Kansas coach Bill Self has coached and recruited a couple dozen supremely talented players who went on to enjoy success in the NBA and beyond during his coaching career.
In the past month, one of those helped five-star guard Quentin Grimes, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound combo guard from The Woodlands, Texas, who committed to and signed with Kansas on Wednesday night.
In the press release announcing Grimes' signing, Self said the newest Jayhawk reminded him a lot of Deron Williams, whom he had recruited and coached at Illinois.
Williams, you may remember, was an All-American at Illinois, earned multiple all-Big Ten honors, led his team to the NCAA championship game in 2005 and became the No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.
So, obviously, that kind of comparison qualifies as high praise for Grimes, who Self actually said was a better scorer at the same age than Williams.
The news was nothing new for Grimes.
“He tells me that all the time,” Grimes said with a laugh.
But the Williams-Grimes connection did not stop with Self simply explaining how the two were similar.
“I actually talked to Deron Williams probably two, three weeks ago, and he just explained to me how much he loves Coach Self and how I would fit in great with their program,” Grimes said. “It was kind of a wow moment because I got to pick his brain a little bit, ask him a few questions about Coach Self and also about non-Kansas stuff like the NBA and find out what you have to do to get your game ready for that next level.”
As for what he asked Williams about Self specifically, Grimes said he just appreciated the opportunity to run KU's recruiting pitch by someone who had been in his shoes before to see if the pitch and actually playing for him matched up.
It sounds like it did.
“I asked him a lot,” Grimes said of his phone conversation with Williams. “How is Coach Self on the court, off the court, if he really lets you play your game. And he kept it real with me the whole time so that was kind of another big factor that went into my decision.”
While the Williams comparison is somewhat new to Grimes, looking to NBA stars for help with his game is not. Although he's never had the chance to get them on the phone, Grimes named four NBA players — three current and one past star — as players he looks to when trying to develop and piece together his own individual game.
“I kind of look at a lot of players,” Grimes said. “I like to look at Penny Hardaway. I like the way Chris Paul can control a game. I'm watching Russell Westbrook, the way he attacks and I watch James Harden, the way he kind of lulls defenders to sleep and also can get to the bucket and make plays for his teammates.”
Now that Grimes has signed with Kansas, he can add Williams to that list and actually get some of the same coaching that the three-time NBA All-Star once got.
The Kansas men’s basketball program’s pursuit of additional talent to add to its already strong Class of 2018 recruiting haul continued over the weekend, with five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford making his official visit to KU’s campus.
Langford, 6-foot-5, 191 pounds, from New Albany, Indiana, made Kansas his fifth and final official visit, following up trips to North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA and Vanderbilt.
Following the visit, his father, Tim Langford, told Matt Scott of TheShiver.com on Sunday night that the trip went “very well,” adding, “We like the facilities and the campus. We're going to talk as a family on what's next.”
Ranked No. 5 in the 247 Sports composite rankings of the 2018 recruiting class, there are differing reports out there about when Langford might make a decision.
Initially expected to be a spring signee, at least one outlet believes that could change.
Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, on Monday, wrote the following: “All along, Langford has said that he plans to wait until the spring to sign. However, it's looking more like he could end up signing early. A few weeks ago, I would have given the slight edge to Kansas in this recruitment, but now it seems that it could be swinging back in the direction of Indiana. His visit to Bloomington a few weekends ago seems to have done wonders for the Hoosiers' chances with Langford. We'll have to see what type of word leaks out about his visit to Kansas and if that changes things. The other school that I'd watch out for most at this time is a tossup between Vanderbilt and North Carolina but at the moment I think he picks either the Hoosiers or Jayhawks.”
Should Langford elect to make it official early, he would have to make a decision fairly soon. The early signing period runs from Nov. 8-15, which is just over a week away.
According to Scott, Langford has the look of a player who will be waiting until the regular signing period, which begins April 11, 2018 and the talented guard’s father told Scott that the plan now was to “cut it down to three (finalists) in a couple of weeks.”
With big men Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack already on board and point guard Devon Dotson also in the fold — that trio alone has put KU’s class at the No. 2 spot in the national rankings — the Jayhawks continue to pursue perimeter players to put around them, both to fit the style KU coach Bill Self likes to play and as protection against the possibility of as many as five or six players from the 2017-18 roster leaving Kansas after the end of the upcoming season.
Five-star prospects Zion Williamson and Quentin Grimes remain at the top of KU’s wish list, with the coaching staff checking in on Grimes yet again as recently as Sunday, according to 247 Sports analyst Andrew Slater.
Sunday’s Border War break was nice while it lasted, but Monday marked a return to business as usual for the Kansas men’s basketball program.
Specifically, to recruiting.
And, in actuality, there was really nothing normal about the move the KU coaching staff made on Monday in its pursuit of five-star Class of 2018 prospect Quentin Grimes.
Grimes, who visited KU a couple of weeks ago and was in town when former Jayhawk Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers practiced at Allen Fieldhouse, has narrowed his list to a final four of Kansas, Marquette, Kentucky and Texas.
According to 247 Sports’ Crystal Ball predictions, the Jayhawks remain the leader for the 6-foot-5 guard from The Woodlands, Texas, but Bill Self and company are not leaving anything to chance.
According to a Tweet from 247 recruiting analyst Evan Daniels, Self on Monday, with all three assistant coaches by his side, joined Jerrance Howard, Norm Roberts and Kurtis Townsend in making a trip south on Monday to visit Grimes at his school.
The five-star prospect who is ranked No. 16 in the 2018 class by 247 Sports, wrapped up his official visits over the weekend with a trip to Marquette and has now made official visits and hosted in-home visits with all four of his finalists.
The KU coaches, who, according to Matt Scott of TheShiver.com, made the trip to Texas shortly after the Border War win over Mizzou on Sunday, have been ultra-aggressive in their pursuit of Grimes, whose mother attended KU, and, according to several reports have told the talented shooting guard that they believe he is the best guard in the class.
"Grimes had a great time during his visit to Kansas with his family," Scott wrote Monday. "And he plans on announcing between now and the end of the year. Texas, Kentucky, Marquette and Kansas are the schools Grimes is considering, but Kansas is the run-a-way leader at this point."
As long as the whole band was on the recruiting trail together, Self and company decided to make one more stop, according to Adam Zagoria of zagsblog.com. KU’s coaches were slated to check in on Class of 2019 forward Matthew Hurt later in the day Monday.
Hurt, a 6-foot-9, 199-pound athletic forward from John Marshall Senior High in Rochester, Minnesota, is ranked as the No. 5 overall player in the 2019 class by 247 Sports.
Hurt made an unofficial visit to KU for Late Night in 2016 and has been firmly on KU’s radar throughout the recruiting process. Zagoria reported Monday that Hurt plans to visit Lawrence again for the Nov. 17 South Dakota State game at Allen Fieldhouse.
While there’s still plenty of time to make a final push for Hurt and the rest of the 2019 class, it’s quickly approaching crunch time in the 2018 class, which will be first eligible to sign national letters of intent on Nov. 8.
The early signing period runs through Nov. 15 and the Jayhawks, who currently have the No. 2-ranked recruiting class in the country according to Rivals.com, are expected to receive letters from big men Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack along with point guard Devon Dotson next month.
Adding Grimes to that trio would only bolster KU’s impressive 2018 class and put the Jayhawks in the running for the top spot in the standings, with more scholarships to give and a few of their top targets still undecided.
Speaking of those undecideds, Zagoria also reported that a source told him five-star forward Zion Williamson was no longer considering UCLA and will not visit Los Angeles this weekend.
While many believe the battle for Williamson will come down to KU, plenty still believe in-state schools Clemson and South Carolina are both still very much alive for the ultra-athletic forward.
The work is not done in the 2018 recruiting class for the Kansas men’s basketball program, which, after landing three big time commitments in the past couple of months, currently boasts the No. 2-ranked class to date per Rivals.com, just three points behind Michigan State, which has five 2018 players committed.
Among the 2018 class thus far, Bill Self and company are tied for tops in the nation, with Arizona and Duke, with two five-star commitments and also sit tied with Arizona with a 4.67 average-per-playing star rating.
Point guard Devon Dotson, who committed to Kansas last week, and Oak Hill big man David McCormack, are both five-star prospects. And IMG forward Silvio De Sousa, who was the first in the class to commit to Kansas, is a listed as a four-star prospect with the potential to move up.
Needless to say, that trio alone would leave Kansas in pretty good shape, both in terms of reloading its roster and in the team rankings when the ink on all of the signings is dry.
But the fact that KU is still heavily involved with some of the top players in the class, including powerhouse forward Zion Williamson, leaves the potential for KU’s 2018 recruiting class to be the best in school history, no small feat.
The Jayhawks remain in the hunt for Williamson, and also are pursuing guards Quentin Grimes and Romeo Langford. It’s not impossible to envision a scenario in which all three decide to become Jayhawks and it seems likely that at least one of them will.
KU has been rumored for weeks to be a strong possibility for Langford and the addition of Dotson only strengthens KU’s chances at landing Williamson because the 6-7, 230-pound, do-everything forward who visited KU for Late Night absolutely loves playing with Dotson.
Add to that the fact that Dotson is now in hot pursuit of any and all potential Kansas teammates and it’s easy to see that the Jayhawks are far from done in what is already shaping up to be a stellar class.
“Of course I’m gonna be going hard after some other players in my class trying to get them to join me,” Dotson wrote in his USA Today blog after his commitment. “I’m gonna be talking to Zion. I feel like me and Quentin Grimes would play well together and Romeo Langford too. Those are the players I’m focusing on for now.”
While Dotson turns up the heat on some of the top remaining talent in the 2018 class, the KU coaches continue to try to close the deal on a couple more 2018 prospects while also exploring possibilities for 2019 and beyond.
Self and company got some good news on that front earlier this week, when Vernon Carey, the No. 1 overall player in the 2019 class, per Rivals.com, revealed his Top 8, with Kansas firmly in the mix.
Carey, a 6-9, 230-pound forward from University High in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, listed Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Miami, Michigan State, UCLA and UNC as his finalists, telling Corey Evans of Rivals.com: “I just feel like I have good relationship with all their coaching staffs. I am probably talking to Duke, Michigan State and Miami the most.”
KU has some work to do to crack Carey’s final list, but the Jayhawks also have time. Carey told Evans that he planned to trim his list one final time next summer before making a decision.
That gives the KU coaches time to continue to make their pitch to the versatile lefty while also continuing efforts to add to the already-stacked 2018 class that just keeps getting better and has taken a lot of the stress of the class out of the equation by landing so many quality early commitments.
Remember, KU had just one early commitment in the 2017 class — four-star guard Marcus Garrett — and only wound up with two players in the entire class, leaving KU with one unused scholarship heading into the 2017-18 season.
While college programs across the country continue to pursue them at a fevered rate, some of the best high school players in the country will get a break from the recruiting rumbling this weekend for an opportunity with USA Basketball.
Saturday and Sunday in Colorado Springs, 54 elite prep prospects will participate in a USA Basketball minicamp, with the goal of giving the athletes continued exposure to the international game while also advancing and developing their overall skills in a fun and ferocious setting.
“This minicamp will be extremely competitive as we are bringing the top seniors in the country along with the top U17 players together,” said USA Basketball’s Don Showalter, who has guided USA Basketball to nine-straight gold medals as head coach of the USA Men’s U16 and U17 National Teams since 2009. “These players will be competing against the best, so the scrimmages will be intense. They are all familiar with the FIBA rules and understand international competition to a degree, and most will come in with some knowledge of the USA Basketball culture, having been to a training camp previously.”
Eighteen of the 54 invitees are from the prep class of 2018, including Kansas targets Zion Williamson, Quentin Grimes and Romeo Langford.
The remaining 36 spots will be filled by players in the classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021, including R.J. Hampton, Jalen Suggs, James Wiseman and many other players on KU’s radar.
The 2018 graduates are eligible for the 2018 USA Junior National Select Team that will compete in the 21st annual Nike Hoop Summit next April. The underclassmen will be eligible for the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Cup Team, which will compete in Argentina next summer.
Thirty-nine of the invited minicamp participants own prior USA Basketball experience, including 15 gold medalists. They will be coached by Showalter and a group of assistants that includes former NBA star Penny Hardaway.
The two-day minicamp will feature morning and afternoon sessions each day, with scrimmages and skill sessions accounting for the majority of their time in Colorado.
Class of 2018 point guard Devon Dotson, the No. 17-ranked player in the country according to Rivals.com, appears to be down to two finalists in his recruitment — Kansas and Maryland.
And an announcement seems to be forthcoming.
So says Dotson’s father, Dana Dotson, who told Russ Wood, of the Rivals.com site Terrapin Sports Report, that his son’s decision would be revealed, “Pretty soon. Like in a week or so.”
That was Monday, so the smart money is on Dotson making some kind of announcement next week. While it remains to be seen which program he picks, it’s a safe assumption that it will be either KU or Maryland.
Florida was the other program with the best chance at landing Dotson, but the Gators' Monday commitment from five-star point guard Andrew Nembhard is believed to have closed the book on the idea of Dotson becoming a Gator, leaving KU and Maryland as the clear leaders.
Dotson has visited both programs — Kansas in late August and Maryland last weekend — and he also has hosted coaches from each program for in-home visits.
If you’re the type that likes to dive into the reaction from each visit to see if that will predict what decision will be made, you might be inclined to say advantage Kansas.
When asked after the visit to Lawrence how things went, Dotson’s father used the word “great” when recapping the visit for recruiting analysts. When asked the same question by Wood about last week’s visit to Maryland, Dotson’s father said the visit was “good.”
Those are just words. And it’s hardly a safe bet to base any kind of prediction off of a single word. But there’s little denying that most people believe that great is better than good.
Either way, it was information the Dotson family was in search of during these visits. Specifically, how each program saw the 6-foot-1, 180-pound, five-star point guard from Charlotte fitting into their roster next year.
At Kansas, the feedback was favorable, as Dotson’s father told him the coaches continually emphasized that they could see Dotson operating as the team’s point guard right away.
At Maryland, which features sophomore point guard Anthony Cowan already in place, the focus was on how the Terps’ roster would look a year from now.
“The one thing we did ask for on the way out is just their projected depth chart,” Dotson’s father told Wood. “We wanted to see, ‘Who do you really expect to be there next year, who do you really expect to be there sophomore year?’ They have a couple of guys that are pretty talented and have a shot of going to the NBA. We do it ourselves, but we can’t do it from a coach’s point (of view).”
That’s where help from the coaches comes in and they often have to answer the same questions more than once just to reassure players and their families that what they remember or are thinking is correct.
While Maryland gained an advantage in hosting Dotson most recently, it’s worth noting that during the past two weeks alone, KU coaches Bill Self, Norm Roberts and Jerrance Howard all have made their way to Charlotte to check in on Dotson.
With the visits behind them and all of the information and answers in front of them, it seems as if it now is time for the Dotson family to wade through it all and come to a conclusion about which school is best for them.
For what it’s worth, the 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions have Kansas listed as the heavy favorite for Dotson, at 82 percent.
With Adidas being dragged into the FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting practices from the outset and reports of a subpoena connected to Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League surfacing following further investigation on Wednesday, it seems as if the biggest players in the shoe game that have run AAU basketball during recent years have found themselves smack dab in the middle of what many believe could be the biggest scandal in college sports history.
Add to that the fact that Under Armour, the third face on the Mt. Rushmore of modern shoe and apparel companies, is involved, at least in name, through its connection to Auburn — one of six schools named in the initial findings — and you’re looking at an investigation that, in one way or another, could potentially impact nearly every Power 5 school in the country and many mid-major programs, as well.
At the very least, it seems like major changes are ahead for college basketball, the shoe companies that help fund it and recruiting in general.
With that in mind, here’s a quick glance at the shoe affiliations in the Big 12 Conference, where Kansas is king, both on the court — as shown by its 13 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles — and in the apparel game, with its recently agreed upon contract extension with Adidas for 14 years and $191 million representing the fourth largest shoe and apparel deal in the NCAA, according to ESPN Business Reporter Darren Rovell.
While employees at both Adidas and Nike have been directly linked to the ongoing investigation, it’s worth noting that Rovell also reported on Wednesday that sources close to the FBI’s NCAA bribery scandal told him that no Under Armour executives had been subpoenaed.
To this point, Nike’s EYBL has not been named in the case, but a former employee who ran it, Merl Code, is one of the defendants. Code left Nike for Adidas roughly three years ago and, as outlined in the FBI’s findings, is alleged to have assisted James Gatto, Adidas’ global marketing director, in paying players for their loyalty to Adidas.
In addition, KU officials have said that Gatto had nothing to do with the negotiations of KU's recent extension with Adidas and that the university has not received any inquiries from federal investigators.
While we’re taking a look at which schools sit where, it seems like as good a time as any to remind you of the affiliations within the Big 12 Conference, where all but two of the conference’s 10 members are in partnerships with Nike.
Baylor — Nike; $3.5 million annually (years of contract not available)
Iowa State — Nike; $1.47 million annually through 2024
Kansas — Adidas; $13.64 million annually through 2031
Kansas State — Nike; $1.9 million annually through 2021
Oklahoma — Nike; $3.39 million annually through 2018
Oklahoma State — Nike; $4.37 million annually through 2025
TCU — Nike; $2.9 million annually (years of contract not available)
Texas — Nike; $16.67 million annually through 2031
Texas Tech — Under Armour; $2.55 million annually through 2020
West Virginia — Nike; $4.35 million annually through 2026
• Source for contract information: July 12, 2016 article on Forbes.com
Gregg Doyel, sports columnist for the Indianapolis Star, reported on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that five-star guard Romeo Langford, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, from New Albany, Indiana, may be strongly leaning toward committing to Kansas.
In a series of Tweets, Doyel wrote: “Been talking to college coaches all day, and several believe (Indiana) is in final 2 for Romeo Langford (with Kansas). I don't like it because I want this kid in my state, but I’ve got coaches saying Romeo to Kansas is almost done. IU in it, but still... KU.”
And Tim Langford, the father of the No. 6-ranked player in the 2018 class, per Rivals.com, told Matt Scott of TheShiver.com that his son had scheduled an official visit to Kansas for Oct. 28.
Langford, already has visited Vanderbilt and also has visits scheduled to North Carolina (Oct. 13) and Indiana (Oct. 21) before checking out Kansas. If the five-star pure scorer were to choose to take his fifth and final visit, it likely would be with one of the three remaining schools that cracked his final seven — Louisville, Kentucky and UCLA.
KU assistant Jerrance Howard and head coach Bill Self were in Indiana on Monday night for an in-home visit with Langford and his family.
The five-star guard averaged 29 points per game last season and led New Albany High to a 25-4 record. He was named an Indiana Junior All-Star and first-team All-State by the Associated Press.
While the immediate reaction to and impact from Kansas basketball’s ability to land Class of 2018 big man David McCormack took the minds of most people to the KU front court and just how loaded the forward/center position will/could be during the 2018-19 season, there was an overlooked aspect of McCormack’s Sunday evening announcement that might wind up being just as big for the Jayhawks.
With only McCormack and small forward Zion Williamson down as official visitors for Saturday’s annual Late Night in the Phog extravaganza, the Jayhawks already were in a position to spend a good chunk of their time and attention on Williamson, the No. 1 ranked player in the 2018 class according to the 247Sports rankings.
But now, with McCormack already committed, the Jayhawks — and McCormack, for that matter — can spend the overwhelming majority of their time giving their undivided attention to Williamson. And that can only help the five-star small forward’s feelings toward KU.
Kansas currently leads all schools in the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions at 43 percent for the 6-foot-7, 230-pound athlete from Spartanburg, S.C. Fellow blue bloods Kentucky (29), Duke (14) and North Carolina (7) round out the site’s top four predictions and Williamson plans to visit at least three of the four by the time the recruiting process is over.
He was scheduled to visit Kentucky last weekend but had to postpone because of a family matter, according to Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi.
While that might seem like good news for Kansas on the surface, a possible reschedule date falls in line with UK’s version of Late Night, which obviously would compete favorably with what KU can offer Williamson this weekend.
The elite prospect, who also has visited South Carolina and Clemson unofficially, has a visit to Duke scheduled for Oct. 22 and UCLA for Oct. 27. It’s not yet known if he’ll take his fifth and final official visit.
The goal for Kansas, of course, will be to not let Williamson get to that point by wowing him so much during his visit to Lawrence this weekend. Late Night, and the overwhelming love from the fans, the insane production and hype that goes along with all of it, have been known to make quite an impression on recruits in the past.
And the presence of McCormack, who, no doubt, will be riding high after his commitment to Kansas, certainly won’t hurt KU’s pursuit of Williamson.
In fact, McCormack, in the not-too-distant past, has talked about playing with Williamson in college.
Asked with whom he would like to play with most in the 2018 class during a quick August video interview by Max Holm of itsovertime.com, McCormack said simply, “Probably going to have to say my boy Zion. Zion’s definitely one.”
Wrote Holm of the idea of the two physical athletes' playing on the same team next year: “Just think about Zion and David for a second. The size and pure power of them would be untouchable. That’s a pairing that would dominate almost anyone. Only question is, is Zion down?”
That very question figures to come up often this weekend, as both McCormack and the KU coaching staff figure to bring up the topic a time or two throughout Williamson’s visit, be it in sincere fashion or more of a lighthearted, joking manner.
Either way, their ability to tag-team Williamson during his official visit during one of the biggest basketball weekends of the year can only help KU’s chances of adding the skilled playmaker to a 2018 recruiting class that’s already off to a terrific start.
The Kansas men's basketball program picked up another big time commitment in the Class of 2018 on Sunday evening when four-star center David McCormack (6-foot-9, 260 pounds) chose the Jayhawks.
McCormack officially announced his decision during a live appearance on a local news broadcast in Virginia. With UCLA, NC State and Duke hats sitting on the table in front him, McCormack went for the shock-the-world approach by unbuttoning his dress shirt to reveal a Kansas basketball T-Shirt when it came time to make his pick.
"Kids dream of (this moment) all their childhood," McCormack said on WAVY 10's live broadcast. "I've been waiting on this moment, I've been blessed to be in this moment. I'm excited, kind of nervous and looking forward to a bright future."
With that, the elite center began to unbutton his shirt and said simply, "Next year, I decided I will attend Kansas University."
Asked why he chose KU, McCormack pointed to KU's coaching staff and strong tradition.
"Coach (Bill) Self is an amazing coach. He's great as far as player development, relationships, he's a winning coach, there's a lot of history behind Kansas... (I'm) looking forward to making more championships and more memories at Kansas."
McCormack also gave KU assistant coach Jerrance Howard some serious credit for helping him reach Sunday's decision.
"He was a great guy," McCormack said of Howard. "He made it an easy decision. He was very trustworthy."
McCormack, who made an unofficial visit to KU a month ago and has scheduled an official visit to Lawrence for next weekend's Late Night in the Phog, chose KU over finalists Duke, NC State, Oklahoma State, Xavier and UCLA.
McCormack joins five-star forward Silvio De Sousa (6-9, 245) in representing the starting point for KU's 2018 recruiting class, a group that Kansas coach Bill Self repeatedly has said could be one of the most important he has had at KU given the potential for as many as five or six players from the 2017-18 roster to leave KU after the upcoming season.
McCormack is the No. 26-ranked player in the 2018 class, according to 247 Sports and the No. 2-ranked center, who recruiting guru Jerry Meyer called "a beast down low."
Stay tuned for much more on McCormack's commitment.