New Kansas University basketball assistant coach Jerrance Howard’s connections in Chicago might be paying off in recruiting already.
Recruiting analyst Scott Phillips of NY2LAsports.com reports that Charles Matthews, a 6-foot-4 junior-to-be from Chicago’s St. Rita High, has recently “been in touch” with coaches from KU, Kentucky and Michigan State. He told Rivals.com he has offers from DePaul, Illinois, Wisconsin, and SMU.
Remember, Howard was an assistant at SMU prior to taking over for Joe Dooley at KU. A native of Peoria, Howard has ties in Chicago after attending the University of Illinois.
“SMU has already offered me. I talk with coach Jerrance Howard and head coach Larry Brown. It’s a good relationship because coach Jerrance coached at Illinois, which I know a lot about. My dad really likes coach Brown a lot,” Matthews, who is ranked No. 9 in the Class of 2015, told Rivals.com on May 15.
KU is also in the hunt for top-ranked senior Jahlil Okafor, a 6-10 center from Chicago’s Whitney Young, who has a final eight of KU, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State, Arizona, Duke and Baylor.
No. 5-ranked Cliff Alexander, 6-8 senior from Chicago Curie, at one point was considering KU. It should be interesting to see if KU ultimately secures a campus visit from Alexander now that Howard is on board.
Nets, Knicks to look at Withey: Former KU center Jeff Withey, who is from San Diego, might wind up playing NBA basketball on the East Coast. Both the New York Knicks, who pick 24th in the June 27 Draft, and Brooklyn Nets (22) will work out Withey in coming days.
Both teams are in the market for a backup big man.
“Mike Woodson (Knicks coach) is very defensive-oriented, and Jeff is going to protect that rim,” Withey’s agent, Darren Matsubara, told ESPNNewYork.com. “I think he will show some people a little bit that he can shoot from the perimeter, but that wasn’t what he had to do when he was at Kansas.
“I’ve known Mike for a while now and (Knicks) could be a pretty good fit,” Matsubara added. “He’s someone that could maybe step in there and give Tyson (Chandler) a breather when he needs it.”
Withey averaged 13.7 points and 8.5 rebounds last season. He also became the Big 12’s all-time shot block leader.
“I think as good of a shot-blocker he is, he has to master that at the next level as well,” Matsubara told ESPN New York. “Offensively, what comes is what comes. He’s not going to be a first option. He’s not going to be a second option. He’ll find his niche offensively, but one of the things physically he’s got to do is really get more flexible. He plays a little bit erect, and that will change with specialized training. Also, his dad is a weightlifter and he’s a big, strong man, so Jeff is going to get stronger naturally.”
Another possible first-round draft pick at the center position is Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng. Former KU big man Cole Aldrich is a free agent this offseason.
Gee whiz: Embattled Ohio State president Gordon Gee had some things to say about KU potentially joining the Big Ten during a meeting of Ohio State’s athletic council in December. Some of his comments were printed at SI.com.
He said: “I think the Big Ten needs to be predatory and positive rather than waiting for other people to take away from them. Very candidly, I think we made a mistake (in adding Rutgers and Maryland and nobody else). Because (there was) thought about adding Missouri and Kansas at the time. There was not a great deal of enthusiasm about that. I think we should have done that at the time. So we would have had Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and then moved into that other area. I think, by the way, that that can still happen.
Also ... “I would see potentially Missouri and Kansas (joining Big Ten). By the way, it goes without saying this all has to be speculation that remains right here. And I could also see a ‘T’ that goes south all according to what happens with the ACC, but we need to be ready to move.”
Gee also blasted the SEC.
“Well, you tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write then they can figure out what we’re doing. I’ve been down there. I was the chairman of the Southeastern Conference for two years. I’ll tell you something. It’s shameful. It really is,” Gee said.