It’s decision-making time for Kansas University basketball player Conner Teahan ... again.
“Our trainer was just making fun of me saying I’m always trying to be ‘Brett Favre-esque,’” Teahan said with a smile, comparing his series of quandaries to that of the Minnesota Vikings quarterback, who yearly contemplates whether to play in the NFL another season or retire for good.
The 6-foot-5, 212-pound senior out of Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst High for the second straight preseason is pondering red-shirting — practicing but not playing in games — and completing his five-year KU career in 2011-12.
This is the same Teahan who worked out with the KU football team as a quarterback last spring before ultimately deciding to remain a one-sport athlete.
“It’s something that’s tough, but at the same time, it is what it is,” Teahan said of making a series of important calls about his future.
Teahan — he averaged 3.8 minutes a game in 19 games in 2009-10 after deciding to not red-shirt — again faces the prospect of minimal playing time on the perimeter, especially if freshman Josh Selby is cleared for participation by the NCAA.
Meanwhile a year from now, KU will be without senior perimeter players Mario Little, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed. The Jayhawks also could lose Selby, Marcus Morris and/or Tyshawn Taylor to the NBA.
“It’s a little bit about playing time,” said Teahan, who sat out Tuesday’s exhibition against Washburn and also may miss next Tuesday’s Emporia State contest because of NCAA rules that prohibit a non-first-year player from red-shirting if he enters a preseason game.
“I’ve always said that’s been a main goal of mine, but with playing time, it’s how you can help the team out. If coach (Bill Self) thinks I can help the team in terms of in games next year, then I’ll probably red-shirt.
“Also, I do have some school I need to finish up. If I end up red-shirting, I’ll probably go for my MBA, which is something I’ve been wanting to do,” the Finance major added.
KU has received a commitment from Naadir Tharpe, a 6-0 senior out of Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H. KU is also in the running for Ben McLemore, a 6-5 senior guard out of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
“You never really know the future. That’s what I was talking to coach about ... nothing is guaranteed,” Teahan said. “I understand if I red-shirt, it’s not like I’m going to come into a situation expecting anything. You’ve still got to work hard.
“This is Kansas. Of course we are going to go get some guys this fall or this spring who can come in and play. That’s what’s expected.”
Even if KU signs a batch of new players, there might be a need for a veteran presence in 2011-12.
“Even if it comes down to something where let’s say I red-shirt and we get some great guards and I end up not playing (much) next year, I could still be a vocal leader on the team,” Teahan said. “That’s always something that’s needed and I could be somebody that can help the young guys out.”
Self has said it was good for Travis Releford and Mario Little to red-shirt last season because it has assured them graduation. Athletes sometimes need an extra year because of the great time demands in playing a sport.
“We talked about it last year. Coach kind of brought it up because he knew I might have to do some more schooling. He knows I’m trying to get my MBA, so he said, ‘If you are going to be in school, why not play basketball?’ It’s a good point,” Teahan said.
Teahan said that as of today, “it’s 50-50. I’m still weighing my options. I think in the end, coach Self will steer me in the right direction and so will my parents.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot, but I am just focused on trying to make the team better right now.”
Of the situation, Self said: “There’s a chance Conner will red-shirt. We will not play him in the next exhibition game more than likely because if we do, then he forfeits that right. Just because we don’t play him the next game doesn’t mean he’s red-shirting because we’re going to wait. He wants to wait, but he’s totally open to that (red-shirting) if we decide go in that direction.”
Teahan has had a good preseason camp.
“I feel I’ve been playing well. The thing is you practice every day so you have your good days and bad days,” he said. “You try to get better every day to make the team better every day.”
Of Teahan’s career, Self said: “He’s been the odd guy out and not had a chance to play. Like (former KU national title team reserve) Jeremy Case, he’s not really had a chance, but not because he hasn’t gotten better. He’s a good player.”
Hoops only: The fact KU was down to its third-string quarterback last week did not make Teahan second-guess his decision to leave the football team after spring drills.
“No regrets,” Teahan said. “I’m happy I went out there and tried it out. I’m also happy I’m back here. Best of luck to the football team, though. I became friends with a lot of football players. They are very nice guys, very nice to me and very welcoming. I want to see them succeed. I hope they can turn it around,” he added of the 2-6 Jayhawks, who play host to Colorado on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
On scholarship: Former walk-on Teahan is grateful to be on scholarship this year. One became available when Xavier Henry turned pro, leaving 12 of 13 available slots full.
“I got informed the last weekend of August. Coach told me he was going to put me on scholarship. He told me I earned it and decided it was time for me to be on scholarship so he gave me one. It’s great,” Teahan said. “I never thought it was a huge deal I didn’t have one in the first place. However it is nice getting a scholarship. The title is more being a ‘Kansas basketball player’ than being a ‘scholarship athlete.’’’
Reed up for award: KU senior Tyrel Reed is of 30 candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, presented to the Div. I player who has “notable achievements in four areas of excellence — community, classroom, character and competition.” Ten finalists will be placed on the official ballot midway through the season. Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen and Texas’ Gary Johnson are also on the ballot.
McLemore update: Ben McLemore, a 6-5 senior from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., who visited Missouri last weekend, will sign with either KU or MU during the Nov. 10-17 signing period.
“Quinn Cook and Ben McLemore (are) close to making their college decisions. Could happen in the next few days,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith tweeted on Wednesday night.