Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bill Self: Transfer Hunter Mickelson a ‘poor-man’s’ Jeff Withey

Arkansas' Hunter Mickelson (21) looks to pass the ball with Arizona State's Jordan Bachynski (13) defending during the first half of agame at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational tournament on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, in Las Vegas.

Arkansas' Hunter Mickelson (21) looks to pass the ball with Arizona State's Jordan Bachynski (13) defending during the first half of agame at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational tournament on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, in Las Vegas.


Just as one shot-blocker extraordinaire — Jeff Withey — leaves Kansas University, another arrives: Hunter Mickelson, a 6-foot-10, 235-pound junior-to-be from the University of Arkansas.

“Hunter’s not as tall, and he’s more agile than Jeff, and he’s probably more of a perimeter player than Jeff,” KU coach Bill Self said Friday in announcing Mickelson’s signing a financial aid agreement.

Does Mickelson — Arkansas’ freshman record-holder in blocks — remind Self of Withey, the Big 12’s all-time block leader?

“Not really. But from a shot-blocking standpoint,” Self added, “you can say he’s a ‘poor-man’s Jeff.’ He is an excellent shot-blocker.”

Mickelson will practice but not play in games next season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules, then be eligible for competition in 2014-15.

He blocked 72 shots his freshman season, breaking Oliver Miller’s freshman block record (60) that stood since 1988-89. Mickelson’s block total dipped to 39 last season.

“He’s thin, but he’s got a good body,” Self said. “I think he needs to spend a lot of time with coach Hudy (Andrea, strength coach) in the weight room. He has to get his confidence back, because he was a very, very, very good player out of high school, and when you go to a school ... it’s happened to players at our place and it’s happened to players every place … maybe he lost a little confidence because he didn’t play as much or whatever the reason would be.

“He fits how we play. He’s long, very interchangeable and will be able to step away from the basket and stretch it. Defensively, he is a presence because he’s a shot-blocker.”

Mickelson, who chose KU over Butler, was offered a scholarship by KU his senior year out of Jonesboro (Ark.) Westside High. At the time, he was ranked 100th nationally by

“I really believe that he thought we were a great fit for him coming out of high school, but he just wanted to stay closer to home,” Self said.

Recruiting continues: The addition of Mickelson gives KU an incoming recruiting class of six players.

KU, which has two scholarships to give, is still in the hunt for 6-9 University of Memphis junior forward Tarik Black, who will be immediately eligible next season, and Andrew Wiggins, a 6-7 senior from Huntington (W. Va.) Prep who is ranked No. 1 nationally by Self said “all of the above” asked if he was open to signing another high school player or transfer.

“I’ve said all along I think our recruiting class is really, really good. You add Hunter to the mix, although he won’t play next year, and it makes it that much better. If we were able to steal one or two more, I think our recruiting class would be as good as we’ve ever had here,” Self said.

Members of the Class of 2013 are: Mickelson; No. 12 Wayne Selden, 6-5 guard, Tilton (N.H.) School; No. 25 Joel Embiid, 7-foot center, Rock School, Gainesville, Fla.; No. 29 Brannen Greene, 6-7 forward, Tift County High, Tifton, Ga.; No. 34 Conner Frankamp, 6-0, guard, Wichita North; and No. 76 Frank Mason, 5-11 guard, Massanutten Military Academy, Woodstock, Va.

One possible transfer KU has elected not to pursue is former Alabama guard Trevor Lacey. Self can’t comment on specific prospects in accordance with NCAA rules.

Job search in early stages: Self said he’s not yet “to first base” in his search for a replacement for Joe Dooley (Florida Gulf Coast) as a full-time assistant coach. He said he definitely would fill the position from the outside, meaning director of basketball operations and former Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler is not a candidate. Sadler has expressed a desire to coach again, thus likely won’t be back in the director’s role.

“Doc and I have visited ... I do know this, I really, really, really enjoyed having him around. He probably has to do more than what he’s done for us, to be honest with you,” he added of Sadler’s need to coach. “He was a big asset to us in that position. He wants to coach, so we’ll see how that plays out.”

Of the assistant opening, Self said: “I would say we are going to try to fill it with somebody that’s very well rounded, that will bring energy and enthusiasm, be a good on-the-floor coach, and then also be a guy with excellent (recruiting) contacts in areas in which we need contacts to make us a bigger presence in those respective areas we think are important.”

Camp openings: Some spots are open for Self’s fantasy camp, set for May 3-5 in Allen Fieldhouse. The camp is open to participants 35 and over. Participants can play in games on teams or serve as coaches. Former KU director of basketball Barry Hinson, head coach at Southern Illinois, will return to work the camp. To sign up, go to

“It was a blast,” Self said of last year’s camp.

Boogie nights: Self is moving his Bill’s Basketball Boogie to Abe and Jake’s this year. Tickets for the June 8 dinner/dance are available at All proceeds benefit the Assists Foundation.

“It’s the party of the summer, and will be again this year,” Self said.


Kevin John 5 years ago

Is that a wannabe Scott Pollard in the photo?

Jim Baker 5 years ago

Scot (not Scott) Pollard had (and still has) bigger balls than both Withey and Mickelson!

Mike Bratisax 5 years ago

I do not want to know how exactly you got this info : )

Steve Zimmerman 5 years ago

Hopefully KU will soon be offering Zimmerman. This kid is a special 7 footer who can really ball. He'll be even better than Withey. Coming soon in 2015. He's shown interest in playing as a Jayhawk. CS should not pass this great chance.

soapisurfriend 5 years ago

Zimmerman would be great. You're right, he does seem like he likes KU. There's at least a higher chance he picks us than his former teammate Bazz Muhammad. I also really like Seventh Woods in 2016. I like him better than Wiggins.

Boouk 5 years ago

KU's already offered him according to

Mike Bratisax 5 years ago

Offered AND accepted. This is where you wanted to go one Anderson took over Arkansas. Classy Anderson REFUSED to give him a waiver. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to completely annihilate the Razorbacks led by Anderson (if the turd is still at the helm).

jaybate 5 years ago


Norm has east and south. Kurtis has west. That leaves Illinois and Texas.

Hinson back for the Experience camp? Hinson's been recruiting Illinois and he is a pal. Never underestimate the pal thing. But the staff could use a Chicago insider with some Texas knowledge. Any Okie Baller knows Tayhoss, but a year in 'nois is't enough to have a pipe. Barry only if Self can't sign someone with serious pipe.

Chi born Isaac Chew is current Illini assistant to Groce. Chew left Haith and MU to join Groce. Groce dumped Self and Bruce Weber guy Jerrance Howard for Chew. Chew buys Self Chi and Missouri, which sounds good. But would Self risk on a guy from Haith's wrong way culture?

Jerrance Howard Illinois player under Self, then coach under Bruce. Dumped by Groce for Chew. Apparently directed by Self to Larry Brown at SMU. Jerrance buys a lot of Chi and a little Texas. Jerrance seems a fit, but would Self poach from LB?

Once legendary Peoria HS coach Wayne McClain, Hired to 'nois by Kruger, retained by Self that gave Self Deron and Luther and Frank at Illinois. McClain stayed on with Bruce Weber, then followed Weber to KSU. McClain hasn't delivered much great to Weber at either 'nois or KSU. Illinois is his thing, but he maybe past his recruiting prime.

BL: Self needs to get a guy in his early 30s to keep his staff from being too old.

texashawk10 5 years ago

jb, KU already has Chicago covered with Kurtis Townsend. If you go look at who the lead recruiter was on for the Chicago kids that have come to KU, if there's any coach listed at all it's Townsend. Townsend was lead recruiter on Sherron, Mario Little, and EJ. I know EJ played HS ball in Vegas, but he's originally a Chi-town kid as is Mario Little. There was no recruiter listed for Julian Wright, Tyrone Appleton, or Jamari Traylor, but I would guess Townsend was the first one to make contact with all three of those guys as well. I'm not saying Jerrance Howard would be a bad choice because I think he'll make a great head coach one day, but I just don't think he's the right fit for what KU's needs are right now.

Personally, I think because of Townsend's success in landing Chicago kids, that makes Texas the most import area for the next assistant to have strong connections to. Since Self said he would consider hiring someone with no previous ties to himself of KU, I think Chris Walker would be a very good fit. Walker has been at Texas Tech as an assistant and HC long enough to develop solid recruiting ties in Dallas and Houston and as an added bonus, he has pretty good ties to Philly having played at Villanova and then being an assistant there prior to moving to Texas Tech. Being the head coach at Tech for a year and doing a decent job for the situation he was put in did nothing but strengthen his coaching profile to me.

dylans 5 years ago

EJ was from Indiana not Illinios before moving to Vegas.

soapisurfriend 5 years ago

Well, Gary, Indiana, which is like a half hour drive to Chicago.

Mike Bratisax 5 years ago

Nice and accurately reported post. Getting Julian Wright was a major bonus. Julian was on a three-year path to graduate after his junior year. Lured away by promises of lottery picks and easy money, Julian left college to early and never had the opportunity to improve upon his game which I believe would have helped him become a successful NBA player. I don't know what HCBS's opinion was on the early transfer but I find it hard to believe that he thought this was a good decision.

JacquesMerde 5 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Steve Gantz 5 years ago

That's one of the big reason why he's called ex Illinois coach Weber, he couldn't get the Illinois kids except the leftovers. The states biggest stars are leaving the state and apparently with Groce it's continuing.

Mike Bratisax 5 years ago

A poor man's Withey?? Surely not thought out. Mickelson was already making contributions in his first season. Jeff Withey needed three years to make solid contributions. Mickelson needed only one year to make his presence felt. If anyone is a poor man's version, it would be Jeff W. If former Missouri coach Mike Anderson wasn't such a petty POS he would already have two full years under HCBS. I'm not going to venture to whom has the best/or highest ceiling but in college, Mickelson wins hands down.

Before Mickelson leaves he will have left a larger imprint on Kansas basketball. I realize that this is purely a conjectural personal opinion. But it is what it is..

jaybate.. I'm going to throw a name out who is a proven recruiter but is not the best one utilizing the talent. I can already hear the derogatory comments but please remember, I only suggest this as a way for HCBS to reach more West coasts recruits... BEN HOWLAND. Easily in the running for wasting more talent than 95% of Division I coaches but disregarding his proven recruiting acuity I believe would be a major mistake. I don't expect him to become HCBS's right hand man but would like to see him take the point when hunting talent that will fit into HCBS coaching style.

Just a thought.. Maybe one I should have kept to myself but there you have it... Fire away but please remember I also bleed Kansas blue and crimson.

ccarp 5 years ago

Hunter got more blocks than Popeye as a freshman, that's a good start.

jaybate 5 years ago

Hunter Michelson Probabilized...

Probable height: 6-9

Probable weight: 225 without the beer and bonbons.

Probable perimeter function: guards a ball screen and sets one well.

Probable Confidence Issue: Mike Anderson probably only signed Hunter to keep the locals happy, since Hunter was not a natural for full court pressing. Anderson decided Hunter couldn't full court press and scape goated Hunter for the Pigs' bad season. Nothing personal. Coaches are political animals. They do what they have to do to pacify alums, avoid blame, make the team better and keep their jobs. Hunter figured it out and decided to go with fit rather than home allegiance. Bully for Hunter.

Probable reasons for Self's Excitement: Hunter has 'tude. Hunter can B&A. Hunter can make 80% of FTs, so he can play any time.

Jack Wilson 5 years ago

Height by 2014: 6'11". That will then allow some here to call him a "footer."

Yes, probable confidence issue. Bad .. real bad .. system for him. As Roy called it after our tourney win vs. Arkansas, "it was more like 40 minutes of 'aw heck'." Or something like that.

And fyi, he was a Pelphrey signing, not an Anderson guy.

Jack Wilson 5 years ago

After a few days to digest, I still really like the move for Mickelson. If you don't have quality, you have to have quantity. If there is risk that players go to the NBA, you have to make moves to protect yourself. The move on Mickelson is mostly about quantity as it sits now. But at least there's a chance at some quality here. That's the best part. All with very little risk.

Rewind to spring 2011 regarding our post players. Self had been admittedly "surprised" by the departures of Markieff and Marcus (we can debate the reasonableness of that, but he said it). He had missed on some post guys, including (apparently) Mickelson, Otto Porter, and Angelo Chol (I don't recall Mickelson being in the mix, by the way). Self signed Braeden Anderson, Jamari Traylor and Kevin Young, all were signed late, all were major back-up plans, and all were depth moves in really any other year. But we had urgency for 2011-12. Moves to ensure we wouldn't be shorthanded. We had Withey, TRob, and Wesley. This is what Self had to do. It was not ideal. I didn't like any of the signings. But again, they had to happen.

Unexpectedly, neither Anderson nor Traylor were eligible for 2011-12. So Wesley got some alarming PT, but Self used him masterfully that season. We also had Peters lined up to compete starting this past season. KY was a big "hit" -- but now, Anderson gone, Lindsay gone, Peters gone, and Traylor, who knows his end product.

But quantity resulted in quality where quality wasn't apparent. KY's quality really became apparent in 2012-13. He was serviceable in 2011-12. Sign 4, hit on one (KY).

Then, the biggest blow of all .. our "all in" guy Kaleb Tarczewski committed to AZ in October/2011. That resulted in the signing of Lucas, who redshirted, and whose skill level is at best developmental. Next blow was the Zack Peters transfer.

Now, we have Lucas, Traylor, and Mickelson. But I think the odds increase a bit here for a "hit" because of the in-program development time. I guess, though, I would not "expect" more than one of them to be a "hit." But I would expect one at least. Self increased the odds of a "hit" by getting Mickelson. Does that make sense?

Embiid and Ellis stay for 2014, then that works. We only need one to "hit" for 2014.

(continued below)

Jack Wilson 5 years ago

But our 2013 situation is still really thin on bankable quality. Enter stop-gap Tarik Black. If we snag him, then we play the game again .. odds increase that one among Lucas, Traylor, and Black will be a "hit" for this season. Right now, it's pretty scary to me that either Lucas or Traylor is a key to the post rotation next season -- probably why Self wants "immediate impact." Despite folks being optimistic on the pair, there is no information to suggest the optimism is well placed. Ok, as some pointed out, Traylor's free throw shooting got better.

Part of coach Self's job is to make sure we're not left shorthanded. As a clear example, part of Self's job is to make sure we don't have to play Justin Wesley. No slap at Wesley. He, like all players, has a skill level. He plays hard, but his level of play is lower than a decent D-I 4 man. He could be in the rotation at American U. It's just reality. But a reality better served elsewhere.

I guess that the point is that right now, we are amassing quantity in the post. There is no hint that we have amassed quality. Quality is Ellis. Quality is likely Embiid. Quality is top 50 until proven otherwise. Quantity is Traylor, Lucas, and Mickelson -- can one develop into a KU quality post player? Self has a increased his odds for a real player to come out of this group.

But the beauty of amassing quantity, as well, is that it creates competition. If Traylor doesn't improve, he might not play as junior or a senior. Same with Lucas. And same with Mickelson. As with all scholarships, it is survival of the fittest, while providing necessary depth in case of injury, recruiting misses, transfer, etc.

As a contract .. meaning, what would "quality" look like? We sign Tarc instead of Lucas; we sign someone like a Jermaine Lawrence this past fall (let's say taking Embiid's spot, since we had Tarc). We then have three high quality bigs -- Tarc, Ellis, and Lawrence.

Seems like a great move all the way around on Mickelson to me given where we're at with our post players. As I mentioned the other day, no top post player should be scared off by our depth players. If the big fish is there, we can still land him. And we have chance that one in this group might hit it big.

Hawk8086 5 years ago

HEM, Good analysis! Especially the historical perspective. I can't argue with your logic. As pointed out, some of us are a little more optimistic about Traylor, but how he progresses remains to be seen.

Jack Wilson 5 years ago

Hawk8086: Thanks .. everyone seems more optimistic on Traylor than I am. So perhaps I should think about that a bit more. I'm just going off what I saw, which unfortunately, was little difference from start to finish of the season. But nothing says he can't make a big leap. It would be terrific.

JD: I hear what you're saying, and you might be right. I am assuming that Ellis and Embiid will not be here in 2015. But the way players are now, waiting even one season may be too much. I guess if they are real roadblocks, perhaps they would be good, right? So that would be ok.

ralster: Excellent point on the Big 10 style .. it appears the plan that is the plan by necessity. This year will be interesting. When has Self not had a couple seasoned, high quality bigs ready to go? 2009 with only Cole? Really, if Embiid pans out, all is good in the world. I saw your comment about just play Lucas. What concerns me is if Lucas warranted obvious big minutes, there would be some chatter from Self and the staff. It's like silent. Remember the comments about McLemore and Traylor last season from practice? None really on Lucas. And on Mickelson, you mean this video?

Steve Gantz 5 years ago

A big who can knock down the outside jumper is something KU hasn't had too much of. One of the Morris twins, 'Kieff I think was very good at it, is the only one I can think of off the top of my head right now. My many years of following Wisconsin basketball has seen many such players. Jon Leuer took his perimeter game to the NBA. Steve Novak is the most notable player, from Marquette, you might remember from the Final four in 03 has been knocking down 3's in the NBA ever since.

The question is, with all of the talent KU will have in 2014-15 when he becomes eligible is how much playing time will he really get?

kranny 5 years ago

This headline is dicey in meaning. It would suggest we're getting a watered down version of Withey. The poor mans version of Withey only pertains to the shot blocking. This kid isnt really a center and didnt play a tradional role of center in HS. He was put more at center at Ark. Because he didnt fit the up and down style. I think he'll be more of a forward.

Robert Brock 5 years ago

I don't see Tarik Black as a high-quality player. He started five of thirty-two games and his stats hardly mattered. The only stat that stands out is his free throw stat: he made less than forty-five percent. Not impressive.

chriz 5 years ago

kranny...I agree. I was surprised Bill Self said something so douchey...and then I read the context and realized it wasn't was just the headline that was douchey. Surprised to see this coming from this website. Especially Bedore. Hopefully just an oversight.

Kye Clark 5 years ago

The biggest news from this article is that Self isn't pursuing Lacey. Either a) they touched base, found out he wasn't going to come here, and now it's put out there they Self isn't pursuing him, or b) there's some reason Self really isn't at least showing some interest. If the answer is b), it begs the question why?

texashawk10 5 years ago

If it's B, the best case scenario is KU is going to land Allerik Freeman and Self doesn't want/need Lacey then. Another scenario could be that Self doesn't want to have 2 transfers sitting on the bench unable to play taking up scholarships although Self has never gone that deep in his rotation before. Another plausible scenario could be that Self and Lacey talked and Self laid out for Lacey what he believes the make up of the team will be and Lacey didn't like and said no thanks and KU backed off. I'm hopeful that stopping the pursuit of Lacey means that Freeman will be Lawrence bound.

texashawk10 5 years ago

I've read about his personality issues and that is why KU doesn't need him next year. He would be a person of influence on a very young team and with his track record, that has trouble written all over it for the future of the team. If KU was going to have strong senior leadership next season, it wouldn't be a big issues because they would put Black in his place in a heartbeat and not allow him to be a distraction.

Kye Clark 5 years ago

Ralster - Well something has impressed both Self & Coach K enough to pursue Black. That's 2 HOF coaches. That tells me something.

It also tells me something that he was able to graduate in 3 seasons.

As for his stats, its hard to compare someone putting up stats in Memphis' system as opposed to those playing in Self's. But compare his stats to that of Kevin Young:

Black 20.8 mpg 8.1 ppg 4.8 rpg

Young 22.8 mpg 7.8 ppg 6.8 rpg

So Black's rebounding numbers might be a little light, but to say Wesley would be more productive is a stretch. And your statement that "a man of Tarik Black's size could be a force on a Div.1 court if he chose to" assumes everything is equal. We really don't know much about Josh Pastner's ability to develop bigs. Had he been with Self & co. the past 3 years he might have developed into that force. We simply don't know.

I won't presume to know anything about his attitude or his effect on team chemistry, especially as it relates to the Memphis locker room. If he receives an offer it will be another 'trust in Self" moment.

jaybate 5 years ago

You cannot reach the final four without a bruiser. Sign Tarik.

Turn hunter into KU's Mitch Mcgrary the following season.

Moving screens are all that matter now.

KansasComet 5 years ago

I still believe we are in pretty good shape for next season. However, if he can get on the offensive glass, I'm all for it.

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