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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Recruit Lightfoot ‘serious’ player

Mitch Lightfoot announces his commitment to Kansas University on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 at Glendale Community College in Glendale, Arizona. Lightfoot is the state's top basketball prospect in the class of 2016.

Mitch Lightfoot announces his commitment to Kansas University on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 at Glendale Community College in Glendale, Arizona. Lightfoot is the state's top basketball prospect in the class of 2016.

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The official website write-up on Saturday’s Ballislife.com All-America game referred to future Kansas University forward Mitch Lightfoot as a “rugged and serious-minded player.”

The 6-foot-8, 219-pound state of Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year, who scored 32 points in Team Elite’s 152-134 victory over Team Future at Long Beach (Calif.) City College, certainly made an impression with his no-nonsense attitude during the week of the game.

Here’s an example.

“We had practice Thursday and Friday. Those were basically pick-up (games),” Lightfoot, a senior at Gilbert (Ariz.) Christian, said. “Afterward, I initiated some competitive drills — two dribbles, face-up from the top of the key, things like that.”

Yes, you read it right. The high school senior, ranked No. 67 nationally by ESPN.com, organized drills in an otherwise low-key all-star environment.

“I was playing with Yoeli Childs (6-7, 220), who is going to BYU, Dewan Huell (6-10, 205, Miami), the kid going to Texas (6-10, 230 James Banks). Every time I get a chance to do something like that, I feel I want to take advantage of it,” Lightfoot said of working out with elite bigs.

“The pick-up was fun and all, but I really wanted to do something where I was going to get better by being out there. I felt those were some fun drills that helped me get better,” he added.

Lightfoot, who scored 27 points in the second half, didn’t necessarily like the way the game became a dunkfest late, with breakaway after breakaway. At least his team won the dunkfest, though.

“I was trying to help my guys crank it up. Some of ’em did. Some of ’em didn’t. It is what it is,” Lightfoot said. “I can’t control them. All I can control is what I do. It’s hard to have a competitive spirit (in all-star games) because you are letting people get layups — not me, obviously. We (team) were letting a couple people have layups and dunks. That’s not how I play.”

How does he play and prepare? Like the official website writer said — in a serious fashion.

“Six days a week lifting with a strength trainer after school — Saturday mornings lifting, trying to get my body right so when I get out there (KU) I can perform,” Lightfoot said. “Once you see the benefits, it (lifting) gets addicting. Lifting, eating right. One thing I did realize from the all-star game is that I felt stronger, better controlling my body, being able to move players out of the way, elevate quicker. Coaches who watched the game were telling me I looked a lot better.”

Asked if his 32-point all-star outing, which followed a senior year in which he averaged 22.6 ppg, showed he’s a “scorer,” Lightfoot said ...

“Honestly I don’t want to be known as a scorer. I want to be known as someone who does whatever it takes for the team to win, whether it’s playing defense, taking charges, helping others get better,” he said.

Off the court, Lightfoot spent part of his senior year volunteering for an assisted-living facility and served as a mentor for students at an elementary charter school.

“We just got done going to an underprivileged school and helping kids, organize field days and stuff like that,” Lightfoot said. “I know we have a bunch of volunteer stuff at KU. I’m looking forward to that.”

A person who said he “loved” his senior year of high school, Lightfoot could conceivably be in contention for valedictorian of his class.

“I don’t think so,” he said with a laugh. “At my school we have some geniuses. My GPA, 3.83 (out of 4) ... it’s hard to compete with people that are getting 4.4s and 4.5s,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to everybody (when he leaves for KU a day or two after June 2 graduation), but at the time it will be fun to see where they (classmates) all end up (in life).”

Of his future at KU, he said: “(I’m) living a dream. I got my foot in the door. Once my foot is in the door, anything is possible. I’m going to work my butt off.”

Comments

Jonathan Andrews 4 years, 5 months ago

I like the cut of his jib. Reminds me of Young, with a dash more junkyard dog.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 5 months ago

He certainly has the correct mind-set. It won't be easy and he's going to need to work hard for 4 years. He's apparently athletic enough that once he learns the offense and defensive sets...and gets stronger, puts on weight, learns angles....he'll be in a position to contribute to the team.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 5 months ago

I was disappointed he didn't list rebounds, but all the rest is very good. It would be so nice to have rebound hound dog.

Steve Macy 4 years, 5 months ago

Up to 219? Very good Glad he is a "serious" player, although comical players can sometimes be helpful.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 5 months ago

He may be that occasional "diamond in the rough" that three or four years from now we'll be saying who knew he would be this good.

Let me introduce you to your future..Mr.Lightfoot meet Ms. Hudy...Ms. Hudy meet Mr. Lightfoot. Sean, we will see you 30 pounds and three times as strong from now!!

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

You will probably be hearing "I told you how good he was going to be".

Danny Hernandez 4 years, 5 months ago

I don't know if Mitch is a program guy or someone that's going to be counted in in his first year but from his competitive mindset, I wouldn't count him out. If he understand defense, positioning and can contribute by scoring, he'll play. It's not all about athleticism. Looking forward to Mitch getting on campus. Side note, save 2 of the 3 schools, considering Self only plays 8-9 at most anyway.

Robert Brock 4 years, 5 months ago

Lightfoot will get Hunter Mickelson's minutes.

Jay Scott 4 years, 5 months ago

I'll bet you $1000 right now that Lightfoot plays more career minutes at KU than Mickelson. More in his junior year. More in his senior year. Which way do you want to bet?

Dirk Medema 4 years, 5 months ago

Right. He'll likely get Bragg's minutes and then some (Traylor's?), because Carlton will be in line to get most of Perry's minutes.

Unless Allen comes, in witch case it might be more like Hunter's. When he wasn't injured last year, Hunter did provide some productivity, though it was always a bit of a head scratcher for the 2nd half of each game.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

Agree with Jay and and Dirk but he needs to get into the Self's favorite category, something Michelson didn't.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 5 months ago

It's refreshing to read about a kid who's genuinely excited to play college ball and play at the University of Kansas. No talk of 'getting to the NBA as quickly as possible' or being a part of a 'package deal.' He just wants to play. At Kansas.

Brian Wilson 4 years, 5 months ago

I have watched quite a bit of Lightfoot's tape, and of course it is always his highlights, but this kid can play and my guess is he gets 5-7 minutes at the 3and 4 spot behind Jackson and Svi and maybe when we play a small lineup if the occasion presents itself. But, I am thinking Mitch starts his sophomore season. With Svi, Jackson, Mason, Self, not to mention Bragg and Lucas possibly all leaving which will leave us empty at SF and short a player a guard and almost completely empty at Power Forward. There will be a lot of spots to fill in 2017. Weird to do, but here are the only players that would remain after this season and so the early on lineup after everyone leaves would be:

1: Graham
2: Vick
3: Dwight Coleby(not)
4: Lightfoot
5. Udoka Aubuike

So unless Svi or Bragg stays as it stands we will be down to just these five players. Room for a big class in 2017.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 5 months ago

Part of the reason Thornton is important.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 5 months ago

It's scary what we will be up against in 2017. The coaching staff needs to triple down recruiting that class. Sad to say the likes of Porter, that Austin kid and a few others seem to be leaning away from Kansas.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 5 months ago

So Lightfoot starts over either Coleby, Azubuike, or Ayton if he comes to KU amd is eligible? Interesting

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

He already has Coleby and Azubuike starting and was leaving out potential recruits so with that premise, what would be your starting 5?

Chad Smith 4 years, 5 months ago

I wouldn't freak out about 2017 just yet. A lot can happen between then and now. if the cupboard becomes more empty, that will affect recruits and their decision making, hopefully in a good way for KU. Kids will see PT an a chance to start right away, which means they may lean our way. But once again, way too early to tell on that front. Next season is what matters. We should be a final four caliber team again.

After some time to digest the Villanova loss, I still don't like the refs calls on perimeter defense that rewarded Nova and hurt KU( them getting layups which led to runs and us getting fouls which gave them free throws and killed our momentum) and Wayne going 0-6 from 3. He makes two of those the game may have gone our way. Tough loss, but clearly Nova was a good team. National Championship good.

Looking forward to next season! RCJH!!!

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