Friday, June 12, 2009

Welcomed return

Jackson scores 30 in charity game at FSHS

Darnell Jackson gives Sasha Kaun a bear-hugging during the final minutes of the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at Free State.

Darnell Jackson gives Sasha Kaun a bear-hugging during the final minutes of the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at Free State.


Jackson dominates in Roundball Classic

Several former KU basketball players took part in the Roundball Classic at Free State High School on Thursday.

He has performed in packed NBA arenas from New York to Los Angeles, suited up for the recently completed Eastern Conference Finals and played alongside the most exciting player on Earth.

But when it comes down to it, nothing quite gets Darnell Jackson’s blood flowing like a trip back to Lawrence.

“The fans were great in Cleveland,” said Jackson, who is back in town for two weeks and will compete in next Wednesday’s Bill Self campers game. “But there’s no place like Kansas. I tell all the guys on the (Cavaliers) that: ‘There’s no place like Kansas.’”

The former second-round NBA draft pick, who recently completed his rookie season with the Cavs, made his first trip back to Lawrence in style, scoring a game-high 30 points on 14-of-25 shooting in Thursday night’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, a fun-and-gun evening of basketball at Free State High held to benefit the family of late Lawrence resident Brandon White.

Among the players competing in the event, which featured teams made up of former KU men’s basketball players, were former stars Wayne Simien and Billy Thomas, as well as a number of more recent graduates, including Sasha Kaun, Russell Robinson and Matt Kleinmann.

Throughout much of the night, however, the crowd reserved its biggest applause for the 6-foot-9 Jackson, a longtime fan favorite and member of the Jayhawks’ 2008 national championship team.

“The biggest thing that shocked me is how many fans came,” said Jackson, who averaged 1.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.4 minutes a game for the Cavaliers this season. “But they’re always going to support Kansas and the guys that went here and the guys that won a championship. It’s a great feeling.”

Jackson spent much of Thursday night’s game — a 111-103 victory by the Jackson’s Red Team — with a smile on his face, happily displaying his developing ball-handling skills and playfully taunting former teammates as they shot free throws.

And with his rookie season under his belt, meanwhile, he enters his first professional offseason eager to plug the remaining holes in his game heading into 2009-10.

“It was exciting,” said Jackson, taking a short break from a post-game autograph session with fans. “Every guy in the NBA can play basketball, and I think the biggest thing that I have to learn is the spacing of the court and how fast guys are. They slow down, they speed up when they need to turn it on.

“But it was a lot of fun,” he added. “We went to the conference finals and lost, so hopefully we get back there next year and win a championship.”


Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 12 months ago

Nice video. Looks like Wayne is still fairly solid, contrary to some comments to a story the other day. Gurley - layups? Surely you can still shoot a J!

DBlock needs to make a visit to X Henry back home in OK since he's in the area and bring him down a couple of notches. The hard work and dedication tha Darnell has made his commitment to, shows his character and integrity. Appreciation for his accomplishments is what makes him an icon from the 07/08 championship team. I'll bet that X and CJ will never participate in one of these games after they leave KU (if they actually even show up to play this year!)

ObiWan 10 years, 12 months ago

Darnell is at the point where he's not quite ready in the NBA, but he absolutely dominates at every other level. I remember his one day stint in the D-League earned him his spot right back on the Cavs. Keep working Darnell! A man of your character and integrity can accomplish anything.

jaybate 10 years, 12 months ago

As time passes, the '08 Champion team just keeps looking more and more impressive.

I knew they were good when they were here. I knew that last year that if Rush's knee came around they had a chance at a ring. But I got so used to scrutinizing them, so used to analyzing the holes in the players games, Rush without a left hand, Darnell's then still somewhat fragile psyche, Kaun's poor free throw shooting and limited rebounding, Arthur's tendency to disappear, RR's shakey trey, Chalmers being too short to handle true twos, and so on, that I tended to overlook just how much talent they brought to the table, despite their weaknesses. There was, perhaps, no player for the ages, like a Chamberlain, or a Manning, say, though BRush and Chalmers were superior. But the quantity of physical ability and character on that team was staggering. There were just studs everywhere you looked. Look at the pictures of these guys, like Kaun, and Jackson. They fill picture frames. They were just plain big men. They still make Cole look a little gangly, even though he is now filling out. Look at Russell Robinson. He is just a physical stud for a guard, and he was built this way his last two seasons at KU, even though he is frozen in my memory as that wirey little freshman tough nut from New York. And everytime there is a picture of BRush, despite the KC Kool Jazz face, he is, for a three, a prison body from the chin down.

jaybate 10 years, 12 months ago

There is something about the passage of time that allows one to begin to put teams into perspective almost in spite of one's self. In terms of combined physical ability, this '08 national championship team had to be KU's greatest team, even though there was no single Chamberlain, or Manning, on hand, even though they did not go undefeated, even though they did not win an Olympics, too. They were just so darned big and athletic and good! And time makes me absolutely certain that they were, without doubt, the greatest defensive team in the history of all of college basketball. Chalmers and Robinson, when they were in the game together, were incomparable defensively. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, when there still has been no pair of guards in college basketball who defended like these two guys did, it is going to be hard to believe they ever really existed. Defense does not leave the same kind of quantitative residual that offense does. Their unprecedented number of steals per game, unlike some offensive player's scoring per game, does not begin to capture just how tough those two guards were to play against, or just how much those two guards screwed up the entirety of an opponent's offense. In 2030, those of us still alive, are going to be sitting with our kids and grand kids telling them how great these two guys were and they are going to be sitting around saying, yeah, yeah, yeah, they were good in their day, but the game has changed. They won't get it. They won't understand, like I did understand my dad talking about great Lovellette was. They won't really understand how great Chalmers and RR were on defense. And Chalmers and RR weren't even the best defenders on that '08 team. That honor belonged, unquestionably, to Brandon Rush, the one time high school scoring machine, who became not just a lock down defender at KU, by a freaking prison warden that oversaw a defense that, with the benefit of hindsight, amounted to the Alcatraz of college basketball defenses! Teams weren't scheduled to play that '08 team's defense, they were sentenced. Opponents, even great ones, suddenly found themselves in leg irons and shackles when playing that KU defense. But no hyperbole captures what that '08 defense was capable of doing to opponents. As we're going to be saying for the rest of our lives, "kid, you hadda be there to understand."

jaybate 10 years, 12 months ago

Finally, in terms of character, this had to be KU's greatest team, since Lovellette's championship team. What they did to North Carolina and then how they came back against Memphis makes them unforgettable and incomparable in my mind. And I mean no disrespect to my beloved 1988 team with Danny and the Miracles, the team that in my opinion completed the redemption of Kansas basketball started by the 1986 team and frankly made everything that followed possible. But this '08 team was just a great, great, great team. And I believe Danny would agree, even though in his heart of hearts, he would believe, as all great champions do, that the '88 team--being prone to miracles, would have found a way to beat even the '08 team. Maybe, maybe not, but the beauty of the legacy of KU basketball is that the great KU teams never have to play each other. They are each the greatest of their times.

But, oh lord, could that '08 team play defense...

Joel Hood 10 years, 12 months ago

We went to the game and sat behind "coach" Bud and Roger. When Bill Self came in he talked to an older couple behind us. He spoke to them like they were the reason he came to the game. When they introduced him to a friend, he says, “Hi I’m Bill…” When autograph seekers rushed him, he made sure the youngest kids were taken care of before he moved on. This guy is so perfect for KU and the Lawrence community.

A few observations of the players: Russ Rob looked awesome – at one point he was 6 of 7 from three. Billy Thomas couldn’t hit the ocean – inconsistency will kill him next year. Sasha was getting way up and looked really good. Darnell looked like he was having a blast – he was giving Sasha the business throughout the night. Greg Gurley needed an oxygen tank. At one point, Bud was giving him grief about not playing any D for his team.

You could really tell that the players had a great time coming back and truly appreciate their second home.

trader 10 years, 12 months ago

Thanks to hayhawkerjoel for giving us a review of players. This Dugan guy who wrote the article just focused on DJ. Dugan is probably saving the rest for another followup story.

10 years, 12 months ago

Man, what an incredible person D-Block is. I concur with jaybate's assessment regarding the '08 team's character.

On another topic, here is an interesting read regarding OAD's, and Lance Stephenson and possible reasons why universities are backing away from recruiting him...;_ylt=Ant_pb84DDBvUq2_5o3nFfjevbYF?slug=jo-onedone061009&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

10 years, 12 months ago

Good article, jayhawkinatl. I used to enjoy watching Big O dominate Big Country in their college match-ups. If his son Cody ends up being better than him in hoops, he could have a nice career too.

KGphoto 10 years, 12 months ago

"Teams weren't scheduled to play that '08 team's defense, they were sentenced."

Shackles and irons and Hawks. Oh my!

thx jaybate

ObiWan 10 years, 12 months ago

God I love that '08 team! Thanks for trip down memory lane Jaybate. Probably the best post I've ever read. I just got the Greatest Games DVD, so tonight I think I'll watch 'Hawks v. Durant Part Deux. As I recall, the play that sent it to OT was one that Coach Self called on again...

100 10 years, 12 months ago


Nice to see you've brought your Memphis/ Kentucky posers with you.

(this is very similar to what UK fans did on Twitter, posed as X, you're pretending to be a KU fan)

Anyone who is a Jayhawk is psyched up about next year, and especially CJ & X, two fantastically talented Jayhawk legacies.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Dirk Medema 10 years, 12 months ago

Good word 100.

I'm psyched about the dedication that the Henry's bring to KU - professionalism, family, commitment to learning defense in particular. By the end of the year, I'm guessing Jaybate writes an analysis of X's defense compared to BRush.

I also want to give a round of applause to Gurley for even going out on the court with this group. Is he 40? With all of the grad's playing professionally, or recently out of college, they're going to need to start a master's division game.

This will be an exciting year, tho also glad that we may eventually get a distraction in the form of FB. I heard rumors that the LJW would be carrying FB coverage sometime later this year.

mbmerriman 10 years, 12 months ago


please wait to bury x atleast til he suits up once

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 12 months ago

100 -

Surely you aren't suggesting that I am a "poser"!

You must scroll down the posts only to seek the jaybate novels. You've NEVER seen anything that I've posted? I am deeply offended by your comments and allegations.

The talent and potential benefits that we (MY JAYHAWKS) will witness with Xavier this next season will rival any freshman or other first year player in many years, if not ever.

My beef, as well as that of countless other KU fans is that we seem to have been teased and confused by the mixture of drama regarding the Henrys. You must admit that there has been more than average uncertainty and curiosity about numerous aspects of their transition from Memphis etc. Now, they won't be in school until the fall semester. That's something of a new twist that nobody expected.

It's sort of been like those tv shows (ala American Idol) when they start to reveal who is being kicked off or who is going ahead only to go to a commercial. The entire show could only take 5 minutes but is stretched out to 1-2 hours for dramatic effect.

I may have MEM in my username based on geography.But, the HAWK part is my passion.

My comments to this story about Darnell come from an appreciation of his personal and team-spirited contributions and dedication vs. what I perceive to be self-serving tendancies about Xavier. I hope I am proven wrong and that he stays at KU for four years only to help bring the National Championship to Lawrence each of those years. But, in reality, very few people expect for him to have a KU student ID past the 09/10 season. Times have changed regarding the new breed of top college prospects. Just as in professional careers in the business world, the concepts of tenure, loyalty and logevity are also changing for the top college atheletes who can play at the next level. We're going to have to just adjust to this like so many other things that are changing, unfortunately.


mlubyRN 10 years, 12 months ago

Jaybate, well said man, well said. That had to be one of your best posts Ive read. Thanks.

jaybate 10 years, 12 months ago


Thank you. I cannot be absolutely sure, but I think the reason that I write so much here is that once in a great while I tap into what I believe is the legacy. I find myself not writing from my self, but from it. It is a good feeling--a profoundly quiet place--the writing equivalent of how it felt once in a great while when I played so long ago and everything seemed to go into nearly perfect slow motion; that is the only way I can describe it. I always write fast, but sometimes it feels slow, clear, effortless, too.This was one of those few posts. It wasn't coming from me. It came from the legacy--from what ever we are all a part of. I just wrote what was already there waiting to be said. I got out of its way. I can't get there very often. But occasionally I can, and so I keep writing.

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 12 months ago

Thanks Ralster.

I was beginning to think I was alone on my island.

I know we won't be dissapointed with the on-court action from Xavier. I was similarly anxious about Mario Little last season. Of course, he started slow because of the injury bug. But, I bet he's going to come out on fire this year, if he has a shot at PT.

Hopefully, Bill will be able to rotate evrybody to their satisfaction as well as to the benefit of the contests. We won't need X to score 30 every game. In fact, I woudn't be surprised if he isn't in the starting lineup before January. Too may guys who contributed last year are still there and should be improved this year making it hard to send them to the end of the bench. Sherron will be an absolute anchor in the starting lineup.

The 3, 4 and 5 positions are going to be interesting too. It's mind boggling to think how deep we will be.

Hurry up November!

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