Entries from blogs tagged with “KU”
In 2013, Frank Mason III showed up at the University of Kansas as a 5-foot-11, 185-pound freshman and, given the lack of recruiting buzz around him, a bit of an afterthought. At the time nobody other than Mason envisioned the quiet, compact point guard from Petersburg, Va., transforming into the consensus national player of the year of serious NBA prospect.
In just his second game with the Jayhawks, Mason showed flashes of the toughness that would one day make him a college great, scoring 15 points in a win over Duke. But he didn’t become an overwhelming talent on the floor until his senior season.
Becoming an authentic 3-point marksman proved a pivotal component of his overhaul. Mason recently sat down with DraftExpress.com for a one-on-one interview ahead of his ongoing NBA Draft preparations and his vastly improved 3-pointer featured prominently in the workout footage that accompanied the Q & A.
Mason scored 20.9 points a game as a senior for KU because he could score anywhere on the floor — he shot career-bests of 49% from the floor, 47.1% on 3-pointers and 79.4% at the free-throw line.
It was that long-rage accuracy that caught the attention of scouts and decision-makers in the NBA, though. Just in time to make him a more viable pro prospect, Mason knocked down 82 of 174 3-pointers as a senior — after making 85 of 211 (a respectable 40.1%) combined during his sophomore and junior seasons.
“It’s just something I’ve got better at over the years,” Mason told DraftExpress, when discussing his 3-point precision, “and I think the game was just a little too fast for me my first year in college. So I was kind of rushing a lot. And I just kind of got at my own pace and it kind of got better.”
Mason’s emergence as a dynamic play-maker and shooter at the college level forced NBA teams to take him seriously as a prospect, and weeks ahead of the June 22 draft, DraftExpress projects him as the 48th pick.
The 23-year-old Kansas star still has numerous workouts lined up with franchises around the country before one is expected to snatch up his rights late in the second round. Mason told DraftExpress how he plans to make the most of his in-person auditions.
“I can show them how athletic I am, what a good defender I am, a good leader, a good play-maker and how much I improved on my jump shot,” Mason said.
At this stage of his development as a basketball player, Mason thinks his 3-point shot should only help his ability to attack off the dribble, get to the paint and create shots for his teammates. But his time at KU also helped his on-court personality.
“I was a guy that really led by example, but over the years I worked on being more verbal and vocal and I think I got better at that,” Mason said, while describing various attributes that help make him an effective point guard.
Mason’s stock has gradually trended upward over the past several months. We shouldn’t be surprised if that continues in the weeks ahead and Mason ends up an early- or mid-second round draft pick.
'Tis the season for new administrative appointments at the University of Kansas. Here’s another one, which KU just announced this week.
Professor J. Christopher Brown will be KU’s new vice provost of faculty development beginning July 1. Brown, who’s been at KU since 2001, has joint appointments in KU’s department of geography and atmospheric science and the Environmental Studies Program, of which he also is director.
“Chris’ interdisciplinary work and extensive contacts within the university as well as abroad make him an excellent choice to advance initiatives that strengthen our faculty,” Provost Neeli Bendapudi said in a KU news release. “Chris also brings a strong background in analysis and strategic thought that helps him see both advantages and limitations to various approaches.”
Brown — a prolific author, according to the provost’s office — has research interests spanning the political dynamics of conservation to land-change science. His regional expertise is in Latin America, especially the Brazilian Amazon. He earned a doctorate in geography from UCLA and a master’s in Latin American studies and a bachelor’s in biology, both from KU.
The vice provost for faculty development provides guidance and oversight for faculty recruitment, and fosters professional growth of faculty at all levels of their careers, according to the provost’s office. Brown replaces Mary Lee Hummert, who plans to return to her faculty appointment this fall after 11 years in the position.
— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at email@example.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.
Early on in head coach David Beaty’s third season at the University of Kansas, the football program continues to make strides on the all-important recruiting front.
Over the course of the past several days, Beaty and his staff learned four different prep prospects and one junior college talent included KU in their shortlists of schools up for consideration.
The first came from Mississippi prep defensive end Deuntra Hyman, rated a 3-star prospect in the Class of 2018 by Rivals. While the 6-foot-5, 235-pound lineman from Meridian, Miss., made it clear in his tweet he was still open to other offers, he announced he would be “taking a closer look” at Ole Miss, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Louisville, Purdue and KU.
Another high school defensive end evaluating the Jayhawks at this juncture is Blue Springs (Mo.) lineman Daniel Parker Jr. Rivals’ 10th-best rising senior in the state of Missouri also has three stars next to his name. Parker announced via Twitter his top 10 finalists (in no specific order): Nebraska, Missouri, Memphis, Arizona State, Iowa State, Minnesota, Central Florida, Kentucky, Iowa and Kansas.
The defensive line trend on KU’s recruiting front included a junior college defensive tackle at Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Miss.), Jonathan Lolohea. Rated a three-star juco prospect by Rivals, Lolohea posted on Twitter that his recruitment remains open but he currently has a top four of KU, Kansas State, Washington State and TCU.
Add two more potential “Louisianimals” to the list of players contemplating KU in associate head coach Tony Hull’s home state of Louisiana.
Marreo safety Lance Robinson on Tuesday tweeted he, too, is open to further recruitment but listed a current top eight of K-State, KU, SMU, Tulane, Washington State, South Carolina, Arizona and Memphis. Currently un-rated by Rivals, Robinson, a rising senior at De La Salle High, is rated a three-star prospect by Scout and 247 Sports.
Late Wednesday morning, another KU recruiting target from The Pelican State, New Orleans defensive end Josh Smith, posted on Twitter he is focusing on a top six of Houston, Tulane, Arkansas State, Ball State, Colorado State and KU — and is still open to hearing from other programs. Smith, listed at 6-foot-4 and 247 pounds, is a three-star strong-side end according to Rivals. He also happens to be the Landry-Walker High classmate of the Jayhawks’ two most talented commits in the Class of 2018, receiver Devonta Jason and cornerback Corione Harris.
KU currently has secured nine commitments for its 2018 class, which Rivals ranks No. 23 in the nation.
Group concludes state universities are falling behind in Title IX investigations, need more money for staff
A year ago — inspired in part by one state university filing a court brief against another in a Title IX-related lawsuit — the Kansas Board of Regents ordered a work group to create more uniformity in the way schools address Title IX.
The work group, made of Title IX officers from the University of Kansas and the five other state universities, presented its report to the board this month, during the board’s regular meeting in Topeka.
A key conclusion from the Title IX work group report: All of Kansas’ state universities have seen a “sharp increase” in Title IX complaints but, because they lack adequate staff, are failing to consistently complete formal investigations in the 60-day time frame recommended by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
The report also included a recommendation for addressing that problem: Schools should assess a fee for “student safety efforts,” revenue from which could help pay for additional Title IX staff, student bystander education and awareness efforts.
It remains to be seen whether university students will pay an additional fee for this purpose. The board took no action on the matter last week. The Title IX work group also asked to continue meeting quarterly and have a once-a-year audience with the board to discuss Title IX compliance and challenges.
Board chair Zoe Newton, of Sedan, an attorney, said — without citing a specific case — she has been concerned about “the non-uniform nature” of due process for respondents in universities’ quasi-judicial proceedings.
“I hope that going forward the working group will start to take a look at some of those due process issues,” Newton said.
In response KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who presented the report, reiterated the overarching purpose of Title IX. Title IX is the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education, including sexual harassment and sexual violence.
“One of the points of this is to provide equal access to educational opportunities, and that is true for everyone that is involved in this process,” Gray-Little said. “We take that very seriously.”
While changes to Title IX compliance and enforcement under the Trump administration are anticipated, the work group report noted, right now there’s no clear timeline or understanding of what changes might happen.
One thing the Title IX work group report did not specifically address is the inconsistency that sparked the group in the first place: jurisdiction, i.e., whether under Title IX a university can investigate and discipline a student for actions that occurred off campus.
That’s been a key issue in Title IX lawsuits against both KU and Kansas State University — KU has been sued because it did discipline a student for off-campus actions, and K-State has been sued because it didn’t. For a previous post about the KU case (and K-State’s opposing brief), click here. For more about the lawsuit against K-State, click here and here.
— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.
For the next month, in every NBA city he visits, Frank Mason III will answer questions about his lack of size and how that impacts his ability to translate his college success at Kansas to the next level.
On Monday, the 5-foot-11, 189-pound consensus National Player of the Year found himself in St. Francis, Wis., addressing queries on his dimensions following a workout with the Milwaukee Bucks, owners of the 17th and 48th picks in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Mason’s relative lack of stature, in comparison to the long bodies occupying courts all over The Association, won’t always be a hindrance once he joins the ranks. The 23-year-old’s speed, strength and 41-inch vertical will allow him to use his proportions as an advantage at times.
“Just getting in the lane, play-making,” Mason began, when asked how a sub 6-foot guard could benefit from working with a vastly different frame than most of his competition. “Shooting the ball consistent and just doing what I do best — getting other guys involved, scoring the ball and focusing in on the defensive end.”
Although Milwaukee’s roster has become synonymous with length and wingspan — the Bucks at times played 6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard — the team’s vice president of scouting, Billy McKinney, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Mason had the components necessary to play in the NBA.
“By the time he came back to Kansas his senior year, you could see his game had evolved to the point where he was a true leader for that ball club," McKinney said. "Tough as heck, gritty and started to make better decisions with the basketball, which is going to serve him well at the next level.”
During the 2016-17 regular season, only 18 players listed at 6-foot or shorter played in the NBA. Some, like Boston’s Isaiah Thomas (a favorite of Mason's) and the L.A. Clippers’ Chris Paul, were great. Others, such as Orlando’s D.J. Augustin and Denver’s Jameer Nelson, didn’t make much of an impact.
Still, thanks to the successes of small guards such as Thomas, Paul and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Mason thinks there is a role for players his size on basketball’s biggest stage.
“Shorter guys are getting in the NBA and still filling the stat sheet up, doing what the taller guys do,” Mason said. “So it’s not all about the size. It’s more about the heart and what do you do when you get out there.”
Thus far, Mason has worked out for Milwaukee and Orlando. Off the top of his head, he told reporters in Wisconsin he thinks he has “10 or 11” left before the June 22 draft, where he is expected to be a second-round pick.
The whole pre-draft experience, Mason said, feels unlike his four years of college basketball at Kansas.
“Just the travel and the experience with the NBA guys. I think everything is pretty different about it and it’s something I’ll always remember and something I’m just trying to enjoy,” Mason said.
The following incidents were reported to the University of Kansas Office of Public Safety between Monday, May 8, and Sunday, May 14. Incidents are listed by date reported. This list may not include all crimes reported to police during the date range, as incidents occasionally are posted online longer than two days after being reported.
• Someone took items from a vehicle May 9 at Lot 57, 1100 block Fambrough Way. Loss was valued at $110.
• Someone stole a bike and lock between May 4 and May 12 at Daisy Hill Commons. Loss was valued at $810.
• Someone used another person’s bank card to make purchases on April 26 in the 900 block of Massachusetts Street. Loss was valued at $507.
• Criminal damage to property occurred May 11 or 12 at Jayhawker Towers, building C. Someone broke a wooden bed frame. Damage was estimated at $200.
• Someone cut a lock and stole a bike between April 14 and May 7 at Corbin Residence Hall. Loss was valued at $220. Damage was estimated at $30.
• Trespassing occurred about 2 a.m. May 10 at Memorial Stadium. Someone climbed into the stadium.
• Police found someone in possession of marijuana about 9:45 p.m. May 9 at Self Residence Hall. Someone was smoking marijuana, which set off a fire alarm.
• Criminal damage to property occurred between April 14 and May 9 at Jayhawker Towers Apartments. Someone sliced a duffle bag. Damage was estimated at $50.
• Trespassing occurred about 9:30 a.m. May 8 at Danforth Chapel. A banned person was seen on KU property.
• Someone stole a bicycle and lock May 7 at Templin Residence Hall. Loss was valued at $520.
Source: crimereports.com, KU Office of Public Safety
— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at email@example.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.
During his senior season at Kansas, point guard Frank Mason III seemed larger than life with the ball in his hands. But the consensus national player of the year’s relative lack of height has NBA decision-makers hesitant to take Mason, who averaged 20.9 points and shot 47.1% on his 3-pointers, before the late stages of the second round at next month’s draft.
The most recent predictions from Draft Express have Mason slotted as the 49th overall pick. Given the KU ball handler’s projected stock and the compact frame that belies his impact on the court, it’s not surprising Mason finds himself enjoying the exploits of an All-NBA guard who faced similar obstacles when he left college basketball behind.
During a recent interview with The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Mason didn’t try to say he was the next Isaiah Thomas — the 5-foot-9 point guard from Washington who has helped the Boston Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals — or even that he tried to model his game after the two-time all-star. But when the subject of the sparse number of players in The Association Mason’s size came up, the Big 12 Player of the Year couldn’t help but bring up his admiration for Thomas, the 60th and final selection in the 2011 draft.
“I really don’t model my game after anyone,” Mason told Charania and The Vertical. “But, you know, I always had confidence in myself, no matter who’s in the league. But I look at Isaiah Thomas and I really root for him, because people counted him out and said he couldn’t do the things that he’s doing now. So I have a lot of players in the league that I like, but I’m really rooting for Isaiah.”
Thomas, six seasons into an NBA career that has far exceeded the expectations of his critics, was named second-team all-league this season after averaging 28.9 points and 5.9 assists while helping Boston to the best record in the East. Had Thomas not completely blown up the past few years with the Celtics, many would be quick to compare Mason, a talented yet small guard, with the most recognizable vertically-challenged scorer in the league. Fortunately for Mason, who measured 5-11 without shoes at the NBA Draft Combine, he should be able to avoid any unrealistic parallels and simply keep Thomas in mind as proof that you don’t have to be 6-6 with a 7-foot wingspan to make it at the highest level of basketball.
Mason — he of the 6-3.25 wingspan and 41-inch max vertical, by the way — also enters the youth- and upside-obsessed league as a 23-year-old, four-year college player. His accolades and statistics say that shouldn’t matter, but look at the complete mock draft at Draft Express and you’ll find zero seniors listed in the first round. Charania asked Mason what he thought about some teams potentially favoring younger prospects.
“I just let them know how much I improved through every year. Not only on the court, but as a young man off the court,” Mason said. “And I just tell them how tough I am, how much I’ve improved my shooting and how great of a play-maker I am and — most importantly — a good defender.”
Before the June 22 draft Mason said he plans to work out for somewhere between 12 and 13 teams. Earlier this week he was in Orlando to showcase his talents for the Magic. When he goes on these basketball job interviews, Mason told The Vertical he has a general objective.
“I think it’s more mental than physical, so I just really want to show them that I’m mentally tough as well as physically tough,” Mason said. “And I just want to go out there and be myself, be the player that I’ve been over the years and show them how much I’ve improved.”
No, he’s not the next Isaiah Thomas. But drafting Frank Mason III shouldn’t be a concern for teams in need of point guard depth, because guards listed at 6-feet and under have more space than ever in the modern NBA to maximize their strengths on the floor — as proven by the Celtics guard Mason finds himself rooting for during the playoffs.
In the five weeks between now and the 2017 NBA Draft, a lot can, and most likely will, change — particularly in the realm of opinions on the potential impact of the most sought-after incoming rookies.
For the moment, it seems the likeliest scenario for one-year Kansas star Josh Jackson is heading to Philadelphia as the No. 3 pick and teaming up with a young core built around one-time Jayhawks center Joel Embiid.
Most around The Association assume Washington’s Markelle Fultz will go No. 1 to Boston (or to some team that trades an all-star in exchange for that slot) and the Lakers will take UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick. That leaves the 76ers, a team lacking in the productive guard department, with the choice between Jackson and what’s left of what is considered a great crop of point guards.
In a lottery reaction episode of The Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix, Jonathan Givony of Draft Express was asked which player makes sense for Philadelphia if it’s not a lead guard.
“I think they really have to look at Josh Jackson,” Givony said, “and they have to bring him into their gym and figure out, ‘How far away is this guy from being a good shooter?’”
As those who followed KU’s 2016-17 season closely will recall, Jackson greatly improved his 3-point accuracy over the final few months of his brief time with the Jayhawks. The versatile 6-foot-8 forward from Detroit showed his biggest weakness wasn’t a completely lost cause by hitting 38.5% of his 3-pointers in January, 47.8% in February and 40% in March.
“If you can get him some good looks and you can continue to develop his stroke,” Givony said of why Jackson made sense for the Sixers, after referencing his late-season surge. “In the NBA not everybody comes in as a finished product.”
We have no way of knowing whether Philadelphia coach Brett Brown and his staff would take this route, but Givony wondered whether Jackson could be persuaded into changing up his shooting mechanics with the endgame of adding an effective NBA-range 3-point shot to his arsenal.
“People say great things about his work ethic. And he really does everything else,” Givony added. “He’s a phenomenal defender. He’s a great passer. He’s outstanding in transition. He can play a lot of different positions. You can play him off the ball — you can play him on the ball a little bit even. There’s a lot there with Josh Jackson. They need to look at him.”
Teams taking gambles in the NBA Draft is a June tradition, but selecting Jackson with the third overall pick wouldn’t qualify as a risk for the Sixers. The only unpredictability accompanying the 20-year-old prospect is his often-scrutinized jumper. No, it’s not a pure, fluid stroke — Jackson brings the ball down low and shows it a bit as he rises up on 3-pointers. But which is more likely: Jackson stinks from long range for his entire career or he works at it until it becomes a trusted part of his game?
Jackson is too competitive to take a complacent approach to owning a below-average 3-point shot, especially now that so many NBA teams value that real estate behind the arc more than ever. He’s not entering the league with a trustworthy 3-pointer, but I’d bet on him adapting into at least a serviceable long-distance threat sooner than later. Same goes for his 56.6% free-throw shooting as a college freshman.
Philadelphia would still have the ability via free agency or the trade market to go after the floor-balancing shooter it needs. No player available at No. 3 other than Jackson is entering the NBA with as complete a skill set. And a nucleus of Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Jackson with some to-be-determined guards (by the way: the Sixers get the Lakers’ pick next year, which is bound to be in the lottery) projects as one of the league’s up-and-coming teams, able to contend in the Eastern Conference for years to come.
The Ping Pong balls have spoken, and a trio of the NBA’s classic franchises will decide between them which incoming rookies will occupy the top three picks in the 2017 draft.
Thanks to The Association’s annual lottery on Tuesday, one-and-done Kansas star Josh Jackson, a projected top-three pick, has a much better feel for what his future holds. And the versatile 6-foot-8 forward very well could end up the fresh young face in one of the league’s marquee markets.
Odds are Jackson won’t go first overall — that spot long has been associated with Washington point guard Markelle Fultz. But, most likely, Jackson won’t drop any farther than fifth, either. Two to four seem the safest bets for where Jackson lands. But since we’re here we might as well dive into some NBA lottery reaction and look at why each of the top five teams would be interested in kicking the shoes on Jackson to see if they want to add him to their roster.
No. 1 - Boston
This would be a fantastic spot for the rookie from KU to begin his professional career. But, at this point in time, it seems as if Boston is more likely to take Fultz or trade the pick for an established all-star.
But one never knows what Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is thinking. If, by June 22, Ainge were to shock everyone and decide upon taking Jackson, it likely would mean he’s too enamored with the team’s current backcourt rotation of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier to break it up with Fultz or Lonzo Ball. However, the current contracts for Thomas, Bradley and Smart expire in the summer of 2018, so it would make sense for Boston to take a young potential star guard on a rookie deal and move on from one of the more established members of the backcourt.
Don’t bet on seeing Jackson in Celtics green.
No. 2 - L.A. Lakers
Jackson has the personality and game to shine in L.A. However, this spot screams Big Baller Brand. If the Lakers are as crazy about UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball as his father, LaVar, is about the idea of his son joining one of the NBA’s storied franchises, then Jackson has no shot at wearing that classic purple and gold uniform.
Unless, that is, Lakers legend and current president of basketball operations Magic Johnson — long familiar with Jackson’s game due to his ties with his alma mater, Michigan State, and that program’s recruitment of the Detroit native — sees more overall potential in Jackson. L.A. does, after all, already have a couple of young point guards in Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell. Then again, it wouldn’t be too difficult to part ways with one of them and hand the keys over to Ball, the local prodigy.
No. 3 - Philadelphia
This is where things really get interesting for Jackson. Many consider him the third-best prospect in a talented draft class. But the Sixers have a glut of young frontcourt players and no longterm answer in the backcourt. Philadelphia already plans on using 6-10 forward Ben Simmons as its primary ball-handler on offense. Would the organization comprise an even less traditional lineup and give Jackson guard minutes, too? If the Sixers took that route they could put a monstrously long lineup on the floor that few teams could match.
If the 76ers want to address needs instead of taking the best available player on the board, though, they could opt for one of the coveted Kentucky guards, De’Aaron Fox or Malik Monk, instead.
For those who follow KU, it would be intriguing to see Joel Embiid, another No. 3 pick from Kansas, team up with Jackson as part of a young core on course to blossom over the next several years and potentially turn into a force in the Eastern Conference.
No. 4 - Phoenix
If Jackson slipped out of the top three, the Suns would be thrilled to have him. Their two best players at this point are guards Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe. Adding a two-way wing such as Jackson, who also happens to be an adept passer and fierce finisher in the open floor, would make Phoenix a team to watch out West in the future.
The Suns had the second-best odds of landing a top-three pick before the lottery balls bounced out of their favor. One would think ownership and coaches would do backflips across the Sonoran Desert if Jackson fell into their laps.
Unless they think Duke’s Jayson Tatum is a better answer. [Scoffs inwardly.]
No. 5 - Sacramento
Look up and down the Kings’ roster and you’ll find a who’s who of “why him?” Sacramento will be thrilled with whomever it drafts fifth overall, because that young man instantly becomes the new centerpiece of the franchise. If the Kings know what’s good for them, they are gathering all their good-luck charms, opening doors for strangers, not cutting anyone off in traffic and praying to the basketball gods at all hours from now until draft night, in the hopes that four other franchises pass on Jackson.
If you’ve kept up with Josh Jackson’s NBA Draft stock over the course of his one-and-done season at Kansas, you know his name often appears following those of Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball on “best available prospect” lists and mock draft scenarios. Sometimes, Jackson even slips out of the top three in the eyes of some evaluators.
And, if you’re like me and wonder why Jackson isn’t more often at least in the conversation as a top-two pick, one new 2017 draft breakdown will leave you nodding your head instead of shaking it.
The Ringer’s NBA Draft Guide ranks the top 60 rookie prospects for the June draft, and only the king of the mocks, 6-foot-4 Washington point guard Fultz, is thought of more highly than Jackson, a versatile 6-8 wing from Kansas who doesn’t have a $495 signature shoe coming out or a father intent on annoying the basketball community at large.
According to analysis from The Rigner’s staff, Jackson could turn into a player as lethal as Tracy McGrady or as versatile as Andre Iguodala. His prospect profile includes a list of his positives and negatives, as well as a telling shot chart, highlighting Jackson’s ability to finish inside (62.5% around the rim) and his favorite area from which to fire behind the arc — the right half of the floor (46.9% on 32 attempts).
Those who watched Jackson play his 35 games in a KU uniform are familiar with the pros and cons he brings to the hardwood. Some of the plus-side attributes referenced at The Ringer include Jackson’s explosiveness, feel for the game, ability as a perimeter/team defender, play-making and rebounding.
The aspects that give evaluators pause? Jackson’s “average” 6-10 wingspan, shooting mechanics and tendency to dwell on negative plays, to name a few.
Obviously even the most elite future pros can be dissected to find their flaws. The majority of the league’s top-three picks, year after year, never come close to transcending to the level of LeBron James or Michael Jordan. Jackson’s overall ability on both ends of the floor, along with his instinctive passing and willingness to defend make him a coveted player and a rare rookie who can compete and contribute immediately. It will be interesting to see if his stock fluctuates at all in the weeks ahead, as various teams invite him in for individual workouts, following Tuesday’s draft lottery.
Why no combine?
Jackson, who passed on attending the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, explained that part of his pre-draft strategy recently in an interview with Rebecca Grant.
“Normally, like the top 10 picks don’t go to that,” Jackson said. “There’s no benefit from it. You can only lose. They already know how good you are, and then if you go there and do bad it’s like, ‘Oh, maybe he’s not that good.’ So it just hurts your draft stock.”
During his Q&A with Grant, Jackson also detailed how his upbringing made him a tough player on the court. The 20-year-old millionaire-to-be said he used to battle his mother, Apples Jones, one-on-one.
“It would get so bad that sometimes I would cry that she would block my shot, take the ball from me,” Jackson said of his games as a youth against the former UTEP player, adding he didn’t defeat his mom at basketball until he was about 14 years old.
When Jackson hears his name called early at the 2017 draft, on June 22, you can bet Jones will have tears in her eyes as she watches what her son has accomplished, with her help.
Josh Jackson won’t know until late June exactly where he will go to begin his NBA career. But the one-and-done Kansas star should have a much better idea of his potential destinations within the week, following the 2017 draft lottery.
Only a handful of organizations will have a shot at adding Jackson, projected as a top-three pick (top-five at worst), to their roster. And while an incoming rookie would be glad to earn a hefty paycheck from any franchise, you know Jackson has to be covertly hoping the Ping Pong balls bounce certain ways during Tuesday’s lottery.
Fourteen teams have varying odds at winning the potentially franchise-altering game of chance. And Jackson’s career arc could take a significantly different path, depending on which teams are lucky enough to secure one of the top three slots.
Here’s a look at which NBA franchises Jackson should hope to see at the top of the draft board — listed from least-appealing to best-case scenario, accompanied by that team’s chances of securing a top-three pick.
The Kings are the trainwrecking-est franchise the league has to offer. They haven’t posted a winning record since the 2005-06 season and moved their only all-league-level talent, DeMarcus Cousins, before this year’s in-season trade deadline. Playing in Sacramento means enduring a losing culture with a franchise whose front office has a track record of shooting itself in the foot.
There is good news for Jackson on this front, though. Through a previous deal, Philadelphia has the ability to swap picks with the Kings. So if Sacramento leapfrogs a number of teams, including the Sixers, into the top-three, Philadelphia could claim that choice as its own. The bad news? It’s not impossible for Philly and the Kings to both land in the top three.
The Magic can’t match the prolonged futility of the Kings, but they appear to have got their hands on Sacramento’s blueprint. The team has hovered in the realm of mediocre to awful since head coach Stan Van Gundy left in 2012. While Orlando has a number of young players on its roster, none of them scream “all-star in the making.”
Jackson could end up as the face of the franchise if the Magic drafted him. But it also would be a very long time before his face showed up during NBA Playoffs broadcasts.
Though the Hornets (the artists previously known as the Bobcats) have made the postseason two times in the last four years they’ve mostly operated as a middling team.
Maybe Jackson emerges as the star wing the franchise has lacked and he spearheads a turnaround with guard Kemba Walker. But that scenario seems more iffy than a certainty.
There aren’t many doomsday scenarios for a prospect as talented as Jackson, so we’re already venturing into “this ain’t so bad” territory with the possibility of him ending up as a key player for his hometown team, the Pistons. Truthfully, the trickiest part of this potential alliance is Detroit would have to part ways with or give up on at least one of its wings for Jackson to fully thrive. Small forwards Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris and Stanley Johnson are under contract for next season.
Suiting up for the Pistons as their primary wing would qualify as more appealing if the team’s highest-paid players — center Andre Drummond and point guard Reggie Jackson — began meeting the organization’s expectations.
The Suns have failed to win 25 games each of the past two years, but the future at least seems promising with 20-year-old shooting guard Devin Booker, a productive point guard in Eric Bledsoe and 19-year-old frontcourt lottery picks from 2016, Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender. Add 20-year-old Jackson to the mix and you’ve got a youthful core with, at the very least, the kind of longterm upside to enliven a franchise that has missed the playoffs every spring since 2010.
Going to the Timberwolves would be near the top of Jackson’s ideal draft-day possibilities if we were just talking about him joining forces with Karl-Anthony Towns and head coach Tom Thibodeau. But Minnesota already has a perimeter forward from Kansas whom Jackson long has drawn comparisons to, Andrew Wiggins.
We know that Jackson and Wiggins have different strengths to their games, but if you put them together in the same lineup a Jackson-Wiggins combo might get a bit too redundant. If one were a 3-point marksman it would be perfect. But neither are, and Minnesota would be better off with the ability to space the floor and maximize the potential of superstar-to-be Towns.
L.A. LAKERS (46.9%)
In name, the Lakers are a glamorous NBA franchise. In reality, they lost at least 67% of their games each of the past four seasons. Picture Jackson wearing the purple and gold and it doesn’t take long to envision him becoming an instant fan favorite with his stylistic passing and vicious attacks of the rim. But are any of the Lakers’ recent lottery choices going to turn into all-stars at any point?
It could be years before the Lakers are back in the playoffs, let alone among the Western Conference’e elite.
NEW YORK (18.3%)
Why would Jackson want to play with the Knicks more than the Lakers? Glad you asked. Although a dysfunctional vibe has surrounded New York for years now, Jackson could turn out to be a vital part of a reboot. The team’s president, Phil Jackson, publicly floated the idea of trading away Carmelo Anthony this offseason. Plug Josh Jackson in his place and you have a vigorous one-two punch, with budding superstar Kristaps Porzingis and Jackson to build around for years to come.
The die-hard Knicks crowd at Madison Square Garden would fawn over Jackson because of his defense and versatility, and he would become an instant hit with New York media. This is sneakily a great outcome if everything were to line up correctly.
NEW ORLEANS (4%)
For the most part, the Pelicans’ roster is really unappealing. But when you look inside and see two of the league’s most dominant big men, the idea of Jackson in The Big Easy becomes highly intriguing. Anthony Davis and Cousins can only do so much for the team on their own. They need a capable wingman who can both set them up on offense and help them out defensively. Sounds like a job for Jackson.
Of note: The Pelicans better hope they sneak into the top three, because if they don’t they relinquish their pick to Sacramento, as agreed upon in the Cousins trade.
Sure, the Sixers have reeked for the past four years, but that was all part of the process. Jackson would be another young piece to add to a roster constructed to take off in the Eastern Conference within the next couple of years. Assuming former KU standout Joel Embiid and 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons can stay relatively healthy, Jackson joins them and Dario Saric to form a strong nucleus, all 23 or younger.
If the Ping Pong balls bounce Philly’s way, the Sixers could even end up with two high lottery picks, because Philadelphia gets the Lakers’ spot if it falls outside of the top three. Now you’re adding yet another coveted talent to the mix and the 76ers suddenly look destined for a profound transformation.
Although the Nuggets have missed the playoffs each of the past four seasons, the organization has — without bottoming out — accumulated enough talent to be a player away from becoming a postseason regular. Denver is set up well for the future, because 22-year-old center Nikola Jokic is on pace to become an All-NBA big as soon as next season. The Nuggets will have salary cap flexibility this summer, too, which makes them a player in free agency, as well as a suitor in potential major trades.
If the team gets lucky enough to draft Jackson, Denver could accelerate its climb in the West.
Dirk Nowitzki will turn 39 this offseason, and the Mavericks are close to entering a new era as a franchise. Landing a player with Jackson’s potential would expedite a smooth transition. Although Dallas’ two most productive players not named Dirk — Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews — dabble in small forward, they, like Jackson, are versatile, so playing all three of them at once wouldn’t be impossible. In fact, Jackson’s play-making ability might actually make things easier for those two, Nowitzki and (restricted free agent) Nerlens Noel in the half-court and open floor.
The best part about playing for Dallas, though, would be Jackson knowing owner Mark Cuban is willing to spend the money necessary to chase after championships.
The odds are not in favor of the Heat jumping to the top of the lottery, because the team went 30-11 in the second half of the season and barely missed the playoffs. But any elite prospect would love to see Miami luck its way to a slot in the top three. The Heat has only missed the postseason five times since Pat Riley, now president, first joined the organization as a head coach in 1995. Because of his success and the franchise’s three NBA championships — fueled, of course, by the presence of historical talents Dwyane Wade and LeBron James — as well as Miami’s location, the Heat are always in the mix for top free agents, too.
Miami will be a projected playoff team next year regardless of how the lottery plays out. If the Heat added Jackson, its prospects could improve for years to come, and he would plug in nicely to a lineup with center Hassan Whiteside and point guard Goran Dragic.
The Celtics secured the No. 1 seed in the East this year and are one victory away from a spot in the conference finals. But thanks to a visionary trade in 2013, they also have the ability to swap picks in the 2017 draft with Brooklyn, which happened to own the NBA’s worst record during the regular season. In other words: Boston is in position to contend immediately and for the foreseeable future. Should Jackson end up with the Celtics, he would join all-star guard Isaiah Thomas and premier big Al Horford as offensive facilitators, capable of setting up the 3-point shots coach Brad Stevens’ offense counts on, while also giving Boston increased defensive versatility, with Jackson’s ability to switch and guard multiple positions.
What’s more, the Celtics have cap room this summer to land a top free agent or trade for another all-star. Boston figures to be near the top of the East for years to come, and a competitor such as Jackson would thrive in such circumstances.
Over the past several months, as he trained for a future he hopes will include numerous seasons in the NFL, Fish Smithson looked forward to May 14. Like thousands of his University of Kansas classmates, Smithson couldn’t wait to finally walk down the hill at KU’s commencement ceremony and celebrate graduating on the same Memorial Stadium turf where he played the past three seasons.
KU’s former safety, though, is foregoing one dream this weekend to chase another. While his fellow graduates back in Lawrence commemorate their accomplishments as students on Sunday, Smithson will be in Virginia, at the Washington Redskins’ training facility, grinding away, attempting to attain his longterm goal.
He packed up his gear and left Kansas on Thursday to fly out to Washington D.C. Smithson, who called missing KU’s commencement “tough,” at least finds himself in the midst of a great alternative: participating in the Redskins’ three-day rookie mini-camp, which begins Friday.
The 5-foot-10, 201-pound defensive back, who signed with Washington as an un-drafted free agent, is headed back near his hometown of Baltimore, but admitted he didn’t care much for the Redskins growing up.
“Not at all,” Smithson said, laughing about how things turned out.
His father, Tony, always turned Baltimore games on in the Smithson residence, because he loved watching the Ravens’ star linebacker, Ray Lewis.
“When the games came on, he kicked us all out the living room and we couldn’t talk. We couldn’t do anything while the Ravens game was on,” Smithson said, explaining how he and his siblings, too, always preferred Baltimore’s NFL team to D.C.’s.
He would’ve been thrilled to try and make the roster with any organization, but Smithson admitted he’s excited about getting a chance to play close to home. Coincidentally, a few weeks before the draft, Fish’s sister, Tamicka, moved to D.C., and she lives basically across the street from FedExField.
“It’s crazy how that all worked out,” Smithson said. “She’s already talking about converting.”
Of course, for an un-drafted prospect such as Smithson, this weekend’s rookie camp is just the first stretch of what will be a formidable road to Washington’s 53-man, regular-season roster. The team currently lists seven other safeties on its active roster — not including un-signed late-round draft picks Montae Nicholson, from Michigan State, and Josh Harvey-Clemons, who played safety at Louisville but is listed as a linebacker. Smithson, whom the organization likes at free safety, plays the same position as veterans DJ Swearinger, DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon and Deshazor Everett.
Like many incoming rookies, Smithson doesn’t have to look far or hard to find inspirational fuel for this stage of his football career. Actually, one source can be found within his Twitter handle. Smithson didn’t have an account until April, but when he set it up he wanted it to remind him of his upbringing. As he explained it, @fannishthem both combines his name, Fish, with that of his grandmother, Ann, and incorporates a personalized acronym: family always need new income so help.
“Just my motivation that my grandmother is there with me,” Smithson said. “She gave me the name and my family always needs help, so help them.”
The three-year Kansas safety just might get that chance with the support of his NFL earnings one day. Chris Burke at SI.com recently identified Smithson as a sleeper for Washington.
“He brings the prerequisite versatility needed at safety,” Burke wrote for SI, “especially in coverage — he can play high or match up man-on-man in the slot. He may be a practice-squad guy as a rookie, or latch on elsewhere, but there’s NFL-caliber ability in his game.”
Although Smithson wishes he could don a cap and gown on Sunday in Lawrence, he’ll be right at home in a helmet and pads at Washington’s rookie camp.
Various factors compel the NBA Draft’s projected top picks to skip this week’s combine in Chicago or merely attend without competing in five-on-five scrimmages.
While you and I would love to watch one-and-done Kansas star Josh Jackson, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball or Washington’s Markelle Fultz take on other elite college and international prospects in that setting, it’s not the safe route when millions of dollars are on the line.
It could be hazardous to your draft stock to play against someone like Frank Mason III.
Currently projected as the 59th overall pick — next-to-last overall — by DraftExpress.com, a less coveted NBA candidate such as Mason has all the incentive in the world to torch the man in front of him as often as possible.
Listed at 5-foot-11, Mason, no doubt, would love to go toe-to-toe with larger, longer, more highly regarded point guards like Fultz and Ball. But he’ll settle for whomever is on the floor trying to stop him. DraftExpress published the combine’s list of active participants, as well as the rosters for four teams.
It turns out none of the following point guards — in Chicago solely for measurements and interviews — will be competing against Mason, either, by choice or due to injury: Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans, Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss and Xavier’s Edmond Sumner.
Here are the point guards Mason, on the same team as Maryland’s Melo Trimble, Oregon’s Jordan Bell, Kansas State’s Wesley Iwundu and others, will have a chance to compete against during combine scrimmages:
- Iowa State’s Monté Morris
- Texas’ Andrew Jones
- Arizona’s Kadeem Allen
- Kentucky’s Isaiah Briscoe
- Arizona’s Kobi Simmons
- Michigan’s Derrick Walton
- Duke’s Frank Jackson
Mason will have plenty of opportunities at the combine to impress NBA coaches, scouts and executives with his speed, strength, toughness and 3-point shooting. It’s just too bad — for them and us — they don’t get to see him play against the Balls and Fultzs of the draft, because that would be a show.
Still, Mason is an undaunted competitor. No one who watched him play at Kansas would be surprised to see the undersized point guard get his matchups with Ball and Fultz for years to come in the NBA. Mason can help make that possible starting this week at the combine, and in workouts with various franchises in the month-plus ahead, leading up to the June 22 NBA Draft.
The following incidents were reported to the University of Kansas Office of Public Safety between Monday, May 1, and Sunday, May 7. Incidents are listed by date reported. This list may not include all crimes reported to police during the date range, as incidents occasionally are posted online longer than two days after being reported.
• Police found a person in possession of marijuana about 2:30 p.m. May 7 at Hashinger Residence Hall.
• Someone cut a bicycle lock and stole a bike between May 3 and May 5 at Hashinger Residence Hall. Loss was valued at $455. Damage was estimated at $20.
• Someone found drug paraphernalia about 8:30 a.m. May 5 at Lot 16, 1300 block of Jayhawk Boulevard.
• Someone broke out the rear window of a vehicle May 4 or May 5 at Lot 107, 1400 block of Alumni Place. Damage was estimated at $300.
• Criminal trespass occurred about 11:50 p.m. May 4 at Lippincott Hall. People climbed onto the roof.
• Theft occurred between April 7 and May 3 at the facilities administration building. Someone failed to return seven keys after quitting a job with the university.
• Someone keyed a vehicle between May 1 and May 3 at Lot 90, 1800 block Naismith Drive. Damage was estimated at $300.
• Breaking and entering occurred May 3 at the Wilna Crawford Community Center. Someone gained unauthorized access to the building and removed property without permission. Loss was valued at $6.
• Someone stole a bank card April 15 from the women’s locker room at Wagnon Student Athlete Center. Loss was valued at $1.
• Someone cut a bicycle lock and stole a bike between April 28 and May 1 at Lewis Residence Hall. Loss was valued at $220.
• Someone cut a bicycle lock and stole a bike May 2 at the computer services facility. Loss was valued at $915.
• Someone damaged the passenger-side mirror of a vehicle between April 29 and May 1 in Lot 109, 1600 block of West 15th Street. Loss was valued at $250.
• Someone damaged a bicycle and lock between April 28 and May 1 at Templin Residence Hall. Loss was valued at $130.
• Someone took a bicycle and bike lock between April 28 and April 30 at Nunemaker Hall. Loss was valued at $720.
• Criminal use of a financial card occurred May 1 at Jayhawker Towers. The suspect used the victim’s card to buy things online without the victim’s permission.
Older report: The following incident was not available when the Journal-World published the corresponding week’s KU Crime Blotter. It was added to CrimeReports.com later.
• Disorderly conduct was reported about 1 a.m. April 30 at Jayhawk Boulevard and Sunflower Road. When officers responded to a single-car traffic accident, the suspect was intoxicated and resisted arrest.
Source: crimereports.com, KU Office of Public Safety
Frank Mason III and Svi Mykhailiuk weren’t the only former Kansas players hoping to impress NBA decision-makers in Chicago this week.
Although their draft days came and went without the results for which they hoped, former KU forwards Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander continued pursuing their professional objectives the past couple of days at the 2017 NBA Development League Elite Mini Camp.
After going un-drafted in 2016, Sunflower State native Ellis relocated to North Carolina, where he played in 50 games for the D-League’s Greensboro Swarm. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 22.4 minutes a game. He shot 45.1% from the floor and hit 41 of 109 3-pointers (37.6%), while garnering enough interest with his offensive game to nab an invite to the minor league’s offseason showcase.
The D-League camp setup mirrored that of the draft combine, with body measurements, athletic tests and scrimmages. The 23-year-old Ellis measured 6-8 in shoes, at 221.4 pounds, with an 8-7.5 reach and 6-10.5 wingspan. The former KU standout displayed a 31.5-inch no-step vertical and 36-inch maximum vertical.
Mike Schmitz, who covered the D-League elite event for DraftExpress.com, reported Ellis’ measurements have been in that range since he was a 16-year-old prospect in Wichita.
“With that said, Ellis was excellent on the floor all camp long, scoring at least 17 points in all four games (20 and 25, respectively, Tuesday) on efficient shooting,” Schmitz wrote. “His footwork, ability to create with spin moves and straight-line drives from the perimeter, touch around the rim and improved 3-point shooting were evident in Chicago.”
Overall, Schmitz assessed Ellis helped his NBA prospects at the camp after a “fairly average rookie year” and compared him to Detroit’s Tobias Harris, as an undersized 4-man who can score.
In Ellis’ first scrimmage, he led his team with 18 points, shot 8-for-11 and made one of two 3-pointers. He was one of two players on the team without a turnover.
During his next outing, Ellis went 2-for-4 on 3-pointers and 6-for-12 overall, while putting up 17 points and five boards (three offensive).
As referenced at DraftExpress, Ellis really took of on Day 2, when he first connected on nine of 15 shots and four of six 3-pointers en route to 25 points — the most by any player in any of the eight games — and four rebounds.
Ellis closed out the scrimmage portion of the D-League camp once again leading his group in scoring, with 20 points, on 7-of-10 shooting, while collecting just one rebound.
Un-drafted in 2015, Alexander, still just 21 years old, played for both Erie and Long Island in the D-League over the past several months. Between his two stops, he played in 40 games, averaging 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks, while converting 51.7% of his shot attempts.
In his hometown of Chicago this week, Alexander measured 6-8.5 in shoes, with a 9-1 reach and 7-3.5 wingspan, and weighed 247.6 pounds. His no-step vertical leap reached 30.5 inches and he had a max vert of 37 inches.
Schmitz reported Alexander, whose 9-1 reach ranked second among the prospects, didn’t play in Tuesday scrimmages due to an injury.
“Measurements have never been Alexander's problem,” Schmitz wrote at DraftExpress, “… he'll have to play with a consistent motor and strong enough mentality to work his way back into the NBA. He posted the second-worst lane agility score at the camp, which doesn't bode well for his switch-ability at the NBA level, but isn't a deal-breaker, either.”
Alexander, who teamed with Ellis, shot 6-for-9 from the floor on his way to 13 points, and added a team-best eight rebounds in his first scrimmage appearance.
The big man was even more efficient scoring inside in his next showing, going 7-for-8, with 16 points and five rebounds.
Both Ellis and Alexander, like the 36 other players attending the mini camp, are unrestricted free agents, able to sign with any NBA team interested in them this offseason. As their former KU teammate Wayne Selden Jr. already has proven, playing in the D-League isn’t a death sentence for one’s NBA ambitions.
The new buildings on the University of Kansas campus these days are all about built-in gathering and study spaces. I think the buzz-phrase for these is “touchdown stations,” and they're everywhere — think nooks or common areas with tables and chairs, charging stations, maybe even a nearby coffee bar like the one in the atrium at KU’s new Capitol Federal Hall, home to the business school.
Meanwhile, Wescoe Hall, dedicated in 1974, maintains some of the most spacious, most dreary and most useless hallways of any building on campus.
With a front desk, offices, conference rooms and three departmental libraries housed on the second floor of Wescoe, KU’s School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures has a little fundraiser going in hopes of creating a more welcoming spot for students in its empty hallway space.
The Wescoe Hallway Remodel project has a campaign at www.launchku.org/wescoe and aims to raise $15,000. The deadline to make donations is midnight Monday.
The school contains five core departments housed in Wescoe, and 13 affiliated departments, according to a promotional video for the project. They want money for chairs, couches, coffee tables, a bar-height table with chairs, charging stations and artwork.
The video shows a guy hunched over doing homework on top of some recycling bins and a few young women with laptops and backpacks sitting on the cold tile floor. They may be staged for this video, but it is a typical scenario.
The project is envisioned to create a space for students to relax, study or interact as they wait for class or to speak with instructors, according to the video — and maybe practice speaking whatever language they’re trying to learn.
“Language learning is an inherently social activity and just doesn’t happen in the classroom or in the text book,” KU senior Tessa Newberry says in the video. “The space we envision has the opportunity to provide students with a chance to gather and to become a catalyst for practicing and enhancing language skills.”
The Wescoe Hallway Remodel project is one of a handful of currently active KU Endowment crowdsourcing fundraisers. See them all at www.launchku.org.
Last year, national media outlets included University of Kansas alumnus David Stras on a shortlist of potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. That did not happen — Neil M. Gorsuch has since been nominated and confirmed to the vacancy.
However, Stras is on a new list of Trump nominees.
The White House this week announced its third wave of federal judicial appointments, pending confirmation. Stras, who’s currently a justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court, was appointed to serve as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Stras received his bachelor’s degree, master's of business administration and law degree from KU. While at KU School of Law, Stras was editor-in-chief of the Criminal Procedure Edition of the Kansas Law Review and earned a number of academic honors, including election to the Order of the Coif, according to his Minnesota Judicial Branch bio.
Stras, 42, is described as “a conservative who defers to the law as its authors intended — not ideology — to shape decisions,” according to a story in the Minneanapolis Star-Tribune (written, incidentally, by former Journal-World reporter Stephen Montemayor). Stras, who grew up in Wichita, is a longtime Federalist Society member, a former University of Minnesota faculty member and also the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. He is believed to be only the second Jewish appellate judge in the Eighth Circuit.
Though the program must first survive several more months in the good favor of some of the country’s most talented high school prospects for it to become official, at this still-fluid stage the Kansas football team’s 2018 recruiting class has to be considered a massive success.
And thanks to the tireless efforts of head coach David Beaty and his staff, there’s potential for KU to add even more coveted recruits to their list of commitments.
Predictably, the biggest potential target resides in the home state of the Jayhawks’ associate head coach, Tony Hull. The Louisiana native already has inspired two of Rivals’ top 100 rising seniors in the nation — New Orleans’ Devonta Jason (No. 25) and Corione Harris (No. 70) — to verbally commit to Kansas. Now Hull and the staff aim to add a third.
Though he currently stands as an LSU commit, four-star cornerback Kelvin Joseph tweeted on Monday his intentions to visit three other programs: Alabama, Florida State and Kansas.
A 6-foot, 185-pound corner from Baton Rouge, La., Joseph is ranked 39th in the Class of 2018 by Rivals.
KU received more good news on the recruiting front this week when Josh Walker, a three-star defensive tackle at IMG Academy, in Bradenton, Fla., announced through his Twitter account his top seven college destinations: Arizona, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rutgers and Wake Forest.
According to Rivals, Walker also had offers from Michigan State, Cal, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, UCLA and many other Power Five programs.
Obviously, the interest in Kansas from Joseph and Walker doesn’t guarantee anything. But it does indicate the growing approval rating for Beaty, Hull and KU as a program in the cutthroat world of college football recruiting.
Headlined by four-star commits Jason, a 6-3 receiver, and Harris, a 6-1 corner, the Jayhawks’ 2018 recruiting class currently stands at eight players, and ranks 20th in the nation according to Rivals.
It’s hard to imagine a moment from a spring football game enduring in the collective memory of those who follow a team for more than a few days — a week at most. Yet, for those who watched Kansas football’s mid-April scrimmage or caught up with it after the fact via social media, it will be difficult to forget the ferocious manner in which Mike Lee played in the secondary.
Lee, a 5-foot-11 safety who made his presence in the program felt as a true freshman in 2016, with a number of savage hits, appeared even more heartless a tackler than imagined during KU’s scrimmage. It was on that stage that he twice leveled teammate Ryan Schadler to break up pass attempts to the receiver.
The Jayhawks began expecting such crunching hits from Lee versus Big 12 foes, but to do that to someone from your own locker room?
Shortly after the exhibition, the faux hard-hitting question had to be asked: Have you apologized to Ryan Schadler?
The truly powerful, up-and-coming sophomore defensive back had an even better answer.
“I apologized to his mother,” Lee revealed. “His mother came after the game, came by me. She was like, ‘Why did you have to hit my son that hard?’ I was like, ‘I wasn’t trying, but Peyton (Bender, KU quarterback) was just setting him up. … I’ve just got to make a play. That’s all I was doing.”
You have to admit, the man is dedicated to his craft. The jolts Lee delivered in an inconsequential scrimmage qualified as long-lasting reminders of his impact as a defensive play-maker and just how serious he is about creeping into the minds of potential receivers — who will know the consequences of their actions, should they try and bring in a pass when Lee lurks nearby.
Schadler’s mother, Donna, just hadn’t considered all of those factors at the time.
“She was like, ‘I’m happy his ribs are OK,’” Lee added.
It was at that point in Lee’s interview that Schadler had his chance to exact revenge. The junior receiver, done with his media obligations, sneaked up behind the defensive back and grabbed his attacker — but in a display of Schadler’s admiration for Lee’s talents and his respect for a fellow competitor, rather than an angry ambush.
Though still young, Lee is widely respected by his teammates because of his approach to all things football. His commitment made him a starting Big 12 safety when he should have been a senior in high school. And his vicious plays on the ball and/or a quarterback’s intended target turned Lee into an instant fan favorite.
There will be countless more cases of clobbering in Lee’s future. But the blows he administered this spring will live on, because you wouldn’t expect an underclassman who already had made a name for himself to play — or strike — so hard in a glorified practice.
That’s just Mike Lee. He will wallop anyone on a football field wearing a uniform that doesn’t match his own. Because that’s what is asked of him.
“Really, I just run to the ball. If I know I can hit somebody hard, I do it,” Lee said, before grinning to making an addendum. “If I know I can’t, I’ll still do it.”
The University of Kansas now has a pot of money to help sexual assault victims with related expenses.
Outgoing student body president Stephonn Alcorn and vice president Gabby Naylor recently announced the creation of the University of Kansas Sexual Violence Survivor Fund for students who have experienced or are experiencing a form of interpersonal violence.
There’s an initial investment in the fund of $8,000, they said in the announcement. The money came from the Student Senate Opportunity Fund ($4,000), the KU Interfraternity Council ($2,000) and the KU Panhellenic Association ($2,000).
Alcorn and Naylor said the three organizations hope to sustain the fund in the future through additional “campus partners at KU such as the Multicultural Greek Council, the National Panhellenic Council and Kansas Athletics Incorporated.”
The fund will be administered by the Watkins Health Services CARE (Campus Assistance, Resource and Education) Coordinator, currently Merrill Evans. The CARE Coordinator, a confidential reporter, supports victims and alleged perpetrators of sexual assault, sexual battery, dating violence and stalking, according to Watkins.
Examples of expenses the fund is envisioned to help with: bed linens, safety needs (such as changing locks or getting an alternate cellphone), related medical costs, one-time assistance with rent or housing accommodations during breaks, according to Student Senate.
“Existing community resources in Lawrence and Douglas County are limited, often rely on donations, and require a strenuous process for survivors,” Naylor said, in the Student Senate news release. “By creating this fund, students will now have more autonomy when choosing to seek these resources. By coming together, we can make an institutional effort to support all students, regardless of associated organizations.”
According to Michelle Tevis of KU Endowment, donations to the fund may be made online at kuendowment.org/makeagift by specifying the fund name in the "My gift will benefit" field.