Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Column: Mickelson’s progress encouraging for Kansas

Kansas center Hunter Mickelson is congratulated by coach Bill Self during KU's 96-69 win over the Lafayette Leopards Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Hunter Mickelson is congratulated by coach Bill Self during KU's 96-69 win over the Lafayette Leopards Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.


An encouraging development with this gritty Kansas University basketball team bubbles beneath the surface of concerns regarding Perry Ellis’ knee injury and the in-limbo eligibility status of freshman center Cliff Alexander.

Hunter Mickelson, who does more good things in the paint than his scrawny appearance and numbers might mislead some to believe, just could be in the midst of changing this basketball team for the better.

The biggest number next to Mickelson’s name is 16, as in DNP-coach’s decision. Here’s a guess: That number will remain frozen at 16 for the rest of his KU career.

Sometimes the best way to notice the defensive impact of a center armed with a knack for blocking shots lies not in watching his man work for points. Sometimes watching opposing guards reveals more.

Too often this season, guards have reached the paint and been emboldened to keep going to the hoop, their confidence growing with each successful trip.

True, there’s not much upon which to go because until Ellis’ injury and Alexander’s suspension Mickelson didn’t play significant minutes. But even in that little time, Mickelson seems to have introduced doubts into the minds of very quick guards. They seem to react to him in a way they haven’t to any other KU player this season. Opposing guards just don’t look as confident when Mickelson’s in the game for the Jayhawks. They hesitate, even pick up their dribbles without a plan.

In the past two games, vs. West Virginia in Allen Fieldhouse and Oklahoma in Norman, Mickelson has combined for 33 minutes and totaled 13 points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots, three steals and seven personal fouls. Other than the fouls, those are mighty nice numbers for the 6-foot-10, 245-pound junior center from Jonesboro, Arkansas. He made 9 of 10 free throws in the two games, 2 of 4 field goals. He has reliable hands and a soft shooting touch. It will be interesting to see how often coach Bill Self uses Mickelson and Ellis together, once the first-team all-conference junior forward from Wichita returns.

Unlike in most seasons, blowouts weren’t the norm for KU, but reasons for optimism abound. Mickelson makes the Jayhawks better. Ellis will be back. Brannen Greene isn’t due for another suspension until some time early next season. Kelly Oubre is on the come. Fearless Frank Mason backs down from nobody.

March Madness very well could bring out the best in this bunch that won the Big 12 outright.


Doug Cramer 6 years, 8 months ago

Mickelson is my boy.

Tired of these perceived one and dones like Alexander.

We need more boys like Mickelson who is ready to work...ready to play with grit and toughness. Guys that work hard for their playing time instead of just expecting it because they think they're ready for the nba.

Got a feeling this will offend some dudes...but we're better with Mickelson in the game....period.

Excited for this post season and excited about the depth we have in the post. Love seeing Traylor and Lucas stepping it up too.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

Not offended by your post, but I whole-heartedly disagree with it. True we need some role players, but after as long as Mickelson has played CBB players like him need to demonstrate even greater potential on the court. Why? Because there's Okafors and Cauley-Steins and Towns (oh MY!). He can't guard those guys or score over them. Your two and three year guys need to have enough talent to compete against those kinds of players or what do you have them for? And that's just speaking of the role players. We need the OAD talent to complement those guys. So says Coach Self. I dont doubt him. Not even a little. Its working for Kentucky (nails on chalkboard) and the formula has more than proven itself. Its not that we dont need a Mickelson, but as Ive said elsewhere: heavy reliance on that kind of player will consign Kansas to irrelevance. Within a year or two.

A team full of Mickelsons would not beat Kentucky or Duke or any of the top flight teams this year. To even imagine it is impossible. It certainly won't do it in the long run.

David Kemp 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree but unfortunately our OADS have been a distraction. Henry never really developed, Selby had few good games, Embiid and the whole injury, staying going, and finally Alexander, the worst problem yet. And unfortunately for us the ones who show great flashes of what they could be are gone before we see it.

Cameron Cederlind 6 years, 8 months ago

Yeah that Xavier guy never made anything of himself, 27 minutes per game, 14 points per game, 42% from 3, 5 rebounds per game and 1.5 steals as an 18 year old freshman. What a flunkie, was only 2nd on the team in points, couldn't even surpass Sherron Collins in ppg that year. Don't even get me started on how useless Wiggins was.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

There is a learning curve to everything and Coach Self will figure it out. When he first arrived at Kansas, many of our recruits--none of them OADs--were a distraction. JR Giddens, CJ Giles, and others. But as you would not use their situations to advocate for NOT recruiting multi-year players, so you should not use the case of some bad experiences with 1-year talent against the premise of recruiting OADs. The ship settled with multi-year players as it will with OADs. I have confidence in our coach.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 8 months ago

Joe, the OAD rule wasn't implemented by the NBA until Self's fourth season at KU. How many guys did Bill Self get a soft verbal from in his first 3 years that ended up going to the NBA? I didn't follow recruiting at all back then so I really don't know if there were any players like that.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

Please help me to understand. I dont follow how the inauguration of the OAD rule relates to my point.

Benz Junque 6 years, 8 months ago

Henry had one of the better freshmen seasons of any KU player EVER. Same with McLemore and Wiggins. So just stop. Selby was doing great until he got injured. Embiid injury was a distraction as is the injury of ANY player, no matter what year they are in. You don't think the team is answering a zillion questions about Ellis' injury?

Len Shaffer 6 years, 8 months ago

Very well said, Benz. In addition, I think it's ridiculous to say that Alexander is "the worst problem yet." Maybe he hasn't developed as quickly as we would have liked to see, but he certainly hasn't been terrible. And (potential NCAA issue aside) he hasn't gotten into any trouble off the court, unlike some recent players who were NOT OAD's.

Micky Baker 6 years, 8 months ago

Just something about the guys you named, Cauley Steins is a junior.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes he is! But the point is not whether the guys I mentioned were multi-year or OADs. The point is that any multi-year players we have need to be able to go against the best big men out there regardless of class. The point of having multi-year players, presumably, is that they gain experience in the system for long enough time that they can be competitive against those guys. Mickelson is simply not there.

Micky Baker 6 years, 8 months ago

Joe, that would probably be valid if Mickelson was with KU as a freshman, but he wasn't. He lost an entire year of playing time due to the transfer. Lucas is the only other guy with the same size, and he's a red-shirt sophomore that hasn't gotten a lot of PT either. If we would have had Embiid back this year, it would have made a huge difference.

I don't think that we need to go after the OAD's... unless we can get 2 or 3 every year with super talent and coachability. It looks easy on paper doesn't it?

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

I argue that the point is valid in the face of your objection. Ben McLemore, for example, got better in his off year. You may respond that McLemore was a freshman while Mickelson was a transfer and say Im comparing apples to oranges. But if you make that argument you are susceptible to the counterargument that McLemore had ZERO college experience while Mickelson had the benefit of playing at Arkansas during actual college games. You might also assert that its not a true comparison because McLemore was a OAD and Mickelson was a multiyear player, but in this case you would be arguing against yourself because you are attempting to extol the virtues of players that spend more time in college basketball, and Mickelson--not McLemore--would have that advantage!

Micky Baker 6 years, 8 months ago

There is a big difference between McLemore and Mickelson. Mickelson was not at KU when he was a freshman. McLemore didn't sit out to learn the system. He sat out because he wasn't eligible to play.

It's really hilarious when you try to anticipate arguments that you know others wouldn't make. McLemore, then Wiggins and Embiid, among others who left early.. you really think they've helped us? Because the year before McLemore did play, we did go to the national championship game with players that work hard like Mickelson.

We didn't win the national championship when Chalmers, Rush, Arthur were freshmen either. They weren't one and dones.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes, there is a big difference between McLemore and Mickelson. McLemore was clearly the type of OAD player you eschew. Again, when you argue that Mickelson was not at KU as a freshman, you are arguing that Mickelson had the huuuuge headstart of playing college ball before he ever even got to Kansas. As far as why McLemore and Mickelson sat out, that is unimportant. The relevant issue is that they both came to Kansas with the benefit of being in the system for a year without having to play, and thus being able to learn the system in practice (as they were both able to participate). McLemore was the high-caliber type player that I advocate being here. He had impact. He was the best player on the team. Mickelson isn't despite having had the advantage of being experienced AND having a year to learn Kansas' system. Yes, there is a huge difference. Advantage McLemore!

As far as whether McLemore, Wiggins, and Embiid helped us, the answer is obvious so I wont argue it. You make the case of Chalmers et al. The game is changing, Micky. We have to change with it. The game was in the process of changing even in the 07-08 season. Its important not just to see things as they were, but to understand how things were changing as they always do.

On a final note, lets not let this get personal. Im passionate about my point as are you. Let the debate be vigorous. But lets keep it at that. I hope you agree.

Micky Baker 6 years, 8 months ago

Where did I eschew any of the OADs? Our roster is depleted of meaningful depth because of them. We're likely going to lose two more this year, and one due to eligibility issues, which is another reason we have to be very careful with this. Alexander is likely done for this season, and for his KU career without one post-season game. I hope I'm wrong about that, but it's not looking good.

I love the fact that we've won 11 straight regular season conference championships, but I don't want to settle for that. I want more national championships, and we're a lot further away with the OADs than we were when we didn't have any.

They helped us in the regular season, but they didn't have the experience and we didn't have any depth behind them because we lost several guys that only stayed one year. We lost at least 3, that if we had guys slightly less talented than them with one or two years of experience going into this season, we'd probably be talking about Final Four possibilities this year.

If we are going to do it the way you suggest, then we better go all in, not just half way. But I don't see that discussion or hear of any discussions going on in Lawrence about that. When I say go all in, I mean go all in. (A) Premier Housing. (B) State of the art practice facilities. (C) High expectations for performance and effort in practice and in games. (D) Super high levels of support from our fans rather than the non-constructive criticisms thrown at this team often this year. Criticism is okay, as long as it's constructive and not just reactionary. (E) Strict adherence to KU's athletic department standards, meaning no playing favorites.

But even if we do that and try to match Kentucky's facilities, there will only be so many OADs to go around every year among a couple of dozen quality programs. 4 or 5 of them get the top 15 players every year... it may not be us every year and we'll always be a step behind if that happens. There is a very low margin for error if we do it.

We're going to have to build a roster that is always 11 to 12 deep and quite frankly, a lot of growing up needs to happen among many of our fans in order for there to be the right kind of support in my view.

Joe Joseph 6 years, 8 months ago

It's working some of the time for Kentucky. Certainly this year, albeit with exceptions. Most of Kentucky's sophomores were not expected to be back for their sophomore campaigns. If those guys have stronger freshmen seasons, or fizzle out early in the NCAA tournament they're probably gone and Kentucky is just another good team, instead of a great team this year.

Did it work last year? Only because UK got hot at the right time. It's run to the championship game last year pretty much erases all memory of the fact that Kentucky was a bubble team for a large majority of the season.

Did it work the year before? Nope. NIT.

2012? Worked.

2009-2011: mixed results.

I tend to agree with the folks who say Bill Self should avoid heavily recruiting OAD type players. While it's difficult to quantify success in college basketball (regular season vs ncaa tournament performance), I would argue that Self's best teams at KU have been the teams led by talented juniors and seniors.

Luke Kading 6 years, 8 months ago

Glad you pointed this out Joe. I think alot of people see Kentucky's success this year and assume that it's been this way ever since Calipari took over. Obviously it's worked out this year and they have a legit shot of going undefeated, but I remember other years before the season started and the same undefeated talks were occuring, all because of the freshman coming in, and then they would go to the NIT or be a bubble team like last year (who got hot when it counted most).

In regards to Doug's post, I remember thinking a few games before the whole Alexander thing went down that this team might be better off with Mickelson playing a bigger role, mainly because he's the only one on the team who is a defensive presence inside. He has played well when given the opportunity. Now they need to start hitting shots again.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

Calipari's system has generated arguably the greatest college team ever assembled. If he goes this year he will have gone to back to back Final Fours. He will have played for the Championship 4 times since 2008. That's over half the time! On EVERY ONE OF THOSE TEAMS HE'S HAD ONE AND DONE TALENT. If he wins this year, which many are projecting he will, he will have added 2 national championships to Kentuckys legacy in 4 years.

Can we let that sink in?

That is beyond impressive. Results speak for themselves.

Yonatan Negash 6 years, 8 months ago

I would think Mickelson would have earned his playing time over Alexander?

Why give?

I'm pretty sure both competed for their playing time and one came out a winner.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 8 months ago

Cliff's lack of eligibility has nothing to do with anything he has/hasn't done, so when the players were competing and a winner determined it was Cliff. Or maybe you're saying that Landon and Hunter were winners compared to Perry because they were in uniform against OU. Black was obviously the winner last year, because he was in uniform at the end of the year and Joel was a spectator. Sorry, but that is really ignorant logic.

It is unfortunate that the decisions of others completely unassociated with the program have negatively impacted it and Cliff's ability to continue competing and helping KU.

As for the whole "earning playing time", you are right that it isn't completely a factor of current production. Coach talked about near the end Taylor's Jr year, when he played him inspire of some boneheadedness - because Coach recognized the greater potential he had compared to the other candidates and said as much. The result was him and Robinson leading the team to the championship game the next year. It was no different during Selby's year - well except that we/he flamed out before the FF. It was still a function of potential, and even Josh had shown that he could be a difference maker in a game.

To be elite and beat elite teams, the vast majority of the time you need elite players. It is the reason KU has won 11 in a row. Sure, other less than elite teams with less than elite players will occasionally win games, but those are by far the exception and not the rule.

Cody Riedy 6 years, 8 months ago

Let me make this clear: I'm going to say some things below that aren't entirely a response to Doug's post, but something that sort of hovers in the background of comments similar to Doug's and that I think appear elsewhere. I'm making a bigger claim here, again not about Doug's thinking, but about the kinds of comments you see in this debate elsewhere, i.e. that they have as much to do with emotions and ideology as they do facts.

For example:
How can you judge who works or prepares harder? Please present the evidence that Mickelson or Lucas works harder than Alexander? You see them in the weight room? In the practice gym? Please, provide me the evidence that Alexander expects things handed to him and isn't ready to work?

My point is this: Can somebody explain to me why people are so quick to assume that a young black man with ability just has it naturally and doesn't work for it? It seems like what creeps in to these apparently purely basketball debates is the same old B.S. that certain guys are "smart" and "work-hard" and have "heart" while certain other guys are just "physical specimens". Yep, some guys are good industrious humans and others are practically just brutes or animals. My question is, please explain to me in concrete detail how you can tell the difference?

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 8 months ago

Personally, Cody, I love this post, because you have highlighted that people have limited actual data before they post their observational speculations. Which is OK (Im not slamming anyone here), as every fan has his/her viewpoint.

I personally see Cliff as "still adjusting" to the non-stop-action requirements of Div.1 basketball. I believe he is trying very hard, just as frosh Thomas Robinson, the Twins, Withey ALL had to do. I've seen Cliff be rewarded for running the floor ahead of the guards, to receive the lob dunk pass...But Ive also seen him take a play off (as has every other big Self has ever had), and get the quick yank (as he should).

Doesnt matter what color or how much athleticism a player've got to learn (whatever a kid's timeline is) how to make Self's system work efficiently. Do your job. Because his System is already proven. And you came to K.A.N.S.A.S., not Kentucky or Baylor or Texas, etc., etc...

Fans need to be patient with 1) Freshman, always....and 2) developmental guys even longer. Recall the "flashes" that soph TRob showed, but he didnt really become the steady, consistent brute he was his junior year until...well...he developed into that.


Len Shaffer 6 years, 8 months ago

Very well said, Cody. I'm getting tired of the constant ripping of Alexander from people who are just conjecturing. And I think that you're right that sometimes there is inherent racism in it.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

This is why I love this site. Cody, I dont say youre "brilliant" because I happen to agree with you. But your comment is well thought out and clearly expressed. Agree or disagree, youre a smart guy. And I happen to think you are right...

Same goes for the comments below yours...

Micky Baker 6 years, 8 months ago


Mickelson certainly worked harder than I saw Alexander work against both WVU and Oklahoma.

You said, "but about the kinds of comments you see in this debate elsewhere, i.e. that they have as much to do with emotions and ideology as they do facts."

Then later down you mentioned the color of Alexander. Believing that Alexander doesn't work as hard as he probably should has nothing to do with the color of his skin. So, you came at this with ideology. It's absurd that you assume people saying Lucas(also black) works harder than Alexander while you believe that someone said that about Alexander because he's black. Do you really assume that "brutes or animals" are coded racial slurs? Because if you do, that's purely an ideological belief.

Micky Baker 6 years, 8 months ago

By the way, Doug Cramer and I don't necessarily get along very well, but you can't perceive he is racist in any way from what he said in the opening comment. Don't pretend to be taking the high ground when you resort to what is essentially race baiting. That is a 100% ideological tactic.

David Kelley-Wood 6 years, 8 months ago

"My point is this: Can somebody explain to me why people are so quick to assume that a young black man with ability just has it naturally and doesn't work for it?"

Unless someone has actually said straight out that young black men don't work as hard as young white men, you've inferred something which likely hasn't been implied, thereby injecting a racial straw man into the discussion.

If this has happened in other discussions, then it should have been called out in those discussions. As it is, your introduction of race into this one is ridiculous and deplorable.

Tom Jones 6 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, Wiggins, Embiid, Henry, McLemore. They didn't work hard at all. Self only played them because he knew they'd only be here a year.

What depth in the post exactly are you talking about? We have a hopefully healthy Ellis who isn't able to get shots off inside and then we have Traylor/Lucas/Mickelson, who have about one post move combined. And maybe Alexander, but who knows where HIS head is.

KU is not going to win tournament games with their post play on either end. They need to scrap together what they can and hope their guards can get the team though games. This shouldn't be a revelation on March 11th.

Benz Junque 6 years, 8 months ago

We flat out aren't better off having Mickelson versus Alexander. Glad that Hunter is doing well recently but he has had a ton of games this year where he has looked completely outclassed as well. Let's not define his entire season based on two games. And by all accounts, Cliff is out there working hard in practice just like Hunter is. The whole "just expecting it because they think they're ready for the NBA" is just your rant on the OAD players, not anything that is actually true in regards to Cliff.

Like I said, glad to see Hunter has been ready to perform when called upon. That is his job.

Michael Sillman 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree. Michelson is the only real rim protector on the team who can do it against guards.

You can see that he has a lot of the timing that Withey possessed when he is measuring penetrating guards in preparation for a block.

Michelson also has more touch around the basket than Alexander, Traylor, or Lucas. It has been very frustrating to watch the missed bunnies by those three.

Self should be using Mickelson a lot more.

Steve Zimmerman 6 years, 8 months ago

Chill, chill.. Mickelson also missed some bunnies. He didn't dunk the ball hard either. But yes, it's still fun watching him busting his arse. Who you're gonna pick now? C'mon.. guys are progressing. Traylor has been aggressive the last game. Lucas is a solid rebounder. I never get tired of cheering for these guys. I miss watching Zander on the court as well. We've got warriors in our team, sit back, relax and cheer for them! We need all of them!! Rock Chalk!

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

To say that Self should be using Mickelson more is arguable in the first place. But even if its true, its not the same thing as saying we need more guys like Mickelson in the future (you say you agree with Doug's assertions above). Just because the guys in front of him aren't doing their jobs doesn't make him the Second Coming of Christ. He's a good kid and he can play ball, I grant you. But youre not going to win titles with a roster full of Mickelsons.

Let's be fair both to Mickelson and to Tom's general assertion. It is probably fair to say that Hunter makes the Jayhawks better this year. But let's not confuse this year--one in which our performance in the paint area on both ends of the floor has been atrocious until Perry's recent outburst--with the broad scope of the program. To be clear, when you've been bad, "better" than bad (read "Mickelson") is not the same thing as being on par with the heavyweight post players in college basketball, let alone the Big 12.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 8 months ago

Generally agreeing with you Joe, but picking at "our performance in the paint area on both ends of the floor has been atrocious until Perry's recent outburst".

Perry's recent outburst has happened because Coached moved him out of the paint back in January and allowed him more freedom to operate in space. Our performance in the paint area on both ends of the floor has remained atrocious even with Perry's recent outburst.

Interestingly, the team is sort of the antithesis of the 2012 FF team, which had to sit one of the best players (Withey) at times because we could afford to have 2 post players even if they were elite. This year, our best "post" players (Traylor & Ellis) are both better in space vs. dominating the paint. I don't think it was coincidental that Jamari had a resurgence without Perry - when he had the opportunity to be the "post" player operating in space again. It will be interesting to see if they are able to coexist when Perry returns. Coach may need to tweak the offense a bit more again to maximize the play of both.

But getting back to your (accurate) premise, it will be even more interesting to see if we can morph from game to game depending upon whether we need to compete with heavyweight post players or use our best front court players operating in space.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

I cant argue with you. Lots of really good posts today. You guys are to be congratulated.

Yonatan Negash 6 years, 8 months ago

First, it's about time Mickelson decided to show up and play.

Heck, I thought we brought him to KU to play in the first place.

I wouldn't get too excited just yet, we've got to see more.

Two games do not define a player good or bad.

David Kemp 6 years, 8 months ago

Exactly, the guy played 530 minutes a game for Arkansas in 12-13. Shows how weak the sec really is if the guy could log that many minutes as a freshman

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 8 months ago

That's approximately 15 minutes per game, not exactly huge minutes.

Ten Yeahs 6 years, 8 months ago

The Bigs looked great last game. We still need to rebound a little better and more consistently. Now if we can just get our three point groove back!

And whats up with Coach Self subbing out LL and our rim protection at the end of the OU game? Especially after he blocked that big shot at the end of regulation in the WVU game. I would have left LL in and put him in the paint. Let someone guard Heild, someone guard ball, but have a big guard the rim/paint. You have to believe that if we see this end of game scenario again for a third time, we will get it right. In Self I trust.

Also how sweet was that full court throw and catch to LL and toss to Mason for a three-play at the end?! Well drawn up and executed!

Russ McCaig 6 years, 8 months ago

...he has just needed the floor time, in my opinion....

Jonathan Unruh 6 years, 8 months ago

Hunter understands the game. He is focused and a leader. If he get 17 minutes a game he will average 3 blocks. Thats a game changer to prevent easy points in the paint. Fts look great. Keep up the work!

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm leaning towards Doug's view above, eventhough Joe Ross makes good points. Dont forget Mickelson was a top50 recruit himself. He seems to be a bit more agile, and a lot more aggressive than Withey, and seems to not hesitate on his face-up jumper game either. This kid would be dominating at a mid-major. So at an elite program, he is a nice piece to have.

What a refreshing (almost) change to have real height in the paint! I love what Ellis and Traylor bring, but at the end of the day, they are complimentary pieces also.

We have bigs-by-committee, and what a luxury to still have 4 playable bigs, even with Cliff sitting.

As to Joe Ross's point. We didnt recruit Cauley-Stein very hard for whatever reason. Okafor is a RARITY, how many 18yr old 7footers are that big and have legit post moves. We can say Embiid, but again, there's NO way those guys stay more than 1 yr, as the NBA scouts eyes' simply dazzle too much. Okafor & Embiid are once-in-10yr type of guys. Cannot bank on that. If Okafor or Embiid goes down, their college team took the most major hit from losing 1 guy that you can have. Self has learned that even the top10 type bigs are only complimentary pieces. A 2AD rule would greatly benefit us. Would have benefitted Embiid. We'd be a 1-seed if Embiid stayed (which means Cliff would have been playing at Illini...).

Twists of fate. Twists of ankles. Twists of back. Twists of knee. Div.1 basketball...

Dirk Medema 6 years, 8 months ago

Joel isn't playing at all this year. We'd be short one player if he had stayed, and he'd be short millions.

There have also been other bigs even in recent years. Okafor & Embiid are not once-in-10yr type of guys. More accurately once a year type guys. Still rather rare, and absolutely true that the NBA will snatch them up the first chance they get along with every other 'footer.

Benz Junque 6 years, 8 months ago

Joel was hurt working out in preparation for the NBA Draft, a workout he would not have been doing if he was coming back to school.

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 8 months ago

Better perspective: Get top 50 guys like Twins, Thomas Robinson, Cole Aldrich, Withey, Mickelson, and watch what they can do in their 3-4yrs in Self's system. See what Tarik Black (another former top50) did for Self in just 1yr. Man, if we had gotten Tarik for all 4yrs!

Best for Bill Self (who is not Calipari) is to keep getting top 50 athletes, but who are not OADs. And continue to look for 6'9 or taller guys. Getting a sub-top50 guy like KYo or Landon, can still work in a developmental timeline, but picking those guys simply takes a guy with a knack for finding such hidden talent (like Self is able to).

Joe Joseph 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes. Bill Self needs to live in that 15-50 zone. Kids that aren't expecting to be OADs. Kids that will be both talented AND experienced by their sophomore, junior, or senior season.

I've said it before. Bill Self might be better off if he never lands another OAD recruit.

Benz Junque 6 years, 8 months ago

You mean like Ellis and Selden and Greene and Traylor and Mason and Lucas and Mickelson and Svi and..... good grief. Two of our 13 scholly players are OAD likely. The rest will all be here multiple seasons and most are likely four year players.

Cody Riedy 6 years, 8 months ago

This OAD vs 4-year player debate is entirely overblown.

  1. First a very important point that people seem to miss. Trading OADs for 4-year players is not a 1 to 1 exchange. To state the obvious, a 4-year player occupies a scholarship for 4 years and OAD for only 1. That is, you don't trade an OAD for a 4 year player, you trade an OAD every year for each year of the 4 year guy's scholarship. So let's take a guy like Mickelson - had we not signed Mclemore, Wiggins, and Oubre and instead signed Mickelson three years ago, we wouldn't have signed a total of 3 Mickelson equivalents, we would have signed ONE Mickelson who would have occupied that ONE scholarship that was used for Mclemore, Wiggins, and Oubre.

  2. We haven't had that many OADs and most of them have been good players. Until this season, Self had only signed 3 (lest I'm forgetting someone) presumed or potential OADs: Henry, Selby and Wiggins. Mclemore and Embiid became OADs based on their performance while at KU, not based on the pre-signing rankings. So all the OADs, expected or unexpected ahead of time, are: Henry, Selby, Wiggins, Embiid, and now possibly Oubre and Alexander. Only Selby and Alexander didn't perform to hype and those guys weren't so much terrible as just not great and they both had compromised freshmen years.

  3. In sum, we haven't lost a bunch of other players because we signed a few OADs and most of the OADs we've had have in fact been pretty good. Our team would have been better last year letting Lucas and Mickleson (had he been able to play) develop instead of putting Embiid on the court? I don't think so. You think this year's team would be better letting Greene get more minutes instead of having Oubre out there? Again, I don't think so. Is Mickleson going to be better his senior year than Embiid was his freshman year? No.

Bottom Line: Our OADs haven't prevented us from recruiting other players and they have produced for the most part.

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 8 months ago

Good points, but NOBODY is suggesting that a OAD-talent bigman is = to a non-OAD bigman in Year 1. And lets be real, a guard can do much more in Yr 1, than a bigman, but it all depends on system, playstyle, and individual skillset.

Before we revise history too much, lets just look at the timelines: Embiid was supposed to be a project. But turns out he could play, and had a penchant for blocks. And he had range, and some dream moves. He played his way to be a lottery pick. So be it. Arthur ended up not being a OAD. Cliff clearly is not a OAD. I thought Withey would never see the floor, but he helps us get to a NC game. Thomas Robinson (another lotto pick), couldnt even function on the court as a frosh, although he looked good physically.

Cody, what we lose with Year 1 players is knowledge of the offense, positioning, and all this hesitancy that comes with adjusting to Div.1 speed. So Bill Self's system suffers in its execution with Yr 1 players, much more than Calipari's. After 2 years of watching, its a proven fact.

Nobody is saying DONT get OADs, not even Self. He'd love another Embiid or an Okafor-type. Imho, a 2AD rule change would benefit our system immensely.

Final example, on the 2008 Champs (Self's best on-floor product), our 4 bigs included 2 role players/developmental track guys (Kaun and Jackson), a 2nd year McDAA (Arthur, who in year 1 couldnt stay on the floor due to fouls), and a 1st year McDAA (Aldrich), who developed on the bench, and was key against UNC's Hansbrough. But notice the frosh McDAA gave the least mpg. Rush & Chalmers were near-OAD talent who we got to have x 3yrs each. Chalmers failed as a frosh PG. Rush had no left as a frosh, and was timid about attacking the paint as a frosh. But how'd they look as juniors?

Again, for those like Cody who want to "boil it down", or oversimplify what the actual discussion is (or should be): Whatever talent we do get, OAD or not, will simply perform better in Yr 2, 3, 4...than it will in Yr 1. Look no farther than Wiggins and Embiid: Imagine how good they'd be in a KU uniform. Now look at guys like Withey and TRob, who couldnt really function in their first season at KU, but Withey and TRob end up taking us to the NC game as juniors. Both were top50 guys. The less than top50 guys certainly are more developmental, and are AT LEAST 50% of our bigman strength, always have been, always will be, because, simply put...Bill Self knows how to find them. Doesnt Bill Self almost always have a way, a system (hint, hint) of making bigmen look better than their ranking? Just watch how integral Lucas and Mickelson (& Traylor) will be to next season's team. How many times y'all see Self's pattern but still doubting if next-man-up is or isnt ready to play? Self still hasnt even made some of his own fanbase believers in what his system produces...and this is the 4th university he is doing this at. Hmm?

Cody Riedy 6 years, 8 months ago

To clarify: are you arguing that Self should recruit really good players, but not the ones that are so good they'll leave after a year, but only the ones he can tell will be really good in 3 to 4 years so that when they are really good they'll also have mastered Self's system? Or are you saying this only about recruiting post players?

In any case, I don't think anything I've said contradicts your point. All I've said is that recruiting one (and now for the first time this year 2) presumed OADs hasn't interfered with recruiting an entire roster full of the kinds of guys you are talking about and that I agree we need. The only way my comments really contradicts yours is if you are saying that it's better to risk a scholarship on one four guy than risk the same scholarship on four different OADs, because if we get the right 3 or 4 year guy, his peak will be higher than any OAD. I'd argue that this last statement is entirely possible, but still argue that rolling the dice every year with one (maybe two) scholarships to land a superstar OAD, is worth giving up one 3-4 year player. Again, you only lose one 4 year scholarship to sign 4 consecutive OADs. Do you think this team will be better next year with Lucas and Mickelson than it would be this year had we landed Towns or Okafor? I don't think so. I'd rather have a scholarship to offer the Town's and Okafor's of the world every year than have one more Lucas on the team for 4 or 5 years.

Micky Baker 6 years, 8 months ago


"To clarify: are you arguing that Self should recruit really good players, but not the ones that are so good they'll leave after a year, but only the ones he can tell will be really good in 3 to 4 years so that when they are really good they'll also have mastered Self's system?"

Why are you assuming that is what he was arguing? How do you know if a guy is going to be good enough to be a lottery pick after his freshman year? You don't. That is why Kentucky kept most of their players from a year ago. They weren't ready, and everyone thought they were going to run the table last year, but they were wrong.

There are only going to be so many OADs. Those that are projected as lottery picks will most likely declare for the draft, but beyond that there are no guarantees. There might be a total of 15, 20 max, with aspirations of being a lottery pick after their freshman year in college. We've missed out recruits who signed elsewhere because we went after someone who didn't pick us. One example of this is Miles Turner. For the class of 2015, we only have one oral commitment right now. We're in trouble recruiting wise. If we put our hopes on Zimmerman and Brown, and we don't get them, then what? We have to settle for what's left well outside the top 25 players, and they may not be the players that fulfill our needs.

These past two season there was a lot of pressure on Wiggins, Embiid, Oubre, and Alexander. There is no way to predict how those guys are going to react to it. Wiggins went cold late last season. Embiid went down with an injury. This year it looks as if we're not going to have Alexander for the Big 12 or the NCAAs. The margin of error is very small if we go the OAD route. If we go that route, we better go all in with it.

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 8 months ago

Great discussion, Cody. We both may be saying the same thing. I think Self's own comment of "Yeah, I'd take 2 OADs every year" is probably a very wise one: on the face of it, you get automatic natl attention, publicity, and if they are OAD, and go lotto, it helps your recruiting. On the back side, if the "OAD" stays for year 2 (or 3), like Arthur, Rush, Chalmers...your team just got a high-level talent that returns as an experienced core-member. It becomes a juggernaut, able to compete with about anybody, as it has high-talent, or high-execution, but most importantly BOTH in most of the major-minutes players.

I guess a side point is that it all is complex, so I find it hard to boil it all down to some simple concept...Self is smart to play it like he does (never say no to any top guy), as he cant be sure who gets hurt, or who isnt a OAD or not).

Cody Riedy 6 years, 8 months ago

It sounds like we do agree on most points: 1. All things aside, I'll just trust Self, because it is complicated and hard to project player impact. 2. I agree that for most involved, especially the schools themselves a 2 and done system would be a much better rule than the one and done. Personally, I kind of like the either/or model of go straight to pros or stay at least 2 years.

As you said, it gets complicated. For example, I said I'd rather take a shot at the Okafors and Towns and the world every year than have one more Lucas-caliber player, but you could have countered that you'd rather have got the next T-Rob this year than Alexander. But what if we'd landed Myles Turner instead of Alexander - would there be any debate going on this year about OADs? It's just hard to project how a guy is going to turn out. Perhaps Alexander could reach T-Rob status is he would stay three years. Or even take a less extreme comparison: if you had to pick Oubre for a year or Greene for four, who would you pick? Personally, I'm not sure that a senior Greene will be better than this year's freshman Oubre, but on the other side, as long as Greene is pretty good, just by shear volumes of games played, Greene might contribute to more wins in his career. The question is then, what is the peak contribution: does Oubre year 1 get us farther in the tournament than Greene year 4? They weren't that far apart in terms of recruiting rankings coming in, but I think this is a hard hypothetical to answer.

Benz Junque 6 years, 8 months ago

And EVERY one of those OAD players had freshmen seasons better than the freshman season of almost every four year player Self has signed.

Micky Baker 6 years, 8 months ago

However, we didn't have the best seasons as a team.

Keith Gellar 6 years, 8 months ago

for starters, can someone please ask him to grow some facial hair. Dude looks like a 12 yr old..and the pic of self petting him doesn't help either. someone on the staff needs to work on his image.

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 8 months ago

Facial hair? How about a flat-top buzz cut, high & tight on the sides. Then give him a mouthpiece like ColeMan Aldrich! Block city. BigBore Hunter...

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 8 months ago

Do you even know if Mickelson can grow facial hair?

RJ King 6 years, 8 months ago

Think of that baby face as our Trojan Horse. Perhaps Devonte and Hunter both can sneak up and surprise an unsuspecting opponent.

Ten Yeahs 6 years, 8 months ago

haha Keith. That Coach Self petting Mick pic is clearly a head tap job well done tap. But if you reconsider and look at it as a "petting" it makes it a whole lot funnier. Mick the baby face big guy!. Mick should grow some Pollard chops for sideburns, get a black leather jacket and a harley... and some aviator sunglasses of course...that'd be a good look for him me thinks.

Keith Gellar 6 years, 8 months ago

he needs a beard! look at harden. it would work wonders.

Ten Yeahs 6 years, 8 months ago

i have serious man crush on dat Harden beard. I once had a more hobo'nized Harden beard meself for a few years. But in Micks case i still gotta say Chops. But if he were to grow a mad beard over the summer and into next winter that would bust my buttons with happiness.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 8 months ago

Isn't Scott Pollards around? If anybody could, Scott could teach how to grow mad muttons.

Scott Proch 6 years, 8 months ago

Anyone else looking for Hunter to have a Big12 tourney breakout similar to Perry's 2 years ago?

Ten Yeahs 6 years, 8 months ago

YES! I have no doubt this is the start of something great for Mick. I think he is going to be huge for us in the Big12 tourney and Big Dance. Like you mentioned Perry his freshman year and Cole his freshman year in the tourney.

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 8 months ago

Man, I hope so. His stats-per-minute played are actually quite good, across the board. Question is: will he get the minutes?

All I know is I liked the 2 x 6'10 guys ready to play. A couple of less missed-bunnies against OU, and that would have been a W (among other things...).

Erich Hartmann 6 years, 8 months ago

Man, is anyone else getting the ad about 12 hot sport wives? Holy schmokes...!! I'm not clicking on it, but eye candy fo sho...

Cody Riedy 6 years, 8 months ago

Brett, I totally agree that the OAD system is deeply flawed. It helps the NCAA make a buck off these kids for a year and it helps the NBA manage risk and potentially save a buck (or a few millions bucks). What's best for the kids? It's hard to generalize; every case is different. I mean even if a kid flops in the NBA because he left to soon, assuming he manages money well - that one 2 to 4 million contract will provide him more than a lifetime of earnings that he'd get via just about any degree he got by staying in college. Anyways, I also completely understand your point about the fan's relationship to the players. The 2012 team might be my favorite KU team just because they were the epitome of "college" basketball players maximizing their potential as a team. All that said, there's really several distinct arguments going on throughout this debate. For example, the question of whether Self's recruitment strategy pursuant to OADs is the best model for pursuing another national championship is a different question than what kind of team/program we want. I think some people would argue that there is no conflict here. They'd say just pass on OADs and we'll have a team that wins more and a team that we can connect to more. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's entirely true. Personally, I'd still argue that we are probably making a bigger argument out of this question than it deserves, because we really haven't had that many OADs and with the ones we've had, we still have another 10 four year players on the roster; we've still got Ellis, Traylor, Mason, Graham, Lucas, Mickelson, probably Greene, probably/maybe Selden, and 2-3 years of Svi. Two years from now we could still have Mason, Graham, Selden, Lucas, Greene, and Svi. That's a big and good group of upperclassman.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 8 months ago

It's not an NCAA issue. It's an NBA policy that affects the NCAA and in this case "policing itself" is irrelevant. Plenty of other places where it is relevant, just not in this case.

Chad Smith 6 years, 8 months ago

Not recruiting OAD's would be assinine. Idiotic move for sure. Say what you want about Kentucky and Calipari, but they are on the verge of two National Championships in 4 seasons and a perfect season to boot. Those are pretty good results.

As far as Hunter goes, yes we should play him and we ARE going to play him. I like the effort of all the interior guys over the past few weeks and what we've seen from Mickelson recently has warranted him getting more playing time. He's the only true rim protector we have right now and he can pair fine with any of the other big men. We don't completely know what we have with him, but at least guards aren't getting free runs to the rim as often anymore. Just chip in and let it be by committee.

And as I've said before, More passing, 3 point shots and less turnovers, We'll be in good shape in March. We have enough talent, just need it all healthy and together.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 8 months ago

And even UK's current run is built on a bunch of "1-n-dones", though most have stayed more than 1 yr. Based on the comments above, we wouldn't have recruited any of the UK players because they are a bunch of "1-n-dones".

Benjamin Clay Jones 6 years, 8 months ago

The real question is, why did it take Self all year to discover what he had in Hunter? Answer: Because Self stubbornly adheres to a 7- to 8-man rotation, no matter how much developable talent he has on the roster. If you aren't in that select group by the time January rolls around, the only playing time you'll see is in blowouts. Self fails to bring along his bench throughout the year, which is why KU is so vulnerable to early exits in March. This year his hand was forced by injuries and ineligibility, which is the only reason he discovered that, yes, Mickelson could turn into a pretty good player given playing time. Something that is normally in scarce supply under Self's modus operandi. Fran talked last game about how Mickelson got yanked after 14 seconds for a defensive miscue in December and rarely saw the court again. In retrospect, that seems like a pretty stupid move on Self's part.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 8 months ago

Coach made a comment during a presser in Jan about not seeing a reason to play more bigs in one game. You're absolutely right that our current situation is the reason, and development in general is a good reason.

That being said, Coach has gone outside his comfort zone with Perry's play the last half of this season by not only allowing him to operate in space more, but by running the system in a way that starts him operating in space. Never before has a 4 initiated the O as part of the player rotation running the weave at the top of the key. He doesn't get enough credit for adapting his system, though I'd agree that it would be nice to see his comfort level expand relative to the # of players used.

Benjamin Clay Jones 6 years, 8 months ago

Goods points. I would further argue that Perry is not a 4 (hardly a revelation) and should be playing the 3, with both Mickelson and Lucas starting at the 4 and 5. The other starters would be Oubre at the 2 and Frank. Drop Selden from the starting lineup. This frees up Perry to operate in a position at which he could be more dominant. If not a starting lineup, it's a lineup I would certainly like to see more of. Selden has been a very spotty performer at best.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 8 months ago

Perry is not a 3! He is not quick enough to guard perimeter players on defense and is not quick enough to blow by them on offense. He is a stretch 4, post players are the only thing he can come close to guarding, and who he beat off the dribble.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 8 months ago

Self has absolutely used 4's at the top of the post to initiate the offense before, even out of the weave. That's exactly what the high low is. The difference is because KU doesn't have a true low post scorer this year, the high low has been highly ineffective so KU has had to run iso plays for Ellis and Traylor from the high post.

Bob Bailey 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes, we should place more effort in developing players!

Yes, we need to pay attention to the 3 pt game!

Yes, we need to learn how to coach ''para-sympathetic' or 'instinct' game!

BUT, we have one of the best coaches in all of college BB. Maybe being at KU helped him, maybe not. But his philosophy is well developed. Forget about changing him Enjoy what we've got!

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

I posted this above, but sometimes comments get buried in the thread:

Calipari's system has generated arguably the greatest college team ever assembled. If he goes this year he will have gone to back to back Final Fours. He will have played for the Championship 4 times since 2008. That's over half the time! On EVERY ONE OF THOSE TEAMS HE'S HAD ONE AND DONE TALENT. If he wins this year, which many are projecting he will, he will have added 2 national championships to Kentuckys legacy in 4 years.

Can we let that sink in?

That is beyond impressive. Results speak for themselves.

I do not argue against role players. Calipari himself has utilized them. But the role players have to be REALLY GOOD and we certainly should NOT avoid OADs in favor of them, especially when the results show without question that they are useful in elevating teams, and sometimes getting them to National Championship games. Coach Self is a very intelligent coach, and his position is that both multiyear players and talented OADs created a synergistic chemistry that propels a team forward. Im dumb enough to believe him.

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