Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Amid talk of NBA prospects, KU’s Tarik Black gets NFL attention

Kansas forward Tarik Black delivers on a dunk before Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Tarik Black delivers on a dunk before Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.


An imposing 6-foot-9, 260-pounder who likes to rebound, but also possesses a soft shooting touch around the rim, Tarik Black figures to make some money next season playing basketball in Europe, if not the NBA.

“If I was him, I’d try out for an NFL team, though,” KU coach Bill Self said Wednesday on his weekly “Hawk Talk” radio show.

“Aaron Rodgers told me when he was here, ‘I promise you he has a tryout with us,’” Self added of the Green Bay Packers quarterback who attended KU hoops practice on Jan. 17 and the KU-Oklahoma State game a day later.

“He said, ‘I want to try that guy at tight end,’” Self added of Black, KU’s senior pivot from Memphis. “I said, ‘Tight end? He can’t go across the middle and get hit.’ But then I started thinking about it ... they (NFL teams) love to have basketball players. He (Rodgers) said, ‘I want to throw balls at him and see what he can do.’ Certainly (Black) is a phenomenal athlete for his size.”

There have been some success stories regarding basketball players competing in the NFL. Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas played basketball and football at Portland State. Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez played both at Cal-Berkeley. Chargers tight end deluxe Antonio Gates played basketball at Kent State.

Black, who averages 3.7 points and 2.7 boards while logging 10.3 minutes per game, scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds while playing 23 minutes in Tuesday’s 69-52 victory at Baylor. He was pivotal on a night Joel Embiid suffered from foul problems.

“He gave us a beastly presence when we needed one, especially with (Rico) Gathers in the game,” Self said of Black. “He’s getting more comfortable even though he hasn’t played the last couple weeks because of his (sprained) ankle. You can just tell his confidence is starting to rise.”

Black said he’s close to 100 percent healed from the ankle injury he suffered against Baylor on Jan. 20 in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It’s doing a lot better, obviously,” Black said. “I’m getting back on it, playing hard, not trying to be soft on it. I’m going to go hard. If it hurts, it hurts.”

Of his nine boards Tuesday, he said: “As a big man, that’s your job. We have a lot of offensive weapons. Defense is obviously most important. When the shot goes up, it’s important for us big men to get the rebound. We put a lot of emphasis on that.”

Injuries: KU red-shirt freshman center Landen Lucas reported on Twitter that he had an MRI on Wednesday. Self said Lucas’ back has been sore, but he shouldn’t miss any practice time. Self said Lucas was available to play against Baylor. ... KU senior forward Justin Wesley figures to miss about a week because of a sprained knee, Self indicated.

KU returns safely: The Jayhawks spent Tuesday night in Waco because of heavy snow in Lawrence. The squad was back in Lawrence via charter flight early Wednesday afternoon.

“Today was an off day anyway. We didn’t have school. Nothing was lost. We took our time and enjoyed each other a bit,” Self said of an unplanned overnight stay in Waco.

No news: Self said he’s amazed at the attention ESPN’s report that Joel Embiid is considering returning to KU for his sophomore season has received. Embiid told reporters after the game he’d turn pro after this season if he felt he was mentally and physically ready for the NBA. Earlier he’d told ESPN he was strongly considering returning for a second campaign.

“It’s absolutely not newsworthy at all. Of course he’s considering staying. It’s what everybody is doing right now. Guys are worried about their (college) teams,” Self said of top prospects. “The situation with Joel is that (money) is not the concern, so Jo should go whenever Jo is the most prepared to go. If he wants to be a player, he needs to be a player where he is prepared to play in the league. I think he is without question the best big guy I’ve ever been around. He amazes me on a daily basis. (But) we saw heavy bodies lay on him in certain games and (he) was not effective, so there’s a lot of things he has to do to improve, too.

“That (ESPN) story was absolutely nothing. If you are not definite, of course you are considering staying. He could also say he’s considering leaving, because if he is considering leaving, it’s not definite either.”

Next year looking good: KU thus far has signed big man Cliff Alexander and wing Kelly Oubre in recruiting. “They are as good of prospects as we have in America. They will come in and impact it (program),” Self said. “We always think about next year from a recruiting standpoint, but I believe this ... if things fall right, I think we’ll be better next year than we are this year. That’s exciting to me because we have so many young kids.”

Halfcourt heroics: Andrew Wiggins hit a halfcourt shot to beat the buzzer on Tuesday, leading one to wonder if KU practices the play. “The ones on our team that are best at it ... (Conner) Frankamp is really good at it. Evan Manning, Niko (Roberts) and Tyler (Self) are actually pretty good at it. I don’t know if you’d consider it practicing it. They are just jacking around, (but) they’re pretty good at knocking in the long one,” Self said.


Lance Hobson 2 months ago

Why in the world are we not playing WSU? We need to get over the grudge, we're missing an incredible opportunity this year. Something historic for basketball in the state.


Tony Bandle 2 months, 1 week ago

CHECK OUT the site Suzi has posted regarding Cliff Alexander. Look at the table behind him in the picture for Curie High School!!!

Their mascot is a Condor but, I'll be damned, it sure looks similar to a Jayhawk....WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT!!!!


Scut Farkus 2 months, 1 week ago

I'm sure there are NFL scouts talking about Black. I think he has more potential than Aldrich and perhaps Withey as well. He has that prototype NBA big man body that is critical to the physicality of NBA post play.


Joseph Bullock 2 months, 1 week ago

Tony & Steve, You guys are totally right about Cliff Alexander. He is a beast. His team upset the #1 Team in the Country a couple weeks ago. In that game, I think he had 6 points in the first half, and ended up with 30, for the game. I don't remember how many rebounds he had, but I'm sure it was a bunch. Both Cliff & Oubre, have been selected to play in the McDonald's All American Game. I thought JaQuan Lyle would also get selected, but he just missed out on making it. I'm still hoping he picks K.U., especially since Vaughn took K.U. off his list. But I wanted Lyle over him from the beginning, because he is a great PG, with length and athleticism, not to mention that he is best friends with Cliff! What do you guys think about Lyle? Stay warm, everyone! Can I get a yea, right! ha ha ha ha ha


Jeremy Paul 2 months, 1 week ago

I think Mr. Black is way too smart to join the military.


Kristopher Marshall 2 months, 1 week ago

Adam's comment after Suzi's - priceless


Tony Bandle 2 months, 1 week ago


1] I notice that the Coachs' sons are the most adept at the half court shot...maybe they get to practice that during scrimmages between the first and second teams. [just kidding].

2] Might as well ask the question now...."Where is Andrew White III going to transfer to"?.

3] The KU All-Tough Team...Black, Lucas, Traylor, Selden and Greene.

4] Tarik..stick to basketball, you'll last a lot longer.

5] Conner really needs to redshirt next year, get stronger, improve his defense [which surprisingly is not too bad], perfect his shot and become the "pain in the ass" to our opponents as Heslop, Forte and others are to us!

6] For the second half of the conference schedule we get WV, @KSU, TCU, @TT, TX, OU, @OSU, TT, @WV.

Texas gets @KSU, OSU, WV, @ISU, @KU, BU, @OU, TCU, @TT.

I like our chances...a lot!!!

7] Folks, our Cliff Alexander is a man among boys..and these boys are great players in one of the toughest high school leagues in America. Wait to you see this guy!!

8] French fries, waffle fries or curly fries...which is the best? Please discuss.

9] Sorry..I forgot what I was going to post...but I'll bet it was thougtht-provoking!! :)


Brett McCabe 2 months, 1 week ago

I'm guessing that Aaron Rodgers knows a little more about NFL receivers than I do, but I've always thought that guys like Tarik could actually be better used as possession receivers......short slants, curls, etc. where they simply use their girth and height to shield off defensive backs. This way, you aren't asking them to block and you are creating enormous mismatches against the DB's.

And near the goal line, the fade route could take on a whole new meaning!


Jeff Darby 2 months, 1 week ago

Traylor looks like he'd make a good NFL TE as well...


Mark Lindrud 2 months, 1 week ago

Coming to KU and getting notoriety has helped black get noticed for other opportunities I do not think he would have gotten if he had stayed and played at Memphis another year. Clearly, the advantages of playing and being noticed on the KU basketball team has its perks.


Jonathan Allison 2 months, 1 week ago

I liked the replay of Wiggins' buzzer beater. He hit the shot and just started walking off the court. He didn't throw his hands up or jump up and down. He barely even cracked a smile when his teammates were mobbing him.

He's cool as ice out there trying to act like he's made that shot a million times.


Jonathan Allison 2 months, 1 week ago

talking NFL, I think that Rico Gathers is the player who's future may be in the league. He's under tall for the NBA and lacks the basketball skills to make the next level. However he could be a monster in multiple positions in football. Black is a good basketball player, I think that NFL should be a last resort for him. I don't know if he's gonna make the NBA or not, but if I were a GM and I wanted a great locker room guy who could be a very competent backup at the PF or C position I'd give him a shot.

Armed with a degree in Organizational leadership though I think that he could be well primed to coach if he ends up staying close to the hardwood. I think that he will end up on the bench in a suit one day and will be really good at it.


RJ King 2 months, 1 week ago

If a career overseas is short-lived for any reason, I could see Black coaching in some capacity.

On another note, boy does Rico Gathers show a mean streak on the court. I loved how Black didn't react in any way, shape or form to the header he took from Gathers.

And if inadvertent elbows are a flagrant 1 foul, should the game allow players to deliberately throw at an opponent's head in order to gain possession on an out-of-bounds? Seems like anything above the neck should be a foul regardless of intent, just like the elbow rule.


Suzi Marshall 2 months, 1 week ago

Picking up Black was one of the several great moves by Self. Black stablizes and toughens our core. He's a great leader and team player.

Instead of the NFL or NBA, I'd rather he take a commission as a first lieutenant in the US Army. Black would be a great gun-fighter i.e.Special Forces or even a frog man. The pay is not as good but all of us would be more secure with men like Black leading our young men.


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