Tuesday, May 29, 2012

KU’s Elijah Johnson cautious at camp

Kansas University’s Elijah Johnson, center, poses with a pair of young participants in the KC Gym Rats Collegiate All-Star Camp on Monday, May 28, 2012, in Overland Park.

Kansas University’s Elijah Johnson, center, poses with a pair of young participants in the KC Gym Rats Collegiate All-Star Camp on Monday, May 28, 2012, in Overland Park.


— Kansas University senior Elijah Johnson accepted a pass from Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder, then bounced the basketball off the court into the hands of high-flying Jayhawk junior Justin Wesley, who finished a memorable Memorial Day dunk before 100 KC Gym Rats Collegiate All-Star campers in Blue Valley Northwest High’s gym.

“I don’t think coach (Bill Self) is going to let Elijah bounce it off the floor next year, but it was fun playing with him today, even though he can’t move around like he usually does,” Wesley said with a smile.

Johnson — he also fired a basketball off a wall to a trailing KSU forward Jordan Henriquez, who successfully jammed — was in great spirits while tutoring youths with the three other college players and BV Northwest coach Ed Fritz. The 6-4, 195-pounder from Las Vegas just made sure he jogged straight, making no cutting movements, as he continues his recovery from mid-April arthroscopic left knee surgery.

“I couldn’t do too much today. Rodney couldn’t do too much. I’m still trying to heal up from my surgery, and he is, too,” Johnson said of KSU senior guard McGruder, who had foot surgery last March.

“J.O. (Henriquez) and Justin got to play a little bit, but I was more of a spectator today. It’s always a lot of fun to work with the kids.”

Johnson said he’ll be cleared to play pick-up basketball, “on my birthday — July 11th. I feel great. I feel like I can play right now, but I’ve got to be smart about it and take care of my body. I’m going to sit out how long the doc tells me to sit out.”

Johnson actually was not 100 percent during the latter portion of the 2011-12 season.

“I was all right. I was a little uncomfortable, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t play through,” Johnson said.

He would not acknowledge his swollen knee to media inquisitors during the NCAA Tournament. He never complained to his teammates.

“He was dealing with that during the season, too. He doesn’t complain. If I had to choose somebody on the team who didn’t complain about anything, it’d be Elijah,” Wesley said. “He really did play through it and play through it well. I think it would have been scary if he was 100 percent.”

Johnson is expected to take over from Tyshawn Taylor as floor general during the 2012-13 season.

He was asked if he considers it his team.

“That’s how I want to embrace it,” Johnson said. “I feel when they get down to the last couple seconds in the game, I want everybody to look at me and feel comfortable. I don’t want people to look at me and not know what kind of mood I’m going to be in tonight. I want my teammates to know that every night I am trying to take them all the way as far as I can, further than we went last year and try to be positive in any situation.”

College assistance: Blue Valley Northwest coach Ed Fritz annually has KU and K-State players help work his various KC Gym Rats camps.

“We had a great foursome today,” Fritz said. “They get along really well. Last night, Jordan Henriquez told me he already talked to Elijah about the camp. It’s great they respect each other. For having such a great rivalry, it’s great they get along.

“It’s nice for the kids (campers) to see these kids (Jayhawks and Wildcats) up close and see they are regular people like they are. They get along with the kids, and that makes it nice.”

Q&A: Fritz held a Q and A with the four players.

“Allen Fieldhouse,” was the response of Henriquez, asked to identify the toughest building he’s played in. “The moment I walked in the gym ... those fans are true KU fans.”

“Sherron Collins,” McGruder said, asked to reveal the toughest player he’s played against.

Asked the same question, KU’s Wesley said, “Tyler Zeller.”

Honoree: Incoming KU forward Perry Ellis of Wichita Heights was named one of 40 Parade All-Americans on Sunday.

“It’s nice to have him gone, really nice,” BV Northwest’s Fritz said with a smile. His squad was state runner-up to Heights the past three seasons. “Perry is a great player and was a great champion. He seemed always to be ready to play in the state championship game. He’ll have a great career at KU.”

Northwest returns junior major-college prospect Clayton Custer and three other sophomore starters. With 6-foot point guard Custer, BV Northwest has been 46-4 the past two seasons.

Quin in running: The Charlotte Bobcats plan on interviewing former Missouri coach Quin Snyder for the NBA team’s head-coaching vacancy, ESPN reports. The Bobcats reportedly already have interviewed Jerry Sloan, Patrick Ewing, Nate McMillan, Dave Joerger, Mike Malone, Nate Tibbetts, Mike Dunlap and Stephen Silas. They also will interview Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, ESPN says.


KansasComet 1 year, 10 months ago

Elijah Johnson is the man! As far as next year, "Can't Wait"!


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

Notice Self sends the most 'expendable' jayhawk big (Wesley) to this dunkshow for little kids. Is it even conceivable for Wesley to gain any more mpg than he did last year, now that TRob is replaced by Ellis+Traylor+Peters? Especially after Danny's departure. Now he may have some chemistry with Traylor, having played alongside him on the scout team...

Very interesting upcoming season, as our talent level goes up, and we have the full spectrum of size and depth and speed at every position. Ya, give Bill Self a full cupboard and it becomes every opposing coach's nightmare. Hell, a healthy Elijah alone would qualify as a nightmare for opponents...


phogphan2000 1 year, 10 months ago

Hope you're right robot. Still I'll agree with Jaybate that while KU was fortunate there weren't any serious tears or broken bones, the knee had to have held EJ back to some extent. On the one hand I'm still nervous about anyone returning from injury, on the other I think EJ is a special player that is going to rip opponents apart next year. Would love another UK game in the champs classic or whatever in Atlanta to shut up some obnoxious UK fans, 'cause they'll get destroyed in some early games next year. Plus you know EJ/TRel/Withey would be on a mission. Oh well, we need some revenge on MSU yet, just not for these players.


Robin Smith 1 year, 10 months ago

EJ's injury is not bad. It's routine.

“The reason we’re not going to bring him back sooner is there’s no reason to rush it,” Self said, explaining, “it was a scope. There was some swelling. When you have floating particles, they need to get in there and clean it up. By the middle of June he should be close to 100 percent. He should be good to go in June. This will not set him back at all.”


jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Speaking of the injuries, what about Travis Releford. Talk about someone that needed to go in for a Steve Austin job by the end of the season. What is the latest iGrapevine on the once awesomely explosive Travis reduced to playing a horizontal, old man's game much of last season, a la Tyrel Reed his last season?

Speculatin' rhythmn...

No one seems to be getting the chuckle I have been getting from Self saying (surely tongue in cheek) that KU caught a break on injuries last season.

Good lord, Coach, let's look a last year's injuries.

Tyshawn: knee, scoped.

EJ: knee, unscoped, but so bad its taken a heckuva long time to rehab.

Travis: ankle, knee, and at least one shot to the head that I remember that altogether left him with an old man's game.

Thomas: matching hyper extended elbows and one knee that was gimpy for an extended stretch.

Jeff: facial separation.

Kevin, Conner, and Naadir: 3rd degree burns over 90 percent of their bodies from blow-bys.

Coach Self, playing players because there is no other choice is not the same as catching a break on injuries.

I would say your guys caught hell from injuries last season, but the guys were just tougher than nails and kept limping for you.

Hell, yes, we'd have been UK in our sleep, if we'd been healthy.

No, its true that none of the players bunked out of the Towers and caught a Texas Chain Saw Massacre costing them a limb that forced them to sit.

But catching a break on injuries?

I am beginning to think Coach Self may be the first KU coach to tell a player that loses a leg in a car accident to strap on a two by four and play on it!!!

"Man up, son, Cyn and I bought that 2 x4 at Home Depot for you ourselves. She's who thought of painting the crimson and blue barber pole stripes on it. Its solid. Stop your complaining. Now get out there and try not to scratch the floor."

Sheeesh! :-)


jaybate 1 year, 11 months ago

Call for a medical opinion.

  1. Why was Tyshawn scoped last season, but EJ was not?

  2. Why can Tyshawn go full tilt after 10 days, but EJ needs so long?

  3. Is EJ's injury enough more severe that he could be limited by it, as he was last season?

What is up?

Was it EJ's knee condition, or Naadir's limitations, driving Self to go after Mark Lyons for one year?

Next, if EJ's knee becomes problematic, and Naadir has serious limits, who is Plan B, assuming no one else is signed?

Is Ben Mac working at point?

Are Kevin, or Perry, going to be the next Magic Johnson?

Anrio, get your ACT togethuh!!!


Konkis Dongington III 1 year, 11 months ago

This article should put to bed any speculation that Tharpe will be the starting PG and not EJ. I don't know why there are so many that cringe at the thought of EJ with the ball in his hands and 7 seconds on the shot clock. He came through on so many big plays in the dance this year. He's ready. He just needs that knee to be rehabbed.


Martin Rosenblum 1 year, 11 months ago

Yeah, the Mighty Quin would be the logical favorite if the choice was between Jerry Sloan and himself, right? Has he even been on a court in the last four years? Oh, and he's got that NBA legacy to draw from, right? Joe Dooley would be a better choice than Snyder.


championhawks 1 year, 11 months ago

EJ has quickly become an easy person to root for. He was in Self's doghouse early in his career and didn't play much. Even as a highly rated recruit, you never heard of him complaining or wavering on his decision to come to KU. He waited out his time, had a great season last year and is now ready to lead this team.

Good luck Elijah and take care of that knee!


swjhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

I think the Bobcats are looking a little down the line to when Larry Brown wants to coach in the pros again :-)


Ashwin Rao 1 year, 11 months ago

If they are looking at Quin, maybe they can give Isiah Thomas another chance too! :)


Alohahawk 1 year, 11 months ago

Queenie Snyder? Who is kidding who? What a laugh!! That guy couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag filled with holes. If the Bobcats were to select him they'd have a very good chance to have the worst record that any NBA team has ever had. They'd be lucky to win one game all season. If they want the chance to have first choice on NBA draft night, that's a easy way to do it. As for character? There are few slimeballs equal to Cal Lie Pari, but I'd place Snyder up there very close to him.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.