Former Kansas University forward Tarik Black, who has started the Houston Rockets’ last two preseason games in place of Dwight Howard (arm laceration), still isn’t guaranteed a spot on the NBA team’s roster as the next round of cuts looms Sunday, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Black scored four points and grabbed two rebounds while playing 21 minutes in Friday’s 96-87 victory over San Antonio. The 6-foot-9 Memphis native entered with a 6.2 scoring, 6.8 rebound average while playing 17 minutes a game in seven games.
“To keep Black, who has a non-guaranteed contract, the Rockets would have to move either Joey Dorsey or Jeff Adrien, if not both,” reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
“If the Rockets move only one of the big men, they’d need to move a guard or small forward. Francisco Garcia has played in just two preseason games, but his lack of playing time likely reflects his experience more than his place on the roster. Ish Smith has played ahead of Isaiah Canaan, but (coach Kevin) McHale has praised Canaan’s play in several games off the bench.”
“I’m just going out there trying to have the best mindset I can because I love playing the game,” Black told the Chronicle. “I’m blessed to be at this level. That’s the only mindset I take. I don’t think about if I’m competing to come off the bench after Dwight (Howard). That’s too much pressure.
“The decision-makers are going to make their decision. If I get a phone call, I get a phone call. Other than that, I have to stick with who I am. If it’s good news or bad news, things are out of my hands. I roll with the punches.”
Of Black’s situation, KU coach Bill Self said: “He has to be close to making the team. I think Tarik was a totally different player after Christmas (last season when he averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 boards for 25-10 KU). He was not effective early. He fouled all the time. When Jo (Joel Embiid) started starting for us, I thought Tarik got better. He was a really good player by the end of the year.”
Wiggins has bruised back: Former KU guard Andrew Wiggins has missed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ last three exhibition games because of a back bruise. He’s expected to be fine for the start of the regular season Wednesday.
Rabb cuts list: Ivan Rabb, a 6-10 senior forward from Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland, California, has cut his list of schools to five — KU, Arizona, California, Kentucky and UCLA, ESPN reports. On Friday, Rivals.com’s No. 7-rated player eliminated North Carolina and Georgetown.
Rabb will visit Kentucky this weekend and KU the following weekend.
“I like the way Kansas develops their post players, and I like their high-low offense. My relationship with head coach Bill Self has really gotten strong over the past few months. He is an energetic coach,” Rabb told ESPN.
UCLA visitors: UCLA will host four of KU’s recruiting targets the next two weekends. Stephen Zimmerman and Brandon Ingram, who are ranked Nos. 10 and 18, will visit this weekend, and No. 2 Jaylen Brown and No. 14 Carlton Bragg next weekend.
Zimmerman is a 7-foot forward from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas; Ingram a 6-8 wing from Kinston (North Carolina) High; Brown a 6-7 wing from Wheeler High in Marietta, Georgia and Bragg a 6-9 forward from Villa Angela St. Joseph in Cleveland.
“Kids who grow up in southern California dream of going to UCLA,” one Pac-12 assistant coach told ESPN. “But it’s not as easy for them (recruiting) as it used to be.”
Tough talk: The Journal-World recently asked the 2014-15 Jayhawks “who are KU’s toughest players?”
Conner Frankamp: “I’d probably say this year it’s Wayne (Selden). Wayne is tough. Perry (Ellis) is getting a lot tougher. Perry’s been playing real well. We’re trying to get more tough as one unit. I feel that will help us a lot this year.”
Brannen Greene: “I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily a toughest guy. Toughness isn’t necessarily physical, it’s mental. I can’t get inside the brains of all my teammates, so I feel overall we’re a tougher group. We want to be tougher. It’s all about want-to.
“We want to be the team that hits the other team in the mouth first. We feel that didn’t happen enough last year. That kind of hurt us.”
Wayne Selden: “Frank (Mason), Devonté, Jamari (Traylor), the list goes on. Landen (Lucas), Tyler (Self). We’ve got a pretty tough team. Holding each other accountable is the biggest thing. Being able to tell somebody they are not doing something right, that they are not going 100 percent.”