Former Kansas University basketball reserve point guard Tyrone Appleton will play his senior season at NCAA Div. II Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University, sixth-year Bearcats coach Jeff Guiot said Monday.
The 6-foot-2 Appleton, who announced plans to leave KU on April 9, will not have to sit out a year since he’s dropping down a division, according to NCAA rules.
“We’re excited. He’s obviously a very good point guard who can help keep us at the level we’re accustomed to,” said Guiot, a former KU guard, who completed his own career at Div. II Pittsburg State.
“I think Tyrone was interested in playing right away. He’s hungry to get back to playing. Also, we have a 6-foot-11 player, Matt Rogers, who is a projected NBA Draft pick. We’re going to have a lot of scouts at our games this year. I think that enticed him a bit.”
Appleton, who did not return calls for comment, averaged 2.2 minutes per game in 21 games his only year at KU. He was a second-team juco All-American his sophomore season at Midland (Texas) College.
“I think he can step right in, that’s the game plan unless somebody can come in and take it away,” Guiot said of Appleton starting from Day One for a team that went 26-5 a year ago.
“We like our point guards to be multi-dimensional, shoot and pass, lead the team, get as many players involved as possible, take what the defense gives them and to be aggressive,” Guiot added.
Appleton, who has completed a summer school course at Southwest Baptist, has something in common with Guiot.
“I left Kansas myself,” said Guiot, who like Appleton desired more playing time. Guiot played two years at KU for coach Larry Brown before heading to the Div. II school. “I know what he went through (in not playing much). We talked to him a lot, then brought him here for a visit and two days later he said he wanted to be part of our program.
“Basketball in the Midwest is second to none. He likes the area. Our program is great in terms of fan support. I think he’s excited about his senior season.”
It’s believed Appleton also considered Midwestern State, a Div. II school located in Wichita Falls, Texas, where Appleton’s former junior college coach is now head coach.
Appleton’s dad had said there was also some interest in Div. I, where Tyrone would have had to sit out a season after transferring.
“I think he entertained all kinds of thoughts, but didn’t want to sit out a whole year,” Guiot said.
Skills Academy underway: KU junior center Cole Aldrich is one of 20 college players attending this week’s LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio. Oklahoma sophomore Willie Warren is the only other Big 12 Conference player represented. Aldrich checked in at 6-foot-11, 242 pounds.
Several KU prospects are attending the high school portion of the camp, including 6-7 Wichita Heights soph standout Perry Ellis. Others on KU’s list include: Harrison Barnes, 6-8, Ames, Iowa; Cameron Clark, 6-6, Sherman, Texas; Terrence Jones, 6-8, Portland; Doron Lamb, 6-3, Laurelton, N.Y. and Ray McCallum, 6-01⁄2, Detroit.