With Late Night in the Phog now just five days away, the anticipation and preparation for the annual season tip-off event are beginning to reach new levels.
While the week leading up to Late Night typically drags for Kansas fans who have been counting down the days since the end of the previous season, it also brings with it a flood of memories from Late Nights past.
While those memories include celebrity appearances, on-court highlights and even memorable skits, musical guests and wild entrances, Kansas coach Bill Self said a couple of times this week that what the program has in store for this year’s event could rival anything that has come before it.
“We’ve got something planned this year that’ll have the line as long as it’s been to get in,” Self said during a television interview with Spectrum Sports, before adding on Rock Chalk Sports Talk on KLWN, “We’re gonna have well-known, live entertainment and young people will absolutely love it.”
Who, or perhaps what, that is remains to be seen (Self said he thought an announcement from KU was planned for Tuesday), but there is absolutely no uncertainty about the importance of Late Night to this program, its fans or the Jayhawks themselves.
“Our players love it,” Self told Spectrum. “There’s one thing about this place, and it’s this way at a lot of places, but there’s a lot of times where players, during the grind, they’re going, ‘Why are we doing this?’ We’re going through boot camp now and it ain’t easy. ‘Why are we doing this, why are we doing this?’ And then the second Late Night hits, ‘Ohhh, now I understand why we’re doing it.’ There’s a price to pay to be treated like that. And our guys certainly appreciate that.”
The other major piece of Late Night that goes beyond the current team or fun with the fans is the recruiting aspect, which, for the future of the program, is absolutely as important as any other part of the opening-night extravaganza.
Nearly two dozen prospects from multiple recruiting classes will be at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday — most of them as unofficial visitors — to get a feel for one of the biggest basketball nights in Lawrence each year.
“It’s a great tip-off to our season,” Self said on Rock Chalk Sports Talk. “And then, of course, from a recruiting perspective, it never hurts to have 16,000 in there watching the guys. So I’m excited to get going.”
For those of you who are right there with him and need something to help kill time while you count down the final hours, here’s a quick and brief look back at some of the highlights from every year of Late Night since the beginning with Larry Brown back in 1985.
Stay in touch with KUsports.com throughout the week for much more on this year's Late Night in the Phog.
While the immediate reaction to and impact from Kansas basketball’s ability to land Class of 2018 big man David McCormack took the minds of most people to the KU front court and just how loaded the forward/center position will/could be during the 2018-19 season, there was an overlooked aspect of McCormack’s Sunday evening announcement that might wind up being just as big for the Jayhawks.
With only McCormack and small forward Zion Williamson down as official visitors for Saturday’s annual Late Night in the Phog extravaganza, the Jayhawks already were in a position to spend a good chunk of their time and attention on Williamson, the No. 1 ranked player in the 2018 class according to the 247 Sports rankings.
But now, with McCormack already committed, the Jayhawks — and McCormack, for that matter — can spend the overwhelming majority of their time giving their undivided attention to Williamson. And that can only help the five-star small forward’s feelings toward KU.
Kansas currently leads all schools in the 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions at 43 percent for the 6-foot-7, 230-pound athlete from Spartanburg, S.C. Fellow blue bloods Kentucky (29), Duke (14) and North Carolina (7) round out the site’s top four predictions and Williamson plans to visit at least three of the four by the time the recruiting process is over.
He was scheduled to visit Kentucky last weekend but had to postpone because of a family matter, according to Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi.
While that might seem like good news for Kansas on the surface, a possible reschedule date falls in line with UK’s version of Late Night, which, obviously, would compete favorably with what KU can offer Williamson this weekend.
The elite prospect, who also has visited South Carolina and Clemson unofficially, has a visit to Duke scheduled for Oct. 22 and UCLA for Oct. 27. It’s not yet known if he’ll take his fifth and final official visit.
The goal for Kansas, of course, will be to not let Williamson get to that point by wowing him so much during his visit to Lawrence this weekend. Late Night, and the overwhelming love from the fans, the insane production and hype that goes along with all of it, have been known to make quite an impression on recruits in the past.
And the presence of McCormack, who, no doubt, will be riding high after his commitment to Kansas, certainly won’t hurt KU’s pursuit of Williamson.
In fact, McCormack, in the not-too-distant past, has talked about playing with Williamson in college.
Asked who he would like to play with most in the 2018 class during a quick August video interview by Max Holm, of itsovertime.com, McCormack said simply, “Probably gonna have to say my boy Zion. Zion’s definitely one.”
Wrote Holm of the idea of the two physical specimen’s playing on the same team next year: “Just think about Zion and David for a second. The size and pure power of them would be untouchable. That’s a pairing that would dominate almost anyone. Only question is, is Zion down?”
That very question figures to come up often this weekend, as both McCormack and the KU coaching staff figure to bring up the topic a time or two throughout Williamson’s visit, be it in sincere fashion or more of a light-hearted, joking manner.
Either way, their ability to tag team Williamson during his official visit during one of the biggest basketball weekends of the year can only help KU’s chances of adding the skilled play maker to a 2018 recruiting class that’s already off to a terrific start.
The Kansas men's basketball program picked up another big time commitment in the Class of 2018 on Sunday evening when four-star center David McCormack (6-foot-9, 260 pounds) chose the Jayhawks.
McCormack officially announced his decision during a live appearance on a local news broadcast in Virginia. With UCLA, NC State and Duke hats sitting on the table in front him, McCormack went for the shock-the-world approach by unbuttoning his dress shirt to reveal a Kansas basketball T-Shirt when it came time to make his pick.
"Kids dream of (this moment) all their childhood," McCormack said on WAVY 10's live broadcast. "I've been waiting on this moment, I've been blessed to be in this moment. I'm excited, kind of nervous and looking forward to a bright future."
With that, the elite center began to unbutton his shirt and said simply, "Next year, I decided I will attend Kansas University."
Asked why he chose KU, McCormack pointed to KU's coaching staff and strong tradition.
"Coach (Bill) Self is an amazing coach. He's great as far as player development, relationships, he's a winning coach, there's a lot of history behind Kansas... (I'm) looking forward to making more championships and more memories at Kansas."
McCormack also gave KU assistant coach Jerrance Howard some serious credit for helping him reach Sunday's decision.
"He was a great guy," McCormack said of Howard. "He made it an easy decision. He was very trustworthy."
McCormack, who made an unofficial visit to KU a month ago and has scheduled an official visit to Lawrence for next weekend's Late Night in the Phog, chose KU over finalists Duke, NC State, Oklahoma State, Xavier and UCLA.
McCormack joins five-star forward Silvio De Sousa (6-9, 245) in representing the starting point for KU's 2018 recruiting class, a group that Kansas coach Bill Self repeatedly has said could be one of the most important he has had at KU given the potential for as many as five or six players from the 2017-18 roster to leave KU after the upcoming season.
McCormack is the No. 26-ranked player in the 2018 class, according to 247 Sports and the No. 2-ranked center, who recruiting guru Jerry Meyer called "a beast down low."
Stay tuned for much more on McCormack's commitment.
The next couple of days will determine quite a bit about the Kansas basketball program’s 2018 recruiting class.
With 2018 big man Silvio De Sousa already committed, the Jayhawks will learn this weekend about the decisions of a couple more highly touted 2018 prospects.
Around 5 p.m. today, five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley will announce his decision from the gymnasium at John Carroll High in Bel Air, Maryland.
Quickley, who is ranked as the No. 2 point guard in the 2018 class, is expected to decide between Kansas, Kentucky and Miami.
Most have pegged the point guard as a Kentucky guy for months, with the Wildcats always being high on his list and the fact that he played for UK coach John Calipari with USA Basketball this summer both adding strength to that claim.
But one source familiar with Quickley’s recruiting told the Journal-World on Thursday that the 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard ranked No. 10 overall by Rivals.com had no plans to let even the coaches know before his big announcement.
That obviously could have changed this morning, but, either way, Quickley will end the suspense — if there really is any — this evening.
His announcement, as well as a mini documentary of his journey to decision day, will be carried live on Facebook and will begin at 5 p.m.
Today also is Quickley’s mother’s birthday. Not a bad little birthday present for mom.
Regardless of what decision Quickley makes — pro-KU or otherwise — the Jayhawks will not have to wait long for another big announcement.
Five-star center David McCormack, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound beast from Oak Hill Academy, plans to reveal his decision at 5 p.m. Sunday on live television in Virginia, according to his AAU program’s Twitter feed, @teamloadedaau.
Although he has a final list of six schools (Duke, Kansas, NC State, Oklahoma State, UCLA and Xavier) McCormack likely will be deciding between Kansas, Xavier and NC State, the three schools which he has visited.
McCormack, No. 33 overall in the 2018 class per Rivals, averaged 10.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game as a junior at Oak Hill and 14.8 and 9.8 for Team Loaded this spring and summer on the AAU circuit.
It’s interesting that McCormack’s announcement will come before his official visit to KU, which is set for next weekend, coinciding with Late Night.
As it stands now, if the big man who was a teammate of current KU forward Billy Preston’s at Oak Hill last year picks somewhere other than Kansas, that visit may not happen. But if he picks Kansas, which pretty much every recruiting analyst out there expects to be the case, McCormack’s visit for Late Night will serve as one heck of a way to celebrate his big decision.
Adding McCormack to a class that starts with Silvio De Sousa (6-9, 245) would be a clear indication that the Jayhawks have shored up their front court situation for the 2018-19 season.
Even if Preston and sophomore big man Udoka Azubuike leave for the NBA after the upcoming season, the Jayhawks would hit the floor the following season with a big-man rotation that includes De Sousa, McCormack, Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson and would-be-junior Mitch Lightfoot, by far KU’s deepest and most talented frontcourt since the 2015-16 season.
Despite still being younger than most players on his team, sharp-shooter Svi Mykhailiuk enters his final season as a Jayhawk with a huge opportunity and plenty of motivation.
Leaving his name in the 2017 NBA draft pool until the last possible minute to pull it out, the Ukrainian guard who has improved ever so slightly during each of his three years in Lawrence will be looking to make one final jump this season, one he hopes will both help KU and impress pro scouts.
For the second year in a row, Mykhailiuk spent a good chunk of the summer playing back home with the Ukrainian national team and KU coach Bill Self said he thought the experience was good for his 2016-17 starter in that it allowed him to assert himself more and play a much different role than he has at Kansas.
Whether that carries over to his senior season with KU remains to be seen. Let’s take a look at what we can expect.
He Will: Finally look fully comfortable with his role
This one goes well beyond Mykhailiuk playing a primary role with his national team this summer and speaks more to what we saw from him in Italy.
Despite being away from his teammates and coaches for several weeks, Svi looked cool, calm and collected and like a bona fide leader when he rejoined the team during its exhibition trip to Italy in ealry August.
It’s possible that comfort level came from it being a handful of summer scrimmages on foreign soil. But it sure looked more like Svi was ready to assert himself on this team and take on the leadership role alongside Devonte’ Graham.
If he does, that should only make him more comfortable all over the floor and throughout the season, a fact that would likely lead to his best season as a Jayhawk.
He Won’t: Experience a significant drop-off from 3-point land
One of the things pro scouts said they want to see more from Mykhailiuk is a willingness to be more than just a lights-out spot-up shooter.
While driving the ball to the rim, flashing a strong pull-up game and getting to the free throw line while also improving his defense would all be signs of that, don’t expect Svi’s emphasis on impressing scouts to cut into his importance as a knock-down jump shooter.
With KU’s wide-open, fast-paced, guard-heavy style of play expected to remain for the upcoming season, Mykhailiuk, along with teammates Graham, Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman all will have the luxury of spacing the floor and catching kick-outs from driving teammates for wide open jumpers.
It’s possible that Mykhailiuk’s total number 3-pointers made and attempted might take a small dip during the 2017-18 season. But due to the fact that most of those shots figure to be wide open looks, I wouldn’t expect to see Svi’s 3-point percentage fall much, if any.
A career .381 percent 3-point shooter at Kansas, Mykhailiuk has finished each of the past two seasons above that mark, shooting .402 in 2015-16 and .398 a season ago.
He made 70 of 176 3-pointers last season and 37 of 92 the year before.
The guess here is that he’ll fall somewhere in the middle of that this season, perhaps knocking down 55-60 of 145-160 attempts.
He Might: Make himself a first-round draft pick
At the start of the 2017 offseason, just after the NCAA Tournament ended, Mykhailiuk was spotted as a late first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on a couple of mainstream mock drafts.
Today, on ESPN writer Jonathan Givony’s most recently updated mock draft, dated in late August, Svi sits as the 33rd player selected, with the third pick of the second round.
If that’s anywhere close to reality — and Givony’s been doing this a long time and is usually pretty locked in — the idea that Svi could move up four or five spots to crack the first round is not that crazy.
He’ll have to do all of those things scouts told him they’d like to see. He’ll have to do them consistently. And he’ll have to do them without other parts of his game suffering as a result. But if he does, given his size, shooting ability, age and versatility, it’s easy to see Svi as a late first-round pick next summer.
He Will, He Won't, He Might 2017:
Part I: • Devonte' Graham
Part II: • Lagerald Vick
In a Wednesday interview with ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self shed a sliver of light on just how much longer he might like to coach.
Brace yourselves, Kansas fans. Self’s answer was not, “forever.”
Self, who will turn 55 in late December, often has shared the feeling that he is unlikely to follow in the footsteps of coaches like Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (72), Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (70) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (67), all of whom are still going strong at or near the age of 70.
“I’ve said all along that if I could go to my late 50s, that’d be good for me,” Self told Medcalf on Wednesday. “Now that I'm getting close to my late 50s, I’m like, ‘Well ... ,’ but my contract runs until I’m 59, so I’ve got five more years left. I definitely want to do that. Then whatever happens after that I’d be happy with whatever.”
Self’s current contract, which was extended by four years back in 2012, runs through the 2021-22 season. And, at this point, 60 fast-approaching or not, it’s hard to imagine Self hanging it up then.
Self carries himself today with as much charm and charisma as he did the day he arrived at Kansas and operates, acts and looks a lot more like a coach in his 40s than one talking about turning 60. That’s with players, fans, colleagues and, perhaps most importantly, recruits.
Medcalf’s story also quoted Self as saying that the never-ending world of modern recruiting, “just wears you down,” and it’s certainly understandable that a life that does not involve tracking every move of young ballplayers from the time they’re 14 or 15 years old through the day they announce their college of choice would be appealing to Self and dozens of other coaches in similar positions.
Still, as things stand today, it sure seems like there’s a lot for Self still to accomplish before he hangs up his whistle.
Don’t mistake that for more to prove. There really isn’t much for Self still to prove.
He already has a national title; — though one or six more of those surely would please both him and the rabid Kansas fan base — the Big 12 Conference title streak already is the longest in the history of the game and Self is the only coach to have racked up that many consecutive conference titles all on his watch; he recently was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; and his trophy case is full of a variety of coach of the year hardware.
While those credentials, and many more, were what earned Self his rightful spot in the Hall of Fame this year and a permanent place in the hearts of Kansas fans forever, it really does seem as if Self is simply getting better with age. Say what you will about his record in Elite Eight games — 2-7 all-time, 2-5 at Kansas and 0-2 in the past two seasons — you just don’t see the kind of elite-level consistency that Self’s Kansas teams have produced pretty much anywhere else.
That’s what makes that five-year time frame he talked about so hard to imagine.
Self’s coaching career began in 1993, at the age of 30, when he took over the Oral Roberts program after several years as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State. When he was a junior in high school back in Oklahoma, he told his father, Bill Self, Sr., that he would become a college head coach by age 30 and, after achieving that goal — “That was just unbelievable to me,” Bill Self Sr., recently told the Journal-World — Self moved forward with a career that has been turning heads and accomplishing goals — big time, lofty, next-level goals — ever since.
He picked up his 100th victory while at Tulsa in 1999, grabbed win No. 200 just four years after that, during his final season at Illinois and snagged his 300th win during his fourth season at KU.
Since then, Self has been on pace to eclipse a major milestone victory about every three years, with No. 400 coming in 2010, No. 500 coming in 2013 and No. 600 coming last December. Self ended the 2016-17 season with 623 career victories, giving him an impressive average of 26 wins per season during his 24 seasons as a head coach, a number that, somehow, rises to an eye-popping 30 wins a year during his 14 seasons at Kansas.
Who knows how many more wins or seasons Self will actually coach? While records and milestones are as appealing to him as the next guy, you just don’t get the sense that those things really matter that much unless you’re talking about the milestones that come with a net and a trophy on the final Monday of each college basketball season.
Given the fact that Boeheim and Coach K (both already over 1,000 career victories) are still coaching and winning, it’s hard to imagine Self one day climbing to the top of that list. But winning 800 games seems within reach, and, provided Rick Pitino (770), Bob Huggins (747) and John Calipari (694) all get there before him, Self would become just the 12th coach in NCAA Division I history to reach 800 wins.
Would a milestone like that be a good enough note on which to call it a career? Perhaps. Keep in mind that Self mentor and close friend, Eddie Sutton, guided his teams to 806 victories during his remarkable career. Wouldn’t there be something special about Self tying that mark or, in true Self fashion, perhaps finishing right behind Sutton at 805?
Regardless of whether Self goes to the end of his current contract and hangs ’em up or gets to that point and decides he wants to coach another 5 or even 10 years, one thing is certain: He’s definitely the kind of guy who would (a) want to walk away with a lot of good years of living still ahead of him, and (b) would have the discipline to say he’s done and then actually call it a career.
LISTEN: Our latest KU Sports Hour podcast explores a number of "What If" scenarios surrounding recent Kansas basketball history...
As many of you probably know, the Kansas men’s basketball team often breaks down the end of each practice with a simple and strong chant of “Big 12 champs.”
For the past 13 seasons (and counting), that target goal has proven profitable, with the Jayhawks winning a record-tying 13 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles and currently beginning the early tune-ups to gun for No. 14 and the record all to themselves during the upcoming 2017-18 season.
The theory within the program always has and continues to go something like this: Win the Big 12 and you’ll position yourselves well to achieve all of the goals that follow — No. 1 seed, Final Four, national championship.
Obviously, that last part is always the goal for the Jayhawks. And, at a place like Kansas, it’s often a realistic goal. But it’s not always openly talked about before and during the season. Again, the idea is for the team to take care of the games that are right in front of them and attack the postseason when they get there.
This year, however, things might be a little different.
Speaking with reporters Monday afternoon, after Day 1 of the Jayhawks’ annual boot camp conditioning session, senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk uttered those very words — national championship — on two separate occasions in six minutes.
“The main goal is to win a national championship,” answered Mykhailiuk when asked if he had any goals for the upcoming season. “That’s what we’re trying to do every year, and to win the Big 12.”
When informed that the question was about his own personal goals, the Ukrainian senior obliged and simply said, “Just to improve everything and be a better player and a teammate.”
That was the second reference. The first came when he was asked about Day 1 of boot camp and just how difficult it was this time around, the fourth such boot camp battle for Mykhailiuk.
His answer again pointed to the team first and the gains the group was getting from going through Self’s vicious two-week boot camp.
“It’s getting us better so it doesn’t matter what we’re doing,” he said. “In the long run, it’s going to help us win a national championship, the Big 12, anything we’re gonna win if we want to win.”
While the lofty goal of winning it all and bringing another banner back to Allen Fieldhouse hardly comes as a surprise, it is noteworthy that Mykhailiuk was so open in talking about it. The reason for that seemed simple enough and also was addressed by the senior guard.
“We talk about it,” he said. “The past two years we were pretty close to the Final Four. This year, we just gotta get there. We were one step away (the past two seasons) and we felt like we should’ve been there, but we didn’t make it for some reason.”
Mykhailiuk's brief mentions of a national championship likely do not signify a change in philosophy for the Kansas program. This team, no doubt, will still continue to emphasize taking care of business in the Big 12 and will probably continue to break down the end of practices with that "Big 12 champs" call.
That's just the way the program does things and that's the way the program will continue to do things as long as Bill Self is the man in charge.
But that doesn't mean the seniors and other players who might feel as if the upcoming season is their final shot at the big prize aren't thinking bigger, even if it is for just a few minutes in mid-September. And that, too, makes perfect sense. After all, winning it all is the ultimate goal for every team out there and spending at least some time thinking about it and pursuing it as a goal is human nature.
Whether the Jayhawks make it to the Final Four (and perhaps beyond) this season remains to be seen. But I’m sure more than a few folks out there already have imagined how cool it would be for the 2017-18 Jayhawks to honor the 10-year anniversary of KU’s most recent national championship team by returning to San Antonio, the scene of the 2007-08 squad’s finest achievements, for the 2018 Final Four.
When Lagerald Vick first showed up on the KU campus, he was viewed as a solid pick-up but not a star, a player the Kansas basketball program would be happy to have in three or four years.
Well, Year 3 for Vick has arrived, and I think fans, teammates and coaches would agree that the appreciation for Vick surfaced long before now.
Regarded by Kansas coach Bill Self as the best on this year’s team at turning the corner and driving to the basket, Vick could — and probably should — play by far his biggest role since coming to Lawrence.
Add to that the fact that his confidence continues to grow by the day and you’re looking at a Jayhawk poised for a breakout season.
He Will: Start every game this season as long as he’s healthy
During the 2016-17 season, Vick made just six starts in 36 games. Most of them came early and one of them came when Josh Jackson was suspended during the Big 12 tournament.
Most of the non-Vick starts went to Svi Mykhailiuk and a lot of people believe that Mykhailiuk is poised to keep his starting spot for the 2017-18 season. So how, then, could Vick be in the starting lineup this season? There are two paths, either of which I believe is very possible.
Path 1: Vick starts alongside Svi and the Jayhawks, as they did a season ago, play small and fast with Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman, Svi and Vick joining Udoka Azubuike in the starting lineup. This option was solidified — if not born — in Italy, where the Jayhawks used this lineup early and often, both with Azubuike on the floor and during the two games he missed due to illness.
Path 2: Vick supplants Svi as a starter and the two merely switch roles. In order for this to happen, either Billy Preston or Mitch Lightfoot is going to have to make a huge jump between now and the start of the season. Both are bigger bodies and good athletes who would fit naturally in that four position. But neither has the experience, explosiveness or scoring ability of Vick or Svi. If one of them makes the jump, though, and Self finds himself picking between Svi or Vick, I think he goes with the driving ability, length and superior defense of Vick and uses Svi for instant offense off the bench.
The smart money, however, says both start and both play a ton of minutes.
He Won’t: Settle for as many 3-point shots as he did during the 2016-17 season
As mentioned above, Vick is likely the best player on this KU team at getting to the rim. He’s comfortable handling the ball, likes to turn the corner and is not shy when he gets into the paint.
Because of that, I think you’ll see him look to attack a lot more than he did a season ago, when Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III had the green light to go to the rim long before Vick.
Last season, 42 percent of Vick’s shot attempts (92 of 219) were 3-pointers and he hit 37 percent of those. Look for the number of shot attempts to go up, perhaps topping 300, but for the Memphis junior to fire up fewer 3-pointers than he did a season ago, when he benefitted greatly from waiting on the wing for Jackson or Mason to kick it out to him for open jumpers.
If Vick shoots 300 times this season — and, let’s face it, that’s entirely possible given the fact that the Jayhawks will be missing 821 shot attempts by Mason and Jackson and Newman and Graham can’t take them all — then I’d bet that 100 of them (33 percent) come from behind the 3-point line and the rest are transition buckets or drives to the rim.
He Might: Be one of the most underrated players in the country
At 6-foot-5, 175 pounds and bubbling with athleticism, Vick is the kind of athlete who many teams would love to have.
Add to that fact the reality that he actually has some pretty good skills — solid shooter, above-average defender, good handles — and you’re looking at a guy who can flat out play.
The Kansas coaches know that and many in the Big 12 know that, as well. But I’m not yet sure the rest of the country knows that.
When people think Kansas, they think Bill Self, they’re talking about Devonte’ Graham and one-and-dones and, this year, they’re talking about high-profile transfers like Malik Newman and the Lawson brothers waiting in the wings.
Vick is not a focal point for most people and, therefore, he’s flying in the shadows a little bit. That kind of anonymity is a nice place to exceed expectations. And the real answer to this claim will come in the results. Can Vick continue to produce solid numbers and perhaps take his production to another level as a bigger part of the program with more eyes on him?
If the answer is yes, he won’t be underrated or overlooked for much longer.
He Will, He Won't, He Might 2017:
Part I: • Devonte' Graham
Priority Sports, the agency that represents him, said Monday that former Kansas guard Brandon Rush has joined the Milwaukee Bucks, his fifth team in a 10-year NBA career.
But there appears to be at least a little ways to go before the Kansas City native slaps on Milwaukee green.
According to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Bucks currently have 15 players on their roster, which is one more than the maximum number allowed by NBA rules. In order to make room for Rush the team either will have to move a player or two or is planning to give Rush a training camp deal which would allow him to compete for a spot.
If the latter is the direction the former Jayhawk has to go, it will be interesting to see how things play out.
Given his nine years of in the league with four NBA teams — including Golden State, with which he won an NBA title ring and Minnesota last season — Rush (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) would have the experience edge over young guns like Gary Payton II (6-3, 190), Rashad Vaughn (6-6, 202), Bronson Koenig (6-4, 193) and rookie Sterling Brown (6-5, 225).
But his career averages of 6.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 22 minutes per game paint his as a deep reserve and strictly a role player. While there is a place for a player like Rush on just about any roster — given his defensive ability, athleticism, experience and ability to shoot — it's entirely possible that the Bucks would favor any one of those younger options instead of Rush.
Still, the fact that his agents identified Milwaukee as a good spot for his next move would seem to indicate that there is at least something to like about the situation.
Rush, who had his jersey retired at KU last season, played in 47 games and made 33 starts for the Timberwolves last season. The 33 starts were the second most of his career and his 21.9 minutes per game were the most since he averaged 26 minutes per game during the 2011-12 season in Golden State.
Those numbers point to there still being a valuable place in the league for the veteran. But, at this point in his career, that place is likely the most important part of the puzzle. Finding a spot where the franchise appreciates and can utilize Rush's experience and skills is crucial. If they're able to locate it — whether it's Milwaukee or elsewhere — the former Jayhawk could likely play another 4 or 5 seasons.