Kansas University junior combo guard Elijah Johnson put on an impressive three-point shooting exhibition for Bill Self’s basketball campers on Tuesday afternoon in Horejsi Center.
Darting around a team manager who was setting screens, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Johnson swished between five and 10 treys in a row several different times in a high-energy, 20-minute drill.
“It’s like dancing. You catch a rhythm and you go,” Johnson said. “Just like the O.K. State game, it’s a rhythm with me. Once I’m on, I’m on.”
Johnson, who hit 22 of 55 threes his sophomore season (40 percent), went 4-for-4 from beyond the arc in a 92-65 pounding of Oklahoma State last Feb. 21 in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I don’t count how many I shoot (practicing) or how many I make. I just try to see the highest number I can make in a row,” Johnson said.
“Conner Teahan (senior guard) can make about 60 in a row. I’ve seen him do it and from anywhere, too. With me, the number varies. I’ve made about 42, 43 in a row before. I’ve probably made more than that, but that’s just lately I made 42 in a row.”
The former Las Vegas Cheyenne High standout, who averaged 3.4 points, 1.8 assists and 13.7 minutes a game in 36 games last season, realizes he’ll have to provide scoring punch following the loss of the Morris twins, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Mario Little and Josh Selby.
“Somebody has to make shots. We’ve got to have guards that can make a shot,” Johnson said. “I feel like every guard on our team can make shots this year. Tyshawn (Taylor) drives so well. He can shoot the ball.”
Johnson believes hard work in the spring and summer will pay off during the 2011-12 season.
“Me and Thomas (Robinson, junior power forward) were trying to take no days off since the season ended, especially Thomas. Coach (Bill Self) told us to leave the ball alone a little bit and let our legs recover and start over so I stopped playing ball a little bit,” Johnson said of the week or so following KU’s season-ending, Elite Eight loss to VCU.
“Once I got back into it I felt like I was learning all over again. It made it fun again, just working and being in the gym, starting all over again — 365 (days).”
Johnson said he relishes the opportunity to grasp a more meaningful role in games.
“Honestly the time to go is now (after KU’s personnel losses). I’m one of the people to look up to with Tyshawn, Thomas. We’ve got to carry the team,” Johnson said. “The team will go as far as we take ’em, so I am willing to take ’em far.”
Johnson, who is enrolled in summer school, has time to make his mark.
“I need to get stronger, to make sure I’m definitely the strongest guard. I am right now, but I definitely want to be the strongest guard on the team,” Johnson said. “Also learn how to work with the freshmen because they are an important piece of our puzzle, to be a leader, lead by example, have a good attitude.”
Keller to A&M: Texas A&M on Tuesday officially announced the hiring of KU video coordinator Kyle Keller as assistant coach on new Aggie coach Billy Kennedy’s staff.
Prior to his three-year stint at KU, Keller served nine years on the Oklahoma State staff under head coaches Eddie Sutton and Sean Sutton.
“I’ve known Kyle for a long time,” Kennedy said. “His experience in the Big 12 and his ability to recruit Dallas and the state of Texas will be a great benefit to our program.”
KU coach Bill Self said he was, “really excited for Kyle. Kyle has been basically in a situation because of the staff change at Oklahoma State, he’s been overqualified doing what he’s doing here. It’s great seeing him to get back on the road (recruiting as full-time assistant).”
Self said he did not know if he’d replace Keller at KU.
“If we do (get somebody) we could use somebody that is very computer savvy and certainly hungry and really wants to learn and grow. I’m not sure we have to do anything. I’m going to wait and evaluate and see where we need to go as we go through the summer,” Self said.
Collins in Puerto Rico: Former KU guard Sherron Collins, who was released by the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats last winter, has signed with Puerto Rican pro team Piratas de Quebradillas for the rest of the season.
Say what?: Marcus Morris had the Internet buzzing with a quote he provided to the San Francisco Chronicle after Monday’s workout with the Golden State Warriors.
“I think there's a little buzz that I'm more than advertised,” Morris said. “At Kansas, you're really restricted from showing your game. I think a lot of teams are surprised that I’m better than they expected. I’m not afraid of going to a workout, because I don't feel like there’s anything I can’t do.”
Lest anybody think the talkative, ever-quotable Morris has anything against KU, he also told nba.com he felt “privileged to play at Kansas (where) Danny Manning was a mentor to me. He helped me a lot, made me successful playing the 4 (power forward) and helped me with everything.”
Marcus was asked by Milwaukee WSSP radio who will be better when all is said and done: the Morris twins or the NBA’s Lopez brothers?
“Is that a trick question? Not to take anything away from those guys. I think they are great players. I just think me and Markieff have been through a little bit more,” Marcus said. “I think we have different aspects of our game that are just a little bit more than those two. They are both just strictly centers, so there’s not too much they could do as far as stretching the defense and creating open shots off the dribble and things like that. I think me and Markieff both can really do that real well, so at the end of the day I think me and Markieff are probably going to better.”