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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Illinois prep Brunson considering Kansas

Kansas University basketball recruiting.

Kansas University basketball recruiting.

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Kansas University, which landed blue-chip basketball point guard Devonte’ Graham on Friday, has emerged as one of eight finalists for Jalen Brunson, a 6-foot-1 junior point guard from Stevenson High in Lincolnshire, Ill.

Brunson, who is ranked No. 14 in the recruiting Class of 2015 by Rivals.com, tweeted Saturday that he has a list of KU, Michigan State, Michigan, Illinois, Purdue, Villanova, Temple and UConn.

Brunson, son of former Temple and NBA player Rick Brunson, averaged 26.1 points and 4.7 assists last season. He scored an Illinois-state-tournament single-game-record 56 points in a semifinal loss to Jahlil Okafor’s Whitney Young team. Okafor is headed to Duke.

KU is also in the running for No. 1-ranked Malik Newman, a 6-3 junior combo guard from Callaway High in Jackson, Miss. He is considering KU, Duke, Kentucky and many others.

Graham ‘outgoing’: Graham was asked Friday what fans should know about him on a personal level.

“I’m very outgoing. I get along with a lot of people. I think I’m a very friendly guy on and off the court,” said the 6-2 senior from Brewster Academy in New Hampshire who chose KU over North Carolina State, Providence, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

“I’m a leader and a point guard,” added the No. 36-rated Graham, who added that he had a younger brother and two younger sisters.

Quite a season: Graham’s Brewster Academy team (33-2) won its fourth New England prep title in the last seven years and its third national prep championship in the last five years.

His teammates included Jared Terrell, a 6-3 senior shooting guard who was recently released from his letter of intent at Oklahoma State; 6-9 Georgetown signee Isaac Copeland; 6-8 UCLA signee Jonah Bolden; and 6-2 San Diego State signee Kevin Zabo. Terrell was MVP at the national prep tourney.

“The whole season was amazing,” said Graham, who scored 22 points in a 88-78 victory over Thomas More Prep in the national title game. “Being a part of the program has been great for me and the rest of the team. The players are great people. I have some new brothers now. Winning the national championship was amazing. The school has had a big impact on my life.”

Graham attended Broughton High in Raleigh, N.C., for four years, signing with Appalachian State his senior year. He couldn’t get out of his letter of intent after having second thoughts, thus went to Brewster a year.

Assessment of Graham: Scouting report on Graham by ESPN’s Paul Biancardi, available at ljw.bz/1iQmTeS

“As a lead guard with excellent athletic ability, Graham shows the balance between being a facilitator who is thinking about setting up his teammates and being a scorer. His basketball IQ is what stands out. He understands spacing and flow within his floor game, or he can turn it up a notch and play at a faster tempo. He can be trusted by his coaches because he is more of a decision-maker versus a risk-taker, and has vision and passing accuracy to connect with his teammates. He led his Brewster team in assists (171) and his assist-to-turnover ratio was terrific at 5-1.

“As a 3-point shooter, he shines by knocking down shots on a fairly consistent basis, which complements his floor game so well. Once inside the arc, watch out for his dribble pull-up game and floaters, as he is equally adept in those areas. Defensively he levels the drive well as he stays in front of his man and will step in and take charges off the ball, which is uncommon for most high school players.”

Commenting on how Graham “fits” at KU, Biancardi writes: “The biggest void for Kansas was a floor general who can make an assist and/or score from the point guard spot. Graham is efficient and effective in both categories. First and foremost, he is a determined defender on the ball, and defense is where it always starts with Kansas. He can set the tone by how he pressures the ball along with a group of elite athletes who are big, strong, fast and quick, which will lead to many easy points in transition.”

This, that: CBSsports.com reports that the Big 12/SEC challenge pairings should be released this week. Look for KU to be matched with Florida in a game to be contested in Allen Fieldhouse. Florida beat the Jayhawks, 67-61, this past December in Gainesville, Fla. ... KU signee Cliff Alexander did not play in Saturday’s Ball is Life all-star game in Long Beach, Calif., because of back spasms. KU signee Kelly Oubre also missed the game. A game organizer said he was “under the weather.”

Comments

Suzi Marshall 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm trying not to get hyped up over Graham but when independent organizations say thing like "he's a determined defender," "his basketball IQ stands out." and has a 5-1 A/TO ration...it seems far too good to be true. These HS kids rarely know what they are getting into with the leap to elite D1 ball.

Rodney Crain 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I am in agreement Suzi. To me he is a late bloomer, decent size, a good shooter, who seems to play well in transition. Would love to see some video of him defending a talented guard for a game, and him breaking down some zones to make plays. Even with that information in hand, the difference between a High School game and a major College game are very different. Speed, talent you face game after game and coaching. Regardless, due to Tharpe's transfer he was the best possible player at a position of need left on the board. I am very glad we have him, he is heading in the right direction and appears to have what we have lacked the last couple of years. I think if Self could find a senior PG transfer that could play right away with the extra Scholarship in hand, he would take that player too.

Ashwin Rao 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Sr. Point Guard... Tharpe is available! ;) Personally, I agree with Suzi, his review/hype is awesome... not sure how much of that will translate into a Big12 game. In any case, it will be an upgrade no matter what. Glad to be (possibly) playing Florida... that will definitely be a test for us, and will show us how we have matured in 1 yr. Florida is a well coached team, so it will show us our holes early in the season as well.

Walter Bridges 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Rodney, we may not always agree what at least you present an opinion that is based in facts and not hyperbole. I would have to say that this kid IS a late boomer but the same was said about Frankamp last year. I thought Frankamp was finally breaking through and showing his potential. He does not play with reckless abandon (which is not always a good thing) but he limits mistakes and values ball possession

Tharpe was NEVER meant to be our #1 point guard but he was meant to be a solid second point guard off the bench. He just wasn't ready to tackle such a pivotable role and his play showed it.

If we are to find a senior point guard transfer, I believe all the first-tier prospects have already been gobbled up. Plus, he would have to wait a year anyways. I would prefer to see the scholarship used next year. An incoming PG with Frankamp, Mason and Graham would not have the pressure to succeed immediately. In part, I think that is also true for Graham this year. I would be extremely surprised if he was our starting point guard when the season begins.

I think for the most part, on this we pretty much agree. The last thing we need to do is to give out a scholarship to a player unable to participate except in practice (which I don't underrate the importance of) but would rather a player to make his mistakes on the big court.

Suzi Marshall 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I'd like to see whoever starts at the beginning of the season have the mindset to not allow the others a chance to challenge for the job. For instance, if THAT GUY starts at the beginning. Self will not make a change if the team gets off to something like a 20-0 start while THAT GUY averages 3-4 threes and a 3-1 A/TO per game. Like playing golf and if whoever putts first keeps hitting birdie, the others will realistically never catch up.

Walter Bridges 5 months, 2 weeks ago

"blue-chip basketball point guard Devonte’ Graham"

The hyperbole is getting ridiculous...

David Hall 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I think he can figure it out once he gets To Ku

Jim Erickson 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm excited about the Graham signing, but am skeptical of the hype surrounding a player ranked in the 30's. Rankings certainly don't mean everything but they are not useless either. Expecting him to come in and start/dominate from the beginning is lofty. To be fair, it sounds like he does the things that help for quick transitions (basketball IQ, taking care of the ball, good defending, good shooter, 80% from the free throw line) but still, expecting a day 1 starter is lofty. I think that is especially true considering the fact that Frank Mason had a solid first year and Conner Frankamp emerged late. Both of those guys will have a year in the system, experience, and are talented as well.

Personally, I cringe at the though of having 3 freshman in the starting lineup. As we saw this year, no matter how talented they are, mistakes happen.

Dirk Medema 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Expecting a player ranked in the 30's to start/dominate from the beginning is not lofty, it's misguided. Top 10 players tend to start, and top 5 might dominate their first year. Unfortunately, too many fans make extrapolations about HS players with good abilities, and don't allow them time to grow into the game.

Definitely agree with your analysis of where we are at the 1. Graham will likely play, and might even have a Perry/Conner sort of year where by March he figures out D1 ball enough to start/have a significant impact here and there. Definitely more exciting from the long term perspective.

Aaron Paisley 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I think it's possible that Graham could start, certainly not a given or expect him to, but Mason and Frankamp also didn't separate themselves enough either to definitively say that either one of them is guaranteed to start next year.

Tyshawn Taylor was ranked in the upper 70's by Rivals and came in and started for 4 years and Elijah Johnson was a 5 star recruit who couldn't unseat Brady Morningstar for two seasons so obviously rankings are not always accurate in predicting college success, but they are good for setting expectations and Graham being in the mid 30's should say that he'll be rotation player early on and a possible multi year starter depending on how the roster make up turns out.

Jay Beakum 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Regarding the 3 freshmen: It’s tough to say “mistakes happen”. Injuries happen, but freshman Wiggins was healthy and made the Naismith list. Embiid, when healthy, was a machine. Selden was not healthy all year. If those last two freshman play healthy all year we might have cut down the nets. The guy making the most glaring mistakes was a junior and was replaced by freshman because the frosh were making fewer mistakes.

Regarding the Graham ranking: So difficult to say what his ranking means but I know another guy who came from nowhere and might be the #1 pick in the NBA draft this year.

Rivals still has Embiid listed as the 25th overall and 3rd center in the class of ‘13. I know Embiid is a rare case but this demonstrates the fluidity of the rankings, and how exposure can effect them.

A ranking in the 30’s seems arbitrary because it’s obvious these guys don’t have the book on Graham yet. Another year in the light and I could give the ranking some more merit. Until then, he could be a top 10 guy for all we know. For a guy to jump like that, I feel like they had to draw the line somewhere, you know. Like if they kind of feel like he’s a top 20 guy, but they don’t want to stake their reputation on it. 30’s is nice and safe.

I realize this is glass-half-full stuff, but it’s not completely unrealistic either.

Robert Brock 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Brunson is going to be a college star. I look forward to watching him play for the Mac Irvin Fire at the Dallas leg of the EYBL circuit this weekend. Tough get - Michigan and Michigan State have been all over this kid for a long time.

Ashwin Rao 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Agreed. MI & MSU are guard oriented, so he may pick one of them ahead of us. But he will be a great get.

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I think we're done here. Newman, Brunson - neither will pick us, extending what Brock said.

Tony Bandle 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Let's see...Frank - three more years, Conner - three more years, Devonte - four years.....unless something changes, I don't see elite guards seriously looking at KU for the next couple of seasons.

Walter Bridges 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I disagree... I think a confident top 25 PG would see this as an opportunity to get at least one year under his belt before taking over as the starting PG. Look at Kentucky. They have 9 McDonald's all Americans and they know that if they can succeed there then their future is nothing but positive going forward.

A player who shies away from competition is not the type of player we want.

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