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Friday, May 8, 2015

Black’s rookie season in NBA a big hit

Kansas forward Tarik Black pounds his chest as he checks out of the game for the final time during the second half on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Tarik Black pounds his chest as he checks out of the game for the final time during the second half on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Tarik Black, who played at Kansas University just one season after three at Memphis, said he felt the complete support of Jayhawk Nation during an ultra-successful rookie campaign in the NBA.

“Everytime I did well the KU coaches would get in touch with me. They’d say they were proud of me,” said the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Black, who, as an undrafted free agent, wound up starting 39 of 63 NBA games in 2014-15 with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers.

“On top of that, all the people from Kansas ... the fans would get with me on social media. They’d contact me on there. They showed me appreciation and support for what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been moving forward.”

Black has spent the past several weeks in Lawrence, recuperating and regenerating after a grueling NBA indoctrination.

He averaged 4.2 points and 5.1 boards in 15.7 minutes a game with the Rockets, then after getting released and signing with the Lakers, averaged 7.2 points (off 58.9 percent shooting) and 6.3 boards. He started 27 of 38 games and logged 21.1 minutes per contest in L.A.

“It was sad. I was comfortable there. We had a good team with a chance to do some nice things. When I got released I didn’t know what my future would hold,” Black said of being let go by Houston, where he bonded with “big brother” figure Dwight Howard.

“I didn’t know if I’d go to a place where they’d play me as much. That was my first thought. At the same time, when I sat down and started praying about it, it was like, ‘Man, God’s got you. He’ll place you in an even better situation.’ That’s the glory of his works. He took me out of a good situation into one better situated for me, one that was a better opportunity for me. I saw my numbers jump with the Lakers. I was blessed in making the move, but at the moment it happened, it was tough.”

The Rockets were fond of Black but had to let him go to make room for newly acquired forward Josh Smith.

“Tarik did a great job,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale told the Houston Chronicle after Black was released right after Christmas. “I told him he’ll be picked up in our league. I told him in preseason, I said ‘Tarik, you have to go out and open people’s eyes. You didn’t get drafted.’ But he came in and had 15 rebounds in a (preseason) game. Everybody around the league was saying, ‘Dang, what did we miss on Tarik Black?’ He’s a great kid. I really liked coaching him. A wonderful young man.”

Black has one year left on a two-year, non-guaranteed contract worth $1,352,395 ($507,336 guaranteed). He’ll play summer league for the Lakers and obviously is expecting to be back, considering how much he played last season.

“It was awesome. I always wanted to play in L.A., from the time of the draft when I worked out there,” he said. “When I was traded out there, it was like, ‘It’s awesome being out here again.’ Who knew I’d have the opportunity to be a starter? I didn’t even know I’d be in the NBA. It was awesome.”

Black, who has been staying at the home of Christian Garrett’s parents during his visit to Lawrence, has worked out some with KU’s players.

“It was a long season, I’m getting back into it now, though,” Black said. “I’ve been working on getting back in school, finishing my Masters (degree next summer). I’ve worked out with Frank (Mason), seen some of the guys. I’m very proud of them all. That’s a very talented team.”

The 23-year-old Black said it’s been fun spending time with Garrett, who has said he hopes to play ball somewhere next season, following next week’s graduation ceremonies.

“I’m proud of Christian,” Black said. “Taking himself to new heights ... him also being a brother of faith. Things can happen for you that aren’t expected by others. I feel he’s on the rise and it will be interesting watching him move forward in life.”

The Garrett family simply loves having Tarik around.

“In all my years here I’ve never seen anyone so quickly steal the hearts of an entire community, us included,” Cynthia Garrett, mom of Christian, said. “As evidenced by the fact our homes here and in California are always his homes. He’s such a great brother to my son.”

Recruiting: Former SMU commit LeGerald Vick, a 6-5 shooting guard from Douglass High in Memphis, will visit Kansas State this weekend, KU on Wednesday or Thursday and Kentucky next weekend, Rivals.com reports. He’s ranked No. 137 in the Class of 2016, but planning to reclassify to 2015 and be eligible to play in 2015-16.

Comments

RJ King 2 years, 4 months ago

I've loved watching Black grow in both skill and confidence. Now recalling some of the comments on this site surrounding his re-recruitment out of Memphis. (Including half the posters calling Wiggins a drama queen that we don't want.)

"Not a fan of Black on next year's team because of his character issues. 44% FT shooting is just lazy and a lack of work ethic/discipline." And many more.

Character issues? If I recall, Black walked out of practice at Memphis frustrated because his teammates weren't giving their all.

Jaybate nailed it.

"Anyone that looks at that image of Tarik and wonders whether Self and Consonants really want this guy may be suffering a bit of blindness.

This flipping guy is a beast! And he was exactly what our team last season was missing. A moving screener the size of a right offensive tackle in foot capable of straight drive blocking and releasing for screen blocking. Its the new D1 game. Body blow, body blow, body blow.

Unless Justin Wesley adds 30 hard pounds, KU definitely needs the guy!!!! No way is Landon ready to be an enforcer without a backup enforcer.

The problem is Tarik's 44% FT shooting someone mentioned. But KU's staff has been having success probably using Andy Enfield's shooting mechanics training to bump our brick FT shooters to tolerable level. Frankly, if I were Tarik, I would transfer to Enfield at UCLA and see if Enfield can fix his shooting. No, pretend I never said that!

Here's the thing: Tarik would be perfect rotating both positions in the paint for KU. He would complement Perry fabulously in the age of the moving, pile driver screen; this is why both Self and Consonants want him BAD!!!!! And he would be exactly what either Landen, or Joel needed at the other slog. And imagine how TOUGH KU could play for short stretches with Tarik and Jamari!!!!

Tarik Black is a brain-rattlingmoving screen waiting to happen, whenever he comes in. We need that!!!!"

We need Jaybate.

Tarik's Senior Night speech was spectacular! He stole my heart. Welcome back Tarik! Rest up.

Joe Ross 2 years, 4 months ago

To the extent that Jaybate made comments that were timely and relevant, his participation was welcomed by many. But many began to feel that his commentary became increasingly more about vainglorious attention-seeking and building a personal reputation than anything substantive. For their part, kusports never banished him. He has exiled himself to the netherworld outside of this forum, which he would not have done were he completely happy here. He has chosen his own participation level.

RJ King 2 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, I know Joe. But many of his comments were interesting and thought-provoking, and we could just scroll past the ego-centrical ramblings. I would happily trade crashing into the super annoying mano y mano dialogue that populates this site now, for the good old days of eccentric Jaybate essays.

Joe Ross 2 years, 4 months ago

Ill say this and Ill sit quietly, leaving you the last word. If Jaybate were here he himself would admit to being involved in many of those trash talking exchanges. This is not a judgment, but rather an objective statement of fact. He would, of course, propose justification for those statements and at the same time characterize his opponents in some negative light. I know this to be true as I was engaged with him in many of those sparring sessions and we used a similar tactic. Having said that, when his focus was on sports he had the potential to be very insightful. Its just that if we're going to be fair to the body of his contributions, we have to include the fact that he was certainly not a stranger to trash talking.

RJ King 2 years, 4 months ago

I have no last word, except to say that you are absolutely right. I suppose absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Rodney Crain 2 years, 4 months ago

Well Done Tarik way to make the most out of your opportunity!

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 4 months ago

We all should be thankful for Black's year with the Hawks. He was sensational in the Stanford game when all the other bigs went awol. Nevertheless, I wish we had him longer, like from freshman year.

John Fitzgerald 2 years, 4 months ago

Tarik might just be my favorite player yet. He's a great person and worked as hard as any KU player has. And has he ever made a negative comment? Man, we were lucky to have him.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 4 months ago

Maybe if he had played at KU for more than just one year, I would put him in the Richard Scott level of favorite Jayhawks but he was a great one year player whom I'm glad is doing well in the NBA. The 2013-14 team may end up with 5 players making it to the NBA.

David Serven 2 years, 4 months ago

Great to hear yet another Jayhawk is doing well in the bigs! We wish you nothing but success as you continue your career in LA. And I particularly like how you put your trust in the Lord to help you and show you the best path forward. You could have been down after leaving Houston, but trusted that by closing that door, you had a better one open. Seems this type of faith is showing up more and more. Perry and others on the team talk about their faith also. Oh no! Could they be an epedemic of players actually putting their lives in His hands and letting Him help them in their careers? Hope so!!!

Harlan Hobbs 2 years, 4 months ago

A very inspiring story. I hope that when his playing days are over, he will return to KU and become a part of one of the top programs in the country. He would be a wonderful and valuable addition.

Titus Canby 2 years, 4 months ago

Tarik Black is the one good thing that's come out of the transfer rule. Great basketball player, great interview, and seems like a great guy. Keep up the great work Tarik. I hope to see you back in Lawrence every summer during your long and successful NBA career.

James Miller 2 years, 4 months ago

I love Tarik because he is not afraid to openly express his faith. That has to be hard for a Christian on a college campus.

Aaron Paisley 2 years, 4 months ago

Why the hostility for someone expressing their faith and someone else supporting it?

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 4 months ago

Perfect example of hostility and ridicule, from mostly the left, when people of Christian faith express their beliefs publicly.

Rodney Crain 2 years, 4 months ago

Can't even let something as a benign post like James' pass?

Very telling Brett.

Rodney Crain 2 years, 4 months ago

James you hit on an interesting perspective. And to prove your point about as clearly as someone can, someone here makes your case for you.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 4 months ago

Politics and religion...two subjects that are bound to cause controversy so I tend to leave them alone but as Rodney says:

"Can't even let something as a benign post like James' pass?"

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