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Saturday, May 17, 2014

ESPN: Freshmen key for Duke, KU

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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ESPN.com has listed five programs that will be “most reliant on freshmen” during the 2014-15 season.

Surprise: Kentucky is not one of them.

The five, in order, are: Duke, Kansas University, UCLA, Ohio State and Georgetown.

The Blue Devils, of course, lost one-and-done sensation Jabari Parker and are bringing in Rivals.com’s No. 1-ranked Jahlil Okafor, No. 7 Tyus Jones, No. 12 Justise Winslow and No. 28 Grayson Allen.

KU, which lost one-and-dones in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, is bringing in No. 4 Cliff Alexander, No. 6 Kelly Oubre and No. 36 Devonté Graham.

The Jayhawks hope to land Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-6 wing from Ukraine who also would likely have an immediate impact. Considered one of the best shooters in Europe, Mykhailiuk is on KU’s campus this weekend and will head from Lawrence to Virginia for a visit Sunday. He has set no timeline to announce his college choice, with Michigan and others also reportedly a possibility. Mykhailiuk turns 17 in June.

Here’s what ESPN’s Seth Greenberg wrote about KU in his story.

“Similar to Duke last season, Kansas was led by freshmen (and soon-to-be NBA lottery picks) in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. It’s expected to happen once more in 2014-15. The Jayhawks return sophomore shooting guard Wayne Selden Jr. and junior forward Perry Ellis, but who complements them is crucial.

“It starts with ESPN’s No. 3 overall player, 6-9 power forward Cliff Alexander, an active defender who rebounds the ball in and out of his area. He’ll use his great hands and wide body to establish himself in the Kansas high-low offense. Kelly Oubre (No. 11), a 6-7 small forward, has the athletic ability and length to be a solid wing defender. His shot-making will open the floor for the Jayhawks and keep the defense honest. Both fit in perfectly to coach Bill Self’s attacking offensive and defensive system.

“Kansas struggled with consistent guard play last season with Naadir Tharpe, but he decided to transfer. As a result, the April signing of 6-2 point Devonté Graham was huge for the Jayhawks. He’s a long, rangy and athletic point guard who defends the ball, sees the floor well and makes good decisions. He will pitch the ball up the floor in transition and is a low-risk playmaker.”

Graduation: Sunday is Graduation Day at KU. Taking part in the traditional procession through the Campanile and down the hill into Memorial Stadium will be basketball seniors Niko Roberts and Justin Wesley. Roberts majored in communication studies and Wesley in liberal arts and sciences.

Keith’s clarification: Wesley’s brother, former KU player Keith Langford, explained to the Journal-World how he would be eligible to play for Turkey’s next Olympic team if that’s what he decides to do. He has decided to play for the Turkish National Team in the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

Langford played for Armani Milan of Italy this past season. He won the Euroleague’s Alphonso Ford Award, which goes to the leading scorer in the Euroleague (17.5 ppg).

“The process is pretty simple actually. If a country wants help on their team, they can come and ask an American who has never played national team for another country to play for them,” Langford said. “You draw up a contract, agree to terms and then you get a passport and become a naturalized citizen. It’s also beneficial as a player in Europe, too, because you become more valuable as an American who plays like a European. That’s because there are limits to how many Americans can be on teams.

“So especially in a country like Turkey it’s huge because their national team is very visible and their league/country is one of the highest paying.”

Collison likes Durant: Former KU forward Nick Collison may have a huge role in the Western Conference finals series against San Antonio now that Serge Ibaka has been ruled out because of a calf injury.

Collison, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, recently wrote a story for SI.com about what it’s been liking having superstar Kevin Durant as a teammate the last seven years.

“We don’t talk about Kevin’s place in history, but I think about that a lot. I remember growing up watching Michael Jordan and all those guys who played with him. When you play with a guy like that, you play on a special team. It’s cool to think that someday people might remember me the same way they do (former Bulls) Cliff Levingston or Luc Longley. And it’s cool to think that I’ll be able to say that not only did I play with Kevin but that I also liked the guy,” Collison wrote.

“Thirty years from now, what I’ll remember most about Kevin is how he treated people. Because his world is really crazy. He can’t go anywhere without people coming up to him. Everybody wants something. It would almost be understandable for him to not have a good feel for how to deal with people. But he’s managed to stay true to who he was on that first day I met him seven years ago. He’s still respectful. What you see is who he is. Everybody who works for the Thunder, he works with them, they don’t work for him. We’re all peers. I’ve got a ton of respect for Kevin Durant. It’s really been an honor to play with him.”

Comments

Erich Hartmann 4 years, 9 months ago

Nick Collison paid a high compliment to Kevin Durant. Both are truly class individuals. Eventhough I am a Heat fan (since 2006 DWade+Shaq Champ), I got a ton of respect for Durant, and still follow all the Jayhawks in the NBA and overseas.

Kudos to Langford, a crafty scorer and a smart professional...maximizing his career in every way. Will be very interesting to see Langford in the Olympics, playing for Turkey...

Jeff Kilgore 4 years, 9 months ago

You never know whether or not Collison reads the LJ sports columns, and if you're like me, you're vain enough to hope that he does, so based on that conjecture, Nick, your quotation about KD is gold. If you have any desire to write or to enter broadcasting and you can keep coming up with insight like the last two paragraphs, you will be employed as long as you care to travel. I'm just a lowly English teacher, but I think I'm right about your ability.

Erich Hartmann 4 years, 9 months ago

I think the ESPN guy missed the mark on KU and Bill Self...Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre will be nice pieces of the offensive puzzle, but they are not going to carry the load like Wiggins was asked to do. Look for the return of balanced scoring (that drives opposing coaches nuts and makes KU hard to guard), as KU returns more key experience than last season. Almost double the experience, which is HUGE for a Bill Self team expected to do all the things he requires on both ends of the floor.

And a more capable team will only make Oubre and Alexander's jobs easier as they come in and try to learn and integrate.

One thing sorely needed was the tough attitude that both Oubre and Alexander are known for. Hopefully they show that at the college level, and also infect their teammates with the same fire. Nice-guys are fine, but you also want a fire-breather in the mix (like a Thomas Robinson or Sherron or Chalmers-type).

Rodney Crain 4 years, 9 months ago

Actually I think ESPN has it right. Where do you think all of this scoring is going to come from other than them? Mr Soft (Perry) who disappeared in many games last year? Selden? Mr Inconsistent? Greene? Mason/Frankamp, really? Hunter, Landen, Traylor? I think we are going to need Freshman scoring like we did last year. They are going to need to contribute and carry the load like they did last year. Right now, they are the two best players on our team. I will even throw in Graham too. Freshman will contribute more to our teams success just like last year. I hope I am wrong but we have no idea if anyone from last year will improve.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 9 months ago

Listen to Rodney. Why would we possibly expect players to improve from their freshman to soph years? Obviously, freshmen with no experience will have more impact than returning players with a year or 2 of college experience. And a healthy Selden will have just as much impact as an injured freshman version. Besides, Hunter has never proven his ability to impact the college game like those freshmen so why should we expect him to after a year of learning the system.

Rodney Crain 4 years, 9 months ago

LOL Dirk. Why would we expect players to improve from their freshman to soph. years so much that they would play at KO or Alexander's Talent Levels? You think anyone from last years team is going to be better than these two freshman, after 1, 2, 3 more years here? If you do, you are sorely mistaken. Talent plays for Self not being on the roster longer Dirk. See T Black, or AWIII situations from last year if you think that is statement is incorrect. Secondly you are assuming Selden will be healthy and if so explosive like before. Without seeing him even practice... To much hope for me. Hunter left ARK cause he did not want to compete, or felt he could not compete against better talent, Like KO and Alexander. I don't see him beating out these two either. So I love the post, but you are wrong on every single point you made. These two freshman will be the best players on our team next year, will likely play more minutes and contribute more overall to our success next year once they understand Self's system. Everyone else, they are just "hope to improve" candidates. I hope one or more improve too, but I have seen to many EJ's and Tharpe's to think that they will. My bet is that KO and Alexander the Great will start and be critical to our success next year. Just being here longer is not carte blanche to playing at KU. Best players play, not the oldest, or the ones who know the system better. Come on you should know that, Self tells new recruits that every year. Nice try, but a swing and a miss.

Jeff Kilgore 4 years, 9 months ago

I agree with you, Rodney, and here's why. Stanford double and triple-teamed AW because they scouted well enough to see our offense's inconsistencies.

I don't know about being wrong on every single point, but if these freshmen aren't equal to better players, I'm not sure we're going to see much of an improvement on last year's season, which wasn't bad unless judged by KU's present standards, which have become increasingly ridiculous.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 9 months ago

Mickelson left Arkansas because he was a terrible fit for Mike Anderson's system.

Walter Bridges 4 years, 9 months ago

I think Erich has it right...looking at past Self teams, most players make huge improvements after both their first and second years. I would find it hard to believe that Selden, Frankamp, Ellis, Greene and Mason would not have made the same jump in abilities.

If I needed to choose the two players who have made the most improvement, I would go with Selden and Greene. Even Coach Self has stated that Greene has possible NBA talent and Selden would have likely been drafted this year in the late first or early second round.

Rodney does make good points with Tharpe (who just doesn't have enough of the skills required for a PG at this level) but when you look at Robinson and Withey, they didn't make their improvements for the most part until their third year. I think you both have good points but like I said, I think Erich has it closer to the truth.

Rodney Crain 4 years, 9 months ago

Walter my first sentence was - Why would we expect players to improve from their freshman to soph. years so much that they would play at KO or Alexander's Talent Levels? Do you think that anyone from last years team that is returning is going to improve enough to beat out KO or Alexander? I would love to know who you think that will be.

Rodney Crain 4 years, 9 months ago

Aaron you need to do more research, I think you will find that Coty Clarke had more to do with Hunter transf. than Mike A. A lot was made that he was not a good fit there, no playing time etc..., but the data proves otherwise, he actually was playing more and scoring more his soph. year then his freshman year, but once Clarke understood the Razorbacks system Hunter was beaten out of his starting role when SEC play started. It was a talent thing not just a Mike A thing. Look it up.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 9 months ago

Reading comprehension can be so elusive. The question is not whether KO & Cliff will start. The question is whether they will have more of an impact than Wiggs & Embiid? Or you could look at the yang - Will Perry, Selden, ... v.13-14 be better than Perry, Selden, ... v.14-15?

"Without seeing him even practice" Now does that apply to Selden or KO & Cliff, because every freshmen comes in and lives up the their HS hype.

You might also want to check on history. Hunter did fine at Ark in one system, but didn't fit into Mike Anderson's 40 minutes of chaos, err hell. He'll do fine here, especially after being in the system for a year. Will he keep Cliff out of the starting line-up, to start the year, probably yes, but in the long run, we can both agree it's real unlikely.

Benz Junque 4 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Chad Lee 4 years, 9 months ago

Alexander will start day one, no disrespect to Hunter. So now we expect that none of our players will get better? Rodney. Players like EJ and Naa.and? My glass empty friend name some players that have improved and me thinks this list will be longer. Mr. to soft Perry who can and does score on anyone with a jumper with real range. John Wayne Selden or Mr jumper, could we expect a person as driven as he to improve a tad. Mr Green ran Mr White out of town with his talent. Will Green mature? maybe. Will he come in with energy and make threes? yes.

Rodney Crain 4 years, 9 months ago

Chad I wish you were one of my customers. You blue sky glass half full world would help me put one of my kids through KU. What I said is that no one on the team is going to improve to be better than KO or Alexander next year. Let's boil this down, if KO and Alexander are not the two best players on our team next year, we are going to be in for tough season. I think they will be which was my point. A quick recap, Perry still disappears in key games, he is called soft by Self, Greene was a mess, Selden was off due to injury. The only plus is that Tharpe left, a plus by subtraction if you will. Also - Self had to scramble to get a PG, he did not have one he trusted on his bench. Hunter will be serviceable. We need KO and Alexander to be studs next season, they will be.

Chad Lee 4 years, 9 months ago

Hope we get Svi, best shooter in Europe, tough, yes please. I think we will have a bunch of bullies and a scholar starting next year if we can get him. We will need it against the front line of UK. Anybody heard if they will be eligible for the tournament next year?

Jack Wilson 4 years, 9 months ago

Ok, I have to ask … how is this 16 year old kid the "best shooter in Europe"?

And how do we determine that he is "tough?"

He's just another solid recruit. No one heard of the kid until a few weeks ago. Let's not crown him just yet. And after he signs, let's wonder if 1) he will be eligible since Ukrainian's can graduate after the 11th grade after taking a test, 2) whether he leaves mid season because he's half way around the world from his home, never living in the US like Kaun did, 3) whether he leaves after the season to play pro ball in Europe like Ioannis Papapetrou who folks slobbered over a few seasons ago, until he committed to Texas, and then 4) which current perimeter player transfers if this guy takes PT.

He may be fine recruit. But let's not get too "giddy" as we tend to get the minute we see some press clippings.

Rodney Crain 4 years, 9 months ago

I would like to get him but does he want to compete for playing time against wings on our team? I just can't see it. Jack is right if he wins PT who will transfer? His best option might be to play overseas, get paid and get as much of his family out of there while he can. Beat KY??? They are going to be a load next year, the best time to catch them is in the NC game when we hopefully are ready for them and play our best game of the season. This kid will not be ready for KY that early in the season.

Walter Bridges 4 years, 9 months ago

Good post, I would rather see Greene develop at KU for another couple of years then to see another OAD come in and get his playing time and then leave.

Coach Self needs to make the commitment to players he has already signed (unless they just don't have the skills) then he needs to sign OAD's to a position where we have plenty of talent and depth. I still believe that before his college career is over, AW3 will show everyone just how good of a player he is.

I am not saying that HCBS shouldn't recruit the best players available but he does need to decide if he is going to commit to development or to OADs.

Chris Bailey 4 years, 9 months ago

Reading Collison's comments about KD gave me goose bumps. It's so rare to see a guy that is humble and great. He makes the NBA so much better. I'm very proud to say he played in our conference. We've sent many on that are quality players and great people as well. So not taking anything away from our University just humbled by KD and his overall attitude. ON A SIDE NOTE! I got a pair of KU practice shorts from BILL SELF's GARAGE! SO STOKED! A friend of mine snagged a pair for me at an event he was catering. Bill Self said and I quote help yourself! Super Cool! Thanks Mr. Brad!

Glen Miller 4 years, 9 months ago

We will need the freshmen to perform. I agree with that. However, I think Selden will have a stronger year. He is too talented and has the body to defend and compete. Frankamp came on late and if he can get his practice stroke to click in games, he will be our sniper. Lucas and Taylor will give us quality minutes. Perry will have his moments still but I expect him to be more consistent. I honestly think Oubre will be a better college player than Wiggins. Only because he has that tenacity that Wiggins lacked and he WANTS the ball. Alexander will be a beast no doubt, but I worry he will be in foul trouble a lot. Mickelson will be good if he can throw in a few points and protect the rim for 10-15 minutes a game. Mason is excitingly hit or miss and I hope he plays more under control. This Graham kid could be a huge boost if he and Selden can run this team and this offense. I actually think this season will be a better one than last. We will have a schedule that will tell us what kind of team we have and the Big 12 is becoming less and less of a given. I'm excited for this season and look for us to be better defensively even without Embiid because we are more athletic at all positions than last year. We relied on Wiggins too much on the offensive end and I think a more balanced attack and the ability for Oubre, Graham, Mickelson and a better Frankamp to space the floor will help. Time will tell.

Chad Lee 4 years, 9 months ago

My sky may be blue well at least until noon but the one who called me that will never assume the position for optimism or the certainty of a tomb let us rejoice in our winnings and not tempt fate because you never know we could become K State

you bring out the worst in me Rod. lmfao

Chad Lee 4 years, 9 months ago

the team we have coming back is pretty good, I would welcome Alexander and KO being the best players. This would mean that they are underrated in my eyes. I'm glad scrambling for Bill Self means grabbing a guard in the top 50 that should be in the top 20. Our fans may have ridiculous expectations but that doesn't mean they can't be spoiled too. Come on! anybody? John Wayne Selden? My first attempt, well after my two kids. Zeus didn't go over well

Brett Glover 4 years, 9 months ago

You guys have not seen Svi's videos then.

Jack Wilson 4 years, 9 months ago

I would respectfully suggest that every player that has come to KU and failed to live up to his billing has had impressive videos as well.

They show him draining 3s, but at one point, it shows that he's 3 of 8 from three point range at the bottom of the screen. Didn't see any of the 5 misses. And while that percentage is fine, I'm pretty sure CF and Greene are comparable if not better (since they've actually played against D-1 competition before).

Yea, I'm sure most have watched "videos."

This is just my opinion -- the videos mean very little with perimeter players. Most top D-1 guys man vs. boys anyway. And they only show the highlights. Impressive ball handling is nice, but much different when there is a D-1 defense and pressure. The videos don't prove or mean much.

With post guys though, it's still man vs. boys. Usually some 6'9" stud dunking on a 6'5" overmatched high school post player who doubles as STUCO treasurer and second chair tuba. But what I think you can see is skill in post guys .. use of both hands and footwork, as well as ability in the open court. Joel Embiid was one where that stood out, as we discussed here in the fall of 2012 when he signed.

Rodney Crain 4 years, 9 months ago

Stuco Treasurer, Priceless, although playing the tuba might help a basketball player. Classic Post!

Tony Bandle 4 years, 9 months ago

OAKVILLE ODDITIES:

1] I think the freshmen are key simply because we no longer have about half of our rotation from last season [Black, Wiggins, Tharpe, Embiid, White] and we're bringing in three, maybe four, new freshmen that will play significant roles in PT.

2] I totally agree with Jack. You could take the "video highlights" of my golf game over the last fifty years and I would break the single round record at Augusta!! Surely, we all have 61 great shots somewhere in 100,000 plus!!

3] I was in Lawrence this weekend for my niece's Free State graduation party..the weather was amazing, the girls dressed for KU graduation were amazing, the campus looked amazing....I hope "Mickey Mykh" thought so as well.

4] Item #2 continued..if you put towether a video highlight of my 61 worst shots, you could make a fortune using it as a gag video at parties!! :).

Tony Bandle 4 years, 9 months ago

HELLO??? LWJ...IS ANYBODY HOME?????

MEMORIAL DAY MONDAY IS NEXT WEEK....NOT TODAY!!

How did the Ukranian kid's visit go? Any word on where Naadir or AWIII may end up? Any drawings of the proposed Rules Building available? Isn't there one crumb of information to write about that isn't golf, baseball or NBA alumni??

Absolutely nothing on basketball or football?????

HELLOOOO...ALL I HEAR IS CRICKETS!!!!

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