrius Jackson posted averages of 15.8 points and 4.7 assists at Notre Dame last year, also declaring for the draft.
Chris Jones ended up at Louisville, averaging 13.7 points and 3.6 assists during his senior season in 2014-15, while Jordan McLaughlin is averaging 14.5 points and 5.1 assists this year at USC.
Actually, in our KUsports.com archives, Mason's commitment wasn't met with a lot of joy. One commenter compared him to Royce Woolridge, who transferred after one season. Others preferred Karviar Shepherd, who committed to TCU and averages 5.9 points in his senior season, or Roddy Peters (played one season at Maryland and one season at South Florida).
When Self was asked last week how much improvement he's seen in Mason over the years, he responded: “He’s grown from being a guy who we thought could impact our program and be a good player for us in time to, in my opinion, a guy who has an unbelievable chance to be a first-team All-American, so that shows you the growth."
In case you haven't seen it, here's that video that played last night with 15 former Bill Self players (including 11 Jayhawks) congratulating him on win No. 600.
The most obvious improvement Kansas made in 2016 from winless 2015 came courtesy of its pass defense.
The Jayhawks ranked 124th in the FBS with 293.7 passing yards allowed and moved all the way to 55th in 2016 with an average of 219.8 passing yards allowed per game.
In 2015, KU opponents completed 66.4 percent of their passes and averaged 8.8 yards per pass atempt. In 2016, the numbers were 59.1 percent and 7.4 yards per pass attempt.
It all started up front for the Jayhawks, where they ranked 40th in the nation with 2.33 sacks per game, compared to a still-respectable 2.17 sacks, good for 64th, in 2015.
The maturation of sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong and senior cornerback Brandon Stewart played big parts in solidifying the pass defense. Stewart's pick six in the upset of Texas gave him a signature play for a career that followed the path of many talented junior-college cornerbacks in that he struggled making the adjustment to the big-time as a junior and came on strong as a senior.
Obviously, I'm not allowed in the defensive meetings, but I have a hunch the veteran presence of linebacker coach Todd Bradford, a former defensive coordinator, also played a big role in KU shoring up its pass defense. I base that on how genuinely impressed defensive coordinator Clint Bowen has been with Bradford's knowledge and experience from Day 1. Keeping Bradford on the staff is a must for Kansas carrying the momentum of an encouraging finish into next season.
It sometimes can take quite a while for Kansas basketball players to earn the trust of their demanding coach, Bill Self.
That’s what made something Self said Monday afternoon so interesting when asked how much importance he puts on the first play of the game.
“Not much,” Self said, “although probably for the last 10 years we’ve scripted the first five plays every game, until this year. We haven’t scripted really this year much at all. We script the first play, obviously, but after that we really haven’t scripted much.”
Interesting. Why the change?
“I’ve found the best way to play with guys that we presently have is to let them play, not to try to tell them how to play,” Self said. “I think that’s worked out better for us and maybe save the scripted plays for an ATO (after timeout).”
Self is the Larry Brown of his era in turning ATO’s into points.
His backing off on scripting in general says a lot. First, I think it says he trusts his guards, which makes sense since senior Frank Mason and junior Devonte Graham are so experienced and such smart players.
It also might say that he what he trusts most about them and fellow perimeter player freshman Josh Jackson is that they will play with unbridled aggressiveness. Scripting too much can lead to too much thinking, which can temper aggressiveness.
Graham, Jackson and Mason put so much pressure on teams at both ends and they seem to enjoy playing together to such an extent that they feed off of each other and fuel each other’s attacking style.
The trio is terrific at collapsing defenses with strong drives to the hoop and nearly as good at collapsing offenses with Mason and especially Graham pressuring the ball and Jackson sniping in the passing lanes better than any Kansas player since Mario Chalmers.
It really is quite a compliment to the players that Self has minimized scripting plays. So for the starting perimeter trio has made the coach look smart for doing so.
It's not a reach to project for 2017 the best quarterback play Kansas has had in the post-Todd Reesing years.
Redshirt freshman Carter Stanley, the third quarterback to start a game for Kansas during a 2-10 season, easily was the best.
It's no coincidence that the offensive line performed the best it has during David Beaty's two years as head coach once Stanley became the starter. O-lines always look better protecting a quarterback and opening holes for running backs when a decisive QB is at the controls of the offense. Having a running threat at quarterback also helps an offensive line and Stanley is a better scrambler and runner than the faster Montell Cozart and the slower Ryan Willis.
Stanley's statistics weren't mind-blowing by any stretch, but they clearly were better than his predecessors.
Statistical comparison for this season's 11 games vs. FBS competition:
Points per start: 1 - Stanley 22.3; 2 - Cozart 15.1; 3 - Willis 15.0.
Touchdowns/Interceptions: 1 - Stanley 5/6; 2 - Cozart 4/8; 3 - Willis 1/7.
Yards per attempt: 1 - Willis 6.18; 2 - Stanley 5.94; 3 - Cozart 5.31.
Passes attempted per sack: 1 - Cozart 63.3; 2 - Stanley 19.5; 3 - Willis 7.3.
Completion percentage: 1 - Willis 60.2; 2 - Stanley 59.2; 3 - Cozart 57.0.
Yards per rush attempt: 1 - Stanley 3.90; 2 - Cozart 3.08; 3 - Willis -0.83.
Stanley ranked first in 3 of 6 categories, second in the other three. Cozart ranked first in one category, second in three and third in two. Willis ranked first in two, third in four.
The emergence of Stanley alone ranks no better than second among reasons for a bullish 2017 outlook at quarterback.
My guess is juco transfer and former Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender will win the job in the spring. For one thing, Bender has the arm strength to put more zip on the sideline passes that are a big part of Beaty's Air Raid offense.
Those familiar with the extremely entertaining, insightful Netflix docu-series "Last Chance U," know that East Mississippi Community College plays big-time football. Well, Bender, playing for Itawamba, threw for 566 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-42 loss to Buddy Stephens' talented squad. Bender completed 39 of 59 passes and did not throw a single interception.
The addition of Bender and emergence of Stanley gives Tyriek Starks more time to add seasoning. A dual-threat QB from New Orleans, Starks has four seasons of eligibility remaining. Unlike Stanley and Bender, Starks had no experience in an Air Raid offense before coming to Kansas. Bender played in Air Raid attacks in high school, at Washington State and at Itawamba. Stanley's high school ran the Air Raid as well. No point in rushing Starks, who needs more seasoning.
1 - Frank Mason: Led the Jayhawks in scoring for the fourth time in five games with 19 points. He made 2 of 4 free throws and put the pressure on Georgia's defense until tiring late in the game and mixed it up well enough to grab five rebounds. Also had three assists and three steals. He disrupted Georgia's plans at both ends, even though it wasn't one of his cleanest nights, as evidenced by his five turnovers. Earned all-tournament honors.
2 - Josh Jackson: Named CBE Classic MVP after another big night. Totaled 15 points with a game-high 11 rebounds, did a nice job passing from the high post, showed extremely quick hands on a blocked shot and moved fast in both directions in transition. Rebounds like a big man, but is not equipped to defend the post. He does slide his feet well enough to guard a point guard, if needed. Jackson understands the value of good ball movement and does his part to promote it by keeping the ball moving most of the time. For a man who can do such amazing things at such high speeds and altitudes, has trouble when standing still in a quiet arena. Has made just 11 of 23 free throws.
3 - Devonte Graham: Did a nice job of shutting down high-scoring Georgia guard (two points, nearly 17 below his average) until Kansas went to a zone, which was for about 30 minutes of the game. Didn't stay hot from outside after coming out on fire Monday night. Made 3 of 9 three-pointers. Scored 14 points with two assists and four steals and had just one turnover in 36 minutes.
4 - Lagerald Vick: Has made just 1 of 11 three-point shots, which might be a disguised blessing because it will force him to look first for the drive, a good way for him to go because he's so quick. Had his second eight-rebound game to go with nine points in 24 minutes.
5 - Dwight Coleby: Foul trouble forced him into the game and responded well playing, "by far," the best of KU's bigs, coach Bill Self said. Coleby blocked four shots, had four rebounds and two points before fouling out after 20 minutes of action. He said his leg is almost all the way back, but he still does not run as if his surgically repaired knee is at full strength yet.
6 - Svi Mykhailiuk: Georgia had quick defenders in its zone and Svi tends toward shooting worse against quick defenders. Made 1 of 6 three-pointers, picked up three rebounds, an assist and a steal without turning it over.
7 - Udoka Azubuike: Self explained that he only played five minutes because he has not had enough practice playing in a zone defense.
8 - Carlton Bragg: I don't understand why Self played him 10 minutes and by that I mean I don't understand why he played him that much. Yante Maten had his way down low with 30 points and 13 rebounds and Bragg was not able to help out to make life more difficult for him. Bragg had just three points and one rebound, which came at the offensive end.
9 - Landen Lucas: Might his foot, which requires him to wear a boot, be hindering him more than he's letting on? Played 10 scoreless minutes, had more turnovers (three) than rebounds (two) and fouled out. He hasn't looked like the same player who played such a key role in helping Kansas advance to the Elite Eight last season.
More news and notes from Kansas vs. Georgia
- Perimeter-oriented attack carries KU past Georgia
- Keegan: Mason outplays height once again
- Notebook: Coleby steps up to contribute inside
- Report Card: KU 65, UGA 54
- Coleby surprises father with nice gift — playing time
- Keegan Ratings: Mason delivers another big night
Say something nice about Kansas football: Dorance Armstrong deserves to be in running for All-American honors
In writing about Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong after the potentially program-turning upset of Texas, I left off the final sentence of a string of superlatives that safety Fish Smithson said about Armstrong until I could research it.
"Statistically," Smithson said, "I think his stats will match up with any defensive end in the country."
Smithson not only knows his stuff on the field in making the calls for the defense, he knows his national statistics. Since All-Americans need numbers to back them up and Armstrong has them, that makes him a bona fide All-American candidate.
Take a look at how Armstrong stacks up in two key statistical categories for defensive ends, sacks and tackles for loss:
PLAYER (POS.) School G Sacks;
1 - Hunter Dimick (DE) Utah 11 14.0;
2 - DeMarcus Walker (DE) FSU 11 13.0;
3 - Harold Landry (DE) BC 11 12.0;
3 - Jaylon Ferguson (DE) LaTech 11 12.0;
5 - Ejuan Price (DE) Pitt 11 11.0;
5 - Derek Barnett (DE) Tenn 11 11.0;
5 - Shaquem Griffin (LB) UCF 11 11.0;
8 - Arden Key (DE) LSU 10 10.0;
8 - Dorance Armstrong(DE) KU 11 10.0;
8 - Takkarist McKinley(DE) UCLA 11 10.0;
8 - Jimmie Gilbert (LB) Col. 11 10.0;
PLAYER (POS.) SCHOOL G TFL;
1 - Haason Reddick(DE) Temple 11 20.0;
2 - Hunter Dimick (DE) Utah 11 19.5;
2 - Bradley Chubb (DE) NC State 11 19.5;
4 - Ejuan Price (DE) Pitt 11 19.0;
4 - Ed Oliver (DT) Houston 11 19.0;
6 - McKinley (DE) UCLA 10 18.0;
7 - Armstrong (DE) KU 11 17.0;
7 - Barnett (DE) Tenn 11 17.0;
7 - Carroll Phillips (DE) Ill. 11 17.0;
7 - Tanzel Smart (DT) Tulane 11 17.0;
7 - Woody Baron (DT) Va. Tech 11 17.0;
Armstrong ranks tied for seventh in the FBS in sacks and, as you can see, only four other players, all defensive ends, are listed in the top 10 in the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss: Utah's Dimick, Pitt's Price, UCLA's McKinley and Tennessee's Barnett.
That doesn't mean Armstrong will be named All-American. KU's 2-9 record, which could fall to 2-10 Saturday in Manhattan, won't help his cause. His stats do mean he's a bona fide All-American candidate.
Everybody loves to root for the underdog and when the Kansas Jayhawks forced overtime and earned an eventual 24-21 win over Texas, it captured the attention of college football fans everywhere.
As expected, KU's first victory over Texas since 1938 sent shockwaves across the nation — and the globe. Famous Korean Kansas City Royals fan Sungwoo Lee confirmed the Jayhawks' win made headlines on Korea's international channel.
Then, of course, former KU players, athletes from other sports and many others shared their excitement across Twitter. Fans stormed the field, eventually tore one of the goal posts down and carried it out of the stadium to, presumably, Potter Lake.
Below are some of the many social media highlights that accompanied KU's first Big 12 win of the season.
I called Kale Pick to congratulate him and write a story about his promotion to head football coach at Fort Scott Community College. I came away with a bonus.
Pick forever will be linked to the great Todd Reesing because he was his successor, although he lasted only three quarters before Turner Gill turned to Jordan Webb. Now, Pick himself brought up a link to Reesing without any prompting from me. (I have been accused of writing too often about Reesing and just wanted to make it clear it’s Pick’s fault this time).
Pick was Fort Scott’s offensive coordinator this past season and he gives most of the credit for the school’s monumental offensive improvement in one season to freshman quarterback Nathan Rourke, a 6-foot-3, 209-pound scrambler.
“He was one vote shy of player of the year in the Jayhawk Conference, which a lot of people say is the SEC of junior college,” Pick said. “Our offensive line was probably the worst in the conference, our receivers were pretty mediocre and he led every passing category. This kid is special.”
“I’m the last one to ever make comparisons,” Pick said, which meant he was about to make one, “but if you watch his HUDL (highlight tape), he reminds me a lot of Todd Reesing.”
Those words made me sit up straight and move to the edge of my recliner.
Tell me more. Tell me more. He told me more, but first, have a look at Rourke’s video.
He really does call to mind Reesing, scrambling in every direction, yet forever keeping his eyes downfield.
Rourke moved from Canada for his senior year of high school, which he spent at Edgewood Academy in Elmore, Ala. Rourke threw 59 touchdown passes and three interceptions for Edgewood. He completed 75 percent of his passes and averaged 15.4 yards per completion.
Pick said that out of high school Rourke received offers from FCS schools, but wanted to gain exposure at a junior college for a year in hopes of landing at an FBS school. Iowa State and Baylor are interested, according to Pick. Note the positioning of the field goal posts from his highlight video from his junior season Holy Trinity Catholic High in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.
Kansas has strong-armed, former Washington State quarterback and current Mississippi juco standout Peyton Bender in for a visit this weekend. Bender's a potential game-changer for a KU offense that has been stuck in the mud so long I'm starting to wonder if it's actually quicksand. I like KU's chances of landing him, but if not, Rourke is definitely worth a long, hard look. Running for his life, he still managed to throw for 2,367 yards and 18 touchdown passes (13 interceptions).
If you're like most Kansas basketball fans today, you just cannot get enough of last night's victory over No. 1 Duke.
Whether that means you've been surfing the web to read as much as you can about the 77-75 victory — thanks, by the way! — or you've been on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and anywhere else you can think of to view imagines of Frank Mason's thrilling game-winning shot, the aftermath of that moment or any other images of the game, your day likely has included you smiling a little bigger, puffing your chest out a little farther and perhaps even reaching out to those Duke fans you know (and sometimes even love) to tell them "good game" or some other version of that thought.
But if you still haven't got enough of the shot — and what a great, clutch shot it was — take a look at this video, filmed at courtside, of the final moments of Tuesday's game and Mason's terrific game winner.
It's no doubt the biggest shot of Mason's career to date and it came on the biggest and brightest stage college basketball possibly can have in mid-November.
One of the great things about Mason being the one who hit the shot is that the Jayhawks run absolutely no risk of the moment going to his head. Mason on Friday in the home opener against Siena is going to be the same player he was on Monday morning, Tuesday at halftime or when Duke hit the three-pointer to tie the game — an ultra-competitive, fighter who is willing to do anything necessary to help his team win.
If that means he takes the shot, he'll take it. If that means passing the ball, playing D or finding a way to make a big steal, you can bet Mason is going to do whatever he can to get the job done. It doesn't mean he's always going to succeed, but few Jayhawks in recent memory have been as willing to get dirty and lay it on the line like Mason and that's what makes Tuesday's game winner such a big deal. Because of it, Mason is finally getting his due on the national scene.
Enough about all of that, though, let's get you to the awesome video of the big shot.
Special props to those of you who watch it enough times to catch a few glimpses of KUsports.com photographer Nick Krug right there in the thick of the celebration.