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Monday, January 9, 2012

Justin Wesley makes mom proud

‘Snaggletooth’ solid in front of mother at OU

Kansas’ Justin Wesley, center, poses with mother Charlene Taylor-Mask, left, and her husband, Larry, after Saturday’s win at Oklahoma.

Kansas’ Justin Wesley, center, poses with mother Charlene Taylor-Mask, left, and her husband, Larry, after Saturday’s win at Oklahoma.

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Kansas University sophomore basketball forward Justin Wesley hasn’t received any extra pampering or T.L.C. from his mother since he had a front-right tooth knocked out at practice on Nov. 28.

“She was (upset) at first, but all she does is make fun of me. She calls me ‘Snaggletooth,’” the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Wesley said with a laugh after grabbing four rebounds and scoring two points on a strong move to the hoop off an offensive rebound in Saturday’s 72-61 victory over Oklahoma at OU’s Noble Center.

Wesley’s mom, Charlene Taylor-Mask, attended the game in Norman, making the drive from Houston, where she lives with husband, Larry.

“That stuff doesn’t bother me anymore,” Charlene said of being squeamish over her sons’ losing teeth and getting bloodied.

“Now all three of them have had their front tooth knocked out,” she added, referring to her oldest son, Keith Langford, having a tooth dislodged during his KU career, and middle son, Kevin, who had a tooth displaced during his years at TCU. “That’s something they can all get together and talk about when they’re old and not playing anymore.”

Keith, who is KU’s seventh-leading scorer of all time, currently plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. Kevin Langford plays for Navarra in Spain.

“Keith is super-excited (about baby brother Justin). He says he’s not the same kid on and off the court as he was at Lamar,” Charlene said.

Justin began his career at Lamar University in 2009-10, then sat out last season at KU in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

“I talked to Keith today. He said, ‘Look at the stat line (from OU game) — four rebounds, a steal, a block, 13 productive minutes,’” Charlene said, proudly.

Like Keith, Charlene has noticed a big change in her son in a season-and-a-half at KU.

“It’s like night and day, not so much the physical part of the game, but from the shoulders up,” said Taylor-Mask, who played college ball at Texas-Arlington. “His all-around knowledge of what he is doing and his confidence level ... (it’s) night and day. I knew he had the physical capabilities to be good, the prototypical body to be that 3, 4, sometimes 5 guy, a defensive stopper, a freak athlete. Looking at him, his moves on the court … it’ll take time to put that together.”

“Coach (Bill Self) and I have talked about this and that, where his confidence level is now from where he came in and where it could be when he leaves. I’m proud of him and really excited for him.”

Wesley, who was put on scholarship this season after arriving as a walk-on, has come a long way just to be in the rotation. He averages 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 points while logging an average of 12.2 minutes in the frontcourt for the Jayhawks (12-3).

It seems working with Self and Danny Manning has been beneficial to the still-raw athlete.

“At the beginning (of his career), we’d always tell him stuff. Keith and Kevin would tell him things. He stepped on campus, and Danny or Bill told him something, and it was like God had spoken,” Charlene said with a laugh. “We said, ‘What? We told you that for three, four years.’ He just loves Danny. The only thing I tried to forewarn Justin … I said, ‘Your first year you are just practicing. Wait until you start playing. It’ll be different.’ He said a month ago, ‘Mom, I hit this wall. I lost confidence.’ I said, ‘Can’t you talk to Danny?’ He said, ‘Mom, with scholarships come expectations.’ I said, ‘You are one of the guys now. It is what it is. You got what you wanted.’”

Wesley, who has been a sponge soaking up knowledge from the coaches since his arrival, said he received a boost just having mom around for Saturday’s OU game.

“It’s always great to play, especially when my mom is watching,” Wesley said. “It’s great to see her. Her living in Houston ... it’s not the same drive as when Keith was here. When Keith played at KU, we lived in Fort Worth.”

He grinned when asked what mom told him about his play after the game.

“She tells me the same thing every game: ‘Run the floor harder,’” Justin said with a smile. “It’ll be fun having her at more games. She was at Late Night and in New York to see us play.”

Charlene admits she expected the worst when KU took the floor against Kentucky in the second game of the season at Madison Square Garden.

“I don’t think anybody expected them to be as good as they are now,” she said. “I was in New York thinking, ‘We are about to get straight up run out of the Garden on national TV.’”

Kentucky won, 75-65, in a close game.

“Never underestimate a kid’s heart and will,” she said. “Those kids play hard. They are playing as hard as they can and playing well.”

She’s been a bit amused at the flap surrounding Tyshawn Taylor’s Twitter account. Taylor entered into a war of words with some demanding KU fans Friday night. Charlene remembers the days she used to get into it with fans on Internet message boards.

She doesn’t use the message boards anymore, preferring to chat with fans via her Facebook account.

“When Keith was here, I was infamous,” Charlene said with a laugh. “I don’t do the boards anymore. Quite a few Kansas fans do friend requests for me on Facebook. I will answer any questions they have.

“(About Tyshawn) ... I don’t care how old he is, he is living a kid’s life. Whether he’s 21 or 22, he is not earning a living yet or paying bills yet. He’s a kid. He has feelings. He’s not out there making mistakes on purpose.

“Sometimes fans take it a little overboards. I don’t care if you are an alumni. You don’t have a vested interest more than those guys suiting up. Whether an alumni or somebody financing the program (as university donor), you are a fan, period. These kids who are on the team don’t want to make mistakes, they don’t want to lose. They are giving all they have. They want to do well more than anybody.”

Comments

texashawk10 2 years, 3 months ago

If Wesley can learn to play without fouling, he can become a very important piece of the rotation for KU. He has a natural aggressiveness about him on defense that when he learns how to play fundamental defense, he can be a real force on the defensive end of the floor. His body also looks like he could put on another 15-20 lbs. of muscle and get to the 235-240 range and just have his way with people on defensive end of the floor. His offensive skill set looks to be very limited, but if he develops any kind of offensive game and learns to play defense, look out for Wesley his senior season to make an impact for KU as either the 6th man or second front-court starter.

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always_a_jayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Hey gang, I am the reincarnation of jhwkfan162515, a passionate KU fan who lost his temper one time too many and has had his former account either restricted or erased by the webmaster. So before I say anything else, I wish to say I am sorry for letting myself get out of hand with the offensive things I have said in the past; and I will work better from now on to show respect to my fellow Jayhawk fans. We're all in this together, and, despite the fact that I disagree with many of you on different issues, I love all of you. Well, most of you; the KSU and Mizzou trolls I could do without; but otherwise, I love all of you.

Regards, ~always_a_jayhawk (formerly known as jhwkfan162515)

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AsadZ 2 years, 3 months ago

On a different note, Russell Robinson posted Bill Self's letter to him in his senior year , see below site:

http://instagr.am/p/f0Ezj/

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missouricat 2 years, 3 months ago

Tyshawn is a real good player but, he is not your best player. Releford's game against Oklahoma shows that maybe he has blossomed into something big.

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mikehawk 2 years, 3 months ago

It comes with the territory. This year the target is Tyshawn. Next year, mark my words, it will be Jeff Withey. Lesson: Don't read the blogs and stay away from Twitter. Live in your own world with your coaches and teammates.

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Sally Presson 2 years, 3 months ago

I think we all need to ease up on Tyshawn. He's cut down on his turnovers and hopefully is keeping his "Good tyshawn" attitude for every game. Justin's Mom is so correct, none of these players want to lose a game, we all expect so much out of the KU players. and honestly, we live and breath KU Men's basketball. So forgive us if we're too critical and love us because we love KU men's basketball. Justin, you can be proud to join the ranks with a front tooth knocked out--great players before you played with a tooth missing. So glad to have you on the team!! keep up the great work

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Scut Farkus 2 years, 3 months ago

If your not happy with Taylor's play you should be ripping on Coach Self for starting and playing him. There are not too many who have the balls to criticize Self. That said, if Taylor cuts down on his turnovers, he will be the best PG in the conference.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 months ago

In a different vein, with six teams [5.Duke, 7.missouri, 8.UConn, 9.Georgetown, 11.Louisville and 13.Florida] all losing last week, it will be interesting to see where #14. Kansas ends up.

Top Ten, baby...here we come!!

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MorganR 2 years, 3 months ago

I appreciate the support Mr. Wesely receives from his mom and his famiy. I liked this article because it's nice to get some insight into the players' lives and families. That’s a nice photo too. This article also highlights a long-standing concern of mine that some of the comments in these blogs, such as those about Mr. Taylor, seem so unfair. I urge my fellow Jayhawks to be supportive of KU’s athletes. I hope Jayhawk fans will appreciate Mrs. Charlene Taylor-Mask’s well-said comments in this regard: “(About Tyshawn) ... I don’t care how old he is, he is living a kid’s life. Whether he’s 21 or 22, he is not earning a living yet or paying bills yet. He’s a kid. He has feelings. He’s not out there making mistakes on purpose. “Sometimes fans take it a little overboards. I don’t care if you are an alumni. You don’t have a vested interest more than those guys suiting up. Whether an alumni or somebody financing the program (as university donor), you are a fan, period. These kids who are on the team don’t want to make mistakes, they don’t want to lose. They are giving all they have. They want to do well more than anybody.”

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REHawk 2 years, 3 months ago

I, too, look forward to future games when Justin becomes the recipient of high lob passes. The kid can jump like a kangaroo. Sometime, probably next season, we are in for a treat when Elijah, Travis and Naadir focus occasionally on plays designed for lobs to him. He might yet do some real damage this season vs. teams with limited height, e.g. the turncoat tigers.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 months ago

Justin needs to make noticable progress this season because next season playing time is going to be all-out warfare with the level of talent coming in as well as BenMac and Jamari being avalable.

It would be interesting to see what this team's record would be if the roster remained the same, but Calipari was the coach. Something tells me it would be just a LITTLE different....and not in a good way!!!

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jhwkfan162515 2 years, 3 months ago

Has anyone else had a problem trying to access their KUSports.com profile recently? I'm getting an error message, "Page Not Found".

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IrishCharlie 2 years, 3 months ago

Love these Bedore heart warming Mommy stories, just tears me up to pieces.

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FSUJHAWK 2 years, 3 months ago

JW's mom is a baller!

RCJHGKU!!!

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chriz 2 years, 3 months ago

Gosh, this kid looks like Kobe Bryant.

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JJHAWK 2 years, 3 months ago

One thing I've always liked about Jayhawk Basketball - Jayhawk family. My other comment - actually Danny is a God within Jayhawk basketball.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 3 months ago

Uuuuuuuh, is the rest of the staff on strike today? Where are the new articles?

And I wonder if Turner's mom ever stood up for her son of these boards?

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Dillon Davis 2 years, 3 months ago

I agree with the sentiments about Tyshawn. He is still a kid, playing in front of a huge spotlight at KU, under a demanding coach in HCBS, and against really good competition this year. So his own fanbase getting on his back about making mistakes isn't going to help anything. Neither is the KU media. He's our PG and that's just how it is. He's gona have a few TO's a game but as long as he equalizes that with around 10-15 points, some nice assists, and tough D who cares. We're better with him than without him and any KU fan who says otherwise is lying.

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jayhawker_97 2 years, 3 months ago

good article, Gary. Justin, i kinda knew you lost your confidence out there. but man, look at your potentials. just keep working/practicing hard with the team, be familiarized more with the plays in practice and you'll be ok. defensively, you're a good shot blocker, maybe not there yet with the # of fouls, but you'll get it (it's improving now). i can't wait to see lob passes from our guards to Justin. this kid hasn't realized his potentials yet. the only way to find out is to let Justin make mistakes!

rock chalk!!

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Jeeveshawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Its good to see that Justin Wesley is doing solid. I thought that ye would definately be a scrub last year.

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Ralster Jayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Ha, Exactly what I was talking about under the Tyshawn/Twitter story. Why did Keith Langford's mom have to defend her son on internet msg boards???????? It gives me a sickening feeling to think of the profane filth our players must face at times. Charlene is 100% correct about her take on Tyshawn!!!! As a former KU-player's mom, she knows (all too well). Thank you, Charlene! Best line from above: "these kids on the team dont want to make mistakes or lose. They are giving all they have. They want to do well more than anybody." Yep. And those kids have Bill Self breathing down their neck, too. Not pleasant, but they can handle that. The profane personal assaults are uncalled for. Period.

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