The best way to maintain a large pool of interested candidates for a Division I athletic director's job is to keep the names secret. Kansas has done a terrific job of that.
If leaks sprouted, too many candidates would incur the wrath of the trees they shake for money, all the while telling the trees they love their dream jobs.
So that takes care of that question. Other FAQ:
1 - What is your over/under on the naming of KU’s next AD? July 2.
The same people who either don’t know anything about the identities of the leading candidates or say they don’t know so as not to put themselves at risk of getting fired aren’t as tight-lipped about the timetable.
Before the days of the 24/7 news cycle, bad news was saved for Friday afternoons, a tradition that still seems to be in place. Since this presumably will be good news, why not on a Monday?
That week is the same week several point toward, so if it’s not Monday, then later that week. 2 - What’s your over/under on the new AD’s first day on the job?
July 30, a Monday.
3 - Might the new athletic director hire her or his own football coach right off the bat? No. Such things don’t happen in July. The new AD will get the lay of the land first. David Beaty will coach Kansas against Nicholls State, Central Michigan and Rutgers, a fairly easy nonconference schedule, compared to some seasons.
4 - Are there any out-of-work athletic directors who might be interested?
Louisville’s Tom Zurich.
4a - But wasn’t he fired because of the scandals at Louisville?
Yes, but he received a reported $7.2 million (plus tickets to football and basketball games and medical insurance) settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit. That goes a long way toward putting him back as a candidate for a big job.
Face it, if the feds don’t share the information from their investigation into college basketball with the NCAA and the NCAA doesn’t launch one of its own, it’s the wild, wild West. Plus, the guy has a good track record for hiring football coaches.
5 - Any clue on Sheahon Zenger’s immediate plans?
My guess is that for the next year, his son Jake’s senior year, he will enjoy being a dad, and if he does anything in the way of work, it will be as an assistant football coach at his son’s high school. In the spring, he’ll watch from the stands as Jake closes games for for perennial baseball powerhouse Free State High.
After that, he’ll resume his career, but that's just a guess. A year off won't hurt his ability to land a job.
Following the advice of his agent, Billy Preston scratched at the last minute from the five-on-five portion of the NBA combine.
Considering he never played in a game for Kansas and was hurt after a few games in Bosnia, Preston stood to gain as much as anybody by scrimmaging. Yet, he was told to scratch.
It makes so little sense that it makes me wonder if Preston’s agent wants him to get drafted.
Maybe he figures Preston can get a better deal as a free agent than as a second-round pick with a non-guaranteed contract. That way he can try to figure out which team has the most need for a player of his size and skill set.
Otherwise, scratching just doesn’t make any sense.
Looking at the top 11 listed in the Rivals Class of 2017 recruiting rankings, three players have faded the most: Preston was ranked No. 11 and is projected to go No. 59 by The Athletic.
Mitchell Robinson, who had committed to Western Kentucky but decided to bypass college and spend the year preparing for the draft, was ranked No. 9 and is projected No. 39. Duke point guard Trevon Duval was ranked No. 5 and is projected to go 50th.
The cases of Robinson and Preston show that NBA General Managers give credit to players who show they can handle school, hard coaching and blending in with teammates. General managers didn’t get to see that with Preston and Robinson so it makes picking them a little riskier.
But all it takes is one GM willing to go off what he saw in high school.
A look at the top 11 Class of 2017 prospects ranked by Rivals:
|Michael Porter Jr.||Missouri||1||8|
|Marvin Bagley III||Duke||2||2|
|Jaren Jackson Jr.||Michigan State||6||4|
Kansas keeps its football roster a secret, doesn't update the various comings and goings to keep its fan base in the know, so it helps to check out social media for clues.
Good news: Ellsowrth Community College cornerback Elijah Jones retweeted on Tuesday a photo of himself wearing a No. 17 Kansas football jersey on Twitter, which most interpreted as meaning he has cleared all the academic hurdles he needed to clear to join the Kansas secondary.
Flipped nothing something🤫 pic.twitter.com/0Jdntd4uao— EJ1k (@elijahjones0015) June 19, 2018
This is a pretty big deal because I'm told that if he had not had academic ground to make up, Big Ten and SEC schools would have recruited him aggressively.
As it was, Jones made a verbal commitment to UCF, but then backed out after head coach Scott Frost left for Nebraska, his alma mater.
Jones had a pair of two-interception games in his sophomore season at Ellsworth and is a native of Fort Myers, Fla. He'll compete for a starting job with 2017 cornerback starters Hasan Defense and Shakial Taylor, also Floridians. Defense is from Jacksonville, Taylor from Lakeland.
Kansas has done well recruiting former Florida high school players in recent years, some out of junior colleges. Defensive tackle J.J. Holmes, from Chipley, came to KU from Hutchinson Community College. Quarterback Peyton Bender, who played at Washington State and Itawamba CC before coming to KU, played his high school football in Fort Lauderdale. Fellow QB Carter Stanley, a high school recruit and a redshirt junior, is from Vero Beach. Running back Khalil Herbert, another high school recruit and a junior, is from Coral Springs. Incoming freshman Kenny Bastida is from Pompano Beach.
That gives Kansas more players from Florida who arrived here on scholarship than from Kansas.
One of the scariest aspects of sports betting on its way to becoming legal involves "sure things," wagers you absolutely, positively, in no way, shape or form could lose.
For example, if Sprint Center would have had a sports book on March 16, 2008 and offered odds on Mario Chalmers becoming a first-round draft choice, I would emptied my pockets and all the change in my car's cup-holders and put it all on Chalmers.
That was the day Chalmers led Kansas to the Big 12 title by torching Texas for 30 points. He made 8 of 12 3-pointers and dished six assists. Everything about him screamed first-round draft choice. Nothing that happened in the clutch the rest of the season hurt his stock.
Yet, Chalmers spilled into the second round and was chosen with the 34th overall pick. Clearly, there is no accounting for the taste of NBA general managers.
Chalmers was the first of eight Kansas players chosen in the second round during Bill Self's tenure at Kansas. There have been 14 first-round picks.
Getting selected in the first round is a big deal because it guarantees two years of salary. For example, the last pick of the first round this season will be guaranteed about $2.1 million for his first two seasons.
Second-round selections aren't guarantee a nickel, so it's easy for teams to cut them.
Even so, all eight Self second-rounders played in the NBA, none getting much playing time, other than Chalmers and rookie Frank Mason.
Chalmers, an unrestricted free agent after averaging 7.7 points for the Memphis Grizzlies in 66 games, including 10 starts. He has earned $24.7 million in eight NBA seasons and was a starter for two NBA championships won by the Miami Heat.
None of KU's four draft prospects are projected in various mock drafts to be selected in the first round. Devonte' Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman and Billy Preston are all candidates to be taken in the second round.
A look at second-round draft choices during Self's tenure at Kansas:
|KU Player||Year drafted||Pick No.||NBA points||Rookie points|
I conducted an unscientific poll on Twitter, asking: “You’re an NBA GM with balanced roster, no glaring need. Which #KUbball player do you draft first?”
1 - Devonte’ Graham (31 percent)
2 - Svi Mykhailiuk (30 percent)
3 - Malik Newman (22 percent)
4 - Billy Preston (17 percent)
Not surprised that it was such a close call. A case could be made for all four.
A look at some measurements from the NBA draft combine:
|KU draft prospect||
|Devonte' Graham||6-1.5||186.4||6-6.25||8-0||Feb. 22, 1995|
|Malik Newman||6-3.25||189.2||6-5.5||8-2.5||Feb. 21, 1997|
||June 10, 1997|
|Billy Preston||6-10.5||222.4||7-2||9-0||Oct. 26, 1997|
The pros and cons of each KU prospect:
Graham pros: His personality perfectly suits the position he'll play in the NBA. You want your point guard to be an energetic, unselfish extrovert who enjoys interacting with people and playing the game. He already has NBA 3-point range, as Miami Heat executive Pat Riley witnessed from a court-side seat in the game against Syracuse in Miami. His long arms will help defensively. Graham projects as a reserve and the last thing any organization wants from a bench player is a malcontent who is a high risk to embarrass the organization by getting into off-court trouble. Nothing to worry about with Graham in those areas. He quickly will become a favorite of the community-outreach staff of whatever organization drafts him.
Graham cons: He wasn't a great finisher at the hoop in college and it's way more difficult in the NBA than in college for small players to score at the rim. Some cite his age (he turned 23 in February) as a negative because it means he's closer to his ceiling than younger prospects. That's not as important for guards as big men. Guards arrive in college closer to their ceilings. Plus there isn't a whole lot he needs to get better at. He's as good as his size and athletic ability will allow him to be and just needs to add NBA experience. His slight frame and how it will hold up against the pounding NBA players take is an issue.
Newman pros: He has a scorer's mentality, which suits the role that gives him the best shot at establishing himself as an NBA player, which is as a scorer off the bench. His deep range and explosive burst on drives to the hoop give him multiple ways to score. Also, he's a good defensive rebounder for a player his size.
Newman cons: He does not in any way think like a point guard and does not have the ballhandling and passing skills to play the position, so he'll have to make it as a shooting guard. His size shouldn't keep him from playing that position offensively, but becomes problematic at the other end of the floor.
Svi pros: His shooting touch is so soft he has the potential to develop into an instant-offense option off the bench. His already deep range will expand once he becomes stronger and puts in the practice hours. He also sees the floor well and is a skilled passer. The fact that he just turned 21 eight days ago is another plus because he'll add strength naturally as his body matures.
Svi cons: He plays shorter than his height, which limits him as a rebounder and defender. His short arms are partly responsible for that, but he also thinks like a perimeter player, which is a good thing given his skills until it's a bad thing in that it limits his versatility. Chances are slim that he'll ever develop into a starter because teams will target him defensively.
Preston pros: For a player his size, he shoots and handles the ball extremely well. He also has some explosiveness and should develop into a solid rebounder and reliable finisher on the break. Based on his physical qualities and basketball skills alone, he definitely has the highest ceiling of the four players. No KU player is projected to go in the first round, but if there is a draft-day surprise and one of them does, Preston would be the most likely, even though he also may be the most likely not to be drafted at all. An established team picking late in the first round and not having any glaring needs might want to take a chance on him. He's a loud talent.
Preston cons: Scouts didn't have a chance to see how he would respond to hard coaching because he never played in a real game for Kansas. Fair or unfair, his motor, maturity and unselfishness reportedly became question marks during the McDonald's All-American practices.
Twitter does not allow the creator of a poll to vote, so I couldn't cast one. Had I had the ability to do so, I would have voted for Graham, but not until after giving a lot of serious consideration to Preston.
The Athletic, ESPN.com, The Ringer and SI.com all do a nice job with their mock drafts. The four sites agree on two things regarding how KU players will fare in next Thursday night’s draft.
First, they predict that the first round will pass without any Jayhawks hearing their names called.
Second, they all have Malik Newman being drafted. Not even Devonte’ Graham appears on one site's projection. Svi Myhailiuk also did not make the cut in one mock draft and and Billy Preston appears on 2 of 4.
Interestingly, two sites have Newman going to the Lakers.
One guess has Graham going to the Wizards, where he could join Jayhawks Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. and would compete to become John Wall’s backup.
A look at where four websites have KU’s four prospects going in the upcoming draft:
|Player||The Ringer||SI.com||ESPN.com||The Athletic|
|Malik Newman||47 Lakers||53 Thunder||47 Lakers||49 Spurs|
|Devonte' Graham||44 Wizards||Free agent||40 Nets||60 76ers|
|Svi Mykhailiuk||Free agent||59 Suns||57 Thunder||45 Nets|
|Billy Preston||Free agent||60 76ers||Free agent||59 Suns|
The once-in-a-lifetime Air Raid show put on by Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans that Kansas head coach David Beaty witnessed as receivers coach for Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M didn't in any way resemble the three years of offensive duds Beaty's teams have plodded through at Kansas.
A porous offensive line and constantly revolving quarterback door tend to share all the blame for the lousy showings. Wide receivers largely have escaped blame and that's probably not fair.
Aside from Steven Sims, KU hasn't developed a productive receiver during the Beaty years, at least not yet. Juniors Evan Fairs and Daylon Charlot have exciting potential, so that could change. So far, though, KU receivers have been worse than so-so.
Beaty used just one scholarship in the most recent recruiting class on a wide receiver and it went to juco Stephon Robinson. He's the 15th wide receiver to take a scholarship from Beaty. Eight went to high school players, four to four-year transfers (Charlot, La Quvionte Gonzalez, Quincy Perdue and Joshua Stanford) and two to jucos (Kerr Johnson and Robinson).
Five of the 15 receivers left the program with eligibility remaining: Gonzalez, Chase Harrell, Travis Jordan, Perdue and Stanford.
Robinson and redshirt freshman Takulve Williams are scheduled to make their KU debuts in the fall and Kenyon Tabor of Derby, perhaps the most talented receiver Beaty has recruited to KU, missed all last season with an injury and was not cleared to participate in spring football.
KU will need better performance from its receivers than it received a year ago.
Sure, better blocking would give quarterbacks more time to find open receivers, but the pass-catchers could help matters by getting open more quickly. Given Beaty's background coaching receivers and the emphasis he puts on the position during recruiting, this figured to be an area of strength, but it hasn't turned out that way. Even when receivers broke open in 2017, they dropped far too many balls.
Of the 15 receivers given scholarships, only two have had a 300-yard receiving season. Steven Sims has had three of them, Fairs one.
A look at 300-yard receiving seasons during Beaty's tenure as head coach:
|Blue: Beaty recruit
||Red: Weis recruit||Yellow: Beaty recruit
The U.S. Open doesn't randomly group golfers into threesomes when making tee times. Think themes.
For example, the English threesome of Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett and Ian Poulter tees off No. 1 at Shinnecock Hills at 6:51 (Central time). Spaniards Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrero Bello tee off No. 1 at 12:14 p.m.
Money leader Justin Thomas, Official World Golf Rankings leader Dustin Johnson and TV ratings leader Tiger Woods tee off No. 1 at 12:47 p.m.
So it's never too tough to guess Gary Woodland's playing partners with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Think long ball.
Woodland, who ranks fifth on the PGA tour in driving distance (313.3), ranks third in his threesome in that statistic. Tony Finau (315.3) is second on tour, Luke List (314.6) fourth. They tee off at 12:03 p.m. from the first tee. FS1 and Fox will televise the U.S. Open.
Woodland, who on Super Bowl Sunday won the Phoenix Open for his third tour title, is coming off a slump-busting, tied-for-23rd finish in the Memorial two weeks ago. Knocked out of contention by a blow-up round on Saturday, Woodland shot 69-68-75-67 for the tournament.
The strong showing enabled Woodland to break a streak of five consecutive missed cuts.
This will be Woodland's eight U.S. Open. He missed the cut three times and his best finish, tied for 23rd, came at Congressional in 2011.
A look at how Woodland, 34, stacks up statistically against the leaders in various categories heading into the U.S. Open:
|Category||Gary Woodland rank||PGA tour leader
|Official World Golf Ranking||55||Dustin Johnson|
|2018 PGA Tour money list
||32 ($2,011,702)||Justin Thomas ($5,764,100)|
|Vegasinsider.com odds to win||175/1||Dustin Johnson 7/1|
|Driving distance||5 (313.3)||Trey Mullinax (318.4)|
|Driving accuracy||T69 (63.57)
||Henrik Stenson (77.9)|
|Greens in regulation||5 (71.35)||Henrik Stenson (75.0)|
|Scrambling||196 (52.47)||Louis Oosthuizen (67.98)|
|Sand-save pct.||192 (39.84)||Phil Mickelson (64.21)|
|Strokes gained putting||70||Jason Day|
|Source for stats: PGAtour.com|
Most of the improvements made to the Kansas football roster after a recruiting season devoted to bringing on prospects from junior colleges happened on defense, which happens to match up well with the most significant Big 12 departures, which came at quarterback.
Oklahoma State has to replace Mason Rudolph, who started his last 42 games at Oklahoma State and posted outrageously good numbers, also leading in a way that made everyone on the offense better.
Taylor Cornelius, a redshirt senior from Bushland, Texas who has attempted 24 passes during his Oklahoma State career, reportedly had the most impressive spring. A former walk-on, Cornelius is expected to be pushed by Hawaii graduate transfer Dru Brown, who was not yet with the team in the spring.
TCU will turn to strong-armed scrambler Shawn Robinson, a sophomore, to replace Hill. Robinson has a high ceiling, but lacks experience.
Texas Tech has to repace Nic Shimonek, who threw for 3,963 yards and 33 touchdowns with 10 interceptions last season. Neither junior McLane Carter nor redshirt sophomore Jett Duffey came out of spring football having won the job.
The good news for Kansas: They no longer have to defend Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. The bad news: Mayfield's replacement, Kyler Murray, has Heisman potential too and was the fastest player KU faced in either football or baseball. The Oakland A's selected Murray with the ninth pick of the first round of the baseball draft and he plans to play quarterback for the Sooners.
In last season's 41-3 victory vs. Kansas, Murray completed 3 of 5 passes for 55 yards and rushed three times for 33 yards. As Mayfield's backup last season, Murray completed 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception. That computes to a quarterback rating of 276.5 and 17.1 yards per pass attempt. He also rushed 13 times for 142 yards, an average of 10.9 yards per carry. Sure, most of the numbers were compiled at mop-up time, but his speed and skills translate to prime time.
Murray didn't fare nearly as well as a freshman at Texas A&M, for which he completed 59.5 percent of his passes, averaged 5.7 yards per pass attempt and threw five touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He not only wasn't experienced then, he wasn't surrounded by as many superior athletes.
It's true that the Jayhawks still will face bigger, stronger, quicker offensive linemen than the players they have protecting the quarterback, not to mention bigger, faster receivers than the men covering them, but at least they won't face as much experience at the most important position on the field.
Fourth-year Kansas football coach David Beaty gave no indication during the 15-practice spring session as to the identity of the starting quarterback this coming fall.
A look at Beaty's first three seasons on the job doesn't help narrow it down much because he has had a tendency to change his mind more than once during the course of the season.
In his first season, Beaty used three different starting quarterbacks in a three-week span. Montell Cozart started in Week 2, Deondre Ford started in Week 3, back to Cozart in Week 4 and Ryan Willis in Week 5.
Willis set the Beaty-coached record for most consecutive starts by getting the call in the final eight weeks of the 2015 season, but then Beaty switched back to Cozart to start the 2016 season. In two different stints as the starter, Cozart had seven starts in 2016, Carter Stanley three and Wills two.
So whatever Beaty saw in games Willis that made him start the final eight games of the 2015 season wasn't as powerful as whatever the coach saw during the offseason that made him switch back to Cozart to start the 2016 season.
Peyton Bender, who started eight games last season, Stanley, who started four, and newcomer Miles Kendrick, who spent one semester at junior college out of high school, all have legitimate chances to win the job during the summer.