Sought-after Appleton looking for major minutes

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tyrone Appleton, who announced his decision to leave Kansas University’s basketball program Thursday afternoon, had college coaches eager to speak with him Thursday night and Friday.

“We’re talking to several programs,” Appleton’s dad, James Dye, said Friday. “All are majors. I can tell you at least two are teams ranked in the Top 25,” Dye added, not wanting to name names.

Appleton’s dad, who lives in Gary, Ind., said Tyrone, who chose KU over Kentucky and Iowa State his sophomore year at Midland (Texas) College, left KU with no ill feelings.

“We are good with the program and appreciate what his teammates and coaches have done for him,” Dye said.

“He loves it there — the university, the people around him, the players, staff. It was very difficult (to leave) because of that.

“Anyone who saw him this year ... you have the No. 1 junior-college point guard become one of the team’s biggest cheerleaders,” Dye added. “Coach (Bill) Self said Tyrone practiced every day like he was one of the starters.

“There are no (bad) feelings whatsoever. I’ve been in it long enough to realize it’s a business. The best-laid plans sometimes don’t work out. He’s an athlete who needs to play. We just didn’t see him going from 2.2 minutes a game to 15, 17, 18 his senior year. It’s best to (leave) so he can achieve his goals and do some of the things he wants to do (play pro ball somewhere).”

Dye said the most important thing is his son “is going to graduate. He has two semesters left (in African American Studies). He’ll sit out a year (at new school in accordance with NCAA rules) and definitely will graduate.

“He’s grown so much in the past year. He learned how to deal with adversity. I’m very, very proud of him,” Dye added.

KU freshman forward Quintrell Thomas, who also has announced his plans to transfer, was recruited heavily by Rutgers, UNLV and Maryland his senior season at St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J. On Thursday he had no comment on any schools he might be considering.


Stephenson update: Lance Stephenson, a 6-5 senior guard from Lincoln High in Brooklyn, N.Y., was to visit St. John’s this weekend, the New York Daily News reported.

KU coach Self was to visit with Stephenson at the family’s Coney Island home on Friday afternoon.

“They’re getting closer to making a decision,” a source told, referring to the Stephenson family. “They (coaches) are all making their last-minute pitches and I think this is St. John’s last chance to beat the other couple (KU and Maryland). They are just waiting to see what the numbers are at Kansas,” the source added.

If Stephenson is waiting on Xavier Henry, it might take a while to finalize his college choice. Henry, who has received a release from his Memphis letter-of-intent, told Fox Sports Net’s Michael Eaves on Friday at the Nike Hoops Summit in Portland that he is planning on visiting Kentucky after the Jordan Brand Classic on April 18. Henry will play at either Memphis, KU or Kentucky next season.

Orton update: The father of Oklahoma City McGuinness High senior center Daniel Orton spoke with Kentucky coach John Calipari on Friday at the Derby Festival in Louisville. Daniel is trying to decide whether to stick with his letter-of-intent with Kentucky or play at Kansas.

“Just nothing. He was just glad to have Daniel, that was it,” Larry Orton told the Lexington Herald-Leader when asked what he and new UK coach Calipari discussed. The two agreed to talk again next week.