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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Kansas’ Landen Lucas: Time off ‘great’ for his health

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) collects a rebound in the Jayhawk’s 62-52 win over Baylor in the semi-final of the Big 12 Tournament Friday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) collects a rebound in the Jayhawk’s 62-52 win over Baylor in the semi-final of the Big 12 Tournament Friday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.

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Kansas University sophomore power forward Landen Lucas suffered some significant aches and pains at the end of the 2014-15 basketball season.

“He was beat up,” KU coach Bill Self said at the Jayhawks’ postseason awards banquet. “He didn’t even practice. He may have practiced the day before games. He had so much stuff (going on).

“He played hurt the whole year,” Self added, while not addressing specific ailments.

Lucas, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound Portland native who had hip, knee and back discomfort at various junctures, explained the most serious of his problems after working as a camp counselor at Ed Fritz’s College Stars camp Friday night at Blue Valley Northwest High School.

“After the season I had surgery done on my left leg. There was a small bone tumor in the shin area they had to take out,” Lucas said, the word “tumor” sounding awfully scary coming out of his mouth. “It was nothing serious. It wasn’t cancerous, but I had it from the start of the season. It’s one of those things that was growing throughout last offseason, and I noticed it around Late Night.

“I think it caused some problems. It did give me some pain. Recovery time is six to eight weeks, so we knew we had to wait until after the season to do anything about it,” Lucas explained.

Lucas, who averaged 3.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.2 minutes a game, didn’t need postseason surgery to alleviate his hip pain.

“I’m not even sure what it was. The MRI showed some small tears (in hip),” Lucas said. “Naturally, getting beat up throughout the year, everything added up. Toward the end of the season, it was hard, but nothing was bigger than the goals we were trying to accomplish (Big 12, NCAA titles).”

Lucas returned to the court just last week for basketball-related activities, feeling refreshed after being inactive all of April and part of March and May.

“I’m pretty much 100 percent now,” Lucas said. “The time off I spent after the surgery was great for me. I had a bunch of minor things. All they needed was some time off. Now I’m working to get back in shape.”

Lucas said he should be ready for the start of KU’s World University Games practices, which Self has said should begin in early June. The Games are July 3-14 in South Korea.

“It’s great. I think playing in the World University Games will help the whole team out,” Lucas said. “It’s going to help us get more focused and prepared. Personally I’m going to use it as a chance to get out there and play against good competition and work on some things.”

KU has added two players thus far from the recruiting Class of 2015, but just one can play in the World University Games. Carlton Bragg, 6-9 from Cleveland, is eligible to compete, but Cheick Diallo, 6-9 from Mali, is not, because he is not a U.S. citizen.

Diallo and Ukraine native Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk can be around the team as managers, but cannot play in the Games or KU’s two exhibitions vs. Canada, June 23 and 26 in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

“I’m excited for both of them. They bring different skill sets,” Lucas said of frontcourt signees Bragg and Diallo. “It’ll be good for our team (in 2015-16 season) to have those additions. I think they are both hard workers, and they are committed to the program. As an older guy, I definitely like to see that because we’ll try to teach them the ways, and hopefully they’ll buy in.

“Some people have come up to me asking, ‘How do you feel now that you’ve got six bigs on the team?’ I’m excited for it. I think it’s good competition. How are we supposed to get better and play better without it? I know personally there are a lot of things I’d like to work on, scoring with my back to the basket and other things. If I’m not doing that against good competition, it’s going to be hard for me to get better. I’m happy to have both of them in,” Lucas added.

Lucas — he said he’ll soon return to Portland to see relatives and friends then report back to KU for summer school at the start of June — has big goals for his fourth year at KU. He was a red-shirt in 2012-13.

“When you come to Kansas, you expect to have great seasons, and I feel like in my time here we’ve yet to have a great season,” Lucas said, “so being part of one is a goal of mine. Doing whatever we can in the offseason to get better is definitely a goal.”

Self said junior-to-be Lucas has been a leader by example.

“The reason we won the (11th straight) league title outright was the play he made against West Virginia. It was an unbelievable play,” Self said. Lucas blocked an inside shot of Nathan Adrian to force overtime against the Mountaineers on March 3 in Allen Fieldhouse. KU went on to win in OT, 76-69, then lost its regular-season finale at Oklahoma, finishing a game ahead of OU and Iowa State.

“It was an unbelievable play. He fell hard,” Self added of Lucas hitting the floor after the block. “We still had five more minutes to play. Nobody (players or coaches) went out and checked on him. Nobody wanted to think about that (him possibly not being able to play in overtime). We don’t win it without him.”

Eubanks to visit?: Former Baylor signee Kobie Eubanks, a 6-5 senior from Elev8 Sports Academy in Delray Beach, Florida, tells Zagsblog.com he hopes to visit KU and Alabama soon. Rivals.com’s No. 101-rated player in the Class of 2015 also is considering West Virginia, Texas, Arkansas and others.

“They say they need an impact guard to come in and score right away,” Eubanks said, referring to KU Self and assistant Jerrance Howard.

“I’d say about a week or so,” he added to Zagsblog, referring to time frame for picking a school.

Former SMU commit LeGerald Vick, a 6-5 combo guard from Douglass High in Memphis, will visit KU on Wednesday and Thursday after visiting K-State this weekend, Zagsblog reports. He’s to visit Kentucky next weekend. Zagsblog says Vick still must qualify academically before reclassifying to 2015 from the Class of 2016.

Comments

Rodney Crain 1 year, 11 months ago

Hope you have a healthy year Landen.

Glad to see Self thinks we still need a guard to add to the team too. A big would be nice as well. Be nice to have recruiting finished up before the team leaves for Korea.

Mike Riches 1 year, 11 months ago

Thank you for answering the question of whether Svi and Diallo can be with the team while they prepare for the WUG. I assume that as managers, they can practice and travel with the team. If so, that will be good for them but also good for the rest of the team to practice against some good international competition.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 11 months ago

I believe the total for all members of the official traveling party is 24. This is not a KU function, it is an international tournament. For all intent and purposes they are Team USA for this.

Joe Ross 1 year, 11 months ago

The question that everyone wants the answer to is whether or not Diallo and Mykhailuk can PRACTICE. Will someone from the staff please answer this question?

My second thought has to do with why we are not (apparently) recruiting another big man this year. Everything I hear is about guards. At the end of next season it is likely only Lucas and Bragg will return. That leaves us very thin. How great it would be to have three front line guys returning. That would really take some of the pressure off in recruiting next year.

Jay Hawk 1 year, 11 months ago

Good point, Joe. It's certainly possible that Bragg could have a OAD type of year and only The Big Fundamental will be coming back. That's a scary thought! No matter the combination, we will be VERY young and VERY thin in the paint in two years.

Most of us only follow the top kids and whether KU has offered, has a shot, etc. I wonder how many of the certain multi-year kids we even chased after this year?

It seems not having some 2-3 year guys in they program right now as Frosh is going to haunt us in the future.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 11 months ago

From the very start of the WUG's talk, I've been asking if our international guys could travel and practice with the team. Finally, half that question has been resolved.

As for the other big, Self is still hot on that Greek guy would would probably be a multi-year player. Fortunately the Hawks seem to be high on the list for many of the top '15-'16 players. Anyway you cut the cards, next year will have to be a monster recruiting year, signing perhaps 7.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 11 months ago

Suzi I have contacted the U.S. International University Sports Federation specifically about your question. My take would be anyone can practice with the team to prepare us for the tournament, but once we register for the 11 day event only the USA citizens would be able to practice and of course play for Team USA. Thus our 24 person traveling party would only be the group that can participate.

When they reply I will post it here.

Joe Ross 1 year, 11 months ago

Rodney...

Supposing from the US IUSF's point of view, that anyone can practice with the team. The question remains as to whether or not the NCAA would allow it. Remember, Naadir Tharpe, for example, got suspended one game for violation of NCAA regulations. I would think it would be hopeful that the guys could practice however. In the source article listed, the NCAA seems to allow summer league games for players near the school they attend and near their home. Youd think if games were allowed, that practice would be too.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 11 months ago

Joe...

Since we are talking about members of our team Svi and Cheick, and the NCAA seems ok with KU as a team going, I would think it was understood that members of our team would have no issue practicing if it is allowed under the IUSF. Not sure who you would think would be in violation of NCAA rules if the IUSF has no issues? What is good for one player is good for all. This is not some summer league but an Iinternational University event with the school representing Team USA? Can't think of a more sanctioned type of event for the NCAA. They allow U16 and U20/21 FIBA events. The only difference is can a International player on the KU team practice?

Joe Ross 1 year, 11 months ago

Your last line says it all. I think our speculation is good, that they ought to be allowed to practice. But it remains an open question despite the fact that we both feel that in all probability it would be allowed. Certainty is the standard. I wish we knew...

Rodney Crain 1 year, 11 months ago

Agree Joe, I have been hoping for a guard and a big to fill out the class.

I think we have and still are recruiting another big. We just have not been able to get one to commit. I wonder if any KU coach has headed to Greece, NC State and others have. Georgios Papagiannis weaknesses are playing defense and rebounding away from his position. Since he is a scorer, especially away from the basket I think he would be a welcome late addition for us. Maybe we are in on the some of the other few remaining bigs too.

Joe Joseph 1 year, 11 months ago

Glad to hear Landon is healthy. He's going to play a big role the next two seasons. Potentially a HUGE role in 2017.

Marius Rowlanski 1 year, 11 months ago

Self will be able to utilize several different combos in the paint next season. Wonder what combo will work the best.

Ashwin Rao 1 year, 11 months ago

Not sure if you have seen this (there are some other sites like this, but I like this the best, and repeatedly come to this to see any updates): http://www.verbalcommits.com/schools/kansas

Scott Smetana 1 year, 11 months ago

Fun chart.. Hard to believe BMac would still be on our team if it weren't for the cradle robbing NBA. Next year's starting lineup would have been Mason, BMac, Wiggins, Ellis, Embiid.

Eliott Reeder 1 year, 11 months ago

Wow. That's crazy to think about, but I guess UK and Duke and AZ would have insane line-ups as well in that scenario. Just imagine how much more incredible NCAA basketball would be!!! The OAD eras has really been detrimental. It's a shame...

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