One of the top high school basketball players in the nation moved one year closer to playing at the collegiate level.
R.J. Barrett, who recently led Canada to a gold medal in the U19 FIBA World Cup, announced that he would reclassify to the 2018 class on Monday in a blog that he posted with USA Today Sports. He was previously the top-ranked player in the ’19 class.
The 6-foot-7, 200-pound small forward was named the FIBA World Cup MVP after averaging 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists in seven games. During a win against Team USA in the semifinals, Barrett scored 38 points on 12-of-24 shooting with 13 rebounds and five assists.
In his USA Today Sports blog, Barrett said Kansas, Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and UCLA have shown the most interest.
“Not too much will change with my approach to the recruitment; we’ll just do the visits a little sooner than we probably would have if I stayed in 2019,” Barrett wrote. “I haven’t set anything up yet for sure with visits, but we’ll get to that.”
After reclassifying, Barrett was ranked No. 3 by ESPN in the Class of 2018, only behind Marvin Bagley III and Zion Williamson.
Barrett, a left-hander from Mississauga, Ontario, plays high school basketball at Montverde Academy in Florida.
“Obviously, I was ranked No. 1 in the 2019 class and now that I’m moving up to 2018 my goal won’t change,” Barrett wrote. “I still want to be the best player in the class and the only way to make that happen is through hard work. We work really hard at Montverde so I know another year there won’t do anything but benefit me.”
With Barrett moving up one class, Charles Bassey, a forward from San Antonio, Texas who has received a scholarship offer from KU, will slide up to Rivals.com's No. 1 ranking.
Earlier this summer, KU coach Bill Self said the upcoming recruiting class will “probably be about as important a year as we’ve had.”
“I think we could lose five or six guys (after the 2017-18 season) so we’ve gotta sign big, we’ve gotta sign little, we’ve gotta sign point guard and tall wings,” Self said. “We need to sign a little bit of everything.”
After attempting to land a spot in the NBA during the Las Vegas Summer League, former Kansas basketball standout Perry Ellis is looking ahead to his future in Australia’s National Basketball League.
Ellis signed a contract with the Sydney Kings in May, but the club allowed him to play in the summer league because of his NBA aspirations.
Following his summer league tryout and one season in the NBA’s Developmental League, Ellis hasn't received an NBA contract offer and is moving ahead with his career overseas.
Playing for the Greensboro Swarm in the D League (recently renamed the G League because of a Gatorade sponsorship deal), Ellis averaged 9.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 50 games last season.
"There's a lot of things you can't control but I want to play basketball as long as I can, and whatever path is met, that's the path I'm going,” Ellis told ESPN Australia. “Some other options were mentioned but nothing that was really eye-opening. Playing with Sydney seemed like the best option.”
In five summer league games with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Ellis averaged 11.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game. He shot 42 percent from the floor.
Ellis, who went undrafted in 2016, was a two-time all-Big 12 selection at Kansas, and ranks ninth on the all-time scoring list with 1,798 points.
According to ESPN Australia, Ellis is expected to arrive in Australia in September.
"I've heard a lot of good things about it, that it's a beautiful place, and I'm just grateful for the opportunity,” Ellis said. ”I feel like I hear a lot more about Australia than you used to hear, that more people are going there to play.”
Some of the top American players from Australia’s National Basketball League have turned a season overseas into NBA opportunities.
James Ennis, who spent last season with the Memphis Grizzlies, led his club to a NBL championship in 2014. Jordan McCrae spent a season in the NBL in 2014-15 before playing in 37 games with the Cavaliers last year.
Of course, there’s a much longer list of American players who didn’t reach the NBA after playing in Australia.
"My ultimate goal is to get to the NBA, but if it doesn't happen, it is what it is,” Ellis said. “You move on and continue playing, wherever that might be. That's my mindset.”
With the college basketball offseason in full swing, and teams preparing for their overseas trips to play exhibition games, it’s time to take a look at all of the roster changes.
In the Big 12, the early predictions for next season have Kansas winning another conference title, West Virginia giving KU the biggest challenge and Texas emerging as a sleeper pick following a strong recruiting class.
Here’s a look at all of the incoming and outgoing players in the Big 12:
In: Billy Preston, Marcus Garrett, Malik Newman, Jack Whitman, Sam Cunliffe (eligible to play in December)
Out: Frank Mason III, Landen Lucas, Josh Jackson, Carlton Bragg, Dwight Coleby
In three of the past five seasons, the school that lost the national player of the year didn’t make it to the NCAA Tournament in the following year. Of course, the Jayhawks will feel the losses of Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson, but it’s pretty remarkable they remain odds-on favorites to capture another Big 12 title.
Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman is expected to contend for the team’s leading scorer, while freshman Billy Preston, one of the conference's three McDonald's All-Americans, will compete for a spot in the starting lineup. But the best news of the offseason for KU was the return of senior Devonte Graham and a now-healthy Udoka Azubuike.
In: Tristan Clark, Leonard Allen
Out: Johnathan Motley, Ishamil Wainright, Al Freeman
After reaching a No. 1 ranking in the middle of the season and exiting in the Sweet 16, Baylor will attempt to reload following the loss of standout forward Johnathan Motley, who wasn’t picked in the NBA Draft.
Coach Scott Drew can still rely on point guard Manu Lecomte and center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., and the incoming recruiting class includes four-star forward Tristan Clark, who led his high school to the state championship game. But like most programs who lose one of the top players in the country, it’s hard to avoid a step back in the following season.
In: Lindell Wigginton, Terrence Lewis, Hans Brase, Jeff Beverly
Out: Monte Morris, Deonte Burton, Naz Mitrou-Long, Matt Thomas, Merrill Holden, Darrell Bowie
Many of Iowa State's familiar faces from the past few years have finally graduated, and the Cyclones lost their top four scorers. Perhaps no team in the Big 12 lost more talent once the season ended.
Coach Steve Prohm will enter rebuilding mode with five-star point guard Lindell Wigginton, who was teammates with KU’s Billy Preston at Oak Hill Academy, and four-star forward Terrence Lewis out of Milwaukee. Graduate transfer Hans Brase, from Princeton, played against the Jayhawks in the World University Games for Germany (six points and six rebounds).
In: Levi Stockard III, Nigel Shadd, Mike McGuirl, Makol Mawien, Amaad Wainright, Mawdo Sallah
Out: Wesley Iwundu, D.J. Johnson, Carlbe Ervin II, Isaiah Maurice
Despite losing leading scorer Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State returns four of its top six scorers from last season. It didn’t help that Isaiah Maurice was dismissed from the team earlier this month, but the Wildcats have a foundation to keep progressing from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad.
Among the newcomers, there’s three transfers and three players from high school. Levi Stockard, a 6-foot-8 forward, led Vashon High to its second straight Class 4 Missouri state title. Amaad Wainright, younger brother of Baylor’s Ish Wainright, averaged 14 points at a junior college in Texas.
In: Trae Young, Brady Manek, Hannes Polla, Ty Lazenby
Out: Jordan Woodard, Darrion Strong-Moore
In a fierce recruiting battle, the Sooners beat out a few blue bloods, including Kansas, for hometown point guard Trae Young. He’s surrounded by a strong group of guards including Kameron McGusty, Rashard Odomes and Christian James.
Oklahoma will likely go as far as Young can take them after he averaged 44 points per game at nearby Norman North High. Jordan Woodard is the toughest loss (14.6 points per game), but the fact that the Sooners return so much of their team can only help them try to return to the NCAA Tournament.
In: Zack Dawson, Kendall Smith, Yankuba Sima (December)
Out: Phil Forte III, Leyton Hammonds, Jawun Evans
After building momentum last season, winning nine of their final 12 games in the conference and suffering a one-point loss to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, the Cowboys will be rebuilding after coach Brad Underwood departed for Illinois.
Oklahoma State lost three of its top four scorers, including second-round NBA draft pick Jawun Evans, and will learn to play under its new coach, Mike Boynton. Among the newcomers, the Cowboys picked up two transfers, Kendall Smith (CSUN) and Yankuba Sima (St. John’s), and four-star guard Zack Dawson.
In: Kevin Samuel, RJ Nembhard, Lat Mayen, Shawn Olden, Ahmed Hamdy
Out: Brandon Parrish, Michael Williams, Karviar Shepherd, Chris Washburn
Under first-year coach Jamie Dixon, the Horned Frogs made a strong push at the end of last season, including a Big 12 Tournament win over Kansas, and won the NIT. If that wasn’t already a good sign, TCU brings back its top six scorers from last year.
TCU will have to replace some depth with the loss of a few seniors, but there’s a solid group of newcomers that should compete for playing time. Ahmed Hamdy is a graduate transfer from VCU where he averaged five points per game.
In: Mo Bamba, Matt Coleman, Jericho Sims, Jase Febres, Royce Hamm Jr., Dylan Osetkowski
Out: Shaquille Cleare, Kendal Yancy, Jarrett Allen, Tevin Mack
One of the popular picks to surprise teams next winter after Shaka Smart secured a strong recruiting class, highlighted by Mo Bamba, a top-five player in the nation, and Matt Coleman, a true point guard that the team lacked last season. Bamba was in the news this week when his brother accused him of accepting cash and gifts, though Texas released a statement saying, "the NCAA has not informed us of any pending issues or eligibility concerns at this time."
The Longhorns lost some of their inside presence when Shaquille Cleare graduated and Jarrett Allen went to the NBA. But they received good news when Andrew Jones announced he would return for another season. He averaged 11.4 points last season, the school’s top returning scorer.
In: Malik Ondigo, Jarett Culver, Daniel Mading, Zhaire Smith, Tommy Hamilton IV, Brandone Francis, Davide Moretti, Josh Webster, Hyron Edwards
Out: Anthony Livingston, Aaron Ross, Devon Thomas, Matthew Temple
Texas Tech returns its only double-digit scorers from last season, Keenan Evans and Zach Smith, but coach Chris Beard will infuse a large group of newcomers to the rotation. That includes Depaul transfer Tommy Hamilton IV and Florida transfer Brandone Francis, who both sat out all of last season. Hamilton averaged 8.6 points and 5.5 boards in his junior year at Depaul.
The Red Raiders lost several close games in last year’s 18-14 campaign and should receive a boost from their mix of returners and newcomers. Newcomer Davide Moretti starred in Italy, playing for the u18 and u20 national teams.
In: Brandon Knapper, Derek Culver, Teddy Allen, D’Angelo Hunter, Wesley Harris
Out: Tarik Phillip, Nathan Adrian, Teyvon Myers, Brandon Watkins, Elijah Macon
It wasn’t unexpected, but West Virginia received good news in the offseason when Jevon Carter announced he was going to return for his senior season. He briefly tested the waters for the NBA Draft. That meant the Mountaineers return their top two scorers, including Esa Ahmad, and a perfect fit for their full-court pressure defense.
West Virginia lost three key contributors: Tarik Phillip, Nathan Adrian and Elijah Macon, but there’s confidence younger players and the newcomers can step up into key positions. However, the Mountaineers’ top incoming recruit, Derek Culver, hasn’t arrived on campus yet. Coach Bob Huggins said he’s awaiting a test score to determine his eligibility.
At the beginning of the second round of Thursday’s NBA Draft, Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac was fielding calls about potential trades for his team's next pick.
Divac gave the offers some thought, but Frank Mason III was still available and he was a player that the Kings coveted.
By the time the Kings went on the clock with the 34th overall selection, there was no hesitation that Mason was going to be their pick.
“I felt first of all, honestly, that he wasn’t going to be available,” Divac said. “But at 34, it was easy. No-brainer to pick him.”
Mason, the consensus national player of the year, was the first player in Big 12 history to average more than 20 points and five assists per game.
He worked out twice for the Kings, including a pre-draft visit last week (making it memorable when he met a young fan through social media). That workout only reinforced the beliefs from Sacramento executives that he was a great fit for their young, rebuilding team.
On a team that started the draft without a point guard, the Kings added Mason and Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox with the fifth overall pick.
“Especially the second time, he showed us what we saw in the first (workout),” Divac said. “We just felt confident that’s the guy. He can play right now. We felt very confident when we made a choice to pick him at 34.”
Second-round picks aren’t guaranteed to land on a team’s roster by the time the season begins at the end of October, but Divac’s “he can play right now” endorsement shows how much confidence the Kings have in Mason.
“If Frank wasn’t there, we were thinking about doing some stuff,” Divac said, referring to trade rumors.
After celebrating his selection at a draft party, Mason wrote on Twitter, “Thanks for believing in me @SacramentoKings, I promise you won't regret it.”
In his first day as a member of the Kings, Mason was greeted with cheers at the airport and attended a draft rally in the city alongside all of Sacramento’s draftees — Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles.
Even as a second-round pick, there’s many people who believe Mason will carve out a role in the NBA for a long time.
“Look, he may be small and he may have issues as far as finishing at the rim, but he’s got a good floater,” Jay Bilas said on ESPN’s draft broadcast. “There’s no way he fails in the NBA. He’s too tough. He’s proven that over the course of four years at Kansas.
“I’m a huge fan of Frank Mason. He’s small but his heart is gigantic; no way does he fail.”
During a press conference Thursday night, Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough admitted he would’ve slept much better in the past few weeks if his team landed a higher pick in the NBA Draft.
But McDonough was relieved Thursday when the draft played out how he expected, and he still landed the player that he really wanted with the No. 4 overall selection: Josh Jackson.
After watching Jackson in workouts leading up to the draft, McDonough believes the Suns landed a player who is a perfect fit for their young core of talent, which includes wings Devin Booker and TJ Warren.
“We thought Josh Jackson was the best player in the draft,” McDonough said. “People say, well you know, he’s the best two-way player, and the last I checked the game was played two ways, you don’t just play one.”
Throughout the past month, Jackson was linked as a potential pick for the top three teams in the draft: the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.
In the past week, trades signaled that the 76ers would take Markelle Fultz and the Lakers would take hometown point guard Lonzo Ball. Jackson never participated in a workout for the Celtics, setting the stage for the Suns to take him.
McDonough kept tabs on Jackson throughout his one-and-done season at Kansas, and was his impressed by his impact. He cited KU’s loss to TCU in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals when Jackson was suspended for the game.
“He’s a very competitive guy,” McDonough said. “He’s a very driven guy. He’s the kind of player who will raise the level in practice and drills. From what we’ve gathered, he’s not afraid to call people out who don’t compete that hard or aren’t that aggressive going after something.”
With the hope that Jackson can turn into an NBA All-Star, the Suns are confident that Jackson will be able to fix any flaws with his jump shot.
Even without perfect form, Jackson made 37.8 percent of his shots from behind the 3-point line. According to hoop-math.com, he shot 38.1 percent on jump shots inside of the arc.
“I think Josh is a guy who has shot the ball better in games than he would do in practice or drills or something like that,” McDonough said. “I think he’s a gamer. You guys have been around the game long enough, you know what that means. I think he has the ability to raise his game to the level of competition.”
When considering Jackson with the fourth overall pick, the Suns conducted plenty of research to his off-the-court incidents. McDonough said they always try to be “very thorough” with any pick, but estimated they talked to 20 to 30 sources about Jackson’s incident outside of a Lawrence bar where he was accused of causing damage to a car. He later signed a diversion agreement.
“The more we learned about Josh, the more comfortable we got,” McDonough said. “I talked to coach Self (Wednesday) night and he swears by Josh and he swears by his character. Thinks he’s a great kid and great competitor.”
Jackson is expected to suit up in a Suns uniform for the first time during the NBA's summer league in Las Vegas.
McDonough is confident that Jackson will make an immediate impact and he has all the potential to become one of the league's top players.
“If he can shoot the ball at a high level, even an above-average level, I think he has a chance to be a star,” McDonough said. “Other than that offensively, he moves the ball very well. I think he is one of the better passing wings that we’ve scouted and I’ve scouted in a long time.”
In town for a predraft visit with the Sacramento Kings this week, former Kansas point guard Frank Mason III made it a trip that a young fan will never forget.
Once news spread that Mason was going to attend a workout with the Kings ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft, Mason quickly heard from a nearby KU basketball fan.
“What?!? @FrankMason0 coming to Sacramento 4 another workout!!” wrote Jeremy Morioka on Twitter. “You work it. My little Jayhawk/Frank Mason fan would love a chance to meet ya.”
Sitting in his hotel, Mason was looking through Twitter and saw Morioka’s message.
With some extra time on his hands, Mason answered on Twitter, “I’m in Sacramento right now, I would love to meet him.”
Morioka responded that his 7-year-old son, Cooper, just put on his KU shirt and was ready to meet. Mason told them to visit the local Hyatt hotel and eventually they had an opportunity to take a photo together and chat for several minutes. Mason also signed a pair of posters.
“On game days we all gear up and everyone has got to wear their KU stuff, so (Cooper’s) used to it,” Morioka, who grew up in Lawrence, told KCRA 3 News. “Then he started to become a real fan, knowing who the players are and getting to go see a game.”
Mason posted a picture with Cooper on Twitter captioned, “My boy Cooper,” where the young fan was sporting a huge smile in his red T-shirt with a Jayhawk logo on it.
After the visit, Morioka wrote on Twitter, “Thanks @FrankMason0 Cooper was so nervous. He can't stop talking now and telling me where I have to nail the poster you signed.… @FrankMason0 was truly nice. Little man hasn't stopped smiling.”
Speaking to reporters after his workout with the Kings on the following day, Mason said he was happy to arrange the meeting because of his love for kids.
“I was just kind sitting around my hotel, going through my mentions, and I was really excited about having a few Jayhawk fans around here,” Mason said. “I love kids honestly, so I think it was pretty cool to just hang out with him for a few and him getting a chance to meet me. I think it was a pretty big deal and it’s something I’ll always be able to do.”
Mason estimated it was the “second or third” time he’s met with KU fans on the road, but it was the first time that it played out on social media.
His only wish was that he had more time to hang out with Cooper.
“It’s a great feeling. Honestly I could’ve done a lot more if I didn’t need to get my rest and get prepared for today,” Mason said. “Maybe would’ve took him out for lunch or went out and had a good time with him — more than actually sitting right there and talking. I think it’s a pretty big deal to interact with kids and show them that we’re there if we’re their role models. It’ll only get better in the future.”
Beyond putting smiles on kids’ faces, Mason had some of his own fun at the end of his workout with the Kings. Showcasing his athleticism and explosiveness, Mason put on a dunking exhibition featuring a pass off of the backboard to himself, a windmill and alley-oop reverse slams.
When Cooper was asked by a local TV station of his thoughts about Mason's play at Kansas, he summed them up in two words: “Pretty amazing.”
With less than a week until the NBA Draft, one team won’t be surprised if former Kansas standout Josh Jackson is selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Boston Celtics.
One NBA general manager, granted anonymity, told ESPN’s draft analyst Chad Ford that he believes Jackson will end up with Boston because he’s the type of player that Celtics team president Danny Ainge covets.
Markelle Fultz, a dynamic point guard, has been linked with the top pick since the Celtics had the lucky ping-pong ball at the NBA Draft Lottery.
"I've picked Danny's brain for years," the anonymous GM told Ford. "Jackson is an Ainge player all the way. Tough, athletic, long, versatile, elite motor. If he's keeping the pick, Jackson just to me, far and away, is the most Celtics-type player for them to draft. From all my conversations with them, I'm convinced they'll take Jackson No. 1."
Jackson canceled a workout with the Celtics earlier this week, but Ford speculates it’s a move that Jackson made because the Los Angeles Lakers or Philadelphia 76ers would give him a larger role.
Jackson recently completed his second workout with the Lakers, who own the No. 2 pick, and he’s visited once with the 76ers, who have the No. 3 pick.
“A number of agents have expressed concerns that the Celtics might not have enough playing time for their clients to develop properly, given the depth and experience of their roster,” Ford wrote, noting former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball canceled his workout with Boston.
One Celtics official told Ford that canceling the workout won’t have any impact on the team’s considerations with the pick.
Of course, within a week of the draft, there will be several smokescreens on how the Celtics will handle the No. 1 pick, especially after making the Eastern Conference Finals this year. That includes potentially trading the pick.
"We're in dialogue with Boston,” B.J. Armstrong, Jackson’s agent, told ESPN. “We're very respectful of them. They have the No. 1 pick and can select whoever they choose. We just need to see how things play out over the next week.”
One week from the NBA Draft, most scouts and front office personnel have their minds made up about draft entrants.
There’s still workouts underway, giving prospects a last-minute chance to solidify opinions or change minds, but NBA teams are beginning to set their draft boards.
College basketball analyst Seth Davis annually compiles the thoughts of five scouts into one profile for many of the top players in the draft — including Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III — allowing people to understand how prospects are widely seen across the league.
The 6-foot-8 Jackson, a likely top-three pick, drew comparisons to other high-scoring wings and versatile defenders.
His profile, via Seth Davis:
“He’s my favorite player in this draft. As gifted a scorer as he is, I think he has a lot of untapped potential in that area. The off-court stuff is definitely a concern. You’re talking about two incidents in one year. Is that going to be a lingering issue? You don’t have to run plays for him. I think one day he could be a Jimmy Butler type guy. He has shooting deficiencies, but they went in at Kansas. I don’t know how they went in, but they did. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. If he’s able to shoot, he’ll be a Grant Hill or an (Andre) Iguodala. If he doesn’t, he’ll be like Corey Brewer, which is still pretty good.”
Even without picture-perfect shooting mechanics, Jackson, a third-team All-American, averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds on 51 percent shooting in his lone season at Kansas. He led the Jayhawks with 59 steals and 37 blocks.
In comparison to some of the players mentioned by scouts, Butler averaged 15.7 points and 6.1 rebounds on 49 percent shooting in his junior season at Marquette. Iguodala, in his sophomore season at Arizona, had 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game on 45 percent shooting.
With a range from Hill, a seven-time NBA All-Star, to Brewer, who just completed his 10th year in the league, it's apparent that scouts believe Jackson is one of the safest picks in the draft.
Mason, the consensus national player of the year, was the first player in Big 12 history to average more than 20 points and five assists per game. He shot 47 percent from the 3-point line and averaged 4.2 rebounds.
“I’m not in love with him, but ooh, he is tough. He’s a killer. He’s a kid everybody’s rooting for but no one is willing to commit to. Worked hard to become a reliable shooter and can shoot off the bounce. I wonder whether he can be an NBA level distributor and see the floor the way he needs to at his size. I’m not sure he’s dynamic enough to be a point guard in the NBA. I don’t like his ability to finish around the rim. He doesn’t pass off the dribble, but in transition he’s good. If Fred VanVleet can make a roster, why can’t he?”
VanVleet, the former Wichita State standout, played in 37 games with the Toronto Raptors during his rookie season. Mason is projected as the 46th pick by Draft Express in its latest mock draft.
Both Jackson and Mason recently completed workouts with teams. Jackson met twice with the Los Angeles Lakers, who own the No. 2 pick, and canceled a visit with the Boston Celtics.
Mason worked out with the Sacramento Kings, his second time visiting with them.
The NBA Draft begins at 6 p.m. on June 22.
When Mario Chalmers suited up against Kansas men’s basketball players in Bill Self’s summer camp game Wednesday, it was the first time he played in a game in more than a year.
Chalmers sat out the entire 2016-17 NBA season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon in his right foot, but he nearly found himself playing in the NBA Finals.
A free agent following his injury, Chalmers tried to find an NBA team during the middle of the season, but he wasn't recovering the way that he wanted.
He completed a workout with the Cleveland Cavaliers — who trail 3-1 in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors — in February. The Cavs eventually signed guard Deron Williams on Feb. 27 after LeBron James asked the front office to add a veteran playmaker.
“During that workout, I felt like within myself I wasn’t really able to contribute like I wanted to,” said Chalmers, a two-time champion with the Miami Heat. “I wasn’t going to be same person that they expected me to be. I just decided to take the whole year off.”
During this week's free-flowing scrimmages, Chalmers scored 12 points against the Jayhawks on Wednesday at Horejsi Center. His son was one of the campers in attendance.
He followed with 22 points Thursday in the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic versus other KU alumni, showcasing his usual 3-point shooting touch and a few strong drives around defenders for layups. He even executed a few pick-and-roll assists with his former teammate Cole Aldrich.
“It means a lot to come back,” Chalmers said. “Just to come back to see all of the fans and be in front of them. For the first time, I actually got to play in front of them since Legends of the Phog game. It’s been good for me and also good for them. It’s the right step after coming back from the injury I just had.”
Chalmers wrote in a Player's Tribune story that "progress was excruciatingly slow" in his rehab, unable to do any basketball-related activities for five months.
Finally healthy, Chalmers said he will begin working out with teams following the NBA Draft on June 22, searching for the “right fit.” Prior to his injury, he averaged 10.8 points and 3.8 assists in 55 games with the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I’ve got kind of a name in the league, some credentials, so I’m just looking for right situation to be ready for me,” said Chalmers, who has played eight seasons in the NBA after winning a national title at KU in 2008.
Sitting out all of the season wasn’t what Chalmers envisioned when he was rehabbing from his injury last fall. But ultimately, he’s thrilled to finally return to full strength, even if that means he has to watch the NBA Finals from a distance.
“Being able to sit out a whole year, basically a whole year-and-a-half, it was tough but at the same time it was good for me to really sit back, get healthy and take care of all of my knick-knack injuries.”
Markese Jacobs still has another two years before he starts his career at Kansas, but that hasn’t stopped him from picking up attention across the country.
Jacobs, a Kansas commit in the Class of 2019, had one of the dunks of the spring when he slammed a windmill dunk on a fastbreak at the CP3 Memorial Day Classic in California.
The 5-foot-10 guard caught the ball on the right side of the lane, near the free-throw line. Then he took one dribble and exploded up for a ferocious right-handed jam.
Playing for Chicago’s Mac Irvin Fire, Jacobs has posted some his best AAU performances during the tournament, catching the eyes of evaluators — and the national player of the year.
After watching video of the highlight dunk, former Kansas guard Frank Mason III wrote on Twitter, “That young boy up to something, keep up that mindset and you will be unstoppable.”
The dunk was only a part of Jacobs’ big weekend during the showcase, scoring in flurries for the 16-and-under team. He reportedly had multiple games with at least 20 points.
“A true high flyer with strength at just 5-foot-10 (and that could be generous),” wrote Eric Bossi of Rivals.com, “Jacobs went wild in the second half scoring 21 points on a series of drives, jump shots and one very loud windmill dunk. We have seen Jacobs multiple times this spring and Friday was far and away his best performance.”
Evan Daniels, of Scout.com, added: “Got my first live look at Kansas commit Markese Jacobs. Big time athlete with absurd speed. Made a windmill look easy. Can shoot it too.”
Jacobs spent last season playing alongside his brother at Uplift High in Chicago’s vaunted Public League, but announced he will transfer to Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix for his upcoming junior year. It’s the same school that produced top recruit DeAndre Ayton.
In a recent interview with Andrew Slater of 247 Sports, Jacobs said his role is bringing energy to the court, and Kansas coaches want him to continue to make his teammates better.
“Show everyone that you're a lockdown defender,” Jacobs told Slater of the message from KU coaches. “Show everyone that you can score when you want to, but now get your teammates involved. Score when you need to.”
Jacobs became the first member of KU’s 2019 class when he made a non-binding oral commitment in October. He committed about 24 hours after visiting Allen Fieldhouse for Late Night in the Phog.
“I just loved the feeling walking around campus and the program,” Jacobs said. “It's always great. They always win. They've had guards like me. They produce pros.”
Jacobs, not afraid of big expectations, had one message for Kansas fans.
“They should be excited because they're gonna have another big-time guard like Frank Mason,” he said.