Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Transfer Hunter Mickelson to sit out, soak it up for a year

Kansas University center Hunter Mickelson — shown in this file photo from June, 2013 — says he lost 15 pounds but became stronger and more "toned" during his NCAA-mandated year off.

Kansas University center Hunter Mickelson — shown in this file photo from June, 2013 — says he lost 15 pounds but became stronger and more "toned" during his NCAA-mandated year off.


Able to practice but unable to play in games during the 2013-14 season, Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson will have plenty of time to familiarize himself with Kansas University’s basketball program.

Forward Hunter Mickelson says he hopes to be transfer success story like Jeff Withey

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson says he hopes to be a transfer success story similar to former KU big man Jeff Withey. Mickelson talked to reporters on Tuesday, June 18.


AP Photo/James Crisp

Kentucky's Terrence Jones, right, puts up a shot under pressure from Arkansas' Hunter Mickelson (21) and Marvell Waithe during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.

“I just want to get better overall, get stronger, soak up everything I can and improve,” Mickelson, a 6-foot-11, 235-pound junior-to-be, said Tuesday from Bill Self’s basketball camp in Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jonesboro, Ark., native, who is the roommate of Wichitan Conner Frankamp, also is eager to study the topography of the region.

“I like to fish and hunt. I don’t know if I’ll be able to hunt as much. I’ll probably find a river around here somewhere where I can fish a little bit,” Mickelson said with a smile.

He joins a KU big-man group that includes senior banger Tarik Black, sophomore Perry Ellis, red-shirt sophomore Jamari Traylor, freshman Joel Embiid, red-shirt freshman Landen Lucas and senior Justin Wesley.

“I think it’s going to be a war this year. There’s going to be a bunch of good guys out there,” Mickelson said. “Practice will be interesting. I know I have to sit out, but I think everybody is going to get better.”

Of 6-9, 260-pound Memphis transfer Black, who is immediately eligible after earning his undergraduate degree, Mickelson said: “Tarik is athletic. He’s pretty fast, pretty quick. He’s a thick guy, strong, too. All that will definitely help him.”

Mickelson — he set Arkansas’ freshman-shot-block record (72) two seasons ago — has been compared to former KU center Jeff Withey, the Big 12’s all-time rejection leader.

“It did a little bit,” Mickelson said, asked if Arizona transfer Withey’s story influenced his decision to transfer to KU. “He’s a great player. We’re kind of built the same, so hopefully if I can follow in his footsteps, that would be great.”

Of his own blocking ability, Mickelson said: “(I’m) just trying to play good defense. Coming here, I think I’ll slim down a little bit weight-wise and be quicker, get stronger and use that and my athletic ability to be able to block shots.”

Mickelson, whose block total dipped to 39 last season, averaged 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.6 minutes a game. He lost his starting job midseason playing under second-year coach Mike Anderson.

“He’s a great coach. I enjoyed playing for him. Things changed a little bit. The situation wasn’t right for me,” Mickelson said. “I ended up making the choice to change. Kansas has been a great basketball place for years now. It’s definitely a good place to be, good place to play. I always liked the team, the coach and everything. It was definitely something to look at.”

Mickelson, who was out of town last week for his sister’s wedding in Florida, said he’s “super excited, glad to be here. I’m trying to get the hang of things, trying to get in the groove. It’s been fun so far.

“I’m trying to adjust to the level of competition. These guys are pretty good players,” he added. “I’ve got to get in with them and be able to hang with ’em a little bit.”

KU coach Bill Self believes Mickelson will be an outstanding KU big man.

“In Hunter’s situation, if he was able to play immediately, that would be great. He would definitely add something to next year’s team without question,” Self said. “But I think in his case, when we recruited him (as’s No. 100-rated player in Class of 2011), we didn’t know Hunter would be a great player as a freshman, but we knew he had a chance to be a great player down the line. That’s exactly where we are now. It will take a little time, so the red-shirt year will help him get back to the point where mentally he’s ready to carry a big load the following year.”

Of the comparisons to Withey, Self said: “He’s not as tall, and he’s more agile than Jeff, and he’s probably more of a perimeter player than Jeff. But from a shot-blocking standpoint, you can say he’s a poor-man’s Jeff. He is an excellent shot-blocker.”

And that Wiggins guy?: On Monday, Mickelson had his first workout with newcomer Andrew Wiggins, a 6-7 freshman forward from Canada.

“He’s pretty talented. He’s pretty athletic,” Mickelson said with a smile.

Draft update: Former KU guard Ben McLemore has slipped to fifth in Chad Ford’s ESPN mock draft.

Ford writes: “McLemore remains in the top 5, but I’m starting to have my doubts. I love the talent. But his lack of preparation for the draft is hurting him. Multiple sources told me that his workout in Phoenix (for Suns who pick fifth) was not impressive. He wasn’t in shape, and he struggled to keep up in the workout. I heard similar things in Orlando. McLemore is in a tug-of-war right now between adviser Rodney Blackstock and his agency Rivals. It’s kept McLemore out of the gym and for the most part, out of workouts. How much will all of this affect the draft stock? I’m told teams are worried. But how worried? Enough for one of the most talented players in the draft to slide further? If the Suns pass on McLemore, both C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams are possibilities.”

Ford no longer has KU center Withey listed as a first-rounder. He lists as one of the “guys not in the mock (draft) who could sneak into the first.” has McLemore being selected No. 2 overall by Orlando and Withey No. 29 in the first round by Oklahoma City. Withey worked out for the L.A. Clippers (25th pick) on Monday.


Phil Leister 8 years, 3 months ago

Shame about McLemore. But if he does slide to number 5, what a steal that team will be getting. He'll be hitting that fall away 3 from the corner to force OT like Ray Allen in no time.

John Strayer 8 years, 3 months ago

It is a shame...I certainly hope he gets his situation straightened out. Would greatly help KU to have Self place an active NBA star...since that seems to be the focus now days.

702Hawk 8 years, 3 months ago

I know that losing all that money sucks but maybe the drop will be an ok thing in the end. He will have better players around him the further he drops, and they might make him shine more. Look at Cole, he got a good check at the beginning but he never saw pt. If he was on a team that he fit better on he might have got a better contract this year.

KansasComet 8 years, 3 months ago

Mock Drafts are nothing but educated and sometimes uneducated guesses. We won't find out the answer until draft night. I still remember these so called experts saying that Kevin Durrant's was going to slip in the draft because of his bench press. How he would be tossed around in the NBA and was not physical enough. Kevin Durrant is an absolute stud. A journalist that is being paid to predict the order of the draft has to say something to drum up interest in their article. We watched McLemore last season, and we know he is a stud. We watched Paul Pierce get "snubbed" in the draft in 1998, and I am sure if they could do that draft again, he would get picked ahead of Number 1 overall Michael Olowokandi. The real proof will be 5-10 years down the road.

jhox 8 years, 3 months ago

Pierce both was snubbed and did a little snubbing himself. I recall there was a team that wanted to take him higher but he didn't want to play for them and threatened not to sign, so that team went another direction.

He's definitely one of the most under rated players in NBA history though. I'm sure all 9 teams ahead of Boston in that draft wish they had picked him.

buttsauce 8 years, 3 months ago

Not to pick nits, but Dallas didn't draft Dirk. They took Tractor Traylor and shipped him and Garrity on draft night to the Bucks.

jhox 8 years, 3 months ago

Dirk is comparable offensively and was never as good defensively. Pierce has been the better rounded player. Though I agree if there was one other player in that draft that you could make a case for it would be Dirk.

Raef went ahead of Paul as well. He had a very disappointing career. When he got to the NBA he never had a coach pushing him to be a banger. Suddenly he became a 6'10" three point shooter. He made a lot of money, but really had a wasted career, as he could have been a much better player if he hadn't fancied himself a guard.

Stu Van Gorp 8 years, 3 months ago

Looks like HCBS found another diamond in the rough to facet into the cornerstone of that stifling defense where teammates can be assured the big guy in the lane has their back as they smother the perimeter. Welcome to the Center Self Improvement Center, Hunter and thanks for the commitment. ROCK CHALK!

KansasComet 8 years, 3 months ago

Bill Self is always thinking ahead and using "Redshirts as a Weapon". The results speak for themselves. Now if Lucas has a great year, then taking a redshirt at Kansas cannot be such a bad thing.

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

Does Chad Ford wear Nike, or what?

I am beginning to wonder if we are going to have a payola scandal in the media?


FlyingPliers 8 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Mickelson should talk to Wayne Simien about going hunting and fishing. Wayne loves that stuff and is always tweeting about it.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Hunter, there is LOTS of good fishing and hunting in Kansas. Especially hunting.

Practically everyone I know has taken a trophy buck.

With their vehicle.

Tom Longhofer 8 years, 3 months ago

I bagged mine with a small caliber, light load Triumph Spitfire. A deer looks as big as a Clysedale from the driver's seat of THAT go-cart.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 3 months ago

Hunter, have a great red shirt year, soak up everything you can and grow the way, don't hurt anyone whose Canadian!!

Greg Lux 8 years, 3 months ago

I am curious. Does anyone know, or have they tested, the standing jump information on our players. I would guess that AW can out jump all of our players short of JO JO maybe. When it comes to blocking shots AW is a stud. Damn this year is going way to slow..... Is it fall yet??

Rock Chalk

Michael Auchard 8 years, 3 months ago

It's going to way too fast in a few months.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 3 months ago

He's got to check out the Neosho for real big catfish.

JayhawkRock78 8 years, 3 months ago

Nolan Cromwell loved to hunt and fish. If he still owns his farm in Lawrence I'd be willing to bet there is a good fishing hole around.

andrewJHWK 8 years, 3 months ago

Can we stop using the term "senior banger" in articles?

Eric Williams 8 years, 3 months ago

Is the McLemore investigation still ongoing?

If Rodney Blackstock is indeed McLemore's adviser, and his AAU coach has the connection with Blackstock and his money, it doesn't look good for KU. Especially if Blackstock had zero connection to McLemore pre-Kansas...

Brianna Zaleski 8 years, 3 months ago

I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock in Chad Ford or the Mizzou-slanted chumps at ESPN. Does anyone really think Ben is going to fall to 6th? For a league that loves potential, he's just too good to pass on. Plus he has a season of stellar play at a premier D1 program as proof. #chadfordsucks

buttsauce 8 years, 3 months ago

Chad Ford is a self appointed KU homer and says nothing but positive things about KU, but please continue being uninformed.

Brianna Zaleski 8 years, 3 months ago

Well, please, buttsauce, inform me. Because with a name like that, your posts scream "credibility".

Espn has multiple Mizzou grads working there and its no secret that we are constantly a backpage item. A lot of that is due to an East coast bias, but you can be sure that there are probably some Mizzou grads behind the scenes that like to slight KU.

And prove that Ford is a KU homer. He is from the KC area so he is probably either a KU fan or a KU hater. Judging by most of his stories involving KU, its the latter.

Enjoy your day, buttsauce! #buttsauce #horriblemoniker

buttsauce 8 years, 3 months ago

Please keep up the personal attacks while being clueless. Cool hashtags BTW bb! He has stated his KU love in almost every podcast he's been on and written in multiple articles/chats. Here is one from when Wiggins committed. Care to retract your unfounded and uninformed criticism?

Deven (New York, NY)

Any thoughts on Andrew Wiggins committing to Kansas? Chad Ford (1:01 PM)

As both a draft analyst and a Kansas homer, I'm thrilled. I watch every KU game anyway, so this makes it easy! He's the best high school prospect we've had since Kevin Durant. Think Kansas is a perfect fit for him. Bill Self is a great coach and he fits well into the talent already there. He would go No. 1 this year and he's a heavy, heavy favorite to go No. 1 in a stacked 2014 draft class.

JHAWKNPHX 8 years, 3 months ago

I would hate to see BMAC drop to #5 because of the $$, but I would love to see him play with the twins here in PHX!!

Jack Wilson 8 years, 3 months ago

I see Mickelson and I think competition. I think 5 post guys in 2014 scrambling for playing time ... really three guys, Traylor, Lucas, and Mickelson. Ellis and Embiid are locks for PT.

I also think that as it sits, we'd like to have a highly skilled big man in 2014. But we won't get it. The class is thin anyway, some are spoken for, and we have major roadblocks -- see Ellis, Embiid.

Then I think about our perimeter players .. we seem loaded with talent. We'll have Wiggins leaving, but clearly guys that can take that spot in 2014. Guys that may be real roadblocks to incoming recruits -- see Tharpe, White, Greene, Selden, and Frankamp. If Mason takes the PG spot as Keegan believes, then you have a potential 4 year guy there.

That means we're recruiting in the 60-100 range in 2014, not the 1-59 range, most likely.

When you score big like we did in 2013, expect a drop off for 2014. We had a core building class. An amazing class that defines the next three full seasons. Top guys won't want to come in and compete for PT with this talent pool.

Get ready for some underwhelming recruiting news for 2014.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 3 months ago

That sounds like something I wrote. It is understandable that you might think that the best don't think they are the best, or that they don't want competition, or that they don't want to have to work for PT. History and current events on the other hand seem to say otherwise.

Somehow, the presence of Brannen Greene, Wayne Selden, and AWIII didn't deter Wiggins from coming. That's 3 wings that will be in his way - Oh, wait. Andrew is going to play.

Lucas, Traylor, Mickleson, Ellis all have Jahil Okafor #1 C, and Cliff Alexander, #1 PF quaking in their boots. There's far too many bodies on the block to consider playing for KU next year. Oh wait, they are considering.

Tyus Jones, #1 PG, and Rashad Vaughn, #1 SG, as well as Emmanuel Mudiay, #2 PG and Justise Winslow, #2 SG are surely intimidated by Tharpe, Mason, Frankamp, Greene. It's probably fake that they are considering coming to KU and ride the pine.

Who was it that forced Travis into a redshirt, and lesser players to transfer? That's the more likely scenario with the elite. Obviously, all those players can't come next year, and maybe none of them come. My guess is that more and more of the elite players are realizing just how fabulous Coach Self is to play for, and that they will start and be supported by a great team and community.

Coach is also wising up and redshirting the guys at the beginning so that he can take some of the steam out of the transfer machine.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 3 months ago

This year is certainly the exception when KU recruits almost an entire rotation of elite players...Black, Wiggins, Selden, Greene, Frankamp and Mason.

You can add Lucas as well to 2013 because, personally, I feel that recruiting classes should be judged on when players actually play, so 2012 was actually, Ellis, White, McLemore, Adams and Traylor.

DCLawHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

It's hard enough for guys to come out of college after four years and deal with the lonely life on the road that the NBA can be. It will be that much harder for McLemore who is still only two years out of high school. Is he even old enough to drink legally yet? I would not be a bit surprised to see Ben's first year in the NBA come along a little slowly as a result. However, I'll be shocked if he isn't a full-time starter by year three.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 3 months ago

Bleacher Report, a publication that often gets inside scoops, has McLemore going as #1.

Several other publications are also indicating a lot of concern about Noel and claim that Alex Len might go higher than Noel, even as high as #1. Go figure.

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

Ben will slide UP.

Jeff will slide UP.

wtarush 8 years, 3 months ago

Dove to canadians, carp to black bear, crappie to flathead and I trap like "ol' man river"... I go after them all. I don't do it for money so I can take you hunting/fishing.

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