Kansas University’s basketball team is ranked No. 6 in Athlon Sports’ preseason Top 25 poll, the magazine’s staff announced Monday.
Six is a popular number for the Jayhawks, as Lindy’s Magazine recently gave the Jayhawks an identical preseason ranking.
Athlon has tapped Kentucky No. 1, followed by Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, KU, Iowa State, Arizona, Oklahoma, Villanova, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Cal, Wichita State, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Indiana, UConn, Wisconsin, Butler, Oregon, Michigan, Louisville, SMU and Texas A&M.;
“The Jayhawks are gearing up for a 12th consecutive Big 12 title, but they’re still awaiting word on five-star freshman Cheick Diallo,” Athlon wrote.
Of Iowa State, the magazine wrote: “New coach Steve Prohm inherits a great situation with Georges Niang, Monte Morris and — you guessed it — some talented transfers.”
And of OU, the magazine stated: “the backcourt duo of Buddy Hield and Jordan Woodard will be one of the best in the nation.”
As far as the Kentucky Wildcats, who will visit Lawrence on Jan. 30 for a Big 12/SEC Challenge contest, Athlon stated: “The Wildcats might not challenge 40–0 again, but Tyler Ulis, Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray should contend for the Final Four.”
Big 12 member Baylor was listed as in a group of teams “also considered” for the Top 25 rankings.
Naismith to be honored: A commemorative sculpture of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of the game and KU’s first coach, will be unveiled at 2 p.m., Friday, at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. It is part of the Hall’s new Naismith Coaches Circle.
The sculpture, created by Brian Hanlon, honors Naismith. In a prominent courtyard located at the north entrance of the museum, the sculpture, according to the Hall, “pays tribute to the core values Dr. Naismith instilled in his players – teamwork, determination, self-respect, leadership, initiative and perseverance. He believed these principles to be the foundation by which young men and women should play the game and conduct their lives.”
The Coaches Circle will allow Hall of Famers to “share the incredible stories of mentor-coach relationships, the compassion coaches have for their players and narratives of coaches impacting their communities, players and peers in a positive manner.”
KU coach Bill Self has supported the Coaches Circle as well as Roy Williams, Steve Alford, Billy Donovan, Mark Few, Paul Hewitt, Bob Huggins, Tom Izzo, Lon Kruger, Dan Majerle, Sean Miller, Bo Ryan and Jay Wright.
Former KU and Boston Celtics guard Jo Jo White will be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Friday with John Calipari, Dick Bavetta, Louis Dampier, Lindsay Gaze, Spencer Haywood, Tom Heinsohn, John Isaacs, Lisa Leslie, Dikembe Mutombo and George Raveling.
What a dunk: Former KU guard Andrew Wiggins of Team Canada had a vicious one-handed dunk in a win over Uruguay on Monday at the FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico. Wiggins scored 18 points, 11 in the third quarter, of a 109-82 second-round victory. For a shot of the dunk go to the Web address http://ljw.bz/1itnJGp
Canada plays host Mexico tonight and Dominacan Republic on Wednesday. Top two teams in the tourney qualify for next summer’s Olympics in Rio.