Sunday, June 21, 2009

KU’s past, present make Self’s camp a hit

Thomas reflects on 33-point exhibition explosion


Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self coach expects a peaceful, highly uneventful Father’s Day 2009.

“I don’t have special plans. We have camp going on. I’ll spend a little time in the gym. Camp is over on Sunday. That’ll be a good Father’s Day there,” Self said, smiling.

The always-demanding, time-consuming men’s hoop camp season — which eats up much of June — concludes today.

Self’s Team Camp followed Elite Camp, Parent/Child Camp and two weeks of Self’s summer camp for youths.

Sessions included appearances from former KU players Lester Earl, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Keith Langford, Aaron Miles, Christian Moody, Russell Robinson, Wayne Simien and Billy Thomas.

“It’s great we had different guys come back. I wish they all could come back. Time schedules don’t permit that,” Self said of all former KU players. “We had so many guys back you basically watched grow up in front of you — guys like Aaron, Keith, Darnell playing in front of the campers. Those guys are competitive. They don’t come in here just to have fun, but to play.”

In fact, the alumni swept the current Jayhawks (67-52 and 67-63) on consecutive Wednesdays during scrimmages for the enthusiastic campers.

“The old guys have still got it,” said former KU point guard Robinson, who will play for the Orlando Magic’s summer-league team after starting for the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Developmental League last season.

“They (current Jayhawks) are talented. They will have a great team. I can’t wait to see them play,” Robinson added.

Now that camp season is over, KU’s coaches will have some down time before the start of the July summer-recruiting evaluation period. Many of the current Kansas players will continue to attend summer school classes.

Here are some tidbits gathered during the past two weeks of camp:

• Shooting guard Billy Thomas, who helped Colorado claim the 2009 NBA Developmental League title, probably set an all-time camp record in exploding for 33 points against the current Jayhawks.

Asked, “who guarded you the best today?” Thomas, who hit 12 of 18 shots including seven of 11 threes, grinned and cracked, “I missed a couple shots.”

Of the current Jayhawks, Thomas said: “I’m very impressed. I saw Thomas Robinson Friday (in pickup game) and was impressed. He’s active, bounces up the floor. I look forward to him learning and getting better. I look forward to seeing Tyshawn (Taylor) play this year. I was very impressed with him last season. He has to value every possession and not turn the ball over.”

• Darnell Jackson of the Cleveland Cavaliers talked about working with Cavs phenom LeBron James.

“I told him all the time, ‘Hey man, I used to play with you on the Playstation. Now I get a chance to be your teammate,’’’ Jackson said. “To be with him on and off the court is a great feeling. LeBron is so strong.”

There have been rumors the Cavs may acquire center Shaquille O’Neal this offseason.

“It’d be fun. I don’t know if I want to go against him. He’s a big kid, too,” power forward Jackson joked. “I’d be real excited if we get Shaq.”

• Combo guard Keith Langford, whose performance in Italy last season earned him a two-year, $2.6 million contract in Russia, talked about how he has changed as a player since leaving KU.

“I’m a lot more aggressive I’d say from the beginning of games,” he said. “A lot of times in my career here, I was passive, and aggressive only when I needed to be. Skill-wise I’m always continuing to add different things. Obviously a key for me is to work on the jump-shooting, which I’ll always have to do. My percentages are good. I’m healthy, very happy where my career is at.”

He thoroughly enjoyed speaking to Self’s campers.

“You get a chance to come back and show you are still doing well,” the 6-foot-4 Fort Worth, Texas, native said. “I can be a testament to guys who played here that maybe you don’t hear about a lot, who are not a first-round draft pick, but are still doing well from what they learned in this setting and applied it to the outside world.”

• Langford found it hard to believe point guard Aaron Miles, who played in Greece last season, is not in the NBA.

“You can ask anybody who has played with him, at free-agent camps, NBA summer league, in Europe ... anybody I come across always loves playing with Aaron,” Langford said. “He’s a guy you love having on your team.”

• Miles, KU’s all-time assists leader, is talking to various NBA teams about summer-league ball. He said he loves living in Lawrence.

“I’m enjoying Lawrence and the community,” said Miles, who grew up in Portland, Ore. “Owning a house … it’s my first time. Coming home from overseas, after living in the Towers (as a student) .. this is different. It feels great being with my fiancee and little boy, enjoying life.”

• KU junior Cole Aldrich has been busy working camps all summer, while also lifting weights and conditioning. He’s headed to work NBA player Amare Stoudemire’s camp later this month in Arizona. “It’s all about getting ready for the season,” Aldrich said.

Of working at Self’s camp, Aldrich said: “It’s a fun week, so many kids. Tyrel (Reed, roommate) was telling me last year he went to this camp four or five straight years as a kid. Now he’s working it. It’s cool to see small-town kids and even kids in K.C. and Topeka come here and play against kids they don’t know and some they do know.”


esteshawk 12 years, 7 months ago

I wonder how many ex-Jayhawks have a home in Lawrence? Seems like you see their names pop up a lot. All the way back to the old-timers.

jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago


Don't know how many, but...

I hope Coach Self keeps a list on the wall behind his desk, so recruits and their parents can see it when they visit.

Many of us who grow up saturated with the fantasies of popular media, whether in big cities, or small ones, have a hard time understanding what quality of life actually is. They are literally brainwashed by media by the time they are 15. They think you have to live in one of the mythic cities (New York, LA, London, Paris), or playgrounds (beach towns, mountain towns, etc.), of movies and TV to have a cool life. They don't understand that some of the best places, in fact, most of the really great places are never mentioned in movies and TV. The super rich and celebrities almost always have homes--at least one--in great out of the way places. They stay in the mythic cities, largely because they need a business/social presence to maintain their enterprises, inheritances, professional networks, and legacy social networks. And some of the celebs among them need to stay in those places, because they are too hot from the spot light of fame to get the anonymity they need in smaller places. But when the spot light finally moves off them, or they tire from the scorching heat of it and flea it to find peace, there are all kinds of wonderful places outside the mythical geography of mass media that they go. Lawrence, for persons who know of it, and with ties to it, is just one of them for former players. It has a culture for former players.

jaybate 12 years, 7 months ago

People forget that players have lived out of suit cases for five to 15 years after playing professionally. They have seen the USA. Many have seen the world. They have seen through the hype of their media-saturated upbringing. They know Paris is full of traffic tie-ups and diesel particulates and humidity even worse that Kansas. They know you can only be young and find yourself for awhile, go to so many shows and eat so many canolis in New York, before you have to admit that you are not part of the core society of that city, and likely never will be. They know LA, outside BH/Bel Aire, a few other residential islands, and beach strips, is like living in an infinite strip mall with the HVAC hooked up to the exhaust pipe of a Kenworth. These guys have been to most of the places more settled, less travelled persons only hear about. They understand that Mediterranean climates with non native palm trees have their warts, too.

Don't get me wrong. California and New York state and have great out of the way places very close to the mythic places. But what you learn when you go to them is that those great out of the way places have more in common with places like Lawrence than you might at first think, and they don't have the birth place of college basketball. They don't have a living myth that is bigger, and more fulfilling and more authentic than all the media myths one is trying to shed by the time one is smart enough to shed them.

When you've been to Lawrence, how ya gonna keep'em down in Paris?

yates33333 12 years, 7 months ago

Since I trust Jaybate all I can say is that Lawrence must have really changed since the late 1950s, changed for the much better than when.

100 12 years, 7 months ago

Great analysis Jaybate. I think for many of us there's no better place in the world, basketballwise & community wise.

I know Pollard & Pierce used to spend a lot of time here -- surely they're too busy nowadays.

As for Miles, Keith is so right. What a fantastic player, and flat out winner. A smart GM (Buford or Pritchard) will eventually sign him.

Tony Bandle 12 years, 7 months ago

My younger brother lives in Lawrence and has indicated that maybe a dozen or so Jayhawk Alum have houses in Larry, KS but not all live in town full time. I'll try to reach him and get some names. Most of them are from the 1988 class on.

rawkhawk 12 years, 7 months ago

I love's got a special vibe. Although I'm currently in western slope Colo, I've always tried to live in places with that "Lawrence-vibe". I'm glad I'm to return to Lawrence fairly regularly. I find it interesting but not surprising that so many former players are establishing roots back in their old college town.

jcsmith 12 years, 7 months ago

AWWWW, Lawrence.

It may not be "Hollywood", But if you live here, it is our own paradise. If your a ball player, it IS your "Hollywood". It may not be main stream media all the time, but players are constantly talked about and thought about on a dailey basis.

Walked out of the restroom in Wal Mart just last Thursday and my fiancee' says, "OMG, theres (Sherron) Collins." I look over by the Customer Service desk and hes setting on a bench on his cell phone looking at us. Out of respect for him as a person, I just knodded. I dont want to bother them by goin psycho on them asking for autographs and wishing them a good season. Thats something this town is really good at. Just letting celebrities be. Couple weeks ago was at Abe and Jakes and Travis Releford and the Morris twins were in there. Noone really bothered them. They did they're thing and people just left them alone. You see them around town, but you repect their privacy and space. Its something that is just natural in this town. Lawrence is a very unique place. Not sure what it is, its just "Right".

Scott MacWilliams 12 years, 7 months ago

Oh, to be back in Lawrence again. Except for the mind-numbing heat...

jcsmith, I appreciate your sentiments and show of respect for Sherron, but I think if I were in the same place, I would have felt compelled to walk over, shake his hand, thank him for doing such a great job and leave it at that.

It would be interesting to see just how many Jayhawk hoops alums do keep homes in Lawrence. I've heard of some of the pickup games that happen there in the summer, that have many of the famous names from the past out there busting their butts for all their worth. I could be wrong, but I don't think there are many college towns that see that kind of thing on a regular basis.

kvskubball 12 years, 7 months ago

Wait, I need to run out and by myself a pair of red slippers.....So I can follow the yellow brick road home!

jchief40 12 years, 7 months ago

I think "buy" is what you were trying to say. Some of the spelling on here is just inexcusable. Hopefully you are not a KU student.

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