Kansas City, Mo. Just two days after undergoing foot surgery, Travis Releford plans to attend today’s nonconference basketball contest between his alma mater, Kansas University, and New Mexico, set for a 6 p.m. tipoff in his hometown’s Sprint Center.
The 6-foot-6 first-year pro, who plays for Okapi Aalstar in Belgium, is looking forward to assessing KU’s (6-3) team up close and personal.
“I haven’t gotten to see them much. When I saw them play against Duke, I thought they had a lot of good young players,” Releford said. “They are really young. There will be a lot of ups and downs. Coach (Bill) Self is a great coach. He’ll get those guys to play on the level he wants them to play on by conference and tournament time.
“It’s tough when you are young,” Releford added. “At Kansas, you are a target on everybody’s schedule. They are going to learn that real fast. By conference you will see a different team. Winning hard-fought games comes with experience, to be able to dig deep and know how to be tough enough to do it. They’ve never been in this situation. They’ll be great.”
A rookie starter, Releford is averaging 9.0 points and 3.2 rebounds a game for Okapi Aalstar.
“It’s been great,” said Releford, who has been joined by his girlfriend, Jennifer, and son, T.J., in Belgium. T.J. will turn 3 in January.
“At Kansas, it’s all about being a family. It’s nice to go a different place and have it be the same in that way, with people so welcoming.”
Releford, who will return to Belgium on Dec. 28, said his dream remains to play in the NBA.
“That’s the goal. I’m not going to give up on it at all,” he said.
A first-time author, he said he’s looking forward to some upcoming signings of his new book, “Relentless: From Redshirt to the Rock of the Jayhawks.”
Releford will sign from 9:30 to 11 a.m., Dec. 21 in Allen Fieldhouse before the KU-Georgetown game. He’ll sign 6 to 8 p.m., Dec. 20 at Nebraska Furniture Mart in Kansas City, Kan., and 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 23 at Kansas Sampler in Lenexa.
“It was good to tell some of the things that went on in my life, who I am,” said Releford, who nearly transferred rather than endure a red-shirt season at KU. “People get to see my personality and how I grew up.”
In the book, he talks about growing up poor in the inner city and discusses his years as a Jayhawk.
Of the book title, he said; “It refers to everything I’ve been through in life, overcoming things with basketball and things off the court. I felt ‘Relentless’ would best describe me as a person and player.”
Self would agree, calling Releford “the rock of our team.” He left KU part of five Big 12 regular season titles, three conference tourney championships, four Sweet 16s, two Elite Eights and one Final Four.