Saturday, July 18, 2015

Oubre, Alexander working toward NBA

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr., left, and forward Cliff Alexander celebrate a three by teammate Wayne Selden Jr. during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr., left, and forward Cliff Alexander celebrate a three by teammate Wayne Selden Jr. during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Former Kansas University guard Kelly Oubre Jr. found his shooting stroke Friday in the sixth game of his pro basketball career.

The 6-foot-7, 19-year-old New Orleans native, who was traded to Washington (by Atlanta) after being selected 15th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, scored 30 points off 9-of-14 shooting (5-7 from three and 7-8 from the line) in the Wizards’ 97-89 win over Denver in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Through five games, Oubre had made 33.3 percent of his shots (24 of 72) and was just 3-of-25 from three (12 percent).

“I know I can shoot. I have 100 percent confidence in my shot,” Oubre told after 13-for-37 shooting in his first two games. Overall, Oubre averaged 16.8 points off 38.4 percent shooting, 25 percent from three, for the (3-3) Wizards.

Where does that confidence come from?

“Just knowing what I can do. And hard work — I work my butt off,” Oubre told ESPN. reported that Oubre contacted his personal trainer, Drew Hanlen, and the duo worked out on UNLV’s practice court at 10 p.m., last Sunday after his second pro game.

Oubre, who has come across as polite but somewhat boastful in interviews before draft night, on draft night and since draft night, has taken an aggressive attitude onto the court. He hoisted 20 shots, hitting eight, good for 20 points in his debut game against Phoenix on July 11. In Game Two, he hit five of 17 shots and scored 18 points against the D-League all-stars. He was 1-for-12 from three in those two games.

“That’s what you need,” Wizards guard John Wall told the Washington Post, when asked about Oubre’s confidence. “These young guys are coming in more confident now, the way they’re working out and having these different trainers that some people didn’t get. I think just having great people around, me, Brad (Beal), those guys know how the NBA goes and we can help him out.”

Of Oubre, who has a 7-2 wingspan, Wall added: “I think he’s going to be great for us. I think he’s somebody like Otto (Porter) but probably more athletic and able to move. Otto is more methodical, moving at his own pace.”

Shoe talk: The Las Vegas Sun asked Oubre where he found those silver spiked shoes he wore on draft night.

“I got them from a Christian Louboutin manufacturer. They were pretty dope — a lot of people liked them. I stole the show with those,” he said.

Of his decision to leave KU after one season he told the Sun: “It was very tough. I got off to a slow start and my numbers weren’t really up there where I wanted them to be. I had a pretty solid year, though I feel like I could have done better at the college level. But now I’m dedicating myself to the game of basketball and bettering myself every day. I don’t have to worry about school or anything right now. It’s all basketball.”

Cliff looking good: Like Oubre, former KU forward Cliff Alexander saved his best for his last NBA summer-league game with the Brooklyn Nets.

The 6-foot-8 free agent scored 14 points off 6-of-17 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds while starting Friday and playing 32 minutes against the D-League all-stars.

He had 13 points off 4-of-11 shooting with seven boards in a 75-68 win over Philadelphia. He had 10 points and six boards against Chicago and 13 rebounds and eight points against San Antonio.

Overall, he averaged 8.5 points (off 37.7 percent shooting) and 5.2 rebounds in six games in Vegas. He averaged 11.3 points in the last four games. In five games for Brooklyn in the Orlando summer league, Alexander averaged 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.

“I’m going to show people,” Alexander told’s Scott Howard-Cooper in Vegas. “I just have to redeem myself. I’ve been the underdog before. I know what it takes to get back on top.”

Since draft night, the Nets have signed former KU forward Thomas Robinson, as well as forwards Willie Reed and Andrea Bargani. If Alexander is cut by Brooklyn, he’s likely shown enough to be picked up by another team.

“I was thinking I’m not good enough,” he told of his thoughts on draft night when he was not selected. “Can I play this level? Was it a mistake for me to leave college? I had a lot of doubts. But I’m back confident now. I’m good.”

Kaun to join Cavs?:’s John Schuhmann reports that former KU forward Sasha Kaun sat in the stands for a Las Vegas summer-league game Friday with Cleveland Cavs GM David Griffin, Cavs coaches David Blatt, Tyronn Lue and Larry Drew, plus phenom LeBron James.

Kaun played the last seven seasons with CSKA Moscow, making about $2.9 million per year. He has said he’d like to play in the NBA for Cleveland, which holds his rights from draft night, 2008. Schuhmann says the Cavs can offer Kaun about $1.3 million this season. The Cavs could trade him to a team that could pay him more.

That (money) is probably something that shouldn’t be a problem,” Kaun told “Hopefully coming to this team, it will give us an opportunity to win, and winning is more important to me than money. I don’t think I want to do it because of the money. Just play basketball and enjoy it and play with some really great players. That’s the more important thing.

“My interest level is very high. I definitely would like to play here, especially with the Cavs, you know, a team that’s got a chance to win a championship,” Kaun added.


Joe Ross 6 years, 3 months ago

In the vein of OADs, whilst Kansas was playing in the world university games, it escaped most of our notice that Thon Maker re-reclassified back to the class of 2016. It seems clear that no major programs were interested in reserving a scholarship for him to play a third or half of a season. Thon had previously had a final four of Arizona State, Indiana, Kentucky and Kansas. With the mass exodus of bigs from KU after the upcoming season (leaving only Landen Lucas, transfer Dwight Coleby, and "maybe" Carlton Bragg), I look for Coach Self and staff to go at Maker very aggressively now. This is a different situation than earlier this year when Thon reclassified to the class of 2015. Our frontcourt depth was already established for next season. Recruiting him now actually makes sense.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 3 months ago

I agree with your point, my question is about his character or more importatly his mentor's character, Ed Smith.

There is a very uneasy feeling with those two. When I heard about him going the 2016 route it made me wonder if Ed made another over step, in what might be a long list of mis-steps when this is all said and done, in this case assuming that his guy was worth half a year of PT and no one took the bait. Just looking back on some of Ed's comments back in April will make you cringe.

My hope is you are right Joe. But it is only a hope at this point.

If we are just talking about the player and his attributes I am intrigued, when you add in all the real or imagined baggage that might be just under the surface I am hoping we do not add what might be a PR or NCAA issue to our program on the hope this player in his one year can help us win some titles. Its a risk I hope we do not need to take.

RJ King 6 years, 2 months ago

Interesting. Know nothing about the mentor, but if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, then I am in complete agreement with your assessment.

Gerry Butler 6 years, 3 months ago

Have read that Ku has backed of Maker, its mainly Arizona State and Indiana now. I too think with the interest we have in other bigs next year we would be and or will be fine without maker

Joe Ross 6 years, 3 months ago

I heard that Kansas backed off of Maker after it appeared he would have trouble being eligible for all of the upcoming season. That was quite a while ago. Have not heard anything more recent than that. If you have a source that says Kansas is disinterested in his services as present, Id love to be better informed.

In the meantime, you bring up a good point about other bigs. Im sure with recent "upgrades" to the program (gold medal winners, new housing, etc.), that Kansas will be much more attractive to all recruits: guards and bigs alike.

Dale Rogers 6 years, 3 months ago

I also think the articles about potentially playing faster will be a good recruiting too. Don't most kids like to play fast? At least the better ones?

Joe Ross 6 years, 3 months ago


It was the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp that served as a bit of a springboard for Thon Maker last summer. After a great performance at camp he had a great July and the seven-footer earned the No. 1 spot in the class of 2016. After that, things seemed to get a bit off the rails for the talented big man.


Maker decided during the 2014-15 season at Orangeville Prep in Canada that he would switch to the class of 2015 and showed flashes of brilliance but had a relatively disappointing season -- especially in comparison to his ranking -- and he finished at No. 9 in the final rankings for the class of 2015.

Now, Maker has decided to go back to his natural class and, if the way he played in Charlottesville is any indication of what to expect, he looks to be back to complete top form.

At camp, Maker played with tremendous energy and was a factor on both ends of the floor. Instead of roaming the perimeter and hunting jump shots or drive opportunities first, Maker used his quickness, length and improved strength to make things happen around the hoop. He pounded the glass, he protected the rim, he sprinted the floor and only after he got some easy buckets near the hoop did he face and when he did that he focused more on mid range jumpers and driving to the rim.

Maker finished camp second in overall scoring average, first in rebounds and he led his team to the camp championship. Basically, Maker did any and everything that could have been asked of him and deserves credit for showing up and playing with max effort and in a style that would produce max results.

Prior to announcing he was going to head back to the class of 2016, Maker had been eyeing a December 2015 enrollment and his recruitment had appeared to be down to pretty much Arizona State and Indiana. The next few weeks should likely see many more explore options with him since his situation has again changed.


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