Posts tagged with Ku

Former Jayhawk Josh Jackson projects as more than just KU’s latest Top 5 pick

Kansas guard Josh Jackson

Kansas guard Josh Jackson by Nick Krug

Those familiar with basketball, at just about any level, know that there typically are five positions on the floor – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center.

There are, of course, variations of each position — point forward and stretch 4 are two of the better examples — and not every team uses all five positions all the time.

While that tends to be important when coaches are putting together rosters and formulating game plans, it seems to have less importance at the highest level of basketball, where players are picked and pursued based on potential and production.

“In the NBA, they think play-makers more than positions,” ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla told the Journal-World, noting that Jackson’s attacking mentality and versatility made him a dream prospect for any team.

There are still, of course, guards, forwards and centers throughout the league, but Fraschilla said NBA talent evaluators often tag young players with different descriptions, especially ahead of the draft.

“All-Star, starter, rotation guy, fringe guy,” Fraschilla explained.

Jackson’s potential to fit into the first two slots — perhaps immediately — is just one of the many reasons Fraschilla believes KU's freshman All-American is so highly coveted and sits on the brink of a long pro career.

“If I were doing a mock draft, he would be in my Top 3,” Fraschilla said, echoing what several draft and pro basketball analysts believe will be the case in the June Draft.

But the reason for Fraschilla’s appreciation of where Jackson fits into the NBA game go beyond his 6-foot-8 frame, elite athleticism, intense motor and individual skills.

“You know right away if you need a small forward, you’re plugging in a 10 year starter,” Fraschilla said of Jackson. “I don’t know how many times he’ll be an all-star, there aren’t many all-stars. But everything he’s done on the court to this point is a complete positive for him. Teams already know he’s an alpha dog.”

And regardless of where he's drafted, the Detroit native only figures to carry that mentality with him while building on it at the highest level.

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Five guesses on what Svi Mykhailiuk will decide this week

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

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

It’s a big week for Kansas junior Svi Mykhailiuk, perhaps his biggest since the end of the 2016-17 season.

Mykhailiuk, who has spent the past two months working on his game and working toward the goal of catching the eye of any number of NBA teams, has until Wednesday to make a final decision about whether to remain in the draft or return to KU for his senior season.

And Kansas coach Bill Self told the Journal-World Monday night that Mykhailiuk would in fact announce his intentions Wednesday.

Self did not indicate which was Mykhailiuk was leaning or whether he knew one way or another.

If the soon-to-be 20-year-old Ukrainian stays in the draft — June 22 in Brooklyn, New York — his career at Kansas will be over.

If he elects to return, he’ll jump back onto a talented roster that yet again is set to begin the process of gunning for a national title in 2018 here in a couple of weeks.

But for now, it’s Mykhailiuk's decision that is the most important part of the equation. With that in mind, here’s a quick look at the thoughts — guesses, if you will — from the KUsports.com world on what the KU junior will decide to do.

• Matt Tait •

KU basketball beat writer/KUsports.com editor

Verdict: Svi leaves

Reason: The fact that Svi entered the week still undecided tells me all I need to know about his desire to stay in the draft. I think he wants to leave. And it’s not because he doesn’t love KU. There’s no doubt he does and always will. But I think he’s reached a point in his career where he’s ready to gamble on himself. There’s a better than good chance that Svi won’t actually get drafted, but I don’t think that’s driving him. Of course, that’s the goal. But I’m betting that his workouts with individual teams and time at the combine earlier this month convinced him that, drafted or not, he’d get a fair shot via the summer league and getting even just a taste of that NBA life could be hard to walk away from. The reasons for his odds of getting drafted being good include his young age and his potential as a draft-and-stash European player. Even though playing in Europe is something Svi would rather not do, getting there through that route would at least keep his name tied to the NBA and could wind up being the best thing for him in the long run.

• Tom Keegan •

Journal-World sports editor

Verdict: Svi leaves

Reason: First, full disclosure: I have no inside information and am purely guessing. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I’ll share my guess. I think he stays in the NBA Draft, is selected in the second round and doesn’t appear on an NBA roster next season. NBA teams are fond of using second-round draft choices to select European players. They then follow their development in Europe and if they see a need arise for the player, they sign him. Svi doesn’t turn 20 until June 10, so it would make since for an NBA team to take that path with him. As for what makes the most sense for Svi, I’d have to know more about his family’s financial situation to answer that with conviction. It’s my understanding that there is some financial pressure and, if that’s the case, I’m sure Svi would like to help out as soon as he can. The chances of him showing a great deal more to the NBA in a fourth year at KU than he already has are probably not great. They already know he can shot because he shot great at the combine. They also know he needs to get stronger, which only time can accomplish.

• Benton Smith •

KU football beat writer/KU basketball blogger

Verdict: Svi stays

Reason: My best guess is Mykhailiuk will return to Kansas for one final year of college basketball. He hasn't quite met the expectations Self had for him when the young wing got to KU from Ukraine before his freshman season. And he's definitely not ready to play in the NBA yet. As a senior, Mykhailiuk has a chance at contributing more offensively than he has in each of the past three seasons, draining 3-pointers while also making some defensive progress. He'll need to do all of that if he wants to make it in the NBA. And because he will only be 20 during a senior year at KU, teams will still think he has a chance to further blossom at the next level when they're looking at him for the 2018 draft.

• Nick Krug •

KUsports.com/Journal-World photographer

Verdict: Svi leaves

Reason: I think Svi is going to follow in the footsteps of his former teammate Wayne Selden and forego his final year at Kansas to remain in the NBA Draft, likely knowing that another year in college won't likely improve the areas where he is most deficient. Even though he’s not projected to be in the first round, his shooting numbers were impressive enough before an ankle injury sidelined him from further pre-draft workouts.

• Bobby Nightengale •

KU reporter/high school sports editor

Verdict: Svi leaves

Reason: Despite bad timing with an ankle injury at the combine, I think Svi will keep his name in the NBA Draft, bypassing his senior season at Kansas. I think it's hard to go through the entire process, that close to reaching your dream, and return to school. There's a reason so many underclassmen kept their name in the draft last season with the new NCAA rule that allowed players to attend the combine and more workouts. All it takes is one team to give him positive feedback, as much as a guarantee to pick him or as little as a spot on a summer league roster, to give him confidence that he should enter the draft.

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Perry Ellis inks contract Down Under

None by Sydney Kings

The Sydney Kings professional basketball team in the National Basketball League in Australia announced with gusto on Thursday night the signing of former KU standout Perry Ellis.

Ellis, who went undrafted after his four-year Kansas career, bounced around the NBA's D League during his first season away from Kansas before signing with the Kings this week.

Language on both the team's official web site and on Twitter clearly demonstrated just how excited the Kings were to land Ellis. "We got him," they wrote on Twitter, while the headline on the news release announcing his signing read, "Sydney Kings Sign Dream Recruit."

According to the release, Ellis will participate in a full summer schedule in the United States before joining his new teammates in Sydney unless an NBA contract is offered as a result of his summer performances.

Kings Managing Director, Jeff Van Groningen, flew to the United States to nail down negotiations with Ellis and his agent, and, clearly, came away excited about the team's newest player.

“Perry Ellis is a rare combination of very high character and very high performance wrapped into one guy," Van Groningen said. "We know that Perry has aspirations to make the NBA and we know he is an elite talent. We support his quest in that regard and he will support ours as we try to reach the upper reaches of our own league. We couldn’t be happier that Perry has signed with the Sydney Kings."

Kings coach Andrew Gaze, who is one of the most popular and often regarded as the best Australian player of all time, added his take on the team's latest signing.

“I have followed Perry’s career for a number of years and always enjoy watching Kansas play," said Gaze, who played two seasons in the NBA after his college career at Seton Hall. "As far back as this time last year Jeff and I spoke about how beneficial it would be if a guy ‘like’ Perry Ellis could join our team – so it’s fair to say we are thrilled that we have the man himself signing with us. His pedigree, versatility and basketball IQ will be key attributes that will assist us in strongly moving this program forward."

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

Recorded Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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So what happens if Svi leaves Kansas?

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) pulls up for a three over Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe (13) late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) pulls up for a three over Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe (13) late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. by Nick Krug

Who would have thought a couple of weeks, or even a couple of days, ago that the Kansas men’s basketball program would be one decision away from having some flexibility?

With senior big man Dwight Coleby transferring out and junior guard Svi Mykhailiuk now a week away from having to decide whether to stay in the draft or return to school, Kansas is facing the very real possibility of actually having a scholarship to give.

For weeks, KU fans were wondering aloud just how head coach Bill Self was going to figure all of this out, with 14 players positioned to fill 13 scholarship slots. But then Coleby left and now, if Svi follows him out the door, Self actually will have something to work with.

If you’re surprised by this, you haven’t been paying attention.

For one, these things always seem to work themselves out, especially at Kansas. For two, Bill Self is a master at making sure of that. The reason? It’s not because he’s blessed with good fortune or catches every conceivable break. If that were the case, his record in Elite Eight games would be much better than it is and he’d probably have another national title or two.

Instead, it’s because he’s constantly working, always looking ahead, forever planning and preparing for any eventuality that might pop up.

In this case, those eventualities, should Svi elect to stay in the draft, would lead to Self having a scholarship to play with, which would give him the option of doing one of three things.

1. He could save it. Self’s not the kind of coach who is going to hand out scholarships just for the sake of handing out scholarships, particularly to a young player who then would be around for a few years. At this point in the game, just about all of the top talent in the 2017 class is signed, spoken for or looking elsewhere so don’t harbor any fantasies about Self pulling a Top 50 kid with that scholarship.

2. He could use it on a player to replace Svi. That’s if there’s someone out there. And, heck, with Lagerald Vick seemingly ready to slide into the starting lineup anyway, the biggest thing the Jayhawks would be needing out of a replacement for Svi is someone who can spot up and shoot the ball. Even this late in the recruiting season, that’s not that difficult to envision finding. Beyond that, there’s always the chance that Self could look to add another ball-handling guard, which he once planned to add regardless of what Devonte’ Graham decided to do. Graham and Newman appear more than capable of handling the role and Garrett could be a nice third option. So shooting probably would be the preferred skill if the Jayhawks looked to add to the backcourt.

3. He could use it on a player to replace Coleby. This one, for my money, is the most likely route. Remember, as soon as Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe is eligible second semester, the Jayhawks will have a five-deep backcourt of Graham, Garrett, Vick, Cunliffe and Malik Newman. That’s pretty salty. And more than enough to get by. At that point, you’d be looking at an opportunity to add another big man — perhaps even a project — who could add to the depth up front. If he pans out, he’s a luxury over what you would’ve had in Coleby. If not, he slides right into the role Coleby likely would’ve filled behind Udoka Azubuike, Mitch Lightfoot, Billy Preston and Jack Whitman. Either way, the right player would bring added depth, which no doubt would be welcomed given how thin the Jayhawks were up front throughout the 2016-17 season.

Regardless of which way the Jayhawks would go — and, remember, this is all if Svi decides to stay in the draft — Self and company have positioned themselves well to add the best available player regardless of position.

For a team that very recently appeared to be over the scholarship limit and scrambling to make the numbers work, that’s a nice spot to be in.

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This time around, Williams hires Frederick

Brad Frederick, left, speaks about his father during a memorial for Bob Frederick, former KU athletic director, Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at the Lied Center. Brad's brothers, all of whom spoke about their father, are from left Brian, Mark and Chris.

Brad Frederick, left, speaks about his father during a memorial for Bob Frederick, former KU athletic director, Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at the Lied Center. Brad's brothers, all of whom spoke about their father, are from left Brian, Mark and Chris. by Mike Yoder

College athletics can be a funny place if you’re around them long enough.

Take the latest situation at North Carolina for example, where the defending national champion Tar Heels have been looking for a replacement on the coaching staff of Roy Williams ever since C.B. McGrath left to become the head coach at UNC-Wilmington following the end of the season.

Turns out, Williams and company did not have to look far. The successor to McGrath, who was a fan-favorite walk-on at Kansas during his playing days, was sitting on the Tar Heels’ bench all along.

According to multiple reports out of North Carolina, Brad Frederick soon will replace McGrath as the newest UNC assistant coach.

And with that, Williams will be hiring the son of the man who gave Williams his first big break as a college head coach nearly 30 years ago.

Frederick, a 1995 graduate of Lawrence High, who played his college basketball at Carolina, is the son of the late Bob Frederick, who served as the KU athletic director from 1987-2001.

While he was known in all worlds for his wonderful smile, caring personality and tremendous kindness, by far Frederick’s biggest move in the athletic world was hiring Williams in 1988 after the departure of Larry Brown following the Jayhawks’ run to the national championship.

A little-known, No. 2 assistant coach to Dean Smith at the time, Williams often marveled about Frederick’s bold move and has famously said that the number of ADs who would have hired Roy Williams to coach Kansas basketball in 1988 was one — Bob Frederick.

Today, or at least when it becomes official, which could be as late as July 1 for business reasons, Williams will be returning the gesture in a not-so-small way.

It’s not as if Frederick isn’t ready for and worthy of the post. After serving for 14 seasons as an assistant coach under Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt (he left as the longest tenured assistant coach in the SEC at the time), Frederick returned to his alma mater to take over the director of basketball operations role in 2013.

His relationship with Williams made him the perfect fit at that time and makes this transition as easy and obvious as one could be.

Although this promotion — Williams recently said Frederick already has been out on the road recruiting and also added last month that interested parties did not need to contact him about the coaching vacancy because he was going to fill it by readjusting his current staff — is significant both for Frederick and the program, it will have the greatest impact on Frederick’s immediate future in that it will allow him to go on the road, recruit, coach and execute all other duties given to each NCAA Div. I program’s three full-time assistant coaches.

Other than that, though, Frederick’s recent impact in other, more administrative-oriented ways already has been all over the program and played a huge role in North Carolina’s recent success.

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5-star point guard Trevon Duval commits to Duke

The long and drawn out recruitment of five-star point guard Trevon Duval ended Monday morning with a video and an announcement that surprised nobody.

Duval, the No. 4-ranked player in the Class of 2017 and the top point guard in the country according to Rivals.com, confirmed his intention to play his college basketball at Duke, giving the Blue Devils another impressive piece in a stellar recruiting class.

Landing Duval gives Duke the No. 1 ranked point guard, shooting guard (Gary Trent Jr.) and power forward (Wendell Carter Jr.) in the 2017 class, per Scout.com, and also gives the Blue Devils the point guard they desperately needed.

The addition of Duval bumps Duke's 2017 recruiting class up to No. 2 in the nation, right behind, you guessed it, Kentucky's stellar class that includes seven of the top 28 players.

Duval's announcement came via a video released by The Players Tribune. In it, he chronicled his life in basketball, from birth to this decision. There were no hats, no television special and no actual images of Duval himself. Just him doing a voice over on an animated video titled "Hungry and Humble," which ended with his commitment.

"Next year, I'm going to be playing basketball at Duke University," he said. "I'm excited to evolve as a student, as a basketball player and now, and forever, as a Blue Devil."

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

Recorded Tuesday, May 9, 2017

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Ankle injury forces Mykhailiuk to withdraw from rest of NBA combine

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) gets up for a bucket over UNLV guard Kris Clyburn (1) during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. At right is UNLV forward Tyrell Green (3).

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) gets up for a bucket over UNLV guard Kris Clyburn (1) during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. At right is UNLV forward Tyrell Green (3). by Nick Krug

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.

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Anonymous poll of NBA executives pegs return to school as best move for Svi, others

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) drives against Georgia guard William Jackson II (0) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) drives against Georgia guard William Jackson II (0) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

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.

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