Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Delighted to be here: KU basketball walk-on Niko Roberts optimistic heading into sophomore season

Kansas University guard Niko Roberts smiles as he listens to campers chanting for him to dunk at the Bill Self basketball camp on Tuesday, June 15, 2011 at the Horejsi Center.

Kansas University guard Niko Roberts smiles as he listens to campers chanting for him to dunk at the Bill Self basketball camp on Tuesday, June 15, 2011 at the Horejsi Center.


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Norm Roberts, who was hired as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Florida last April, hasn’t tried to convince his oldest son, Niko, to join him in Gainesville, Fla.

“No, he hasn’t been begging me to come. He knows I love it here and want to be here. I’ll visit him when I can, but Kansas is the place for me right now,” said Niko, Kansas University’s 5-foot-11, 175-pound sophomore walk-on guard from Huntington, N.Y.

Norm, of course, is thrilled his son is playing ball at KU, where he worked as an assistant coach on Bill Self’s 2003-04 staff. Norm also worked for Self at Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois from 1996-2003 and ran his own program at St. John’s, where he went 81-101 from 2005-10.

“He’s been there (Florida) for a month. He loves it. He loves the coaching staff. He loves the team. I think he loves the situation he’s in right now,” Niko said of Norm, who now works for Billy Donovan at the SEC school.

“Definitely,” Niko added, when asked if dad would be a head coach again. “Because he is a great coach, a great guy, a great person. He does things the right way. He just has to wait for the right spot for him.”

Niko — he averaged 16.0 points and 5.0 assists a game his senior season at Saint Anthony’s High in Long Island, N.Y. — considered walking on at VCU, East Carolina and some other schools before becoming a non-scholarship player at KU.

Now a seasoned sophomore, he’s taken KU freshmen Ben McLemore and Naadir Tharpe under his wing.

“I’m rooming with Ben so I see him every single day. Naadir is always in the room, too,” Roberts said Tuesday before working out for Bill Self’s basketball campers. “I’m trying to give them little pointers to figure out how to work their situation here, how to deal with classes.

“I really like Ben. Ben is funny. So is Naadir,” Roberts added of 6-foot-5 St. Louis native McLemore and 6-foot Worcester, Mass., native Tharpe.

“I’m not used to meeting people from Massachusetts. His accent ... anything he says makes me laugh,” Roberts added of Tharpe. “Ben is just funny because of the way he does things. He doesn’t even mean to be funny half the time. They are both hilarious.”

Niko likes what he’s seen of half of KU’s incoming freshman class on the basketball court. Freshmen Braeden Anderson and Jamari Traylor should be on campus next week.

“They’ve been playing well in pick-up,” Roberts said. “Ben is so athletic. He’s going to be great. Naadir is going to be a really good point guard. He’s always looking to set somebody up. I think they will impact our team real well.”

Roberts, who played 22 minutes in 12 games last season, has been fine-tuning his own game.

“Coach (Kurtis) Townsend has been working with me on my handle a lot. My dribbling is getting better. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to the rack easier and create plays,” Roberts said.

“It (summer) is perfect. Right now it’s a little bit crazy because we are working camps, playing pick-up. We’re just busy throughout the whole day. Summer is a good transition. We can still relax a little bit and enjoy being in college, not just out there every day practicing.”

The Jayhawks play pick-up almost every day.

“We know what we are capable of. We are ready to play,” Niko said of 2011-12. “I think we are just as good as we were last year. We just may look a little bit different.”

NBA workouts: Former KU forward Marcus Morris worked out for the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. He’ll run through drills for the Toronto Raptors today. Marcus’ brother, Markieff, will work out for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers today.


Mike Rotchurtz 8 years, 11 months ago

If Niko thinks this year's team will be as good as last year's, I hope he's right. He's probably in the minority with that opinion.

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 11 months ago

I understand why people feel that way, but 2008-2009 looked like a long year when it was starting, and all we did was win the Big XII AGAIN! If HCBS can pull that rabbit out of his hat, this most certainly can be a good year.

HawksWin 8 years, 11 months ago

I'll take this walk-on Niko with optimism any day over Daniel prima donna spoiled brat. Here's an article on how/why DD chose UConn! Good riddens! Hats off to Self.

Dan Pawlowski 8 years, 11 months ago

Yep, not wasting any sleep over that one (up late anyway ...studying). These kids need to learn they are not bigger than any BBall program and especially when that program is Kansas! Rock Chalk! Thanks for the link.

Paul Brozik 8 years, 11 months ago

I hope teahan makes self look like a genius by knocking down shots coming off the bench this year.

HawksWin 8 years, 11 months ago

You're welcome ralster. We all felt something was not quite right with his recruiting process. I agree we don't need a high maintenance LeBron ego in the making OAD to come & stir up our good team chemistry.

Michael Sillman 8 years, 11 months ago

The article in your link does not make much sense. Back in January, Self had scholarships to give. Tharpe was the only early commitment in the November signing period. That left at least two scholarships. Daniels could have made an oral commitment for the April-May signing period. He couldn't sign until then anyway.

That being said, I am fine with his decision to go East anyway. This year's team will be fun to watch regardless of how the league championship plays out or how far they make it in the tournament.

James Miller 8 years, 11 months ago

I am glad he did not come, because I want Travis to start. I love Travis, and it is his time to shine. Travis will become an NBA type of talent over the next two years. TT will become an NBA type point guard, and Withey will show everybody this year why he was highly rated player coming out of high school. This will be a great year.

Gregor Southard 8 years, 11 months ago

a lot of coulds and maybes in that article, but I'm not one to doubt Self

REHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Whatever really did happen with the Daniels recruiting thing, I am relieved that we probably do not face another one and done situation with a player this season. As potentially great as he obviously was, Selby was a disruption. Xavier played well, but will barely be long remembered as a Jayhawk hoopster. One and doners are like pop artists, exciting for a brief moment, then POOF! Much more exciting in their Promise than their Substance. Kudos to Bill Self for loyalty to his returning players, Conner especially. We've the ingredients for exciting competitive league play, perhaps even another deep run into the NCAA Tournament. The coaching staff will be challenged to squeeze the most out of a stable of rawer talent than usual. We bounced back well in '09. Let's get fired up about doing it again!

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

“I think we are just as good as we were last year. We just may look a little bit different.” --Niko Roberts

Kids a coach right now!

Dang, I love that kind of fight in the dog.

He's already smart enough to stay on message, once Self lists the talking points.

If he stays 4, he'll find a way on the wood in some supporting role, at least.

Norm, we'll take good care of him, but we understand, if you two want to be together, also.

Niko is going to be a coach; that much seems clear.

Two years of Self and two years of Donovan by the time he graduates, would make him a Ph.flippin' D out of the BA box. I like a Self-Donovan hybridization of ball. I like you being there exploring and synthesizing it. I like you bringing it back to Lawrence, if someone on our staff jumps. I like you taking it to the streets, if you go HC elsewhere.

Go, Norm, go!

I always knew Donovan was a good coach, but he became a man in my eyes from the minute he hired you.

Screw those AAU pimps and shoe whores back in the Apple, Billy and Norm. Any year KU can't win a ring, I hope you guys do.

Rock Chalk!

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 11 months ago

'Niko is going to be a coach' I agree and a good one as well.. He already thinks for himself and passes up the easy ride with dad. Self will teach him the ins and outs and I'm sure his dad has already taught him fundamentals and strategy. I also see him getting an extended role with the team.

I don't see him in Self's 7-9 man rotation but he won't be relegated to only getting garbage time. Lastly, you need the right attitude to be a successful coach..this kid has it.

TonganoxieHawkfan 8 years, 11 months ago

How many basketball players across the country would transfer if their dad went to a different school? This kid is obviosly committed to this team, and i give him thanks for that.

Dan Pawlowski 8 years, 11 months ago

Also a testament to how great a place it is to go to school.....waving the wheat!

clevelandjayhawker 8 years, 11 months ago

I want this team to have a chip on its shoulder...not a target on its back.

Lets go into mid March as a 3-5 seed and see what happens when teams think they can roll on us because we have a lower seed. And I hope we have learned a lesson in giving teams extra motivation, just play. I loved last years group, may have been one of my fav teams of all time, but now TRob is going to start with another year under his belt, we have some depth at guard and they are all super athletic, and we have 3 or 4 guys that are in that 6'3 to 6'6 range that will cause matchup problems.

No pressure to win = fun. We may have growing pains early but come March we will be a team that is ready to play!!!

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

"Some Ways KU Will Be as Good, But Look Different"

After a coaches round table discussion of the VCU loss, mentioned recently by 100, jaybate News Service (jns) reports that the staff has deciced that a key contributor to the debacle, was not only too many open looks given VCU, but a stifling lack of self-expression in player appearances. A show of hands among coaches ruled that anything could go for one season, except head bands, which a unanious vote indicated as being too cliche. What follows are seven examples of ways KU will be as good, or better, but look different this coming season.

~Tyshawn Taylor--He will be as good (probably even better), but he will don a Dennis Rodman rainbow wig for the KU-KSU game...just to play with Frank's mind.

~Thomas Robinson--He will be as good (probably vastly better), but he will convince Self to change KU's uniforms to skin tight, non textile lycra and nylon composites that make him look even more cut "everywhere" than before.

~Elijah Johnson--He will be as good (probably vastly better), but will retain Michael Bastian to design the first wrinkled linen warm-up with a hoodie and cell phone pouch ever.

~Travis Releford--He will be as good (probably vastly better), but he will convince Self to let him wear the new thigh augmenters from DARPA that will allow him to literally jump through the roof of Allen Field house before descending to Windmill dunk.

~Jeff Withey--He will be as good (probably vastly better), but he will surprise Coach Self by turning down Self's offer to help him feel more comfortable on the blocks by wearing Brian Wilson surfer baggies, instead of the new skin tight suits Tyshawn, TRob, The Prophet, and TRel have opted for. Instead, Jeff, in a retro-chic move, opts for Hermes trunks of the kind worn by Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity. Surfs up, at Diamond Head, the newest bar/coffee infusion house soon to open in Lawrence. (Yeah, I cribbed Brian's baggies and Burt's Hermes suit from a GQ search, so sue me!).

~Chancellor Bernie--She will be as good of a Chancellor (probably vastly better without Scalpinggate to worry about), but at Bill's request for leadership in self-expression, CBernie leaves it all on the floor this season by sporting and assortment of crimson and blue creations from Alexander McQueen plus one real eye popper from Stella McCartney she calls an Eleanor Rigby restoration look.

~Bill Self--the king of traditional Okie chic will be as good (probably vastly better as he continues his quest to join Wooden as a Wizard), but Bill is steppin' out big time in a Tom Ford spring/summer 2011 line pink number coupled with several of Ford's dark, double breasted pin stripes. See link below.

(Note: All fiction. No malice.)

captku 8 years, 11 months ago

Elijah has some mad ups. I know Selby has showcased his 43-in vertical post KU (I don't remember seeing it while he was here), but I'll take EJ's 45 on the receiving end of a oop anyday to bring down the Phog on the opponent. I can see it now, "oop by St. Thomas, and the Prophet with the Ascension and finish!" . I really liked his game development last year. Looking forward to next! (Makes one think a bit of the KU seal with all this talk!)

Ken Sedgwick 8 years, 11 months ago

Wanted; Good lawyer to help me sue Jaybate.

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

If I get all the damages in cash up front, I will find you one, and make a few bucks on the float. :-)

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

Swim suit makers promise a 3-7% increase in speed with the non-textile suits. We've got to get the non-textile skin tights for TRob now! Let's say he only bumps his speed on his moves 1.5-3.5%, he is still approaching TT speed. And if TT wears the suits, TT will be at the rim before he even starts!

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

HawksWin - If that article is the truth, Deandre belongs to the species "Bratus Maximus".

The athleticism of this team is off the charts: A healthy Taylor, A healthy Travis, An unleashed Elijah, TRob being TRob, Seven foot center Jeff with six-eight forward quickness, Lightning quick Naadir, A slasher and masher in BenMac Raw power in Braedon, Raw power in Jamari, Good genes in Justin, Potential Mr. Automatic Trifecta in Conner. Fearlessness from walk-on Nino.

External deprecation will become internal motivation i.e. everyone says we'll suck...we are going to prove everyone wrong!!!

In my personal opinion, I think the 2011-2012 Jayhawks are going to be very, very dangerous.

HawksWin 8 years, 11 months ago

Oak - I can't confirm the story, but it sure sounds plausible based on DD's in/actions during his recruiting process. As for your outlook on our 2011-12 team, +1.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

I'M WORKIN' ON IT!!!! LOL!! {:>)

{Nice subtlety, JB}

Jack Wilson 8 years, 11 months ago

Oak the Optimist. Top 10 in reply - 1. Taylor: We need more than health, here .. distribution of the ball. 2. Travis: Please, please be able to hit the three at 40+%. 3. EJ: Ditto. 4. TRob: Ditto. 5. Withey: Solid defense, a swat machine ... and KU fans far and wide will appreciate this ... the ability to NOT miss the bunnies near the rim. And perhaps a little baby-hook added to the repertoire. 6. Naadir: To come to camp, surprise with his ability to make his teammates better -- meaning that is is obvious that he creates shots and scoring opportunities for others, and thus push TT to that sort of focus. 7. Ben: To be better than expected. To come in and be the impact freshman we have been hoping for. 8. Teahan: 45% three-ball, on call when needed. 9. Back-up 4s: One that is adequate. 10. For this team to be a defensive monster. I have not seen that discussed. This team may be the type of team that can become the stopper .. look at the projected starters. All have the ability. That could be the x-factor that makes this team better than expected.

Glass half full.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 11 months ago

Nice HEM! Hope we get at least 7. 3-pt percentage will be a must but also the hardest to fulfill..unless these guys made the sacrifice over the summer.

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

Hey, your prose sounds like your diet is just about right. You workin' with Hudy, too?! :-)

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 11 months ago

Nice slayr.. 'What remains constant with Bill Self (and Kansas) is the determination to be #1; first, by winning another Big 12 Title, and second, by winning another National Title in March.' Wish that was reversed ala Manning and the Miracles But yeah..should be an exciting (and perhaps exacerbating) year.

KeithLangford4EVER 8 years, 11 months ago

Here comes Big 12 minus 2 championship number 8 in a row! Thomas Robinson is going to have a HUGE break through year, i can smell it in his bicep sweat.

cg1029 8 years, 11 months ago

This entire section of comments is ridiculus... First that link is suspect at best as they site "Recruiting Sources" but fail to name any names... Second anyone who says that they are happy that Self did not pull a scholorship for DD in January needs to look back at their comments from when they were complaing about players like Morningstar throughout the year. Third if you really think that Withy, Relaford, or any of the low ranked freshmen are going to play to the level of your expecttations you are insane... Between Withy and Relaford I am seeing 10 fouls a game and I will take the under on 8 combined points per game for the year.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 11 months ago

'Second anyone who says that they are happy that Self did not pull a scholarship (ar) for DD in January needs to look back at their comments blah blah blah'

In that time frame, things changed. I believe their were academic issues that needed to be concluded before he could enroll. I also thought he wanted to come to Lawrence and was excited about the prospect but when his wavering, indecisive media craving true self emerged, I had already moved on..and I suspect I'm not alone in feeling that way. I'm sure he loved the attention i.e. 'The Best Recruit Left: DeAndre Daniels' If at the last moment, he said KU and not UConn, I would have been happy but I also would have been wondering if he really wanted to be here.

You know, like Niko Roberts. The subject of the article

Bottom line is that I want players who want KU and understands the difference being a Jayhawk and being a Husky.

Lastly at least take the time to get the players names correct.

JayDocMD 8 years, 11 months ago

Put me down for a C note betting Withey/Releford (both with an "e") score > 8ppg - it will be closer to 15 ppg.

JayDocMD 8 years, 11 months ago

right on cue - who was the leading scorer for tonight's scrimmage? My man Releford looking ready to break out this year!

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

A couple threads back, ralster made a great post that I some how overlooked in my Evelyn Woods frenzy.

"No one has presented any data or substantiated reason that Teahan cannot be the next BStar or Tyrel Reed. Why not?" --ralster

Clearly, Conner is not quite as athletic as Tyrel and Brady, or he would have been playing some. And clearly he has not been able to get his shot down when Self gave him his looks in the past and that has stopped him cold.

but, ralster, thanks for posting this. The message of Tyrel and BStar is: nothing is written in D1 any more.

I don't rule out Jordan.

I don't rule out Justin.

I don't rule out Niko.

D1 ball is so very different now. Early, unexpected departures make the rosters much more unstable than the old four year days, when walk-ons and lesser recruits were pretty much stuck on the bench for eternity.

Also, the trey stripe and the XTReme Game have interacted with this rising volatility in rosters to enable more occassional slots for players with either less athleticism, or simply more guys that can do glue (guard, protect, feed the post, shoot 40% on spot up treys, and strip).

Finally, the sophistication of weight training and dietary programs, plus the rising level of coaching and the near real time access to tape means a lot more of these marginal players, who are also workaholics, can amp what abilities they do have to a higher level than in the past.

Guys like Tyrel and Brady blessed with good springs, above average speed and a good touches, when they possess a gym rat's work ethic, can now squeeze through the seine from time to time, because of unexpected turnover rippling into recruiting shortfalls, and the ever present unexpected injuries, etc.

Self had Tyrel and Brady on his team last season.

The mid majors that survive a few rounds in the Madness are full of these guys, too. Self said as much after the VCU game, something like: Hey, I looked at the opponent and there wasn't that much difference between their guys and our guys.

Nothing is written, if Cal can consistently land the talent levels he hauls in and can't win a ring, can't even win 30 some of the time.

Nothing is written.

But the long and athletics still prevail, as well they should, anytime they can guard, protect, feed the post, strip and pot the triceratop.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

The triceratop, similar to the good doctor in Jurassic Park, was and always will be my favorite dinosaur.

T-Rex hated these massive combatents because, with their low center of gravity, they could get under his defenses and gut him like a fish, using those three magnificent horns.

Their necks, protected by the armored bone frill shield, were a difficult target for the fierce carnivore.

When cornered to protect her nest, the female triceratops may have been, pound for pound, one of the most dangerous creatures to walk the face of the earth.

[Kind of like soobawls]

Jack Wilson 8 years, 11 months ago

Did someone say "soobawls" .. our favorite raincloud. As one of my buddies used to say, like finding a turd in the turkey. But, dang it, I miss the guy.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

Rumor has it , he was actually a she...which makes it even more spectacular!!

Soobawls, anthonyzal, etc. .....where did they go?

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago


I have mentioned you to a 12-year-old boy who dreams of building the "real" Jurassic Park in ten years, once he gets his Ph.d. and post doc in genetic engineering out of the way. He is precocious. He sketches and plans endlessly on the site layout and has already worked a new model of interactive predator-prey behavior in order to help him anticipate the introductions of various dinosaurs into the island park. He has already said he is looking for an architecture as "functionally alive" as his genetically engineered dinosaurs, and, yes, you will have to got to a tropical island he is not yet willing to disclose, in order to design the site and buildings for him. Money is not object with him (yet). Though still only 12, he has from the age of five or so been fortunate enough to meet and talk with some of the leading paleontologists in the USA. Each one has recognized him as a kindred spirit--a human being completely obsessed with 260 million year old, bird-hipped monsters lurking amidst thick, juicy cycads. No dinosaur name was too hard for him to pronounce accurately even at the age of 5, and no detail about them is too small for him to include in his now encyclopedic knowledge of them. Keep healing your gut, keep working, and remember this young man in ten years. He will make you more rich and respected than Renzo Piano. I have told him you have the right stuff and he trusts me. There will be no competitions for the commission. I have told him about you and he is committed to you. He asks only that you leave it all on the CAD-CAM and then the site for him and his dinosaurs.

Rock Chalk!

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Thomas Crapper.....all were 12 at one time, so anything is possible. Tell him what Frankie L Wright used to say.." God is in the details...and the dinosaurs."

Jeeveshawk 8 years, 11 months ago

My prediction for 2012 team... We will start out lowly ranked or unranked and will not be picked to win Big 12. We will loose a game or two in that UK, Duke, KU, Mich State thing we are in but we will beat MSU and loose the either or both Duke and UK. Then we will not get taken as a very good team. We might win the rest of the non conference games but we will probably loose a late nonconference game. Because of HCBS we will get better and better throughout the season and win an eigth Big 12 crown. Not that we will go undefeated in the B12 (and yes it is keeping its name). We won't win the B12 tourney and we will get a 2 or a 3 seed in the NCAA tourney and we will then go to the final four. In the Natl Semifinals we will loose a heartbreaker because some freshman will do something stupid at the last second of a close game. Or maybe it will be a lucky three hit by the lower seeded team we're supposed to beat. We could end up winning it all and Im not trying to be pessimistic.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 11 months ago

I'll take it.

But I have to ask, what's with the cute little rabbit as the avatar? Not saying I dislike cute little rabbits. Nothing bad to say about cute little rabbits. Never had a cute little rabbit. Just, in the world of potential avatars, you pick the cute little rabbit. Puzzling. It is much better than jayhawkinnebr's cucumber, though .. perhaps not for the female members here .. but .. anyway .. I gotta know the story on the cute little rabbit.

Jeeveshawk 8 years, 11 months ago

HEM. This picture is of my rabbit Jeeves. I made this account shortly after he died so I named my account "Jeeveshawk" to honor him. Since my account was named after him I decided to put this picture of him as my Avatar.

rwhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

"Marcus’ brother, Markieff..."

I'm so glad LJW clarified so specifically. Imagine all of us reading "Marcus' brother" and wondering, "Who the heck is Marcus' brother?!" Or if they had written just "Markieff Morris" we might have thought, "These two guys share the same last name. What are the chances that they might be brothers?!"

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