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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

KU’s Little expects big senior year

Kansas forward Mario Little pulls up for a jumper during warmups befire tipoff against Oklahoma State Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mario Little pulls up for a jumper during warmups befire tipoff against Oklahoma State Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Aside from an all-too-brief trip home for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, it’s been all work and very little play for Kansas University senior basketball player Mario Little this summer.

“I worked one camp in Salina, one in Phillipsburg, one in Pittsburg, one in Wichita and this one,” said the 6-foot-5 Chicago native, wearing his bright red “Wayne Simien Called to Greatness” camp counselor T-shirt while tutoring 100 or so youths Tuesday afternoon at Free State High.

Little also was enrolled in KU first- and second-session summer school classes while rehabbing his surgically repaired lower left leg, the one in which he had a pin inserted April 16 to repair a stress fracture.

Little, who has been playing a lot of halfcourt basketball — “the game of ‘Cutthroat,’’’ he said — has thoroughly enjoyed mingling with the youths of Kansas at all these camps.

“I tell them first of all to pay attention,” Little said. “You can learn a lot. Try to go as hard as you can and try to work on things you learned here when you leave. You can’t go from being mediocre to making your varsity team in three days (at Simien camp). You have to go home and work hard.”

Little, who was slowed by injury his first year out of Chipola (Fla.) Community College, has been working hard to improve on last year’s numbers of 4.7 points and 3.2 rebounds a game.

“I am really motivated to show people what I’ve got, because I didn’t really get to show what I had (last year because of the stress fracture as well as broken bone in left hand),” Little said. “My goal is to get healthy and be able to contribute to a national championship.”

Little, who was used at power forward a lot last season out of necessity, should be able to drift outside more in his senior season.

“Everybody thinks I’m a 4 (power forward) which ... that’s not going to happen again,” noted Little, who said he’s ticketed to be “a 3 (small forward), maybe a 2 (shooting guard).

“I’m not going to be a 4 unless coach throws me in for more minutes,” added Little, who contributed 12.5 minutes per outing. “The tough part will be trying to get back in the flow, trying to get back out to the wing.”

He realizes this could be a special senior season.

“It should be exciting (with) a lot of expectations,” Little said. “We don’t know right now what the future holds, just let it unfold.”

Little said he sees big things for several of his teammates, including the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff.

“Both are working hard, trying to make the transition from freshman year to sophomore year,” Little said.

Asked what’s impressed him the most about Marcus, who impressed at Bill Self campers games in June, he said: “His will to work hard. Playing the 4 is hard to get the confidence when you’ve never really played down there. I’ve probably been impressed with his work ethic more than anything else.”

It resembles his own work ethic.

“I’ve been working hard, lifting weights, rehabbing, doing everything I can do for the season,” Little said, noting his leg has had “no setbacks. I’ve been on pace the whole time. It’s not 100 percent yet. It’s better than it was.”

Barnes resting up

Harrison Barnes, Rivals.com’s No. 2-rated player in the recruiting class of 2010, will not be competing in any of the three tournaments in Las Vegas this week.

The 6-foot-6, 205-pound forward from Ames (Iowa) High, tells Rivals.com he plans on resting before competing in next month’s Global Games in Portland and Elite 24 Classic in New York.

Barnes has a list of KU, Duke, Florida, Iowa State, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Stanford and UCLA. He will trim his list to five after August. He plans on making all five official visits.

Comments

waywardJay 10 years, 10 months ago

Thanks Gary for the Markieff update, as well as the Mario update..... two questions that have sofar been overlooked.... In Weight-gate, Gold-gate and Henry-Gate....

I really think this Harrison Barnes kid is going to be a good get ( if we can keep his interest.... )

MinnesotaJay 10 years, 10 months ago

Would love for Mario to have a chance to show off his skills in a great senior season. If he can get 100% healthy, I have a feeling it will be special.

John Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

It is interesting that Little is so impressed with the Morris twins. Self stated many times last year that these kids will be special. I understand that last year was developmental for them and so if they blossum this year then this team will be awesome. Nationally the Morris twins are underrated and not on the radar. Same with Tayshawn Taylor. These kids helped us win the Big-12 and move on to the Sweet 16. Taylor helped win a Gold in the 19 y/o class. Little is right that this year will be special. I hope the best for Little and I think the 3 will be a strength this year.

Keith Kienzle 10 years, 10 months ago

jbrown. Agreed that the Morris twins aren't on the national radar. But Tyshawn definately is. The draft boards have him going above Xavier in the lottery next year.

I can't wait to see this team. I can't remember the last time I was so excited to see the development/ skillset of so many different players during a summer.

Need an EJ story, LJW!

Jfanallways 10 years, 10 months ago

it takes more than just a desire to win a nc alot of times its the team with a chip on its shoulder or one that gets the hot hand in the tourney. rarely does the team expected to win it all actually do so. that is the only worry i have about this team, we no doubt have the talent but the odds are not on our side. i hope that we can stay focused and find that extra edge to get it done.

Joel Hood 10 years, 10 months ago

Jfanallways - I agree about expectations. If the best team in the country always won, we'd have NC titles from 1986 & 1997 (and one less from 1988.) Every team needs talent, attitude, and a bit of luck.

terpoortenl 10 years, 10 months ago

I thought Roy Williams didn't recruit east of the Mississppi out of respect for North Carolina. Why is he recruiting in Iowa?

KGphoto 10 years, 10 months ago

Harrison Barnes still has Iowa State on his list? Does anybody else smell that? Something is burning in Ames.

I hope Little Mario is 100% the whole year. His mid-range game is almost completely lost these days. I've said it before. (When healthy) He is a such a pure scorer. He can do it in a myriad of ways, and he can figure it out after he's left the ground.

Fading jumpers. Up-and-unders. Put backs. etc. He can post up, rebound, then he can step out and (where's jaybate?) trifectate. He's so smooth and he plays NBA style right now.

Jesus, KU is loaded!

truefan 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm tired of hearing all of the expectations for basketball this year. It is making me nervous about the season months in advance. Let's just focus on football so I can ease my nerves...wait we are expected to win the north this year. Looks like we'll just have to live up to the hype in all of our sports.

justanotherfan 10 years, 10 months ago

KG,

Harrison Barnes is FROM Ames. I would be shocked if they weren't at least a finalist for him. It's a chance to play in his own backyard. Not saying he will chose ISU (or that he won't), but I'm not surprised he is at least considering his hometown school.

The more I have read articles this year, the more I am leaning towards a rotation of 9 - Collins, Taylor, X. Henry, Mc. Morris, Aldrich, Little, Johnson, Mk. Morris and either Withey or Robinson.

Little, X, Johnson and Taylor give us a lot of versatility on the perimeter. Johnson and Taylor can both play on or off the ball, giving Collins a break if necessary. X and Mario are both big enough to play the 3, but skilled enough to be in the backcourt. We could go big (Taylor, Mario, X) or quick (Collins, Taylor, Johnson).

Up front, we have even more versatility. Mc. Morris can play on the perimeter if we go really big (Collins, X, Mc. Morris, Withey, Aldrich). He can now slide into the post if we decide to go smaller and run (Collins, Taylor, X, Mario, Mc. Morris). The Morris' can play together in an athletic hybrid lineup (Collins, Taylor, X, Mc. Morris, Mk. Morris). Cole can play down low as a lone big (Collins, Taylor, X, Mc. Morris or Withey, Aldrich), or in tandem with another big guy. We could see a return to the high-low, with the Morris' or Withey working the high post and Cole banging inside.

This team has a lot of potential. There are a lot of great pieces here.

Joel Hood 10 years, 10 months ago

KG & justanotherfan, Harrison Barnes not only lives in Ames, his mom in an ISU alum who now works for ISU and he is teammates with Greg McDermott's son. See ...


I think KU would be very fortunate to land this kid - I actually think ISU might have the upper hand.

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

“Everybody thinks I’m a 4 (power forward) which ... that’s not going to happen again,” noted Little, who said he’s ticketed to be “a 3 (small forward), maybe a 2 (shooting guard).

We don't need him at the 4 or 3. Let him step out and shoot where he's comfortable. He played like crap last yr and never played to his potential. He's going to be an unsung presence when people focus on SC,Cole and X/Taylor. I have huge expectations of this guy!! This is redemption time for ML.

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

Barnes said he wants a b-ball team and academics. I don't care who your friend is, KU has as good an academic program than ISU. KU also has the better team! Barnes may stay at home, but he would be going way back on his comments earlier about academics and NC. I think he'll choose KU. We have the better academic program or as good, our team will be NC contenders for the next 2-3 years and most importantly, we're closer to home. He really wants to be close to his mom and KU isn't that far at all comopared to others on the list.

KGphoto 10 years, 10 months ago

Oh, I didn't realize he's from Ames. Is he "Mr. Basketball" or whatever they call it, like Hinrich and Collison where? Who else has been Iowa's best player?

And it's cool that academics are important to him, but what about the overall experience that you get in Lawrence? I'm not an Ames hater, but it's not even close.

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

Possible "Pre-mature" 2010,11,12 line-up: Barnes-3 EJ- 1 (CJ NBA??) Royce-2 Withey- 5 TRob- 4

Not to mention: Fab Melo and Lamb- I don't see the rotation getting any easier.

Pretty young and outsanding future for Jayhawk Nation!!

tstanlick1909 10 years, 10 months ago

Harrison has gone on record saying that he will NOT go to any schools in Iowa, Im going to try to find the site where i found that and post it here but nonetheless, no worries about ISU

tstanlick1909 10 years, 10 months ago

And while were talking about recruiting, might I say that our newest guy on the radar is five star point guard Josh Selby, who just released from his commitment to Tennessee, and has a final list of five schools in which we are included

The kid is an absolute stud

KU1992 10 years, 10 months ago

<p>Foxsports.com is reporting that apparently some news paper from Minnesota claims its down to UNC and Duke with Harrison Barnes.

I think its the same newspaper that said he was favoring Kansas about a month ago.

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

Still, industry sources told CBSSports.com two schools that will almost certainly be involved are Kentucky and Oregon -- both of which have obvious connections to William Wesley, a major person of influence in the sport. Wesley (more commonly known as "Worldwide Wes" or simply as "Wes") has a close and very public relationship with Kentucky coach John Calipari, Oregon assistant Kenny Payne, and Nike Basketball. Josh Selby decommits from Tennessee By Gary Robinson on July 20, 2009 9:56 AM Share:
According to numerous news agencies, including the Knoxville News-Sentinel, prized point guard recruit for 2010 Josh Selby has changed his mind and will not attend the University of Tennessee.

In looking over various reports, the University of Memphis may or may not be a player in his re-recruitment (which, I guess, is as much of a word as decommit). Selby is a cousin of the Barton brothers, who have committed to play with the Tigers beginning in the 2010-11 season, and is even transferring to play his senior year with them at Baltimore's Lake Clifton High School.

Your boy Selby is considering Oregon, UK and now Memphis!! We don't need any drama!!

Dirk Medema 10 years, 10 months ago

Usually, the talk is about a team's second 5 being better than the starters for some teams. In our case this year, it might be the 3rd 5.

SC, TT, X, McM, Cole EJ, CJ, Mario, MkM, Withey Brady, Tyrel, Travis, Robinson, ?

Can we get a 6th year for Kleinmann to anchor the Rock Chalk Chant crew?

Please don't assume that the sorting is my prediction on how the rotations or anything play out this year. I'm definitely not ready to pull the plug on one of last year's 30 min/g starters (Brady), ..., or anoint anyone before they hit the collegiate hardwood.

It will be interesting to watch Coach Self craft this group into a team, and we'll likely never know his best work at keeping everyone's head in the game. You never know when you'll need quality minutes from Tyrone on Woodside.

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

http://dukebasketballjournal.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/is-harrison-barnes-backing-away-from-duke/

Here is a great article about Barnes. It looks like a place close to home will be a big factor.

If you're interested in Harrison Barnes, please read this article.

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

KU1992 (anonymous) says... apparently some news paper from Minnesota claims its down to UNC and Duke with Harrison Barnes.

KU is very much in the running and would be safe to say that it is KU, Duke and UNC, in this order right now! I will go further and say he's in crimson and blue!!

KanKu 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree, truehawk, the future does look promising...

We're in the running for Fab Melo and Joe Jackson,

http://www.sportingnews.com/college-basketball/article/2009-07-21/five-prospects-watch-week-s-vegas-tournaments

arguably the best center and point guard in next years class. With Cole and Sherron leaving after this season, Kansas has a good shot at them. Then if Barnes pulls a Hinrich/Collison and comes to KU, it'll will be the #1 recruiting class hands down.

Insane future line-up: Withey/Melo M. Morris/Robinson/Mk Morris Barnes/Releford Johnson/CJ/Morningstar Taylor/Jackson/Reed (Of course this is predicated on Taylor and M. Morris not going pro, which I don't think will happen).

Looking into the future of Jayhawk Nation is fun and interesting, but I hope the 2009/2010 season goes well. I'd rather have a title this year than 3 bad@$$ recruits next year!

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

KanKu (anonymous) says... I'd rather have a title this year than 3 bad@$$ recruits next year!

True! We also have Bradley Beal in the mix. Also, don't forget Royce!

The shiver.com also has an update (7/21/09) directly from Barnes himself. He calls the Duke "bound" claim a rumor!!

I know it's premature and superstitious people may be uneasy right now, but relax! The biggest piece of the NC is CS!! The only thing I would like to see is the Henrys practicing with the team right now. I think it's vital to early chemistry.

SoCalAlum 10 years, 10 months ago

Back to the point of the above article: Mario Little: the dude played hurt (doubly hurt, really); the dude played out of position; the dude basically sacrificed a year of eligibility - a year he basically lost that could have displayed his skill set...Why? Because Coach asked him to. Simple. Fans will have their favorites, for all good reasons, but me, I'm hoping ML has the break-out year he deserves to have.

yovoy 10 years, 10 months ago

yeah he played hurt, and STILL did what was asked of him, and did it as well as he could. i always liked this kid.

sure, he'd've liked to have done better, but it seems that late in the season he was forgotten about a little bit. early to mid-season (before sherron took alllll the shots), it was mario that was doing his part in the scoring department. that said, my only fear of the season coming is that there's only one ball, and there's tons of talent that through reputation (x) and trial-by-fire (sherron/tyshawn/cole) might they "deserve" it. the big challenge will be getting this team to realize that we will probably have between 5 and 8 players that can score double-digit ppg, and to make sure they all act accordingly. scores in the 80-90 range shouldn't be a pipe dream w/ our coach's def philosophy if he can get 8 or 10 to play d for 25+/- seconds. of those 8 or 10 he should have 3 or 4 that will avg 4 steals a game. cole should be able to get 3 or so block/gm.

with the skillset/player set we will have at our disposal, i wouldn't be surprised to see some 1-in-4-out sets. play zone if you want, and hope that we have a bunch of players with off nights.

as for the twins, they were pretty decent last year. the rebounded balls they shouldn't have even touched - on both ends. they sort of hit a wall, but one of them really sort of broke out offensive late-ish in the season, but there were less shots available late-season. nothing they do will surprise me.

if releford can get better on the defensive end, people here will stop overlooking him. he's huge, and he plays to punish people. he looked very strong in the clips of summer ball that i saw.

i don't think morningstar is going to suffer as much as lots on here think he will either. i hope he doesn't.

the monster-class-then-bust recruiting we had is GONE! no one tells ourSelf anything about where to recruit. yes virginia, the former coach made that easier, but wasn't allowed/didn't care to recruit like he could've. look at some of that flashback stuff, and think back, we've had a couple of teams where walkons (or should've been w/o) have worked their way up to starting. sure robertson, moody, and hawkins were okay, but those guys wouldn't have even been recruited to play under the current regime. btw, i thought moody was great, and was athletic as heck in addition to having a great court demeanor and bb iq. i ended up liking him as a player, but he really is a symbol of our old recruiting style/mandate. i know ryrob wasn't a walkon. was hawk? i think any of those guys would have to walk-on now, and they might not crack the lineup at all.

mjlindsm 10 years, 10 months ago

I would guess Barnes ends up at Iowa State or Kansas, though I wouldn't be shocked if coach K could lure him To Duke. The kid will be in school for two years at most (probably). The education he will get at those three institutions taking just Freshman and Sophomore classes won't be all that different. He's a guaranteed starter wherever he goes (if Xavier stays, which wouldn't surprise me at all seeing at about half of the projected "one-and-done's" seem to play more than one year, Barnes could play the 4, or Xavier can play the 2 and Barnes the 3). He'll have a great experience wherever he goes and the student body will all know him and love him. I'm thinking Iowa State or Kansas because with that said, he might as well stay close to home so Mom can see him play (and do his laundry, like Mrs. Morningstar, or cook for him, like Mrs. Kaun). Then it's just a matter of whether playing for a much bigger program with more exposure is worth the 4 hour drive and getting a little bit away from home.

I realize many short-term recruits don't stay near home, but they also don't usually have as good of a head on their shoulders as Harrison does, and they surround themselves with an good-show-on-HBO-that-I-don't-feel-like-trying-to-spell that tells them what to do. In this case, Harrison and his Mom will probably be thinking about this more logically and realize that Iowa State and Kansas win in a cost/benefit analysis.

yovoy 10 years, 10 months ago

pat, i'd like to solve the puzzle:

e-n-t-o-u-r-a-g-e?

(fanfare music here)

yovoy 10 years, 10 months ago

good reasoning about his potential final stop, btw.

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Mario Little put in a great deal of sacrafice last year and i hope he gets his turn to show his ability this year. his surgery was the middle of april so when season starts he'll be 7 months post op. hopefully the bone heels well and he can continue to regain his strength as the season progresses. you've got to love his attitude-

“It should be exciting (with) a lot of expectations,” Little said. “We don’t know right now what the future holds, just let it unfold.”

i believe he has the potential to contribute a good number of minutes and make an impact on a national championship team. i hope he attains his goals. keep working hard Mr. Little.

jchief40 10 years, 10 months ago

justanotherfan - I have one name to add to your regular "9"... CJ Henry.

Everyone who thinks CJ will be spending a lot of time on the bench is an idiot! IDIOT (all caps!)!!

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