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Friday, December 16, 2016

Jayhawks make most of 20th annual holiday shopping spree

Cindy Self, wife of Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self, shops for toys with KU junior Dwight Coleby as he and other members of the Kansas men’s basketball team shopped at the Iowa Street Wal-Mart on Thursday night, purchasing Christmas gifts for Lawrence families in conjunction with the Salvation Army.

Cindy Self, wife of Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self, shops for toys with KU junior Dwight Coleby as he and other members of the Kansas men’s basketball team shopped at the Iowa Street Wal-Mart on Thursday night, purchasing Christmas gifts for Lawrence families in conjunction with the Salvation Army.

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A festive, feel-good shopping spree tradition that began 20 years ago with names like Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz continued Thursday night at Wal-Mart on South Iowa Street, where players, coaches, managers and family members of the current Kansas basketball team did their part to bring holiday joy to 15 area families.

“I’m a good Santa Claus,” said KU guard Malik Newman as he picked out various colors of Play-Doh for one person on his list.

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After picking out a football to purchase for a child, senior point guard Frank Mason III prepares for a pass while members of the Kansas men’s basketball team shopped at the Iowa Street Wal-Mart on Thursday night, purchasing Christmas gifts for Lawrence families in conjunction with the Salvation Army.

Broken up into small groups, the Jayhawks took a break from finals, practice and preparation for Saturday’s game with Davidson at Sprint Center in Kansas City to fulfill the wish lists of young children and their parents in conjunction with the Salvation Army.

Using money raised by head coach Bill Self’s Assists Foundation and former KU basketball player Roger Morningstar and his wife, Linda, as a part of the KU Roundball Club, each player was allowed to spend $100 on gifts for each family member on their lists. Each family included an average of four people.

Those were the only rules put on the annual shopping adventure. The rest was up to the players, who pushed carts through the toy section and the clothing department and even checked out the electronics while constantly referring back to their lists to make sure they covered as many of the requested items as possible.

Several Jayhawks, including sophomore Carlton Bragg, who was, by far, the most enthusiastic about letting his followers tag along, shared the experience on Instagram and Facebook Live. Junior walk-on Clay Young was the only Jayhawk to go it alone, while the rest worked with managers or coaches’ wives to find the best gifts possible. Freshman Udoka Azubuike picked out everything from wallets for an 18-year-old — I need something more fancy,” Azubuike said — to an UNO game, while Josh Jackson, Frank Mason III, Devonte’ Graham and Landen Lucas kept criss-crossing the toy department, occasionally checking one another’s carts to either pass out praise or criticize the merchandise.

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Kansas junior Devonte' Graham gets some advice from Walmart employee Samantha Brenning as the Kansas men’s basketball team shopped at the Iowa Street Wal-Mart on Thursday night, purchasing Christmas gifts for Lawrence families in conjunction with the Salvation Army.

“This is a lot of fun for our guys and for our program,” said KU assistant coach Norm Roberts, speaking in place of head coach Bill Self, who was out recruiting. “Our guys really look forward to this every year, and they actually take it extremely serious. They all want to do a good job and make these families as happy as possible. This is what helps them develop as people and become better men, giving back to others, which is so important. Coach wanted to be here, but after practice he said to the guys, ‘Just have fun with it.’”

While the hour-long shopping excursion proved to be plenty of fun on its own, the Jayhawks made sure to remember the reason they were there and how their efforts would lead to real fun in two Sundays.

“It’s always great to see kids and families smile,” Mason said. “So if we can do that by shopping and getting them things for Christmas, we love to do that.”

Comments

John Randall 2 years, 2 months ago

Great experience for young adults - planning and managing a limited (generous but still limited) budget to bring as much happiness to homes in need of a few happy moments at this time of year.

Ryan Zimmerman 2 years, 2 months ago

I wonder how much time is spent shopping and how much time is spent taking photos with shoppers. I can' imagine how cool it would be as a kid going to the store with your mom and seeing the entire KU basketball team there. And I like how at the 1:18 mark Udoka picks up the Minions fart gun. Always a classic gift idea

Harlan Hobbs 2 years, 2 months ago

This is just one of many things that sets the KU program apart from most others. I don't doubt that other programs do it, but for this tradition to have continued for this long is a testament to how priceless KU basketball is.

Thanks to all who have taken part over the years. You are the epitome of the words "caring" and "classy." That's one reason why you all will be "Jayhawks for life" in the eyes of the fans.

Jay Scott 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm truly shocked that the PC crowd aren't having a stroke over them shopping at WalMart.

On the other hand, some of the most ardent snowflakes have been eerily quiet............. Please. If you know them personally, make sure they're OK. It's Christmas.

RJ King 2 years, 2 months ago

I think most of our agendas are aligned, just different opinions on the best route.

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