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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Look who’s back

Thomas dangerous downtown

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A deadly long-range shooter at age 30, Billy Thomas suspects he'll remain the same at 40 or even 50.

"When you are an old man, you can still shoot. It's one thing I can do, shoot. Everybody knows that's what I'm known for," Thomas, the No. 2 three-point bomber in Kansas University history, said after sinking six of 16 threes and scoring 20 points in the Bill Self basketball campers' scrimmage Wednesday at Horejsi Center.

Thomas' Red team, which included alumni Aaron Miles, Michael Lee and Christian Moody, plus Jayhawks Darrell Arthur, Rodrick Stewart and Brennan Bechard, fell to the Blue squad, made up of all current Jayhawks, 71-66.

Thomas, who played last season for the NBA's Washington Wizards, hit seven of 20 shots, with 11 rebounds.

"I was thinking about retiring after today. Now I have to come back for at least one more. I can't go out like that," said Thomas, KU's record holder for most threes in a conference game (eight against Texas in 1998).

"I think some of my guys let me down - some of the little younger guys," he said jokingly, quickly adding, "I need to come back and make sure they know how seriously I take this game."

Freshman forward Arthur scored 10 points off 5-of-7 shooting, while Miles, Lee and Moody totaled eight apiece.

"It was fun getting to be on the same team (with former KU players)," said Arthur, recipient of a touch pass from all-time KU assist leader Miles, which he cashed for a layup. "I felt good except getting pushed in the back when I was trying to rebound. I've got to work on boxing out."

It was a physical camp game, with both teams trying to gain bragging rights.

"I'm mad right now that we lost," said point guard Miles, who played for the NBA's Golden State Warriors and NBDL's Fort Worth Flyers last season and will play for the Chicago Bulls' summer-league team in July.

"It's always great to come back and be with the team, be with the fans, be with the Jayhawk faithful."

The Blue team was led by guard Jeremy Case, who hit four of six threes and scored 16 points. Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson and Brandon Rush had 12, 11 and eight respectively.

Nobody was better than Thomas, a 6-foot-4 free agent who expects to re-sign with the Wizards after averaging 2.2 points in 17 regular-season games and playing sparingly in three playoff contests.

"My persistence is what I hang my hat on, along with being blessed enough to play," said Thomas, who was undrafted out of college but signed by the New Jersey Nets in 2005 after playing in various minor leagues.

"For me, right now it's just a feeling of me belonging to be on that level."

For many, Thomas' story is inspirational.

"He's a living example. I just watch the way he carries himself," Miles said.

¢ Two players out of town: KU freshman Sherron Collins did not play. He returned to Chicago earlier in the week to tend to family responsibilities and was to be back in Lawrence on Wednesday night.

"He's fine. He has a family issue that was important enough to go back. Unfortunately, the timing included the last two Wednesdays," KU coach Bill Self said. "It's unfortunate because I think you guys will really enjoy watching him play."

KUsports.com video

Highlights from Wednesday's scrimmage at the Horejsi Center.

Junior Sasha Kaun will return from a trip to his hometown of Tomsk, Russia, on July 17. He's renewing his passport while visiting relatives and friends for the first time in five years.

Kaun had postseason surgery to clear his nasal cavity. "He had a hard time getting a full oxygen intake," Self said.

¢ Alumni shortage: Turnout of ex-Jayhawks was down this year for the campers game. "You can't expect them all to come back each and every year," Self said, noting several NBA players had scheduling conflicts. "For these guys to make the effort to come back is pretty strong. I know our guys look forward to playing, and they (alumni) like playing before the fans."

¢ Wayne wins it all: Miles and Lee sent text messages Tuesday night to congratulate former teammate Wayne Simien on winning the NBA title with the Miami Heat. Lee attended one of the Heat's playoff games against Detroit.

"Wayne called today. I haven't been able to get back to him yet. He looked pretty happy last night. I'm sure he was thinking about that bonus," Self quipped.

¢ Moody to Taiwan: Former KU forward Moody will be playing for Athletes in Action on a trip to Taiwan in July. He hopes to play in Europe, maybe Spain, this season and put medical school on hold.

¢ College life: Slowly but surely, Arthur is getting used to college life. "For me, it's a new experience. I've never been away from home. It's kind of difficult, but I've got to work hard through it. I call them (family) every day before I go to sleep."

Comments

lee3022 7 years, 10 months ago

With Udonis Haslem ahead of him, big dub will need to be patient. I think he is a prime candidate for trade this summer. Portland's Darius Miles is an immense talent that Pat Riley could work his magic with and Wayne would be needed as a comer big man in Portland along with an expiring contract. Stay tuned?

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JBurtin 7 years, 10 months ago

ouch, that's hitting below the belt.

But seriously, it's not his fault that the terrible teams of the NBA weren't smart enough to pick him up earlier. That's why they're terrible, they don't recognize talent when they see it. The Heat, on the other hand do recognize talent and got a steal when they picked up Wayne.

He may not have been able to do much on the floor this year, but they'll certainly appreciate his presence in years to come.

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tdub 7 years, 10 months ago

And after you talk to Pat Riley about holding out on Simien's ring, try telling Bill Cowher that Jerome Bettis doesn't deserve his Super Bowl ring because he only had 300 rushing yards in the regular season. Even Ricky Williams gained over 700 while in a drug-induced coma in Miami. I'm sure they'll listen to you.

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tdub 7 years, 10 months ago

BDitty, your stats for Wayne somehow jogged my memory of how awe-struck I was when Linas Kleiza was drafted ahead of Wayne last year. I got to thinking, how'd that brilliant pick fare for the Nuggets? The stats: 61 games played, 8.5 mpg, 1.9 rpg, 3.5 ppg. Simien actually had more mpg and rpg and near identical point production per game. Had Wayne gone to the much-less loaded Nuggets, he'd have doubled those numbers.

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BDitty 7 years, 10 months ago

Siimien 2005-2006 stats: 43 games played, 9.6 min/game, 2.0 RPG., 3.4 PPG. Simien was on the team that won the NBA Championship. I wouldn't say he won anything.

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ttoulouse 7 years, 10 months ago

Question: Is Simien the first Jayhawk since Jo Jo White to win an NBA Championship? Or was Mark Randall on a Bulls team in there somwhere? I'm glad we finally had a former player be a part of that. I don't measure success by how our guys do in the NBA, but it would be nice to start seeing the trend develop.

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