The Blue squad came up just short of a victory at the 2017 Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, but the former Kansas basketball players who returned to Lawrence to raise money for families impacted by cancer provided plenty of highlights for the fans who packed Free State High.
Check out some of the dunks, 3-pointers and baskets scored by Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey, Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrel Reed, Perry Ellis and other members of the Blue team in a 104-101 loss to the Crimson squad.
Rock Chalk Roundball Classic scoring:
CRIMSON (104): Mario Chalmers 22, Wayne Selden 16, Cole Aldrich 15, Mario Little 4, Drew Gooden 2, Sherron Collins 18, Elijah Johnson 10, Billy Thomas 6, Brady Morningstar 4, Nick Bradford 2, Guest Jayhawk 5.
BLUE (101): Ben McLemore 32, Tyshawn Taylor 20, Perry Ellis 11, Jeff Withey 12, Tyrel Reed 7, Tyler Self 3, Christian Garrett 4, Darnell Jackson 2, Kenny Gregory 2, Jeff Graves 2, Jeremy Case 6.
After scrimmaging against Kansas sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, former KU big Darnell Jackson, who spent last season playing in Poland, describes what makes the Jayhawks’ 7-footer of the present so difficult to defend down low.
Jackson said he first met Azubuike at Late Night and then watched a couple games.
“It’s no worries for him. He’s unbelievable down there,” Jackson said. “He’s a real problem. So I’m excited. I hope these guys go all the way.”
A season-ending left wrist injury limited Kansas 7-footer Udoka Azubuike to 11 games as a freshman. But now that he’s been cleared to return to basketball, the massive big man from Nigeria is picking up where he left off as he works himself into shape this summer.
“I feel confident in myself, coming back from injury,” Azubuike said Wednesday afternoon, after scoring 12 points (eight on dunks) in a scrimmage victory over former KU players at Bill Self’s basketball camp. “I feel great. I’m ready to come back, ready to start working.”
Azubuike said missing so much of the season was frustrating, but he now feels like he’s ahead of the curve entering his second season of college basketball, thanks to all he learned — even while not playing — over the course of the past several months.
“Just sitting out, watching practice, that was really big for me,” Azubuike said. “I kind of seen the little stuff, like what to do and what not to do, and I think that really helped me a lot.”
In a battle of current and former Kansas basketball players, the young legs of the 2017-18 Jayhawks prevailed in a first-to-80 scrimmage in front of Bill Self campers Wednesday afternoon.
Watch some of the baskets from KU’s Udoka Azubuike, Devonte’ Graham, Mitch Lightfoot, Malik Newman, Sam Cunliffe and Lagerald Vick, who helped Self’s current roster prevail, 82-75.
They might have only been drills and some five-on-five reps, but the 2017-18 Kansas basketball team made its first very unofficial appearance Tuesday at coach Bill Self’s annual camp.
Check out a few of the highlights provided by seniors Devonte’ Graham and Jack Whitman, juniors Lagerald Vick and Dedric Lawson, sophomores Udoka Azubuike, Malik Newman, Mitch Lightfoot, Sam Cunliffe, K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore, and freshman Billy Preston.
University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self was glad to see sophomore big man Udoka Azubuike back on the court with the Jayhawks, as the team performed drills in front of youth campers and then got into some five-on-five situations Tuesday afternoon.
“Today’s the first day he’s been back, and, you know, he’s out of shape, but he looks pretty good,” Self said of 7-footer Azubuike, who only got to play 11 games this past season, due to a wrist injury. “He makes a big difference from a physical standpoint. I realized what we missed last year just seeing him for 30 minutes today.”
Azubuike isn’t the only needed addition to KU’s frontcourt. Self also spoke highly of freshman forward Billy Preston, who just got to campus a few days ago.
“He looks as good as anybody we’ve had in here at the 4-spot, physically,” Self said of Preston. “He’s 6-10 and has got pretty good ball skills, and, you know, he’s a pretty good athlete. He’s got a lot to learn, but certainly I’m glad we got him.”
After his stellar Kansas basketball career ended in the Elite Eight, with a loss to Oregon in Kansas City, Mo., senior point guard Frank Mason III said the top-seeded Jayhawks didn’t give up after trailing by 18 in the second half, but couldn’t complete a comeback to get to the Final Four.
At times, Mason admitted, KU’s players felt a bit unlucky with Oregon’s shots falling and Kansas making only 35 percent of its attempts from the field and five of 25 3-pointers. Still, the veteran said the Jayhawks mostly had themselves to blame for those percentages.
“I think we had a few good looks,” Mason said, “but some of them was rushed shots and we didn’t give the defense a chance to break down and get a better look.”
Kansas City, Mo. — After two quick fouls in the first half kept him on the bench early in what became an Elite Eight loss to Oregon Saturday night, Kansas star freshman Josh Jackson addressed in the locker room his thoughts on the whistles.
“I feel like my first foul, yeah, I fouled him,” Jackson said. “My second foul? No. I don’t feel like I fouled him at all. Maybe he did travel. I didn’t look at his feet. It’s just an opinion. Refs, they’re all just people out there. They make mistakes, too.”
Jackson, who only played 10 minutes in the first half, said his early foul issues “screwed up” his rhythm and made it difficult for him once he returned to the floor.
The likely top-three pick in this June’s NBA Draft also opted not to discuss his immediate plans.
Kansas City, Mo. — After rolling through the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Kansas finally had an off night offensively in the Elite Eight versus Oregon.
After the Ducks moved on to the Final Four Saturday night at Sprint Center, KU coach Bill Self said his Jayhawks played tight at times and often settled for what he considered less-than-desirable shots, instead of finding opportunities within the rhythm of the offense.
“I thought we took a lot of marginal shots,” Self said after Kansas lost, 74-60. “Step-back threes. Corner threes that led to numbers for them. It’s one thing if you’re a terrific offensive rebounding team to shoot the ball as impatiently as we did. But we didn’t do much on the offensive glass.”
Kansas City, Mo. — The Jayhawks have been enjoying themselves on the floor thus far in the NCAA Tournament, blowing teams out on the way to an Elite Eight meeting with Oregon at Sprint Center.
But fun-loving sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr., said KU’s game preparation away from the court is serious business this time of year.
“Sometimes it can be fun, but coming into March, no. Nothing is fun,” Bragg said. “We try to make the game fun, try to let it go and all of that but we just have one focus, and that’s winning.”