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All Eyes on KU

EA Sports picks Joel Embiid as its new ‘NBA Live’ cover star

Former Kansas center Joel Embiid laughs while working with Philadelphia teammate Dario Saric in Allen Fieldhouse on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, during a Sixers practice.

Former Kansas center Joel Embiid laughs while working with Philadelphia teammate Dario Saric in Allen Fieldhouse on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, during a Sixers practice.

If you find yourself shopping for video games sometime this fall, don’t be surprised to see the face of Joel Embiid staring back at you.

EA Sports announced Monday night the former University of Kansas center and current Philadelphia 76ers star will grace the cover of its upcoming release, “NBA Live 19.”

So even though the evening’s NBA Awards show didn’t include Embiid going home with some hardware — he finished second to Rudy Gobert for Defensive Player of the Year — it still went down as a sort of milestone night for the 24-year-old big man.

Embiid, remember, has only played in two seasons (94 regular-season games between them) and already is marketable enough to become the face of a video game franchise.

Although 2K Sports’ “NBA 2K” series is far more popular than its “NBA Live” competitor, some major names from The Association have graced recent covers of “NBA Live,” including two players who can now call themselves MVPs, Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.

Only the biggest and brightest talents get their likenesses attached to video games and Embiid, an all-star starter in 2018, now has crossed another distinction off his career bucket list.

This past season, his second in the league, Embiid averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 3.2 assists, while shooting 48.3 percent from the floor and playing in 63 games.

Look for Embiid’s stone-faced pose on “NBA Live 19” when it is released, on Sept. 7.

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Former KU first-rounder Aqib Talib revisits draft night 10 years later

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib smiles at his introductory news conference. Talib, a former Kansas University All-American, met the media Monday in Tampa, Fla.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib smiles at his introductory news conference. Talib, a former Kansas University All-American, met the media Monday in Tampa, Fla.

It's been 10 years since a Kansas football player was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. And there's no telling how long it will be until the Jayhawks achieve that feat again.

But while we wait, why not take a quick trip down Memory Lane with the player who, in 2008, was the first pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 20 overall.

Former KU cornerback Aqib Talib, one of the most electric players and personalities in program history, was the Bucs' selection that year.

And earlier today, which also happens to be the first night of this year's NFL Draft, Talib jumped on Twitter and revisited the moments before the Bucs made that pick with the following video put together by NFL films.

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Although Talib spent just the first four-plus seasons of his 10-year-and-counting NFL career with the franchise that drafted him, the all-pro cornerback who turned 32 in February, has had one heck of a career with the three franchises he has played for to this point.

Traded this offseason to the Los Angeles Rams by Denver, with whom he won a Super Bowl in 2016, Talib is set to begin play with his fourth team. And in doing so he will be reunited with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who coordinated the Broncos' defense during that Super Bowl run, and former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, who, in so many ways, has reminded people throughout the league of Talib during the first three years of his career.

Talib enters Year 11 with 34 career interceptions, which includes six pick-sixes during his four seasons in Denver.

Talib's Jayhawks do figure to get some good news this draft season, with defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., slated to be selected somewhere in the third-to-fifth rounds. And while the experience for Armstrong might not quite live up to the thrill felt by Talib a decade ago, there's no doubt that Armstrong's family, friends, teammates and KU coaches will have a reaction similar to Talib's in that video when the former KU D-End's name is called this weekend.

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Former and current Jayhawks react to KU’s win over Duke, spot in Final Four

A giddy Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) jumps as the Jayhawks begin to secure the victory in overtime, Sunday, March 25, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

A giddy Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) jumps as the Jayhawks begin to secure the victory in overtime, Sunday, March 25, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. by Nick Krug

For the first time since 2012, the Kansas basketball team is back in the Final Four. Headed to San Antonio, a familiar destination for some former Jayhawks, a long list of current and old players took to social media to react to the wild Elite Eight victory.

In an 85-81 slugfest against Duke, in overtime, the Jayhawks punched their ticket to college basketball’s biggest stage.

After two straight seasons of defeats in the Elite Eight, it made the reward of the Final Four that much more special for all of the players in the program, or those who have already gone through it and watched from a distance.

Doubted for most of the season with a lack of depth, lack of size and home losses, the Jayhawks were happy to prove people wrong again with their run through the Midwest Regional. A look at many of the reactions from KU’s victory against Duke, which includes several from Jayhawks who made it possible.

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College basketball world reacts to KU’s record-breaking 14th consecutive league title

Kansas guard Clay Young hugs teammates Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 74-72 win over Texas Tech on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 at United Supermarkets Arena.

Kansas guard Clay Young hugs teammates Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 74-72 win over Texas Tech on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 at United Supermarkets Arena. by Nick Krug

The college basketball world already had reason enough to tune in Saturday and watch the Big 12’s marquee game of the year: No. 8 Kansas at No. 6 Texas Tech.

Throw in what was on the line for the Jayhawks — a share of the Big 12 title, and with it a historic 14th consecutive conference championship — and the result meant much more than another instance of a Bill Self-coached team earning payback for a loss earlier in the season.

KU survived in Lubbock, Texas, 74-72, against a hobbled Keenan Evans and the Red Raiders, inspiring many who follow the team to congratulate and/or celebrate Self and his Jayhawks on eclipsing UCLA’s longstanding record of 13 straight league titles.

The social media responses to the historic moment for Kansas came in from journalists, analysts, current and former KU standouts, and even some players who have yet to — or never will — suit up for the Jayhawks.

Here are some of the highlights from the aftermath of yet another Big 12 championship for Self and Kansas.

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By the Numbers: Kansas 74, Texas Tech 72.

By the Numbers: Kansas 74, Texas Tech 72.

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Frank Mason, former Jayhawks, college basketball observers react to KU’s win at WVU

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) grabs Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) as the Jayhawks celebrate their 71-66 win over West Virginia, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) grabs Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) as the Jayhawks celebrate their 71-66 win over West Virginia, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia. by Nick Krug

When two top-10 teams square off in prime time, the rest of the college basketball universe makes a point to tune in and watch the show.

ESPN’s Big Monday matchup between No. 10 Kansas and No. 6 West Virginia wasn’t always the most visually appealing display, but the Jayhawks’ unlikely rally for a rare “Country Road” win made it a captivating finish.

For the more prominent viewers — some former KU players, others national college basketball writers and analysts — the battle between two of the Big 12’s top teams and the Jayhawks’ first win at WVU Coliseum in five years not only proved entertaining but also telling.

Here are some of the social media reactions to KU’s 71-66 win, from around college basketball, including a couple from Jayhawks who made it possible.

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More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia


By the Numbers: Kansas 71, West Virginia 66

By the Numbers: Kansas 71, West Virginia 66

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KU volleyball to face Mizzou in opening round of NCAA Tournament

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Three losses in their final four matches of the regular season cost the Kansas volleyball team the opportunity to host the first and second rounds of next week's NCAA Tournament.

But the Jayhawks are firmly in the field and will be matched up with a couple of familiar foes during the tournament's opening week.

Placed in the region with No. 1 overall seed Penn State, Kansas will take on former Border War rival Missouri on Friday in Wichita, with the winner moving on to face the winner of Wichita State's match with Radford in Round 2.

Kansas has faced both Missouri and Wichita State during recent NCAA Tournaments and has unique rivalries with both programs.

The 16th-seeded Shockers were the final team to earn the right to host the first two rounds.

Also hosting in the first two rounds are Big 12 foes Texas, Baylor and Iowa State.

Despite their struggles down the stretch, the Jayhawks, which reached their first ever Final Four two seasons ago, have their eyes on a return trip to the Final Four to send the seven seniors responsible for the rise of the program out in style.

This year's Final Four will take place down the road at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., and the Jayhawks have dubbed their upcoming journey “The Road to Kansas City.”

Stay in touch with Kusports.com the rest of the night for more reaction to KU's draw.

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Bill Self begins Hall of Fame festivities, receives Naismith Orange jacket

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self receives his Hall of Fame jacket, with the color described as "Naismith Orange," during Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame media day Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Springfield, Mass.

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self receives his Hall of Fame jacket, with the color described as "Naismith Orange," during Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame media day Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Springfield, Mass. by Nick Krug

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self arrived in Springfield, Mass., and kicked off his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame events Thursday.

Self received his Hall of Fame jacket, which is made of a color described as "Naismith Orange," and gave brief remarks about starting his enshrinement week alongside several new Hall of Famers.

"When we all found out, I think, in April, I think we were all pretty overwhelmed with this. But this really hasn't hit me until we actually got to Springfield. Being in this arena, looking around, and seeing all the portraits is something that is very humbling and I certainly feel inadequate to be before you this afternoon."

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— KUSports.com's Matt Tait and Nick Krug are in Springfield to provide all kinds of coverage of Self's enshrinement week, so stay tuned to KUsports.com for more stories, videos and more.

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Former KU players, current Jayhawks congratulate Josh Jackson and Frank Mason on NBA Draft selections

When Josh Jackson was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday, he continued a long tradition of Kansas players being selected in the lottery — the eighth time in 11 years.

There was still plenty of excitement from people around the KU program when Jackson was picked and Frank Mason III followed in the second round — 34th overall to the Sacramento Kings.

Many current and former KU players expressed their joy for Jackson and Mason on social media during the draft:

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K.J. Lawson issues apology for vulgar video clip toward former coach Tubby Smith

After a vulgar Snapchat video circulated through social media Thursday, incoming Kansas transfer K.J. Lawson issued an apology through Twitter.

Lawson, a 6-foot-7 forward, made disparaging comments toward Memphis head coach Tubby Smith, his former coach, in a three-second clip. Lawson and his older brother, Dedric, announced their intention to transfer to play for the Jayhawks earlier this week.

“This is what we do when we leave Tubby,” Lawson said on the undated video, “(expletive) Tubby.”

Lawson expressed his dissatisfaction with his former school when he announced his intention to transfer earlier this month. Lawson quoted a song from Drake, which mentioned, “two middle fingers as I make an exit,” in a tweet that he later deleted.

“On behalf of my family and myself I would like to issue an apology to Coach Tubby Smith and Tiger Nation,” Lawson wrote Thursday night. “Despite my frustrations of this past year, my words and actions at the time were immature, thoughtless, and not becoming of who I am as a person or how my family raised me. Memphis will forever be my home and I wish Coach Tubby Smith and Tiger Nation the best moving forward.”

Lawson captioned his apologetic tweet: “This momentary (indiscretion) can jeopardize the most important thing in my life. I apologize for my inexcusable behavior.”

Lawson averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds for the Tigers this season in 33.7 minutes per game, earning American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors.

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Jayhawks — and one high-profile coach — congratulate Mason on national player of the year awards

Another day, another national player of the year award for Kansas senior point guard Frank Mason III.

Well, make that two awards Sunday.

After one of the best individual seasons in program history, Mason was named the Naismith Trophy Winner and the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ player of the year on Sunday in Arizona.

Mason, the consensus national player of the year, has swept all of the major awards for national player of the year ahead of Friday's Wooden Award announcement.

Several of Mason’s teammates — and Villanova coach Jay Wright — congratulated him on a successful award season through social media:

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