Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”
Recorded Tuesday, May 9, 2017
One day after warming up and improving as the competition went on, Kansas junior Svi Mykhailiuk has withdrawn from the rest of the NBA combine because of an ankle injury he suffered Thursday.
Mykhailiuk, the 6-7 wing who is one of 14 players at the 67-man combine who has not yet hired an agent, thus leaving open the possibility of a return to KU for his senior season, delivered a mixed bag of results during Thursday’s action in Chicago.
His measurements were neither wildly impressive nor disappointing and his play on the floor, which featured a couple of bad misses early on during the 5-on-5 scrimmage along with a hot streak later in the game and even a defensive highlight when he blocked KU teammate Frank Mason III, left most scouts and NBA executives curious to see more.
Unfortunately for Mykhailiuk, that will not happen. Jonathan Givony, who runs DraftExpress.com, Tweeted around 10:30 Friday morning that Mykhailiuk had withdrawn from the rest of the combine because of the injury.
So now the entire focus shifts to his stay-or-go decision.
Mykhailiuk, whom multiple sources told the Journal-World earlier this week was leaning toward staying in the draft, now has to evaluate whether his brief showing, body of work at Kansas and interaction with NBA people during the past couple of weeks was enough for him to feel confident that he would get drafted.
One source said the main question surrounding Mykhailiuk entering the week was exactly that — whether some team would take him in the second round, not whether he could sneak into the first round.
Earlier this week, ESPN.com anonymously polled multiple NBA executives about what they thought each of the 14 players at the combine who had not yet hired an agent should do after the combine is over and their advice to Mykhailiuk was for him to return to Kansas.
Whether he takes that path or not should be known in the next week or so. But don't expect a grand announcement either way. The soon-to-be-20-year-old Ukrainian, like his best buddy on the team Devonte' Graham, is not a flashy, attention-seeking kind of guy. His announcement, whatever he decides, figures to be short and sweet and not a media spectacle.
Mykhailiuk, who likely will stay in Chicago to continue conversations and interviews with team executives through the weekend, still will have until May 24 to make a final decision about his future. And although many of the pros and cons he will be weighing remain the same, the ankle injury likely makes the whole process a little more difficult.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman on Wednesday identified the 14 college players attending this year’s pre-draft combine who have not hired an agent and then anonymously polled “multiple” NBA executives and asked them whether each player should stay in the draft or return to school for the 2017-18 season.
A whopping 12 of the 14 players identified — including KU junior Svi Mykhailiuk — were “told” to return to school, with only Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and SMU forward Semi Ojeleye (from nearby Ottawa High) drawing anything other than advice to stay in school.
Swanigan, who was in the running for national player of the year and enjoyed a monster season for the Boilermakers was encouraged flat-out to turn pro now. Ojeleye, who started his college career at Duke before transferring to SMU, drew a mixed reaction, with half of the execs polled suggesting he should stay in the draft and the other half recommending that he return to school.
It’s an interesting exercise and it shows, at least in some small way, just how maddening the whole early-entry culture can be.
Remember, these 14 players are all underclassmen. And what is it we’ve learned about the NBA more and more during the past decade than ever before? That the NBA drafts based largely on potential, upside and where a player will be 3-5 years down the road not necessarily where a player is on draft night.
By that standard, you would think that a bunch of NBA executives would tell nearly every underclassman to give it a shot because the younger the player the better the prospect.
But that obviously is not entirely true, and it’s funny that it took an anonymous exercise such as this one to reveal that.
I don’t know the exact circumstances of all 14 players involved in this deal but I am familiar with all of them and, in my opinion, they’re giving great advice to darn near every one of them — including Swanigan and Ojeleye.
With that said, it does not change the fact that every year far too many players declare for the draft, watch the 60 picks on draft night come and go without hearing their names called and then move forward with their lives and/or careers only to wonder — at least a little, somewhere in the recesses of their minds — what might have happened had they played another year of college ball.
The NBA, through its recent loosening up of the pre-draft rules, which has allowed more underclassmen to test, gather good information and then pull out of the draft so long as they do it before the deadline and do not hire an agent, is a big time step in the right direction toward getting this kind of information in the right hands.
More players staying more years at their respective universities is obviously a good thing for the college game no matter what perspective you’re taking — fans, coaches, administrators, TV networks.
But I’d argue that it’s also a good thing for the professional game, as well.
These days, far too many players are entering the league who simply are not ready and that, at least in some manner, is watering down the pro game because of the guaranteed money given out each year to 30 first-round picks.
Whether it’s from a basketball perspective, or, more to the point, from a maturity standpoint, these young dudes are rarely ready for the real world, all that money, all those distractions and all those obligations, responsibilities and temptations that come with turning pro.
I’m not sure that there’s a huge difference between a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old when it comes to that, but every little bit of seasoning helps. And there’s no disputing that another year’s worth of life lessons and wisdom can only help prepare these young men for that professional athlete life.
As for Mykhailiuk, as you surely have gathered by now, he was advised by the anonymous NBA execs to return to Kansas for his senior season.
"I still hold out hope on him," one NBA executive told ESPN when asked about Mykhailiuk. "He's still really young and can be a catch-and-shoot guy. The question is whether he has a bigger role at Kansas next year than he did the past couple years."
That’s definitely the question. And the answer is not easy to come by.
With Malik Newman, Devonte’ Graham and Lagerald Vick all primed for big time roles in the Kansas backcourt and freshman-to-be Marcus Garrett and Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe also factoring into the mix, it’s worth wondering just how much more Mykhailiuk can be featured in a Kansas uniform.
He’s a returning starter and that’s more than four of the five players mentioned above have going for them, but he does have limitations and, as well all know already, Bill Self’s system is not one that often showcases one or two individual players. Even if that were the case next season, would Svi be one of those one or two players? Probably not.
So with that in mind, the return to school advice might not be all that sound. Sure it could help him. But how much is the question.
And if there’s a team or two or five or 10 out there right now that is willing to take Svi in the second round this year, a definite case could be made that following that path is the right move for Svi.
Time will tell. And we’ll know more — about Svi and all of these players — after the combine’s main events today and tomorrow.
As many of you probably saw on Twitter on Tuesday, I was told by someone closely connected to Kansas junior Svi Mykhailiuk that the KU guard knocked down 85 of 100 NBA-range 3-point attempts during a recent workout with the Boston Celtics.
Obviously, that’s damn good.
And, while I’m sure there are those of you out there who might not believe the number, I have no doubt about the validity of the claim because I’ve seen Svi light it up, shot after shot, swish after swish, in an open gym with nobody guarding him.
That, essentially, was the drill he ran through during his recent workout with the Celtics, and, evidently, it’s something Boston — and probably other teams — does on an annual basis.
A year ago, former Oklahoma star Buddy Hield went through the same drill and, believe it or not, also knocked down 85 of the 100 3-pointers he shot. Also last year, former Kentucky guard Jamal Murray did the same drill and drained 79 triples and, a couple of months before that, former Gonzaga big man Kyle Wiltjer made 77. You get the point.
Along with just about every other team in the NBA, the Celtics clearly like to see just how well guys can shoot before they even consider drafting them.
And while this one drill is certainly an eye-opener when you first hear about the results, it’s not exactly a great predictor of future NBA success. Hield, for instance was drafted in the lottery last year, while Wiltjer went undrafted.
So, obviously, there are many more factors that go into whether a player is draft worthy, and it’s those factors that make Svi more of a question mark as he embarks upon his path to the draft and juggles the decision whether to stay in it or return to Kansas for his senior year.
As has been my belief throughout the process, I really don’t think Svi knows yet whether he will stay or go. This week’s combine likely will play a huge role in helping him determine the answer and I don’t think people should be looking at this thing in the scope of whether Svi is a first-round draft pick or not.
Sure, that’s where the guaranteed money is made. But getting drafted in the second round does not mean you’re not going to make a roster. It just means it’s going to be a lot harder and the money you’ll be getting will be money that you will have earned through toughness and grit and hunger and prayer.
My take on Svi is this: No matter how well he does this week at the combine, he’s probably a second-round pick. So the question for him isn’t really about money and earning potential. It’s about a gamble.
Does he think he’s good enough to make a roster from a second-round slot or does he think he should come back, be more aggressive as a senior, attempt to showcase more of his all-around game and hope that improves his draft stock?
It’s a tough question. And one I’m glad I don’t have to answer.
Because, at the end of the day, no matter how much Svi does or does not show, either this week at the combine or next season at Kansas, he’s either going to make the NBA or not make it because he can shoot the basketball.
Going 85-for-100 in a drill in front of some important people who can directly impact your future certainly doesn’t hurt anything.
But the guess here is that those people have already forgotten about it. What they want to know is simple: Can he do it again?
Other quick combine notes:
• Josh Jackson, a projected Top 3 pick in this summer's NBA Draft, will not even attend the combine for interviews. He's been working out in Los Angeles and will stay there instead of traveling to Chicago to interview with teams. One source said Jackson would eventually meet one-on-one with NBA teams but added that the list would likely be five or less given his status as a high lottery pick.
• Frank Mason III will join Svi in Chicago for the combine and the two biggest days for both players will come Thursday and Friday when they participate in 5-on-5 scrimmages and a variety of skills and agility tests.
• In a recent interview with the Journal-World, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said that, when he first came to the United States many scouts viewed Mykhailiuk as a future college and/or NBA point guard. Things have not played out that way during his three-year KU career, however, and Mykhailiuk's best path to the draft, should he stay in it, is as an athletic, instant-offense type of wing player with a deadly shot. Svi has until 10 days after the end of the combine (May 24) to decide whether to leave his name in the draft pool or return to KU for his senior year.
It’s no secret that Lexington, Ky., has become to one-and-done college basketball players what Cancun, South Padre Island and Daytona Beach are to spring breakers.
And it’s not exactly breaking news that Kentucky coach John Calipari has figured out how to coach these players, be it one or two of them or a team with six or seven.
This weekend’s news that Kevin Knox was joining the Wildcats gives Kentucky a whopping seven of the top 28 players in the 2017 class, according to the 247 Sports rankings (see Tweet below for details).
Seven. That’s five starters and two more off the bench. Basically, that’s the entire KU rotation from the 2016-17 season. And, any way you slice it, that’s downright impressive.
I’m sure there are KU fans out there who rolled their eyes at that last sentence and thought to themselves, big frickin’ whoop. But if you’re one of them, ask yourself this question: If KU had signed seven of the top 28 players in this (or any) recruiting class wouldn’t you be (a) ridiculously fired up and (b) more inclined to call the feat impressive?
I’m not saying landing one-fourth of the best players in all the land in the 2017 recruiting class guarantees Calipari’s Wildcats a thing. It doesn’t. You never know how these things are going to play out. Some could become busts or get injured. Others could fail to crack Kentucky’s rotation and become two-, three- or even four-year players. It happens. And not just at Kentucky. Look no further than Carlton Bragg Jr., for proof of unfulfilled potential happening at Kansas during recent years.
Beyond the fact that landing all of those talented prospects does not guarantee Kentucky a thing is the realization that there is more than one way to skin a cat and programs all over the country — really good, really successful, really attractive programs — tend to prove that year after year.
Kansas is one of them. Again, I can all but guarantee you that if the Jayhawks had landed seven of the 28 best players in any recruiting class, the coaching staff would be jacked and the fan base would be clearing calendars to make sure they were off of work, in Lawrence or both during Final Four weekend. And those are just the humble ones. The more braggadocious KU fans already would be boasting about the Jayhawks being a lock to win the 2018 national championship.
And maybe they would win it. Maybe Kentucky will. Who knows? And that is the beauty of it all.
Right now, on May 8, 2017, the Jayhawks and Wildcats — as always — are among the betting favorites in Las Vegas to cut down the nets next April in San Antonio, separated at the top by just a couple of spots on the future betting odds.
One of them will be looking to do so with a team full of freshmen. And the other will be trying to do it with a mixed bag of four-year players, veteran transfers and talented newcomers.
Again, I’m not saying one way is right and the other is wrong. But, for my money, I sure like the roster construction KU coach Bill Self seems to shoot for — a couple of talented and proven veterans mixed with a few program guys all buoyed by highly rated incoming freshmen like last year’s Josh Jackson and this year’s Billy Preston.
There’s just something cool about a roster that has a little natural order to it.
Just look at the work the KU coaching staff did on the recruiting trail this year alone. The 2017 class includes a potential one-and-done player in Preston, a likely multi-year player in combo guard Marcus Garrett and a graduate transfer in Jack Whitman. Three players from various different places coming together to join the Jayhawks.
Beyond that, Self and company also brought in three more transfers in Memphis’ Lawson brothers and former Cal point guard Charlie Moore and their future paths at Kansas also figure to run different courses.
Bringing in that kind of diversity helps with roster balance and, perhaps most importantly, helps ensure that each future team will have at least a couple of veterans with the potential to become key leaders.
Could you even imagine the Jayhawks knocking on the door of national titles during the past couple of years without guys like Perry Ellis or Frank Mason? No chance.
Time will tell if that knock is answered in 2018. But, with Devonte’ Graham leading the way and the KU roster filling out from there, the Jayhawks certainly will have all of the pieces they need to make it happen.
In other, somewhat related recruited, we received another Trevon Duval update over the weekend and, believe it or not, it seems like the 5-star point guard’s big announcement is finally coming.
After revealing two weekends ago that he would make a decision, “soon,” Duval took that one step farther this past weekend by telling Krysten Peek, of Rivals.com, that he would announce his decision date in the next “couple days.”
Who knows if that means we’ll know where he’s headed by the end of the week or not, but it seems like we should at least know when he’s going to tell us.
The NBA is full of conspiracy theories, from people thinking the games and postseason results are predetermined by the league office to others believing that the officials have an interest in deciding the outcome of games on a regular basis to fit that agenda.
But of all of the wild scenarios and weird happenings that have led people to ask questions, there might not be one more incredible than the one floating around the NBA right now. And it involves former Kansas players Marcus and Markieff Morris.
Twin brothers from Philadelphia who played three seasons at Kansas from 2008-11, the Morris twins have gone on to enjoy solid NBA careers, both making a ton of money and becoming key contributors to their respective teams.
For a short stint — from 2012-15 — the two were teammates again in Phoenix, but today Marcus plays for the Detroit Pistons and Markieff plays for the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards are currently involved in a second-round series with top-seeded Boston and that’s where the scene of the latest conspiracy first showed up.
Markieff injured his ankle during Washington’s Game 1 loss and appeared to be in pretty bad shape. Despite his insistence that he would play in Game 2 and that nothing would keep him out, people still wondered if he would be healthy enough to play or at least be effective. It turns out he was. Despite the bum ankle, Markieff started and tallied 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals on 6-of-11 shooting in 27 minutes. All in all, a darn good night that registered slightly above his season averages in most categories.
Beyond that, Markieff looked good, too. Like really good. Almost like the ankle wasn’t bothering him at all.
And that’s when the conspiracy junkies ran wild.
With Detroit out of the playoffs and Marcus free from obligations with the Pistons, there was some speculation that Marcus may have filled in for Markieff during Game 2. And, hey, it’s not entirely crazy. After all, the two are twins and even have almost the exact same tattoos plastered all over their bodies.
Making matters worse, Marcus recently showed up to a Wizards playoff game wearing a Markieff Morris Washington jersey to support his brother and, obviously, his appearance was strikingly similar to his brother.
While the whole thing is fun to joke about or even scratch your head and wonder if it was even possible, the reality is it probably wasn’t. I mean, as much as they are twins and do look alike, their games are different — Markieff plays more of a true forward role down low while Marcus is more of a wing forward — and there are small but noticeable features that distinguish them from one another that those who know them best would easily see.
Beyond that, I can’t see how Markieff’s Washington teammates would’ve been able to go along with this and still execute. Basketball’s an instinctual game, but they still run plays and sets and do things that would be far too difficult to pick up on a day’s notice.
One final part of the whole ordeal that might lend the conspiracy theorists the most credible evidence for their claim is the fact that the Morris twins actually have done this before. Granted, that was during an AAU game, but something similar did happen.
Now that another game has been played — a 116-89 Wizards’ victory on Thursday night that cut Boston’s lead in the series to 2-1 — it seems like things have calmed down and nobody really thinks the switch happened.
A recent Tweet from Marcus also helped calm down the craziness.
“I wouldn’t play for another team unless I’m on that team,” he wrote. “Smooth (Markieff) playing on a sprained ankle. I didn’t expect anything less.”
Game 4 of the suddenly dramatic series is set for Sunday night in Washington.
~ Recorded Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Former Kansas basketball player Landen Lucas never actually transferred to or from KU.
But with his career broken into two different pieces — during his red-shirt year and after it — Lucas was able to experience the benefits of what a lot of transfers gain while sitting out during their first season at their new schools.
At Kansas in the coming months, three such players will be walking down that path, with former Memphis standouts Dedric and K.J. Lawson and former Cal point guard Charlie Moore all joining the Jayhawks this summer without being eligible to play in games for more than a year.
And that’s to say nothing of new acquisition Jack Whitman or 2017 transfer Sam Cunliffe, who came from Arizona State just after the new year and still has eight months to go before he’s eligible to join the Jayhawks following the first semester of the 2017-18 season.
Although Lucas, who red-shirted during his first season with the Jayhawks (2012-13), was not exactly in the position of starting his college career over, he said recently that he approached his year on the bench like many transfers should approach theirs.
“I think it’s huge,” he said during a Monday evening appearance on KLWN’s Rock Chalk Sports Talk. “Just speaking for myself, as far as my red-shirt year, you’re going against great competition and it gives you a chance, without a whole bunch of stress, to sit back and really see what coach wants, see what coach is looking for, be competitive, work on different things in practice. If guys use that year right and work on yourself that’s a big part of how you can help contribute. If you take advantage of it, it could be huge.”
“If” was the operative word in that last sentence, but Lucas said, for the most part, the players who transferred to KU during his five-year stint with the program have done exactly that.
Most notable among them, according to Lucas, was former Mississippi State standout Malik Newman, who sat out the recently completed 2016-17 season and now appears poised and ready for big things when he returns to action this fall.
“Malik, he’s really taken advantage of it,” Lucas said. “And it allows him to really step in and shine right away because he understands what coach wants (and) coach has seen him enough. Now that he’s in that new role he can really embrace it.”
During his playing days, Lucas teamed with six of the 14 players to transfer to Kansas to date during the Bill Self era. And Lucas said each one of them did his absolute best to take advantage of his transfer year.
He also competed with five players who elected to leave KU, and Lucas also said he could see the appeal of a fresh start and held nothing against any of the guys who left.
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t (think about it early on when playing time was tough to come by),” Lucas said. “When you come out of high school and you competed at the level I did and then to come to school and have to sit out and not play very much, it was tough. Obviously (leaving) crosses your mind, but then I had to reel it back in and just remember that I came here for a reason and when it does work out, when it does happen, it might not be as quick, but it’s gonna be greater. And that’s truly how it was. I just decided to stick with it. I was at the right spot. And that’s just how I kind of approached it.”
Lucas on Graham
Also on Rock Chalk Sports Talk on Monday evening, Lucas covered a number of other topics, from his KU career to his current quest to impress NBA scouts and the creation of his Landen Lucas Foundation that will raise money to help fund athletic endeavors of young people in and around Lawrence and in his hometown of Portland.
Lucas, on Sunday, will host a couple of fund-raising events in Lawrence (at Johnny’s West, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and in Topeka (at R&D Sports, from 6-8 p.m.). Fans will be able to meet and get autographs from Lucas and purchase some of the gear he wore during his playing days with the Jayhawks. All of the money raised will go toward the foundation.
Curious about Lucas’ take on the return of his former teammate Devonte’ Graham, who announced last month that he would stick around for his senior season, Lucas said he was thrilled with Graham’s decision.
“I think it’s huge,” Lucas said. “For him, it was a great decision. He’s such a great player and I think everybody knows that, but the level (he is) might be kind of hidden just because of how fantastic Frank (Mason III) was. Having him back, having him as a senior, hungry to take over, it’s huge. I enjoyed playing with him. He’s always the life of the team and for him to kind of go into his last go around as the man, I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and I’m looking forward to just watching him. “I don’t know if there’s a recruit you could’ve got from high school who would’ve made as big of an impact as having Devonte’ back for his senior year.”
So now that we know who Jack Whitman is, — a 6-foot-9, 235-pound transfer forward — where he comes from — Lexington, Ky., by way of William & Mary — and what his goals are at Kansas — to come in and contribute to the rotation while developing and testing himself as a player — we can get into the most important part of this whole deal.
Surely, by now, you’ve all seen the pictures we’ve run, or others floating around the Internet of Whitman sporting a pretty healthy mustache during his junior season at William & Mary.
Good for him. Hey, if a guy can pull it off, he kind of has to do it. At least once in his life.
I talked to Whitman yesterday specifically about the ’stache and got a little bit of information about its origins and what his future plans are for the look.
For one, Whitman told me that the mustache has not been a permanent thing in his life and the current edition residing on his upper lip is not quite as intense as the one you saw in the photos.
“I’ve got a little something there now,” he said, “but nothing quite like I had last season.”
So where did the beast come from and what inspired the look? Whitman said it just kind of happened organically because he’s always been a fan of playing around with different facial hair looks and after messing around with a mustache it kind of took on a life of its own.
He said he really had it going good during the middle of last season and he wasn’t exactly sure if he’d go to that level again or not.
Judging by reaction from KU fans, he might want to. People exploded yesterday, on Twitter and message boards alike, with chatter about the ’stache and Whitman, who has yet to even suit up for the Jayhawks already has paved the way to becoming a cult hero.
Most of you surely remember T.J. Whatley and his solid mustache. The walk-on from Arkansas did not play much during his KU days, but he was a fan favorite and always seemed to be remembered for the mustache.
Who knows if the same path will hold true for Whitman — he may play more than Whatley did; he may not keep the ’stache — but there’s no doubt that the whole thing definitely has his attention.
“I had it a little bit last season, middle of the year, and, obviously, I played with it when we played at Duke so that got a lot of attention,” Whitman said. “Who knows what’s going to happen. I might have to bring it back. We’ll see.”
Let me start by saying that I don’t know all of the details or exact plans that currently are in place for the Kansas men’s basketball team, which on Tuesday added another transfer — William & Mary forward Jack Whitman — and yet still appears to be open to adding Class of 2017 big man Jeremiah Tilmon or 5-star point guard Trevon Duval, should either player choose Kansas.
But you know who does know the ins and outs of everything going on?
Yep. The same guy who so many of you put your complete and undying faith in to lead your favorite basketball program has all the answers, knows all the options and no doubt has a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C for every possible scenario you can think of and even a few you haven’t.
That does not mean any of it is going to be easy. Juggling a roster from year to year and managing recruiting for a team that hundreds, if not thousands, of young athletes want to play for never is. And it becomes especially tricky if Tilmon or Duval were to choose Kansas at the end of their recruitment.
But, you know what? Even if that were to happen Self would figure it out.
And there are a million ways for him to get it done.
A huge percentage of KU fans who made their thoughts known on Twitter on Tuesday jumped to the (very logical) conclusion that the addition of Whitman spells the end of Svi Mykhailiuk.
It doesn’t. In fact, I would not be surprised if the two situations are not related in any way, shape or form.
Svi, as you know, is testing the waters of the NBA Draft and has gone about it without hiring an agent, leaving open the possibility for his return to Kansas for his senior season.
Svi might very well stay in the draft. A killer showing at the combine (May 9-14 in Chicago) surely would help inspire him to do so and, if that were to happen, his departure would free up a scholarship and make things much, much easier.
But the thing about Svi and this Whitman news that doesn’t make sense to me is that absolutely nothing has changed on Svi’s end to make me think that he has made any kind of decision to leave. The combine hasn’t even started yet and we’ve heard all along that the whole point of Svi testing was to find out what NBA people think of him at the combine.
While we’re on that topic, I also found it funny how many people thought Svi merely being invited to the combine signified that he was gone. Everything I had heard was that everyone involved — Self, Svi, his teammates, his family — fully expected him to get that invitation and the news that it came was merely confirmation of something they already were planning for anyway. Remember, that was the whole reason he decided to test in the first place.
OK. So back to the situation at hand, where KU might be running out of scholarships.
If Svi returns for his senior season — which I still fully expect — then KU’s 13 scholarships are spoken for and Whitman, who told me tonight that he was coming on an athletic scholarship, would put KU one over the limit.
What happens then?
A bunch of things could and I’ll quickly outline them here. I haven’t heard anything concrete about any of the following scenarios being in the works or anything like that, but, having seen these types of things happen elsewhere throughout the years offers proof that they are possible solutions.
Beyond that, it all goes back to what we started with at the beginning of this blog. Bill Self knows his way around these situations like the ushers at Allen Fieldhouse. He’s not going to get into a situation where his back is against the wall and he doesn’t know what to do. He always knows what to do, often well before he ever needs to do it.
With that in mind, here are a few scenarios that could open up space for Whitman, if necessary, or Duval or Tilmon, should either (or both... Gasp!) pick Kansas.
• It’s rare, but one of the players currently on scholarship could offer or elect to pay his way for one year. Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson, who might soon be a millionaire anyway, could be a candidate to do it. So could Mitch Lightfoot, who so clearly loves KU and probably would both not mind and benefit from being around here as long as possible. Why would Lawson do it, you might ask? Good question. And I’m not saying he would. But he might. And it could be to help his younger brothers have a better path to a bluebood program like Kansas down the road. You scratch our back, we’ll scratch yours, you know? Long shot, maybe. But it has happened.
• There’s always a chance that Whitman himself could wind up paying his own way. I know he said he was coming on scholarship, but he’s not exactly the one with the best leverage here. Let’s say the Jayhawks learned they were getting Duval. (I still don’t see it happening, for what that’s worth). In an effort to make room for him, they could ask Whitman if he were interested in footing the bill for his time at KU. As a graduate transfer, I don’t think he has to be enrolled in a full 12 hours of graduate school to be eligible, so the financial burden might not be that bad. Plus, if it were to play out this way, he’d still be getting an opportunity to play at Kansas. Not many people are going to turn that down, especially competitors who want to test themselves at the highest level like Whitman does.
• It’s also possible someone else could transfer out, opening up another spot with the scholarship they would leave behind. If I were to make a guess about a leading candidate for this option, I’d have to say it’s senior-to-be Dwight Coleby. I don’t know where he’s at in terms of graduation, but if he’s close, maybe he could knock out his remaining hours this summer and go the grad transfer route himself. Instead of being one of five — or possibly even six — big men on a roster, he surely could find another good program that would make him one of three or four. I like Coleby. He’s a great dude, a terrific teammate and I think a bunch of people would love to see what he could do if fully healthy. But he also wants to play and if he thinks his chances of doing that are better elsewhere it could wind up being mutually beneficial for him and the program.
• Another rarity here, but what about academic scholarships? I’m not knowledgeable enough about Whitman, Duval or Tilmon’s academic standing to know whether either player would be a candidate for that — and therefore could essentially walk on while having school paid for via academics — but, unless there's a rule against it, it’s something that surely has been done. I'll have to look into it at the Div. I level. I know for sure that it happens at lower levels of college athletics all the time.
Those are just a handful of possibilities that could — again, could — make it all work and those are just the ones I can think of. As mentioned twice above, there’s no doubt that Self and his associates at KU know of at least a few other avenues that were not outlined here.
Regardless of how it all plays out, know this: Self’s got it 100 percent under control. And there is no scenario possible in which he’s going to head into summer workouts or the first practice of the season with one or two too many guys and have to ask for a show of hands of those willing to volunteer to give up their scholarship.
Self’s way too good of a general manager to let that happen. So you know if he took Charlie Moore and if he took Jack Whitman, he’s got a plan at the ready for a way to move forward in case he needs to take someone else in the coming days or weeks.
So sit tight, breathe easy and let’s see how this thing plays out. Fascinating stuff.
It’s still early, and there’s a lot of basketball to be played and recruiting to be done before anything becomes official.
But the Kansas basketball program already seems to be in better shape than ever for 6-foot-8 forward Chandler Lawson, one of the top players in the Class of 2019.
Lawson’s two older brothers, Dedric and K.J., just recently became Jayhawks, furthering the younger Lawson’s love of a school that already registered high marks on his radar.
“I always liked Kansas," Chandler Lawson recently told Matt Scott of TheShiver.com. "They have always been on my list. Now they have made a way for me.”
With Dedric and K.J. transferring to KU from Memphis during the offseason, the two older Lawson brothers will have to sit out the 2017-18 season and first will be eligible during the 2018-19 season. That will be Chandler Lawson’s senior season in high school.
Because Dedric has the potential to turn pro after his first season in Lawrence — after averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds for Memphis last season, he probably could be a first-round pick in this year’s draft — it’s a bit of a longshot that the trio will ever play together in Lawrence should Chandler decide to commit to KU.
But the odds are better that Chandler, a 4-star prospect currently ranked No. 34 in the 2019 class by Rivals.com, and K.J. would get a chance to play together as Jayhawks if the younger Lawson elects to come to Kansas.
Regardless of what the future holds for his own career, Chandler told Scott that he would be keeping a closer eye on the Kansas program now that he has two terrific reasons to pay even more attention than he already did.
"I think it's great for them," Chandler told Scott of his brothers heading to Kansas. "I think it gives them a better chance at their future. They can be around more people that are focused on basketball, and be around more people that want to get better and make each other better.”
If Chandler does wind up joining his brothers as Jayhawks a couple of years from now, all eyes then would shift toward the 2021 class, where Jonathan, the youngest of the Lawson brothers, already has opened eyes as one of the most talented players in the country in that class.
It might still be a couple of years still before any of them can suit up in crimson and blue when the games count for real, but there’s no disputing that the Lawson name is one worth committing to memory for fans of Kansas basketball.
Both Dedric and K.J. will be eligible to play with the Jayhawks this summer in Italy and also will be allowed to practice with the team throughout the 2017-18 season. Chandler told Scott he likely would make his way to Lawrence for a few games next season and may even make it to Late Night in the Phog, where his brothers would be able to participate in the team scrimmage that kicks off the 2017-18 season.
At this point in the recruiting game, with the 2017 class preparing to finish out high school and report to its chosen schools in just over a month, most of the focus is on the Class of 2018 and getting things lined up to make a run at the next crop of top talent.
There are, as always, a few in the Class of 2017 who remain undecided and none are bigger than 5-star point guard Trevon Duval, who has been on the Kansas radar for a long time and has pulled KU fans — as well as those at finalists Arizona, Baylor, Duke and Seton Hall — through weeks of waiting and wondering.
Duval, who is ranked as the No. 4 overall player in the class by Rivals.com, initially said he would like to commit and sign sometime in April. But it’s May. And he’s still undecided. Or, perhaps more likely, if he has decided he has yet to make that decision public.
That all may be changing soon, though — perhaps as soon as any day this week.
Over the weekend, Duval told Jason Jordan of USA Today that he was close to ending the madness and announcing his decision.
“I’m ready to get it over with. I’m gonna do it soon,” Duval told Jordan.
Soon, of course, is a relative thing and Duval technically has until the end of the spring signing period on May 17. But something about this latest batch of news sure makes it sound like Duval is ready to make his decision known.
From the sound of things, I don’t think the Jayhawks are expecting Duval to pick KU. There’s no doubt that they’d love to have him and, if he does want to play for Kansas, there’s also no doubt that they’d make it a priority to find him a spot.
The idea of pairing Duval with Devonte’ Graham and Malik Newman in KU’s backcourt remains awfully appealing.
Right now, though, with junior Svi Mykhailiuk preparing to go through the NBA combine May 9-14 in Chicago, the Jayhawks are in flux. If Mykhailiuk stays in the draft, Kansas would have one more scholarship to give before the 2017-18 season. If Svi elects to return for his senior season, Kansas is full.
There are always ways around this situation, particularly for a player of Duval’s caliber. But all indications right now are that Duke is the definite leader for Duval and Kansas won’t have to make any moves any time soon.
If Svi does decide to leave early, look for Kansas to use his scholarship on another big man, unless of course Duval decides that Lawrence is the place for him and then it’s an easy decision.
The waiting continues for now, but, at least today there does actually appear to be an end in sight.
Maybe it was just the name playing tricks on my brain or it might’ve been the sly smile and smaller frame.
Either way, the first person who came to mind when I began looking into new Kansas point guard Charlie Moore was none other than Nic Moore.
You remember Nic, the former SMU point guard who led the American Athletic Conference in scoring as a senior and, the summer before that, joined the Jayhawks to bring home the gold medal from the World University Games in Korea.
That Moore started every game of the tournament that summer and this Moore might very well do the same thing when he becomes eligible for the Jayhawks during the 2018-19 season.
Both players carried a listed playing weight of 170 pounds, with Nic Moore standing two inches shorter (5-9) than Charlie Moore, who is listed by KU at 5-11.
Regardless of the specifics of their frames, their games seem awfully similar, with both guards liking to play as fast as possible and attacking the defense both to score and pass.
Although Charlie Moore hails from Chicago, which has produced some of the baddest dudes to play college and professional basketball over the years, Nic Moore came from not-too-far-away Winona Lake, Ind., which is just 122 miles east of the Windy City.
While Charlie Moore was talented and mature enough to start at point guard for Cal last season, there likely will be at least a little bit of a gap in the kind of leadership delivered by the two players. At least initially.
By the time Nic Moore joined forces with the Jayhawks for a summer, he was a grown man who had played a bunch of college basketball and had no problem taking control and running the show in Korea. He fit KU coach Bill Self’s need for that team to perfection and it seems like Charlie Moore might be ready to do the same when it really matters.
After a year in the program, watching Devonte’ Graham lead the 2017-18 team and learning both the game and the Kansas culture from Self and his staff, Charlie Moore figures to be a much more polished and mature player ready to contribute big things for the Jayhawks for the next three seasons.
What Charlie Moore lacks in veteran presence — at least at the moment — he makes up for in scoring ability. In just his second college game ever last November he scored 38 points against UC Irvine and finished the season with 13 games of 15 or more points.
Nic Moore, while capable of scoring in bunches at SMU, played more of a facilitator role during the World University Games and the newest Jayhawk point guard could find himself inheriting more of a hybrid role of the two styles.
Much like many of Self’s point guards in the past, it seems likely that Charlie Moore will be asked to score when the opportunity presents itself while setting up others the rest of the time.
Nic Moore was a born leader and carried himself with a ton of confidence. Hailing from Chicago, I’m sure Charlie Moore has plenty of confidence himself. The key for him will be bringing that to the floor day in and day out and using it to inspire peak performance and improvement in those around him.
People more familiar with both players probably could find more differences in their games than I’ve spelled out here. But I think there are enough similarities to make this a fairly decent comparison.
If you’re looking to compare Charlie Moore to Jayhawks that you might be more familiar with, consider him to be a combination of Russell Robinson and Devonte’ Graham.
Here’s a quick look at some recent highlights from both players so you can see the similarities a little more clearly.
In past years, the Memphis-to-Kansas pipeline may have delivered Tarik Black and Lagerald Vick, but that seems tame compared with what’s going on today.
According to Evan Daniels of Scout.com, KU coach Bill Self has secured a commitment from California transfer Charlie Moore, a 5-foot-11, former four-star prospect in the Class of 2016, who averaged 12 points and 3.5 assists per game for the Bears last season.
Moore played in 34 games during his lone season with Cal and averaged 29 minutes per game during his freshman season.
Moore confirmed the news shortly after Daniels’ report via a Twitter post of him in a KU jersey — wearing No. 13 — with the words "New Chapter" written below the photo. Shortly thereafter, KU coach Bill Self offered his thoughts on the news via press release, signifying that the transfer was official.
"Charlie started at Cal this past year and averaged just over 12 points a game as a true freshman," Self said. "We think after a year sitting out that he'll be much like (KU sophomore transfer) Malik Newman will be for us this year, ready to make a serious contribution to our program."
Before heading to Cal, Moore, a Chicago native, had committed to Memphis and then-head coach Josh Pastner. Once Pastner left for Georgia Tech, Moore elected to head west and now is looking to return closer to home to be closer to his ailing father in the Windy City.
Called by Rivals.com during his recruitment, “a dynamo who can score,” Moore carries a toughness typical of Chicago prospects and is known for his explosive abilities and on-court personality.
He joins former Memphis standouts Dedric and K.J. Lawson in electing to transfer to Kansas, which, one year from now, will give Self three players who at one time seemed to be well on their way to starting together for the Tigers in Tennessee.
"We're excited about all three of these prospects," Self said in the release. "They've all had successful starts to their college careers at different institutions. Certainly, the transfers became so attractive to us, in large part because we will have guys in our program who will be ready to contribute in a year. We could lose multiple guys next year, so I think this is a great fit for the University of Kansas. Not only will we get better down the road but this will certainly make us better in practice next year."
With the grant-in-aid agreements signed by all three players, Self was able to comment for the first time on the Lawson brothers, whose decision to transfer away from their native Memphis was highly publicized a couple of weeks ago.
In 2016-17, Dedric Lawson (6-foot-9, 236 pounds) led the AAC and was 19th nationally in rebound average at 9.9 boards per game. His 19.2 scoring average was second in the conference and he was fifth in the league with a 46.1 field goal percentage. Dedric recorded 19 double-doubles on the season which was 11th nationally and tops in the AAC. Dedric scored a career-high 35 points against Iowa on Nov. 26, 2016.
"Averaging almost 20 points and 10 rebounds last year, Dedric is one of the best big-man prospects in the country," Self said. "He was a double-double machine last year."
Self also said Dedric's brother, K.J. Lawson, who averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds as a small forward at Memphis last season, would add a lot to KU in the coming seasons.
"He's a very competitive athlete who we feel will add to our culture here," Self said.
Because Frank Mason III’s son is still a dozen years or so away from attending college, and with recent family ties Evan Manning, Josh Pollard and Tyler Self now gone from the program, the Kansas men’s basketball team was staring at the possibility of moving forward without a family ties connection.
That was until Tuesday when the Teahan family came through.
Chris Teahan, the younger brother of former KU player Conner Teahan, announced via Twitter Tuesday morning that he was planning to attend KU, where he would walk on to the basketball team.
Conner Teahan, a former two-sport standout at Rockhurst High, who actually tried both basketball and football at Kansas, started as a walk-on and later was put on scholarship before the 2010-11 season on his way to becoming a huge part of the Jayhawks’ run to the 2012 national title game.
Often called by Bill Self that season KU’s sixth starter, Teahan delivered deft outside shooting and, at 6-foot-6, 212 pounds, was big enough to compete with most players on the floor.
Chris Teahan, listed between 6-4 and 6-5, 175-190 pounds on various recruiting sites, is listed as a shooting guard, ranked as the 92nd best player in Missouri and, like his brother, appears to have a good outside shot.
"Chris was our leading scorer this year (and) is a tremendous 3-point shooter," Rockhurst coach Pete Campbell said. "He did a great job leading our team this year as a captain. He has a great attitude and great effort. We certainly wish him well as he walks on for the Jayhawks."
His trophy-hauling days may be behind him — for now — but the Frank Mason III jersey retirement circuit is just heating up.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self last season said it merely would be a matter of time before KU’s national player of the year had his number hanging alongside some of the greatest players in KU history in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse.
But the Massanutten Military Academy, where Mason played a year of prep school in 2012-13 before coming to Kansas, already has gotten in on the act.
Last Friday, Mason returned to Woodstock, Va., a small town 175 miles northwest of his native Petersburg, Va., for a jersey retirement ceremony.
“It’s a great experience to come back here,” Mason told a WTVR reporter following the event. “So many great things happened over the years for me and this is a place I always try to come back to. I’m very blessed. I used to get emotional about it, but now that I look back on it, it helped me to be more responsible and become more of a man.”
Already hanging high on the wall of the school’s gymnasium was a giant banner of Mason, wearing his white No. 0 Kansas uniform taking a jump shot during a game. Below the photo read: Frank Mason – 2013 Massanutten Alum, 2017 Wooden Player of the Year, 2017 Naismith Player of the Year, 2017 AP Player of the Year.
Those, of course, were the three most prestigious of the 10 national player of the year honors that Mason won following the 2016-17 season in which he led Kansas to a 31-5 record, a 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title and an Elite Eight appearance while becoming the first player in Big 12 history to finish a season averaging 20-plus points and 5-plus assists per game.
According to a report from WTVR, Massanutten basketball coach Chad Meyers called Mason “the greatest thing to happen to Massanutten basketball,” and Mason and his parents were on hand for a small ceremony in the school’s gym that honored Mason with the jersey retirement, complete with his framed, white, No. 3 Massanutten jersey presented to him.
Mason spoke the crowd, signed autographs and enjoyed a short video recap of his sensational senior season.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman on Wednesday revealed five possible destinations for former Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr., who decided after two seasons as a Jayhawk to leave Lawrence during the offseason.
According to Goodman and several other reports, Bragg is considering Arizona State, Cincinnati, Illinois, North Carolina State and Xavier.
Reports last week indicated that there might be mutual interest between Ohio State and Bragg, but, at least as of now, the Buckeyes do not appear to be in the running for the former McDonald’s All-American who hails from Cleveland.
Bragg’s departure was one of the surprise storylines of the 2016-17 season, as many had him pegged as a potential early-entry NBA prospect and expected him to have a breakout season while sliding into the role vacated by departing senior Perry Ellis. It never happened, though, and Bragg’s struggles on the floor carried over to his personal life, where he twice was suspended by Bill Self for off-the-court issues.
Bragg averaged just 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game.
It does not appear that things will move too quickly here, with Bragg likely to take at least a few visits before deciding on his next school. That certainly could change with one visit, but either way it seems likely that Bragg will make a decision in time to report to his new program in time for summer workouts.
According to a Tweet from college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein, Kansas and Illinois have emerged as the two favorites to land Cal point guard Charlie Moore, who plans to transfer in the offseason.
Moore, a 5-foot-11, former four-star prospect in the Class of 2016, averaged 12 points and 3.5 assists per game for the Bears this season. He played in 34 games and averaged 29 minutes per game during his freshman season.
Moore originally committed to Memphis prior to last season but backed out of that commitment when then-Memphis coach Josh Pastner left for Georgia Tech.
That sent Moore to Cal, where he played one year for Cuonzo Martin, who left this offseason to take over at Missouri. Despite praising Cal’s promotion of assistant coach Wyking Jones into the head coach’s office, Moore elected to transfer in order to be closer to his ailing father, who, in 2015, suffered a stroke.
“After many discussions with my family, I’ve made the decision to transfer to be closer to home,” Moore said in a statement earlier this month. “This was an extremely difficult decision for me, but the opportunity to be closer to my family is one that I feel is necessary for me at this time. I am grateful for my first year at California and for teammates, who became my brothers.”
Called by Rivals.com during his recruitment, “a dynamo who can score,” Moore carries a toughness typical of Chicago prospects and is known for his explosive abilities and on-court personality.
Although Rothstein’s report merely mentioned KU as one of two frontrunners for Moore, there’s a lot about the link to Kansas that makes sense.
For one, signing with KU would give him the opportunity to play with former Memphis players Dedric and K.J. Lawson, who also are transferring to KU this offseason. Although the trio never played together at Memphis, the Lawson brothers no doubt had an impact during Memphis recruitment of Moore.
For two, with KU losing Devonte’ Graham and possibly Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk following the 2017-18 season, the Jayhawks will be looking to restock the cupboard with guards heading into the 2018-19 season, when Moore would become eligible after sitting out in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.
As Kansas coach Bill Self and his staff continue to try to put the finishing touches on the 2017 recruiting classes, recruiting services everywhere are doing the same.
This week, both ESPN and 247 Sports released their final rankings of the 2017 class, which, to date, includes two KU commitments and a couple of known targets still trying to make their decisions.
6-foot-5 combo guard Marcus Garrett, who committed to KU last August, finished ranked as the No. 47-ranked player in the class according to 247 Sports and 61st in the ESPN rankings.
Five-star prospect Billy Preston, a 6-9, 220-pound forward from Oak Hill Academy finished ranked No. 21 on the 247 list and No. 17 according to ESPN.
Those two players finished ranked No. 10 and No. 37 in the final Rivals.com rankings for the 2017 class.
Other notable names and rankings on the final 247 Sports list include KU targets Trevon Duval (No. 6), recently released Illinois big man Jeremiah Tilmon (No. 39) and guard Thomas Allen, another player who recently was given a release from his previous choice after a coaching change, who came in ranked 126th on the final list.
Duval, who has been one of KU's top targets for months and would pair nicely in the Kansas backcourt next to Devonte' Graham and Malik Newman, was rumored to be making an unofficial visit to Duke this week — the Blue Devils may represent KU's stiffest challenge for the dynamic guard — but Duval wrote on Twitter that such reports were untrue.
It should be noted that this is the same Duval, who earlier this month, Tweeted that he would announce a final two only to reveal later that his plans of narrowing down his list from five (Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Seton Hall) to two were merely an April Fool's joke.
Thanks to Josh Jackson's formal announcement that he would enter the NBA Draft, the Jayhawks now have one remaining scholarship to pass out. Should Svi Mykhailiuk, who is testing his merits but has not yet hired an agent, elect to stay in the draft, Kansas would have two scholarships to give in the current class.
As always, Self and his staff also are lining up visits and making the rounds with players in an ultra-talented 2018 class, with power forward Marvin Bagley III, small forward Zion Williamson, shooting guard Romeo Langford, power forward Jordan Brown, power forward Bol Bol and point guard Darius Garland representing a few of the highest-ranked names to keep an eye on.