Kansas University’s basketball players tend to play unbelievably hard, even in 4-on-4 full-contact halfcourt drills for Bill Self basketball campers.
“As you can tell by the way we practice, we are all savages on the court,” Kelly Oubre Jr., KU’s 6-foot-7 freshman wing from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada, said Tuesday in Horejsi Center.
“Nobody wants to get anything easy. We are all going out there every day (treating) ball like it’s something to eat, like we are starving. That’s my definition of savages pretty much.”
Oubre, who enters KU as Rivals.com’s No. 6-rated player in the Class of 2014, said he’s as hungry as anybody.
“I have to come in this game starving,” the McDonald’s All-American said, “because if I don’t, if I think everything is going to come easy to me, it’s not going to be successful.”
Oubre, who averaged 22.2 points and 6.7 rebounds for 31-5 Findlay last season, exhibited a nice touch on his lefthanded jumper Tuesday.
“My attitude, my grit ... I don’t take no for an answer,” Oubre said, asked what he brings to KU. “I’m going to go as hard as I can while I’m on the court. I’m going to give coach everything I have.”
Self said the summer is an important time for Oubre, who arrived about two weeks ago and went to work at Washburn coach Bob Chipman’s camp in Wichita.
“I think he’s struggling like all freshmen are, as far as he’s used to doing it a certain way,” Self said. “Not that his way is wrong, but we just do it different. He needs to be a defender, extra possession, offensive rebound guy that can just make athletic plays which will set up his offense.
“Footwork,” Self added, referring to what is different on the major-college level. “You’ve got a guy playing underneath you now. Before he could just out-athletic people. Cliff (Alexander, 6-8 frosh) is going to go through the same stuff. Really Devonté (Graham, 6-2 frosh) is the most prepared on June 10 than any of them (newcomers) because he’s older and been playing against some real guys every day in practice (at Brewster Academy last year). Eight, nine guys off that team went Div. I. He’s more used to what it takes every day as far as playing hard and competing. Those other two are going to be terrific when they get their feet under them.”
Oubre, who is roommate of Graham, said he is enjoying his new college home, though he has spent more time in the gym than anywhere else.
“Practicing against the best team in the Big 12, potentially the best team in the nation ... that’s all I can ask for,” Oubre said. “I’m going to be ready for college basketball (season) when it comes around.
“I want to work this summer on every aspect — ballhandling, shooting, being a leader, defense, doing whatever coach needs me to do. College basketball is more physical than high school. It’s more upbeat and more uptempo, so it’s pretty much the biggest adjustment I have to make in my game.”
Self on the point guard situation: “I don’t want to play a point guard any more. Elijah (Johnson) was definitely our point guard the year before last. Naadir (Tharpe) was definitely our point guard (last year). I don’t want to do that. I want to play three guards and whoever gets it brings it. That’s how we always had our best teams. I want Wayne (Selden) to be able to play point guard; I want Frank (Mason); I want Conner (Frankamp); I want Devonté; I want Svee (Mykhailiuk) when he gets here. I want all these guys to be able to bring it so we are playing a bunch of combo guards that can all play point as opposed to just playing a point guard. Up ’til the last five to seven minutes (when you need what he called a ‘closer’) I hope we have three point guards out there at once or at least the appearance of three.”
This, that: KU sophomore forward Landen Lucas bumped his knee Monday and is ticketed to miss a day or two of workouts and pick-up action, Self said. ... KU soph Mason did a series of five backflips for Self’s campers. “In the NCAA (practice) he did three in a row then dunked it,” Self said. ... Self said NBA representatives of the Cavaliers, Bucks and Sixers all have been to town to talk about Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. “From what I’ve heard, they all have a chance to go in the top three,” Self cracked. ... Self said Mykhailiuk would be playing for Ukraine’s junior national team then hopefully work out with the senior national team, which is coached by Mike Fratella and assisted by former KU coach Bob Hill. He could arrive at KU as late as September if he plays for the national team. “I know he’s in the gym, no question about that,” Self said. ... Self was happy with his two spring signees — Mykhailiuk and Graham. “What we got was more of the (KU) needs than even getting the big kid from Texas (Myles Turner),” Self said. “He (Turner, UT) is going to be a terrific player, but I felt if we could get an unbelievable shooter and true point guard I think that would probably offset maybe not having so much standing height inside.”