Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Jayhawks gain skills at camp

Chalmers, Collins return from stint with Steve Nash

Kansas guards Mario Chalmers, left, and Sherron Collins slap hands during a break from action in the second half of the Saturday, February 10, 2007, game against the Tigers at Mizzou Arena.

Kansas guards Mario Chalmers, left, and Sherron Collins slap hands during a break from action in the second half of the Saturday, February 10, 2007, game against the Tigers at Mizzou Arena.


One of the NBA's top point guards provided pointers to 10 of the country's best college basketball playmakers June 28 to July 2 at Kean University in Union, N.J.

Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns held his first Skills Academy, designed to fine-tune the games of Kansas University's Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins, as well as D.J. Augustin (Texas), Darren Collison (UCLA), Eric Maynor (VCU), Drew Neitzel (Michigan State), Greg Paulus (Duke), Jeremy Pargo (Gonzaga), Scottie Reynolds (Villanova) and Jon Wallace (Georgetown).

Also on hand were 22 of the top high school guards in the U.S., who were tutored twice a day, compared to the college stars' once-a-day lessons.

Camp games were played the final day. Collins and Chalmers teamed with Neitzel, Pargo and Reynolds to win two of three exhibitions against teams of the high school players.

"I think it was a great experience for myself and Sherron," Chalmers, a junior guard from Anchorage, Alaska, said Monday in Allen Fieldhouse. "I think it's a good idea. It gives players a chance to learn from the best. Steve Nash is one of the best.

"I learned a couple things - how to come off a pick and roll, how to use a screen better and how to be more patient."

The 10 guards worked out for 2 1/2 hours daily, pushing each other all the way during drills.

"They were the same shooting drills we do here," Chalmers said, applauding the efforts of drill sergeant Nash. "He is cool, down-to-earth. He's a regular person. He doesn't think he's too big. He talks to us like we are on his level. He treats us all the same."

Chalmers said everybody fared about the same.

"I didn't see a lot of the high school players until the last day," he said. "Of the college players, everybody impressed me. We were there to work hard and get better and I think everybody did."

Collins and Chalmers used the camp as a way to prepare themselves for USA Basketball's Pan American Games Trials, to run Thursday through Saturday in Haverford College in Philadelphia.

Thirty-two players will be competing for 12 roster spots for the U.S. team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro July 25-29.

"We've prepared a lot," Chalmers said of KU's backcourt duo. "It's the whole reason we went to the Steve Nash camp, to get us prepared.

"Yes, I can make the team, definitely," Chalmers added. "I'm going in there focused and will work hard to show them (coaches, led by Villanova's Jay Wright) my skills. Sherron is going to make the team, too. He has to go in there focused and play like he's been playing."

Collins and Chalmers will be joined at Pan Am tryouts by James Brockman, Washington; Brian Butch, Wisconsin; Josh Carter, Texas A&M;, Brandan Costner, N.C. State; Eric Devendorf, Syracuse; Joey Dorsey, Memphis; Wayne Ellington, North Carolina; Randal Falker, Southern Illinois; Shan Foster, Vanderbilt; Alonzo Gee, Alabama; James Gist, Maryland; Richard Hendrix, Alabama; Roy Hibbert, Georgetown; Dominic James, Marquette; Maarty Leunen, Oregon; Chris Lofton, Tennessee; Derrick Low, Washington State; Wesley Matthews, Marquette; Eric Maynor, VCU; Jerel McNeal, Marquette; Tasmin Mitchell, LSU; Drew Neitzel, Michigan State; DeMarcus Nelson, Duke; Ahmad Nivins, St. Joe's; Scottie Reynolds, Villanova; Jon Scheyer, Duke; Sean Singletary, Virginia; Bryce Taylor, Oregon; Kyle Weaver, Washington State; and D.J. White, Indiana.

"Playing for the U.S.A. is something I've dreamed of. I am honored to have a chance to be selected," Chalmers said.

Chicago sophomore Collins added: "It's real exciting to be chosen out of all the good players in college basketball. I guess they think we're at the top of the list right now. It'll be a hard tryout. I look forward to it being competitive and trying my best."

Collins said it'll help having buddy Chalmers around.

"We will make friends there and talk to new people, (but) Mario and me have good chemistry now," Collins said. "We're not going to play a two-man game or anything. But it's easy to talk to him, ask him about what he sees I'm doing wrong. It's good to get another person's opinion."

Chalmers said making the team would make it a successful summer.

"We're trying to get selected and represent Kansas. This is the best way we can represent the school," he said. "It's not pressure. It's going to be fun. We'll go out there like it's a regular basketball game. We've got to compete."

¢ Henry update: The Henry family continues to talk about the possibility of third-year Philadelphia Phillies outfielder C.J. Henry eventually giving up baseball to play college basketball with his brother, Xavier, a junior-to-be at Putnam City (Okla.) High.

The 6-foot-3 C.J. Henry, who orally committed to KU in 2005, is hitting under .200 for the Phils' Class A team in New Jersey. He's in the final year of his contract, which paid him more than $1.5 million.

"I want to focus on baseball for the rest of this year and next year. I'll see where I'm at then. If it's not looking good for me or I'm not where I want to be, I'll decide what I want to do," C.J. Henry told the New York Times.

He said KU would be his likely destination if he gives up baseball. KU would not have to give him a scholarship, since it has been written into his baseball contract the Phillies would have to pay his tuition.

Xavier, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2009, has a top three of KU, Memphis and North Carolina.

"I told him I'm focused on baseball until I decide to do something else," C.J. said. The Henry brothers are the sons of former KU player Carl Henry.

¢ KU players in Vegas league: Julian Wright hit a three-point shot from the top of the arc with 3.8 seconds left to send Monday's New Orleans-Minnesota game into overtime. Wright, who scored 13 points off 6-of-13 shooting with 11 rebounds came out on the losing end, 85-83, in OT. ... Keith Langford had no points and two steals while playing nine minutes in San Antonio's 61-53 win over Boston on Monday. He took one shot. Langford hit his only shot, a slam dunk, and had two points in Saturday's 67-53 loss to Cleveland ... Jeff Graves scored two points with three rebounds while playing 18 minutes in the Los Angeles Lakers' 66-64 win over Milwaukee on Sunday. He missed five floor shots but made two of two free throws. ... Billy Thomas missed five shots and did not score in Milwaukee's loss to the Lakers. He had a rebound and assist in 12 minutes.


tis4tim 10 years, 11 months ago

The possibility of CJ and we don't have to use a scholarship...sweet. Maybe more high schoolers should sign major league contracts before coming to

Christian Hinton 10 years, 11 months ago

Hahaha. That's a strange situation right there.

He already made $1.5 million? As if he would need a scholarship even if the Phillies weren't paying tuition!

r1ck_jayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Can he come back and play basketball for us? Maybe I am a little confused, but I thought once an athlete gets paid to play a sport, he is not eligible to play in the NCAA. I am fairly certain that I am wrong, since they wouldn't have mentioned it in this article if it weren't possible. But, this is the LJW.

r1ck_jayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

GitS - I don't know, have you checked tuition rates recently?

JNgohawks 10 years, 11 months ago

I am with you r1ck, I don't think he is eligible either. I remember the guy who snow-boarded for the Olympics and then couldn't play for college (I think he was from Colorado)

fdalpd 10 years, 11 months ago

He did play for Colorado. An athlete just can't play amateur in a sport he's already played professionally.

wiltstilt 10 years, 11 months ago

The Colorado guy (Jeremy Bloom) was ineligible because he had endorsement deals to help finance his skiing. NCAA rules prohibit athletes from endorsing products.

In principle, Henry earning $1.5 million to play baseball is apparently no different than him earning that much by starting a dot-com then deciding he wanted to go to college to play basketball.

Chuck Stones 10 years, 11 months ago

I may be wrong here, but I think the rule that an athlete could play pro in one sport and still be eligible in another, was instituted for Lonny Kruger.

Jaminrawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Anyone remember Chris Weinke, the QB at Florida State? He played professional baseball and came back to college to play football. That worked out well for him. Come on CJ, and bring your little brother too.

Joshua Hann 10 years, 11 months ago

And the safety and Notre Dame last year boxing in New York as a professional, then coming back to ND.

KURUSH1530 10 years, 11 months ago

That is a lot of talented guards trying out for the team..looks like it'll be tough for both Mario and Sherron to make the team.

Topside 10 years, 11 months ago

I could not think of a better story than the Henry bros. playing together at KU and following in dad's footsteps. would be real nice.

JayCeph 10 years, 11 months ago

The numbers for the former KU players in those summer league games is pretty... disheartening.

Too bad. I was really pulling for them, Graves, Langford, Thomas, etc. I hope they didn't shoot themselves in their collective feet by not shooting well on the floor.

Larry Smith 10 years, 11 months ago

Ricky Williams also signed a baseball contract and played before he went to Texas to play Football. How nice would it be to have a really mature freshman to help look out for his little bro.

soapboxstew 10 years, 11 months ago

A couple of things: (1) BRush and D"Shady"Aurthur are recovering together. My heart goes out to both of them. Each one got injured en route to achieving a goal. DA with the U19 squad and BR with the NBA. There is no point in trying to understand why these things happen. They just need to understand why it is going to make them better people/players. Strength through adversity; well these two need to get strong and motivated together. I'm almost glad that Brandon has company on the road to recovery. They can be hammed up together (playing video games together while wearing their respective casts), and then they can motivate each other to work hard in recovery and ultimately in returning to championship form. We need our possible All-Americans and lotto picks back in full form in order to win in March. (2) Watch for the helter-skelter pace with 3 point guards in our starting line-up to start the season. Robinson, Chalmers, and Collins are going to steal everything but the other teams' shoes.

kujayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

He's eligible. The QB from LSU (Booty) and the QB from Florida State did this exact same thing along with many others.

soapboxstew 10 years, 11 months ago

(3) As far as recruiting goes, here is how I see the next couple of years playing out: For starters, all the seniors will be gone after this year no matter what happens, they are: Sasha Kahn, JCase, DJ, Stewart, and RussRob. Kahn, DJ, and RussRob all have a chance at the pro's, but they need to win the NC if they all hope to go. The early NBA entries are: D"Shady"Aurthur (Early lotto), BRush (Mid to late lotto), and Chalmers (late lotto to mid first round). Collins could join them in the late first round. The decision will be his, but I see him as 50/50 on weather he will be back or not. The team left after those departures is one that we have not seen yet (Aldrich, Morningstar, Reed, Teenhan, and several other non-preferred walk-ons). We need starters to help them. Here is what I hope for the 2008 recruiting class: 1.Greg Monroe 2.Tyler Zeller 3.J'Mison Morgan 4.Travis Releford (Committed) 5.Willie Warren 6.Rontie Clarke We can lure Monroe in because we will not have a PF, and our last 2 PF's will have gone in the lotto. He will be one-and-done, but so what? He is the best at that position available to us. If Monroe visits KU, then it will be between us and LSU. Most people think that Zeller will go to the Big 10, but I see him in crimson and blue, especially if Monroe goes elsewhere. Zeller will start here if we don't get Monroe. Morgan is another big body to throw into the mix. Think about it, we would have Aldrich, Monroe, Zeller, and Morgan in our front court. That is the best list of bigs I've seen at Kansas. They would be dominate. We don't NEED any other guards (other than Releford) in the 2008 class. I say this because our top two prospects in 2009 are a MUST for KU. Xavier Henery and Elijah Johnson (PG from Reno, NV.) are sooooo much more important than Warren and Clarke. If having Warren and Clarke are any kind of negative in recruiting those 2009 prospects, then they are not worth it. That said, we must get what we can get when we can get it.

emeryhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

soapboxstew - I think you're being pretty optimistic in terms of where a lot of our players will be taken in the NBA draft. I agree that Chalmers has the talent, but no one is projecting him in the first round as far as I know. He's too small to play 2 in the NBA, so it's good that he's honing his PG skills at camps like this. If the Henry brothers both come, that team is going to be really good!

kunomu 10 years, 11 months ago

I love the fact that Nash is teaching Chalmers and Collins how to come off the pick and roll because Self uses it a lot and no one on earth does it better than Steve Nash.

justanotherfan 10 years, 11 months ago

It's another great recruiting tool that both Chalmers and Collins had the opportunity to go to the camp. Instruction from a 2 time MVP for a college player is invaluable, particularly for those with NBA aspirations. For KU to have two of the ten players invited is an incredible thing.

I'm glad both Mario and Sherron get to work out with the Pan Am team, but right now I am (knocking on wood) just hoping they stay healthy. I hope at least one of them makes the team as well. That would give KU a lottery pick, An under 19 player and a player on the Pan Am team. How many schools can claim that for their program in just one year? Go Hawks!

doctorWho 10 years, 11 months ago

The skills Nash has are simply not teachable. But I hope something rubbed off on Chalmers and Collins anyway.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.