Five players who will prove they are better than the positions at which they were drafted:
Josh Jackson, Kansas (fourth): He had a hand in dropping by not working out with the Celtics and there was a reason for that. He’s a perfect fit, the defensive dynamo the Suns needed to change their culture.
Malik Monk, Kentucky (11th): A freakish athlete who does a great job of moving without the ball and is a natural scorer who can get really hot from the outside and score from everywhere and he lasts until the 11th pick? Absurd.
Jarrett Allen, Texas (22nd): Smart, good hands, great shooting touch, and has plenty of room for his body to expand.
Frank Mason, Kansas (34th): Don’t forget, Boston Celtics short superstar Isaiah Thomas was the last pick of the draft when he came out of Washington. Mason doesn’t play short.
Semi Ojeleye, SMU (37th): He has an NBA body already, a soft shooting touch with range and he’s super smart, so he’ll figure out how to make himself a player the coach wants to have on the floor and he’ll figure it out in a hurry. Great pick.
The big news about an impending $300 million renovation project for Memorial Stadium came with no details, but since it’s such a huge undertaking it’s easy to draw a few conclusions. First, naming rights are certain to go to the biggest donor or donors.
Second, the renovation will come in stages, not all at once. Since KU doesn’t have a viable option for a temporary home field in the event Memorial Stadium is shut down for a year, it won’t be shut down for a year and all the work will take place from the day after the final home game of each season until the days leading up to the season opener.
TCU and Kansas State underwent their stadium facelifts in phases and so will KU.
Best guess as to the portion of the stadium that will be addressed first is the West side, where the luxury suites and most desirable seats are because the sun isn’t in spectators’ eyes, then maybe the south side end, where the team enters and exits the field.
The stadium will be wired to the max so that fans can watch a play Iive and then watch the instant replay on their phones.
Sports franchises today count man caves as serious competitors for their stadiums, which must include bars, restaurants, family-friendly entertainment options that stretch beyond the field of play.
A sum of $300 million can buy plenty of bells and whistles. And if the money is spent wisely and the stadium sparkles, it also can buy Kansas coaches a seat at the table of big-time recruits more regularly than in the past.
Rehabilitated stadiums tend to become fashionable places to go, even more so if they develop catchy nicknames.
That of course will depend on the name of the new stadium. The identity of the major donor remains a secret, but just for the sake of using an example, let’s suppose it’s David Booth. It wouldn’t take long before the stadium would become known as “The Booth,” as in, “See you at The Booth on Saturday.”
The planned stadium renovations will go down as athletic director’s Sheahon Zenger’s legacy, a big step in his recovery from the program-damaging hire of football coach Charlie Weis.
Zenger initially had announced that a special fundraiser would be in charge of the football-stadium project but never made that hire and let Matt Baty, head of the Williams Fund, and his staff, including closer extraordinaire John Hadl, meet with the donors, explain the goals and ask for the order. They obviously did a terrific job, leading to Wednesday night’s announcement in Kansas City.
The message rings loudly: You don’t spend $300 million on a football-stadium renovation if you don’t care about football.
Now that the Sixers moved into the No. 1 slot of the NBA draft and the Lakers reportedly traded their point guard, D’Angelo Russell, clearing the way to select a point guard (Lonzo Ball or De’Aaron Fox) with the No. 2 pick, all the intrigue shifts to the Celtics and what they will do with the No. 3 pick.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens are of like mind in that they put a premium on intense, defensive-minded competitors. Nobody in the draft fits that type better than Josh Jackson.
Ainge fueled the Jackson-to-the-Celtics speculation by saying, “There is a good chance the player we take at No. 3 will be the exact player we would have taken at No. 1.”
But Jackson apparently doesn’t want to become a Celtic and reportedly has refused to work out for the organization without an assurance that he will be chosen by them and not traded. But why would the Celtics, or any team for that matter, make any such assurance to any player?
Duke’s Jayson Tatum has worked out for the Celtics, which leads some to believe that since he wants to go there and Jackson apparently does not, the Celtics might just take Tatum. Not buying that. Jackson’s a great defender and Tatum’s lateral quickness could prevent him from ever developing into an even average defender.
Should the Celtics decide to deal the pick, no shortage of franchises interested in Jackson would make offers. The Kings hold the fifth and 10th selections.
The Knicks and Bulls reportedly are high on Jackson.
The Knicks reportedly would entertain trade offers for Kristaps Porzingas, the Bulls for Jimmy Butler.
The most intriguing team in the draft at this point is the Celtics, the most intriguing player Jackson. It would come as a bit of a surprise if the Celtics don't select Jackson, whether to keep him or trade him.
Kansas has had trouble blocking, passing and running in recent seasons. Consequently, the Jayhawks tend to have fewer drives into field-goal range than the the rest of the teams in the Big 12.
Still, more than that has led to the Jayhawks consistently ranking last in the Big 12 in field goals.
Too often, KU hasn’t even made the field goal part of its offense because the kickers have been too inconsistent to trust.
In the past seven seasons, a Big 12 team has not reached double figures in field goals just seven times. Four of those belong to Kansas and no other Big 12 squad has done it more than once. Baylor (eight field goals in 2016), Kansas State (eight in 2010) and Iowa State (eight in 2010) had off seasons. KU has had an off decade.
Average field goals for the past seven seasons from Big 12 schools: Oklahoma State (20.9), TCU and West Virginia (19.0), Oklahoma (18.9), Kansas State and Texas (16.4), Texas Tech (14.9), Baylor (13.7), Iowa State (12.3), Kansas (9.0).
Enter Liam Jones, the incoming freshman from Choctaw, Okla., charged with kicking to the curb the program's reputation for lousy kicking. A two-star prospect, per Rivals, Jones earned honorable mention all-state distinction.
A left-footed kicker, can win the job by doing little more than not losing it. He'll replace Matthew Wyman, who had his best season as a senior, making 13 of 19 field-goal attempts and all 26 extra points. Wyman made 5 of 5 field goals from 20-to-29 yards, 5 of 7 from 30 to 39, 2 of 4 from 40 to 49 and 1 of 3 from 50 to 59.
The 13 field goals Wyman kicked last season were the most by a Kansas kicker since 2009 when Jacob Branstetter also made 13 of 19 field goals.
My only question regarding Josh Jackson’s since-deleted, late-night tweet seemingly aimed at projected No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz is why delete the tweet?
It read: “lol anybody with the smallest bit of talent can look good and lose it’s not that hard”.
It serves as a reminder that Jackson knows the best trait a basketball player can bring to a basketball game is a winning trait. He brings it to every possession and that’s why he, as a whole, is a greater prospect than the impressive sum of his parts.
Still, most mock drafts have Jackson going either to the Celtics with the third pick — assuming the trade that gives the 76ers the first pick is finalized — or to the Suns with the fourth pick.
My guess: Jackson will become a Laker, the decision made by fellow native of Michigan, all-time great point guard Magic Johnson, another basketball player who forever put winning first. Magic tried to get Jackson to go to Michigan State out of high school and no doubt sees a little of himself in the versatile 6-foot-8 prospect when Jackson shows great court vision in finding a teammate and zipping a pass through a small window, a little bit of James Worthy when Jackson slams a one-handed dunk in transition, a little bit of Michael Cooper when Jackson locks down his man.
UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, another terrific prospect, has been a mainstay at the No. 2 spot in mock drafts for a long, long time. Jackson’s the superior defender and is even more versatile than Ball. Selecting Jackson would give the Lakers an extremely young perimeter trio that could grow together and flourish once a strong frontcourt is assembled.
Point guard D’Angelo Russell, a two-year veteran out of Ohio State, is 21. Jackson is 20. Wing Brandon Ingram, entering his second season with the Lakers, is 19.
He moved from Kansas City to Tucson, Ariz., when he was 5, but he grew up in a household loyal to Kansas basketball, so wearing the jersey means a lot to sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot.
Given the makeup of the coming season’s roster, his presence means a lot to Kansas basketball, so the feeling’s mutual.
In introducing Lightfoot to campers before Wednesday’s scrimmage, KU coach Bill Self said Lightfoot would play a “huge, huge role” for the Jayhawks this coming season.
Lightfoot heard Self say that and processed the words at a couple of levels.
“So the Kansas side of me, the little kid growing up in Kansas, that kind of gives you butterflies and stuff like that. You feel excited,” Lightfoot said. “But the Kansas basketball player side of me knows that’s what I have to do and that’s what I came here to do and it’s just another step in the process of getting better and becoming a bigger part of this team and helping us win some games.”
In order to do that, Lightfoot knows his game and body must expand from last season. He’s doing that by “working in the weight room, working on the court, working on my jump shot, stuff like that.”
Lightfoot has been spending quality time in the weight room run by strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy.
“Right now I’m 216, 217 (pounds),” Lightfoot said. “By the time the season rolls around I’d like to be in the 223, 224 area, get up around there. Anywhere in the 225 area I’d be happy with. Last year I played at 210, 209. That’s not a Big 12 big man four-man, so eating and lifting with coach Hudy has been big for me.”
Lightfoot feels himself getting stronger, more flexible all the time.
“Last year coming in you get hit and it takes you a couple of seconds to recalibrate and go up again, but now with all the lifting we’re doing, the mobility stuff, we get hit, hit the ground, you go back up,” he said. “So the big thing for me is getting bigger, getting stronger, more body control, stuff like that.”
Strength can be a factor in expanding a player's shooting range, as can putting up more 3-pointers in practice.
“In talking to coach after the season I’m going to have to be able to stretch the floor. As a stretch four that will be part of my game," Lightfoot said. "I also have to be able to guard big guys, like I was guarding Udoka (Azubuike). I’ve got to be able to do both.”
Playing basketball for Kansas means a lot to Lightfoot, who isn't going to cheat himself of playing time by slacking off in any area.
It’s cooler than Cindy Crawford’s Pepsi commercial, better than Mean Joe Greene’s Coca Cola commercial, more memorable than Larry Bird and Michael Jordan shooting h-o-r-s-e, tougher to shake than the Alka Seltzer plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is jingle.
It’ll cure your Excedrin Headache No. 39, saving you the trouble of swallowing pills.
If not for that fried-egg spot — “This is your brain . . . this is your brain on drugs” — it would rank as the greatest commercial ever filmed.
It’s a Foot Locker “Father’s Day” advertisement and it’s so much more than that. It’s a brilliant marketing scheme that is bound to get UCLA one-and-done sensation Lonzo Ball the fair shake he deserves in next week’s compelling NBA draft. It gives him the separation from his father he so needs and just in the nick of time.
Lavar Ball has attempted to turn his oldest son into a piece of merchandise to be manipulated however he sees fit.
The sane son fights back in a brilliant Father’s Day commercial featuring four one-and-done players expected to go among the first seven picks in next Thursday’s draft. Jonathan Isaac (Florida State), De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky), Jayson Tatum (Duke) and Ball appear in it. Kansas’ Josh Jackson, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and Kentucky’s Malik Monk, also projected to go early in the draft, are not in the commercial.
Isaac, Fox and Tatum share quick thoughts on memories of their fathers.
“All those games of one-on-one in the driveway where he’d let me win,” Fox says with a smile.
An appreciative Tatum says, “Just never missing a game.”
And then Lonzo Ball bleeds painful memories: “Of course there’s that big day when your dad berates your high school coach in front of an entire crowd for not getting you enough touches.”
Said Isaac: “Waking up early to drive to far-away tournaments.”
Then Ball: “Or that special moment when your dad sits you down and tells you where you’re going to college, copyrights your name to make it part of a family lifestyle brand, went on First Take and shouted back and forth with Stephen A. Smith about how you’re already better than the reigning league MVP. All those interviews from the stands during college games. The public spats with the all-time greats. Sound byte after sound byte to the national media. And then tells 29 out of 30 teams to not bother drafting you.”
Nice chin music. I hope every overbearing sports dad sees that commercial and sees himself in it. Better chance of winning the lottery on back-to-back weeks.
Foot Locker released a statement quoting Lonzo as saying, “My dad and I both love the humor of the spot, and I’m glad I got to have a little fun around the topic before going to the league.”
I thought I read a little pain in Lonzo’s expression, but maybe that was just the power of suggestion. Either way, Lonzo speaks far more loudly and my guess would be more from the heart in the commercial than in the corporate statement.
It was impressive of a 19-year-old to lay it all out there for the world to see and hear, no matter whose idea it was. No denial. No walking on eggshells around the issue of the dad. If Lonzo’s agent thought this up, give the man a standing ovation. Nothing could do a more effective job of shrinking concerns that drafting the son means drafting the father too.
Oddsmakers and mock draft makers are in lockstep on which one-and-done talent will go first in the NBA draft.
Sportsbettingdime.com set odds to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft as: Markelle Fultz (Washington): 1/5, Lonzo Ball (UCLA): 7/1 and the field 19/1.
Shocking that a wager on the field would pay 19/1. That means that if KU’s Josh Jackson, Duke’s Jayson Tatum or either of Kentucky’s vastly different but equally intriguing guards De’Aaron Fox or Malik Monk were to go No. 1 it would pay 19/1.
I’d be tempted to take what’s defined as the field here against Fultz straight-up.
The website also released an over/under draft position for the six one-and-done prospects: Fultz: 1.5, Ball 2, Jackson 3.5, Tatum 4, Fox 4.5, Monk 5.5. Jackson, Fox and Monk are the smartest plays there, although Fultz at 1.5 isn’t bad since most believe he’ll be the first selection. The funniest proposition the board is the over/under for the number of Big Baller Brand Z02s sold before the start of the NBA draft: 950.5.
Those are the basketball shoes being marketed by Lavar Ball, father of Lonzo Ball.
If that seems high for a shoe that ranges from $495 to $695 for the Z02: PRIME and anywhere from $995 to $1,195 for Z02: WET - ‘THE AUTOGRAPH,’ keep in mind that they could become collector’s items for the filthy rich who might view them as investments that will appreciate because fewer than 1,000 pairs of shoes will be in circulation.
Sometimes the super rich like to scream, “I’m rich,” without using those words. What better way than to show friends a pair of the most expensive sneakers in history, better yet shoes talked about on SportsCenter.
It has been another offseason of roster upheaval for the Kansas women’s basketball program headed by Brandon Schneider.
One year after two-year starter Lauren Aldridge’s surprising decision to transfer to Missouri, three sophomores who combined for 30 starts this past season have left the program.
The departure of McKenzie Calvert, whose sharp decline in production during Big 12 play and team-second attitude led to a permanent spot on the bench by the end of the season, did not come as a surprise. She started 12 games and scored 30 points in a non-conference game vs. UC Riverside before heading into a shooting slump she couldn’t shake.
Jayde Christopher started 16 games, averaged 19.4 minutes and three points and had a team-high 82 assists.
Aisia Robertson started two games, averaged 15.2 minutes, 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds.
All three players who left the program had rough shooting seasons: Robertson (.287 shooting percentage), Calvert (.294), Christopher (.307).
As a team, the Jayhawks shot .338 from the field. TCU was ninth in the conference with a .410 accuracy rate.
At this point, coach Brandon Schneider enters his third season with five returning players, four transfers from junior college and three freshmen.
Three of the returning players started last season for the Jayhawks (8-22 overall, 2-16 in conference). Jessica Washington (17.1 points, 4.1 rebounds) and Chayla Cheadle (4.7, 4.7) are rising seniors, Kaylee Kopatich (9.5, 4.4) a junior. Junior Chelsea Lott played sparingly in her first two seasons. Tyler Johnson spent last season as a redshirt while recovering from a knee injury. During a promising freshman season, Johnson averaged 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds and shot 50 percent from the field. She started seven games, including the final four of the season.
To a large extent, it appears, Schneider is starting over. He has one terrific player in Washington, but she might be forced to look to score too often again this season if more scorers don’t develop around her than was the case last season.
The challenge in taking on a rebuilding project like the one for which Schneider signed up is that moving up the standings in the powerful Big 12 requires climbing past another school.
That’s tough to do without changing perceptions about the program embedded in recruits’ heads. So far, it doesn’t look as if Schneider has been able to do so.
None of the incoming freshmen made the HoopGurlz top 100 recruiting rankings.
Eleven top 100 high school players signed with Big 12 schools. The Jayhawks were not the only school skunked. Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech did not land any top 100 players either. The four schools that didn’t add a top 100 recruit finished seventh through 10th in the Big 12 standings.
Texas (3, 4, 33) and Baylor (19, 20, 64) landed three top 100 recruits apiece, Kansas State picked up two (59, 97) and Oklahoma (32), Iowa State (42) and West Virginia each added one.
Unless a few of the seven newcomers catch on quickly and have productive seasons, Kansas likely is headed for a third consecutive last-place finish in the Big 12.
The two-season conference records of Big 12 women’s basketball teams since Schneider took over for fired Bonnie Henrickson:
Verbal commitments from five high school prospects from Louisiana, including a five-star and a four-star, form the heart of a Kansas football recruiting Class of 2018 that has soared to No. 12 nationally in the Rivals.com recruiting rankings.
The Louisiana recruits understandably have generated so much excitement that another commitment that in typical KU recruiting seasons would have been cause for celebration has slipped under the radar.
In the wake of the flurry of Louisiana commitments, KU received a verbal pledge from a three-star Texas quarterback who has thrived against tough competition.
Clayton Tune of Hebron High in Carrollton, Texas, is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound dual-threat quarterback who had been offered a scholarship from Houston. He suffered a knee injury at the end of last season.
Nick Krueger, Texas recruiting analyst for Rivals, liked what he saw from Tune and narrates his highlight video.
Krueger called him “a flat-out effective runner,” and praised his passing ability: “I really like his delivery, how he’s able to fit hard throws into tight windows, and obviously his ability to extend plays.”
Even if his knee injury prevents Tune from playing a full season or at full strength as a senior, Kansas can be patient with his development because the QB position appears to be stabilizing. Peyton Bender has two years of remaining eligibility, Carter Stanley three and Tyriek Starks four.
In addition to Tune, the lone quarterback, KU has received pledges from three defensive tackles, three defensive ends, two defensive backs, two wide receivers, a running back and an offensive lineman.
It’s not unusual for elite football programs to raid recruiting classes of lesser established programs late in the process.
Even so, it has to help KU’s chances that the class’ five-star and four-star recruits both come from the same high school where safety Mike Lee had a great experience as a true freshman in 2016.
Wide receiver Devonta Jason, a five-star, and DB Corione Harris, a four-star, and Lee all are from Landry-Walker High in New Orleans.
It will be difficult for Kansas to maintain its No. 12 national recruiting ranking for the Class of 218, but a top 25 finish is a reasonable expectation.
Here’s how the top 25 shaped up as of this morning:
1 - Miami
2 - Ohio State
3 - LSU
4 - Penn State
5 - Texas
6 - Florida State
7 - Notre Dame
8 - Tennessee
9 - Baylor
10 - Nebraska
11 - Oklahoma State
12 - Kansas
13 - Michigan
14 - Clemson
15 - Texas A&M
16 - Oregon
17 - Minnesota
18 - Northwestern
19 - Washington
20 - Virginia Tech
21 - USC
22 - Oklahoma
23 - Wisconsin
24 - Kentucky
25 - Duke