Chamber of commerce-type promoters are always on the prowl for new businesses and industries to broaden a tax base, bring in socially productive executives and provide lots of high-paying jobs. Yet the good ones also know it’s even more vital to keep nurturing proven, established entities, those that got them to the picnic — “dance with the ones who brung ya.”
All well and good that Kansas basketball hustlers are trying to sign high-profile prospects like the Henry boys or Lance Stephenson (I hope not). But the best news Bill Self and Co. will get all spring is that center Cole Aldrich and guard Sherron Collins are returning for another year. They’re two of the cadre who have set the stage for what could be a tremendous 2009-10. You dance with guys like that and you know the steps.
Those flibberty-gibbit, on-again, off-again kids who need to fish or cut bait will be fortunate to be included in the KU mix, but they’re not instant miracle-makers. Remember how the world was going to end when Darrell Arthur signed, and how it took three years for Brandon Rush to really meld? No instant pudding despite lofty credentials.
Celebrate the three seniors who stayed and hubbed that 2008 national title outfit.
Collins and Aldrich are proven commodities with All-America promise, a year older and wiser. We haven’t begun to see all Tyshawn Taylor can bring to the table, or Tyrel Reed and Travis Releford. They know the drill, which newcomers like Elijah Johnson, Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey need time to learn. Same with C.J. and Xavier Henry, and anyone else like Stephenson, who has had some issues beyond basketball. No Tyreke Evans (Memphis) in view yet.
Brady Morningstar and Mario Little aren’t chopped liver. They’ll be a lot better, and Marcus and Markieff Morris have shown signs of knuckling down and becoming reliable rather than occasional.
Even without newcomers Johnson, Robinson and Withey, Kansas would have a seasoned crew of Aldrich, Collins, Taylor, Reed, Releford, Morningstar, Little, the Morris twins. I firmly believe Conner Teahan will contribute a lot the next two seasons. That’s a 10-man package most coaches would sell a grandchild to acquire. If one of those pie-in-the-sky McDonald’s shadow-boxers is lucky enough to come here, he just might have a lot more fun than he dreams.
It may be presumptuous for the Jayhawk Nation to be envisioning a Final Four-or-better season, but it’s well within reach. Roy Williams had the kind of talent KU has, with just as good a coach, and look what Roy fashioned for 2009 at North Carolina.
Current recruiting holdouts will do themselves a much bigger favor than KU will be doing for them if they come here. Can they even break into the rotation?
l Lordy, did the fecal matter hit the fan — with the economy struggling as it is — with the revelation that Lew Perkins’ six-year Kansas bonus package will go to $2.05 million, tax-free, instead of $1.3 million, tax-free, come June.
Perkins already makes $900,000 a year, second only to the near-million paid to Florida AD Jeremy Foley. Suddenly comes another $750,000 bonus, tax-free, via Chancellor Bob Hemenway. There are worries that Perkins and Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder will exert too much influence in picking their new chief administrators. Yet Lew is doing well enough to cover any expenses for headhunting trips, right?