Saturday, November 17, 2007
Travis Releford completed all his paperwork on Friday, freeing Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self to comment on the signing of the 6-foot-5 senior guard from Roeland Park Miege.
"Travis is a young man we recruited longer than anyone else," Self said of Releford, on the Jayhawks' radar for several years now.
Releford played for the Kansas City Pump N Run program that has sent Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Conner Teahan to KU.
"Ever since we came to Kansas, Travis has been a target, and we feel very fortunate to get him to come to our program. We feel like we know Travis and his family very well. We have watched him play so much and watched his development over time at Bishop Miege and with Pump N Run," Self added.
Releford, who is ranked No. 70 by Rivals.com, averaged 19.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists for Miege last year. He chose KU over Missouri, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina and others.
"Travis is a tall guard who is an excellent defender, and the transition should be easier for him having played in the Bishop Miege program," Self said of Releford, who thrives in an open-court game driving to the hoop.
"I am real confident in my jumper," Releford said. "I am more a slasher, though. I will try to do it all - defend, score, rebound."
Pump N Run coach L.J. Goolsby said Releford was a pleasure to coach the past several summers.
"They (Jayhawks) are getting a winner," Goolsby said. "He's a kid who loves to win. He plays hard. He's an all-around player, defensive, offense. He's a good fit for KU."
Releford definitely loves KU.
"It's where I need to be," Releford said. "They were at my first practice my freshman year. It's been like that every year. They've always shown the most interest in me."
Releford joins four others whose letters of intent were received via fax earlier in the week. They include: twins Marcus and Markieff Morris of Philadelphia, Mario Little of Chicago and Quintrell Thomas of Newark, N.J.
"These players are all extremely versatile," Self said. "Each can play multiple positions. They shoot well, all can handle the ball and all are very long."
Releford said he was looking forward to clicking with his new teammates.
"I don't know any of them personally. I met the twins when they came to Late Night," Releford said. "From what I hear everybody coming in will be really good. I think it's a great group of players."
Rivals.com has tapped KU's recruiting class No. 8 in the country.
"Coach Self and his staff put together another top-10 class, which has become the norm in Lawrence," Rivals.com analyst Shay Wildeboor said. "They are losing Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson and probably Darrell Arthur, so to be able to go to the East coast and get two players like Marcus and Markieff is a huge coup. Both guys can score, rebound and defend. Quintrell Thomas is another guy who is probably ahead of the game defensively.
"The key with those three is location. In years past, Kansas didn't get many players out East. Once again, KU's coaches have opened up doors nobody thought they could open."
As far as Chipola CC transfer Mario Little and Miege product Releford, Wildeboor noted: "Kansas once again has signed the best player in the state. It's important to sign players of that caliber close to home.
"Mario Little being the No. 1 juco player in the class will come in and put points on the board. He probably will not have the problems adjusting that 99 percent of freshmen have. He's a natural scorer and skilled player."
Self said the Jayhawks would continue recruiting into the spring.
On Friday, KU target Willie Warren, 6-foot-3 from North Crowley High in suburban Fort Worth, Texas, chose Oklahoma over KU, Kentucky, Texas and others.
"We feel we still have to sign at least one more. I wouldn't be surprised if we sign two. We're still involved with some guys," Self said.
One target who has mentioned KU is Devoe Joseph, a 6-2 guard from Ontario, Canada, who is visiting Vanderbilt this weekend. He's also visited Minnesota and has expressed interest in Virginia Tech as well as KU. Kansas will likely be looking for a big man.
¢ Mason to Nebraska?: Charlie Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wouldn't be shocked if former KU football coach Glen Mason is Bill Callahan's successor at Nebraska. LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and Buffalo coach Turner Gill have been prominently mentioned as frontrunners if Callahan, as expected, is canned at season's end.
"Former Gophers football coach Glen Mason is a longtime favorite of Tom Osborne, the Cornhuskers' interim athletics director who is expected to choose Nebraska's next football coach," Walters wrote Friday.
¢ Three schools for Dez: Free State High graduate Keith Wooden, who scored 25 points, wasn't the only familiar face to doom Oklahoma State in North Texas' 82-73 victory over the Cowboys on Wednesday. Former Kansas State player Dez Willingham had nine points, including a pair of key free throws late.
In a crazy twist, it's the third time Willingham has faced OSU - all with different teams. Playing for SMU, he had 19 points against OSU in December of 2005. He also played against OSU his freshman season at Kansas State.