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Thursday, July 3, 2014

KU’s Oubre faces off with NBA MVP Durant

Kansas University freshman Kelly Oubre, left, says he "did well" in matchups with reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant, right, during a stay at Durant's recent summer skills camp in Washington, D.C.

Kansas University freshman Kelly Oubre, left, says he "did well" in matchups with reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant, right, during a stay at Durant's recent summer skills camp in Washington, D.C.

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Most incoming Kansas University basketball players spend the summer before their freshman seasons fine-tuning their games in high school gyms or in Lawrence.

KU freshman Kelly Oubre recently spent part of his summer matching up against one of the best players in the world.

Oubre returned to Lawrence earlier this week after a three-day stint at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Washington, D.C. It marked back-to-back invitations to the clinic for Oubre, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound wing who was Rivals.com’s No. 6-ranked player in the Class of 2014 and a McDonald’s All-American. A counselor this year, Oubre said the only difference from his experience as a prep was the intensity of the workouts.

“We worked out five times in the span of three days, and our workouts were pretty intense because there were NBA scouts there watching us,” Oubre said Wednesday. “We just went hard and pushed each other. Everybody wants to prove that they’re the best.”

In fact, several people told Oubre his performance was one of the best at this year’s event. Perhaps that was because he had the unique opportunity to guard and be guarded by Durant himself, a challenge Oubre said was equal parts exciting and intense.

“I did well,” Oubre said of his matchups with the reigning NBA MVP. “I don’t like to take no for an answer or let people get off. We went at it. Pretty much my drive matched his drive and it was a lot of fun.”

Oubre said he went to the camp hoping to show off his improved jump shot and enhance his point guard skills — something he hopes will make him the best all-around player he can be — and left with an even higher appreciation for Durant’s greatness.

“I really admire his humble attitude,” Oubre said. “He loves to be in the gym continuing to get better, and that’s definitely something I could take from him. You always have to be hungry. Even though he’s the MVP, he’s in the gym working out with us and then the next morning he’s in there again before we even get there.

“He said he was impressed by my game. And I learned a lot from him. His words and encouragement definitely pushed me to get better.”

By now, attending high-profile summer camps has become fairly routine for Oubre, who also attended the LeBron James Skills Academy last summer and has been invited to make a repeat appearance there July 8-12 in Las Vegas.

But spending time around some of the game’s greats hasn’t caused Oubre to become complacent.

“It feels normal to me now,” he said. “But it’s still Kevin Durant. He plays against the LeBrons and the Kobes and I’m not there yet. I always have to remember that he’s somewhere I want to be someday.”

Although he wore signature KD gear at the clinic instead of crimson and blue, Oubre said it was a thrill to attend as a Jayhawk.

“Everybody else was representing their schools and, for the first time, I got to represent something that was bigger than me,” he said. “I’m happy to be a Jayhawk and I’m gonna be a Jayhawk for life. Being able to represent Kansas out there was just a great feeling.”

Withey’s summer plans

The New Orleans Pelicans announced Wednesday that former KU center Jeff Withey will be a part of the team’s summer league roster.

Withey, who played in 58 games and made four starts as a rookie with the Pelicans last season, averaged 3.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 12 minutes per game.

New Orleans will open summer league action July 11 in Las Vegas.

Other confirmed Jayhawks for NBA summer leagues are: Tarik Black (Houston), Thomas Robinson (Portland), Ben McLemore (Sacramento) and Mario Little (Oklahoma City).

Mykhailiuk update

JayhawkSlant.com’s Shay Wildeboor recently caught up with incoming KU freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who tried to clarify a couple of things during the brief interview.

First, Mykhailiuk said he did not know for sure when he would report to campus but expected it would be sometime in mid-to-late August and definitely by the beginning of September. Mykhailiuk, who turned 17 on June 10, will spend the summer playing for the Ukrainian national team before coming to KU.

Second, the up-and-coming five-star wing player gave Wildeboor a clear picture of his actual frame, which has been debated since he signed with Kansas.

“I can definitely tell you that I’m 6-foot-8 in shoes and 6-foot-7 without shoes,” Mykhailiuk said.

Comments

Suzi Marshall 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Classes for the Fall session commence on August 25th. Arriving around early September means he will miss the first week of school, at least. I hope this doesn't end up being a rerun of a Jerry Krause / Toni Kukoč situation. Krause allowed all kinds of special accommodations for Kukoč, resulting in a lot of animosity with the rest of the team, including Pippen and MJ.

Happy to hear KO is working on his PG skills. We will probably get a look at the Big Kansas line-up vs KY. Selden, Oubre running the backcourt operating interchangeable as PG would be an interesting experience. Toss in a 6'8" shoe wearing Mykailiuk, BG and even Ellis at the 3 could be the little guys will see some reduced PT. However, Mason and CF will probably still get quality minutes.

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Aaron Paisley 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Not a huge deal because Svi will be playing against tougher competition playing with the national team than he would by staying in Lawrence. It hurts with him getting to know the other players a little bit, but Self believes that playing with your country's senior national team is is an acceptable reason to not be in Lawrence over the summer as he was going to allow Wiggins to do the same thing last year before Wiggins decided not to play for the Canadian team last summer.

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Suzi Marshall 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Self pushed hard to get Wiggins to Lawrence last summer, citing amongst other things, the need for conditioning and team bonding to better prepare for the season. His late arrival seems to indicate Self does not expect him to play much of a role this season.

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Jay Beakum 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Pretty different situations. Self knew Wiggins was going to be the face of our team. He needed to play with the team as much as possible as soon as possible, especially considering our tough early schedule.

Svi is so much younger, and as talented as he may be, Self knows it will be better for him to toughen just a little before lacing up in AFH. Obviously he won’t be our first, second or even third option and if he never showed up at all, KU would still be a very tough team. Not so much with Wiggins last year.

Besides, with the depth we have this year, I think these guys have more to worry about than 16 year old kid missing a week of class. My gut tells me they are going to be very supportive of him anyway. It’s not the NBA.

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Sean Lancaster 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Or it suggests that Svi already had commitments that he needed to uphold. Or perhaps Self has spoken with Ukrainian head coach Mike Fratello and assistant coach Bob Hill to ensure that Svi gets a healthy workout. Who knows? But I'd hesitate to try and read into the later arrival anything with regard to Svi's future on this team.

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Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Or maybe it recognizes that Wiggs was only going to be here 1 yr and Svi will be here at least 2.

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Rodney Crain 3 weeks, 2 days ago

From a competitive standpoint maybe, but he is not on the Ukraine roster for the World Cup in Spain, which starts August 30th for them. They are not playing in the U17 tournament starting August 8th. I get playing/practicing for your country, I am all for it, but he is not playing in either tournament. He will be coming in having missed classes possibly, having to learn his way around campus, get settled in, connect with the other players, and learn Self's system. Why not at least arrive in early August and get accustom to this new environment? It is a lot for a young man to take in who is 17. I am sure he will have help, and he knows how to speak English I just do not see the logic of not getting her a month or so before classes.

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Mick Allen 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Suzi, my concern with Selden and Oubre manning both guard positions at the same time would be their handles against 3/4 or full court pressure. It bothered Selden last year and while Oubre appears to handle the ball well, like Wiggens, because of his height, has a high dribble and it might take him awhile to learn to protect his dribble against good pressure.

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Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I think the line-up was directed at UK in particular because of their height, so less worries. Wiggin's handles were generally seen as one of his weaknesses, tho not as much Oubre.

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Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 3 days ago

How did you go from "sometime in mid-to-late August and definitely by the beginning of September" to "around early September"?

By his timeline, he would miss at most 5 days, and only a couple classes.

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Suzi Marshall 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I hope he arrives for the first football game, which is held the beginning/early September, the 6th...two weeks after classes start. I'm sure he see values of attending classes since both his parents are educators.

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Mike Barnhart 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Oubre has a world class role model in Durrant. Durrant is a stand-up guy as well as a phenomenal talent. Oubre has a chance to become one of our all-time favorite Jayhawks.

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Jay Beakum 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Percentage wheel?

Season’s leading scorer.

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Shannon Gustafson 3 weeks, 3 days ago

That's difficult this year...I see 6-7 guys averaging 10ppg plus or minus 1-2 points. Perry has a shot at leading scorer if they run the typical offense through the post. I'm going with Greene though at 12-13ppg, assuming he beats out KO for the starting job.

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Jay Beakum 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Wow! Greene beating out Oubre for the starting spot. Bold prediction, considering Oubre will be a lottery pick in 2015.

Here’s mine.

Perry Ellis: 35%

Wayne Selden: 20%

Kelly Oubre: 20%

Cliff Alexander: 10%

Devonte Graham: 10%

Brannen Greene: 5%

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Gerry Butler 3 weeks, 3 days ago

mercy Suzi you are soooooo far off base making a comment saying that self does not expect him to play much of a role. I don't know how many times self has said just the exact opposite.. saying he was probably more ready the any of the incoming recruits, and what a MAJOR role he WOULD play this year for this team. I think you are making or trying to make a way bigger deal out of his late arrival then is actually there. KU players have always been close at least 95% of the time and his late arrival will not affect his role with other players on the team and his conditioning will be there he is playing against some of the better GROWN men not worried what so ever GO HAWKS

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Rodney Crain 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I am not sure I understand why he is waiting so long to come in. He is not on the Ukraine roster for the Worlds. I am not sure they are going that far anyway. The average age of their team is 25?

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Suzi Marshall 3 weeks, 3 days ago

The kid needs to get to Lawrence and probably should think about bringing his family with him. He's probably along way behind the rest of the guys on the court and in the weight room.

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Travis Martin 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Fact: Wiggs not that great of a ball handler. That is just a fact if you would like me to post examples I am happy to do that. He is one of the best players in the world, but he could get sloppy with the ball at times.

Fact: Selden has a year under his belt now, this will make a huge difference in getting past full court pressure, not to mention we have a real guard coming in to play for us this year alongside Mason and Connor.

Fact: I watched Durant play in Lawrence and well he was exceptional even with two men on him, until he was hurt we could not stop him. He is like nothing else and until someone preforms like he did we will just have to dream. I hope Oubre has a year like Durant's college year, or even close to it would be amazing and we would have two number 1 picks in a row!

RCJHKU

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