KU walk-on Michael Jankovich loving Lawrence reunion

Kansas walk on Michael Jankovich, son of former KU assistant Tim Jankovich, who is the current head coach at SMU, laughs with Washburn head basketball coach Brett Ballard during a Washburn University basketball camp on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at Lee Arena in Topeka.

It remains to be seen just how big of a role freshman walk-on Michael Jankovich will have during his Kansas career.

But the son of former Bill Self assistant and current SMU head coach, Tim Jankovich, already owns a ready-made game that can contribute to the team regardless of how many minutes he plays.

“I’m a shooter, I would say,” said Jankovich when asked to describe his skill set during a break at last week’s Washburn Basketball camp in Topeka. “And I try to play smart and help the team in any way that I can.”

That is both Jankovich’s goal for his time with the Jayhawks and the result of a lifetime of living under the same roof as a college basketball coach.

And the 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Dallas who comes to KU after spending his senior season of high school at Northfield Mount Hermon in Massachusetts has no expectations of coming to Kansas and doing what his father did in the Sunflower State during his playing days at Kansas State.

Tim Jankovich, who played for the Wildcats from 1979-82, appeared in 90 games — 62 starts — during his three seasons at K-State and left the program averaging 7.6 points per game.

Michael, who also goes by the nickname “Jank,” said he was just thrilled to have the opportunity to join Self’s program and learn from one of the best.

The idea first came about during conversations with his parents about his future plans. From there, Michael Jankovich had the opportunity to talk with Self and things took off from there.

“I can’t go into too much detail with that,” Michael said of his talks with Self. “But they were good, and I think that helped me make my decision, as well. At the end of the day, I just had to figure out what I wanted to do.”

Although suiting up and experiencing life at a big time progress like Kansas certainly was a part of that equation, Michael said the opportunity to return to Lawrence played a big role in his final decision as well.

“All I have is great memories of Lawrence and Kansas,” said Michael, whose father left KU in 2007 to take the head coaching gig at Illinois State after four seasons on Self’s staff. “It feels great to be back. It’s almost like a second home to me and (it’s been fun) getting to meet all the new guys and just getting acclimated with the school and getting affiliated with everything. It’s great.”

Although pinpointing what attributes might help him make an impact at KU was a piece of cake for the Jayhawks’ newest walk-on, explaining what it was about Kansas that made him explore the idea of returning was even easier.

“I guess the biggest thing for me is tradition,” Michael said. “The Kansas tradition just speaks for itself.”

The younger Jankovich plans to wear No. 20 at KU and said his experience in the northeast helped convince him he was ready to compete at the major Division I level.

“All the teams we played had incredible talent,” he said. “I think it helped me a lot. It kind of made me learn more about myself and helped me in basketball and in life (and I’m just ready to work) hard and do whatever I can to help the team. If that ends up (with me getting) playing time then that’s great.”

Grimes eyeing 3 Texas programs

According to a report from Rivals.com recruiting analyst Corey Evans, former Jayhawk Quentin Grimes has zeroed in on Houston, Texas and Texas A&M as three candidates for the next stop in his basketball career.

All three programs are in the home state of the former Jayhawk who came to Kansas from The Woodlands, Texas.

The former 5-star recruit who left KU after one season shortly after testing his NBA draft stock elected to return to school last month but announced on deadline day that he was transferring.

The first time around, Grimes chose KU over Texas, Marquette and Kentucky, so including the Longhorns on the list this time around makes some sense even though that would require him to transfer within the Big 12.

Some have speculated that Grimes may request a waiver for immediate eligibility after picking his next school.

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