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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

KU’s Self: It’s not fair to compare

Future Kansas University basketball players Kelly Oubre, left, and Cliff Alexander pose during media availability leading up to the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game.

Future Kansas University basketball players Kelly Oubre, left, and Cliff Alexander pose during media availability leading up to the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game.

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It happens every year at programs like Kansas University.

Players leave, either to the NBA Draft or graduation, highly touted newcomers slide in to replace them, and the fan base immediately begins to wonder if the new version will be as good or better than the departed veterans.

Last week, at the NBA Draft in Brooklyn, New York, KU coach Bill Self cautioned against such an exercise when it comes to searching for replacements for former Jayhawks Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, the No. 1 and No. 3 picks in this year’s draft.

Although Self put together a stellar incoming class that not only ranked highly against other hauls but also fit KU’s needs perfectly, the two most touted players in the class, big man Cliff Alexander and wing Kelly Oubre, already are drawing comparisons to Embiid and Wiggins because they figure to pick up a solid chunk of the playing time available because of the duo’s departure.

“You’re talking about Cliff and Kelly because those are kind of the (same) positions,” Self said. “But, with Sviatoslav (Mykhailiuk) and Devonté (Graham), I think we’ve got four really good players coming in, but they’re good players. They’re not exceptional prospects by NBA standards. If they work hard and things fall right, they could get to the point where they could play at the highest level, but, certainly, you can’t anticipate them stepping in and doing what Jo did or what Andrew did as freshmen.”

Despite having to live up to enormous hype that began long before he ever arrived in Lawrence, Wiggins delivered one of the best seasons by a KU freshman in the school’s history. He led the Jayhawks in scoring, earned first-team All-Big 12 honors, was one of the top defenders in the conference and set several KU freshman records, all while drawing tons of attention from opposing coaches.

Embiid, who did not even start the first eight games of the season and missed 15 altogether, was so good during the games he played that he earned Big 12 defensive player of the year honors and was many analysts’ choice for the draft’s top pick before injuring his foot in the weeks leading up to the draft.

While Oubre, 6-foot-7, 200 pounds (Wiggins is 6-8, 200), possesses great athleticism and an attacking style like Wiggins, asking him to fill those shoes would be a bit unfair. Same goes for asking that of the 6-8, 240-pound Alexander, who is more of a power player than fleet of foot.

“Whenever you lose the No. 3 pick in the draft that could’ve gone No. 1, you just don’t replace that,” Self said of Embiid.

Adams taps UConn

Class of 2015 point guard Jalen Adams, the No. 26-ranked senior in the country according to Rivals.com, committed to UConn and head coach Kevin Ollie on Monday.

Kansas had cracked Adams’ final three — Louisville was the other — but picked the Huskies largely because of Ollie, who, after winning the national title in April, has become one of the hottest names in coaching.

“It was because of the coaching staff and the style of play,” Adams told ESPN.com. “Coach Ollie lets the guards play. It’s a guards-based program.”

Adams, 6-2, 160, hails from the same hometown as former UConn standout Shabazz Napier.

Ten Jayhawks at camp

KU players Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden Jr., Cliff Alexander, Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene, Frank Mason, Jamari Traylor, Oubre, Graham, and Landen Lucas will be camp instructors at The Players Camp on July 19 in New Century. The camp will be run at The New Century Fieldhouse from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Founded by Sean Harrington, who played for Self at Illinois and worked under him at KU, The Players Camps are a series of basketball clinics that employ college basketball players to teach fundamental basketball instructions to youth. Campers will watch the players demonstrate elite college drills, learn the drills from the players and compete 5-on-5 against the players.

Comments

Rodney Crain 6 years, 1 month ago

First off for crying out loud please find a different picture of KO and Cliff, it cannot be that hard to do. :)

I agree with coach 100%, we have 4 very good players coming in and with work and some polish I think they can be very very good. Andrew was the first KU player to go to #1 since Danny, those guys are rare and to think KO or Cliff could replace them is typical over hype talk. We got 4 guys who fit our needs, post, wing, guard and should help soften the blow, along with the guys still here for next year. I am cautiously optimistic for next year if; we can play the PG position better, see a few guys not freshman step up and contribute more, and Svee the youngest -most unknown Hawk can play defense. I would say a Healthy Selden is going to help too.

Jalen Adams, ok I guess, not sure there was a final three sounds like he was kind of groomed to replace Napier. I wonder if Graham or Mason crossed his mind as well? Ollie cashes in his first chip on winning the NC, he should be still thanking Daniels, Boatright and of course Napier for a great 6 game stretch. How easy it is to forget that ugly loss March 8th to Louisville 81-48...

Robert Brock 6 years, 1 month ago

There may be a reason that Adams was rated at the number 55 spot by Scout.com. He just ain't that good. Look elsewhere.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 1 month ago

but he's from the same hometown as Shabazz Napier...

Michael Leiker 6 years, 1 month ago

...but, certainly, you can’t anticipate them stepping in and doing what Jo did or what Andrew did as freshmen.” Self continued, "you know these two can actually handle it a little and occasionally throw it in the ocean, so you never know, sky's the limit."

Mike Riches 6 years, 1 month ago

While Oubre and Cliff may not be Wiggins and JoJo, I think our team next year has a chance to be significantly better than the '13-'14 version. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has expressed this...

Rodney Crain 6 years, 1 month ago

significantly better? significantly?? Although I am glad everybody that came back from last year is healthy and a year older, we still have a question at PG, questions about shot blocking and four new faces to fit in. The schedule should be easier, how could it not, but we will have to be much better on defense to be significantly better. I don't think we will lose 10 again, but I think another B12 title could be tough. The KY game will be an interesting start to our season. They are tall, talented, and deep at least we catch them early in the season hopefully before they get rolling.

Gregor Southard 6 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, I really think this year's team will be better, too. As long as Bowen doesn't start coaching the defensive side. Sorry, couldn't resist, and yes I hope I'm dreadfully wrong about Bowen. But his previous stints at DC for KU, Western Kentucky, and North Texas, well...

John Randall 6 years, 1 month ago

The big question is not 'better players (as in pro draft picks).' The big question is 'better team.'

With six or eight top twenty talents, every one knows how to play and they learn real quick how to get it together. Now, pull out two of them and replace with lottery picks … the confusion is rampant, and no one fits with anyone else. Steve Nash, at eighteen, would have a bad assist/turnover ratio.

You make your choice, I'll make mine, and at the end of the season we'll each count our wins and losses – or do you have a better way to answer the 'big question?'

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