Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Current players welcome addition


Kansas University's returning basketball players filtered into Allen Fieldhouse for an afternoon workout Tuesday, unaware McDonald's All-American Darrell Arthur had just signed a national letter of intent to play for the Jayhawks.

"I just heard from our trainer. It's great news to get a player of this magnitude, one highly recruited," junior-to-be Jeremy Case said enthusiastically.

A guard, Case won't be competing against the 6-foot-9, 220-pound McDonald's All-American for minutes. One Jayhawk who will do battle with Arthur - junior-to-be Sasha Kaun - was equally enthused.

"I'm really happy. He is a great player. Getting him will be a tremendous help," Kaun said. "It'll make us (big men) better. Competing against another big body will help our team a lot."

Enough to make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 team in the country?

"Personally I think Florida should be No. 1. They are defending champs and return five starters," KU coach Bill Self said. "(North) Carolina will be up there. I'm sure we'll be up there, high, probably in most everybody's top five, but I could care less about that."

What he cares about is the fact he's added a player - one who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds a game a year ago -who is known as an athletic scorer who can bang with guys like Kaun and also roam outside.

"He is the best jumper and best runner on the (2006-07 KU) team, really, really athletic," Self said. "He is an athlete, a true athlete. He can certainly defend a point guard. He is quick enough sliding his feet to do that."

Self said he was impressed with Arthur's ballhandling and shooting touch, which can extend to the three-point line.

"He doesn't have the skill level like Julian," Self said of 6-8 Julian Wright, who played power forward last year, but figures to work a lot more on the perimeter his soph season.

"He's a bit smaller C.J. (Giles, 6-11) that is tough and can really shoot it pretty well."

Self cautions Arthur "will go through tough times like all freshmen do. All freshmen get pushed around. He is physically advanced for a guy 18-years-old strength-wise."

KU's coach will not guarantee a starting spot to the two-time Texas state tourney MVP.

"If he comes in hungry, does what he needs to do, I can't see him being unhappy at all with his opportunities as a freshman," Self said.

Self realizes as a coach, he'll have a lot of options.

"I think there's a lot of minutes to go around and certainly competition will make practices more interesting," Self said. "Look at Julian. Playing him more on the perimeter will add minutes to the frontline guys. I see positions as interchangeable. There will be competition and that's good," Self said.

Landing Arthur this late definitely classifies as good.

"We seem like we're the 'Dream Team' now, huh?''' Case said.

¢ South Oak Cliff High coach James Mays on a variety of topics:

¢ On whether Arthur would have picked Baylor had the media conference been held Monday as originally planned.

"He may have. He may have," Mays said. "It (delaying conference a day) really surprised me because we were set to go. But this process is not for us. It's for the players and if he said he wasn't ready to do that you have to respect that."

¢ On reports Arthur can be "lazy" at times on the court. "He loves coming to the gym. He's a gym rat for sure. He's a bulldog of a player."

¢ Arthur's mom, Sandra on a variety of topics:

¢ On what her son's choice would have been had the news conference been Monday: "I believe if we went through the process yesterday it would have been Baylor. I would have been just as happy."

¢ On her son's nickname, Slim Shady: "It came with Team Texas (AAU). It started with his being slim, clumsy. His favorite rap artist was Slim Shady. I think it extended to that."

¢ On her pronouncing her son's name (Duh-rell) instead of the usual Darrell: "We have an elementary school near here that's B.F. Darrell. It's spelled exactly the same and pronounced (Duh-rell). He has a 4-year-old (brother) Terrell." Terrell's nickname is "Juice."

¢ On how long her son will be in college: "He said he'll stay as long as it takes. If it takes all four years he'll do that. His goal is to be an NBA player and he'll do whatever it takes to get there."

¢ This, that: Kansas and DePaul have agreed to play next season in Chicago. No contract has yet been signed. ... Kaun will attend the first semester of summer school, then return to Tomsk, Russia, for a month. "I need to do some paperwork stuff, re-new my passport," he said. Kaun said he now didn't fear being forced to join the Army. During the past season he indicated that might happen if he ever headed home. "I'll get it worked out I don't have to (join Army)," he said.

¢ KU's recruiting class consists of Arthur plus Sherron Collins and Brady Morningstar.

"We're done," Self said of recruiting. He believes all three players will be eligible to play academically.

Next year, KU has one scholarship, which will go to Cole Aldrich, a 6-11 center from Bloomington, Minn. Additional spots will likely be available with Rush and others possibly headed to the NBA.

"Nobody is pushing anybody out the door," Self said. "Brandon didn't make a decision to come back three more years. We've got scholarships to give."


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