Within minutes, possibly even seconds, of the news breaking Wednesday night that William & Mary transfer forward Jack Whitman was leaving the Kansas basketball program, eager and uneasy KU fans alike were connecting the dots to Marvin Bagley III.
Late Thursday morning, KU coach Bill Self confirmed Whitman's departure, saying, "Jack called me last night and informed me that he would not be playing basketball at Kansas for his fifth year. I do not know what his plans are moving forward. All I know is he will not be part of our basketball program. We wish Jack the best with his future endeavors.” But that confirmation did not include anything about what the Jayhawks will do to replace him.
It sounds good on the surface, replacing Frank Mason III with Marvin Bagley III, who just so happens to be the No. 1 ranked prospect in the Class of 2018.
And, yeah, there were rumors floating around earlier this week that Bagley was at least considering reclassifying into the 2017 class so he could play college basketball this season.
But the whole thing is far from a slam dunk, and there are a lot of moves that need to happen before Jayhawk fans can even begin to dream of seeing the 6-foot-10, 230-pound big man in crimson and blue next season.
Before we look at what factors are stacked against them, let’s first look at what the Jayhawks have working in their favor.
• First and most obvious is the fact that Kansas, no matter who you talk to, is one of the few true blue blood schools in the country and one that most all of the top prospects in class after class at least like to check the temperature on to see if the program might be the right fit for them. It was recently for Josh Selby, Andrew Wiggins and Josh Jackson. And, in time, it could be for Bagley, too. So it’s not as if KU fans are crazy for thinking he might come to Lawrence the way it might sound silly for fans in Boulder, Colo., to think Bagley might want to be a Buff.
• Beyond that, Bagley does already have KU on his short list of finalists. Those schools, in alphabetical order, are Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and USC. Big time programs, all of them, but Kansas is on the list.
• The big-picture timing of trying to woo Bagley to town really couldn’t be better for Bill Self and the Jayhawks, as Kansas currently has the reigning college player of the year in Mason and also just put Josh Jackson into the NBA via the No. 4 pick in the draft. Seeing that kind of exposure on the college level and path to professional ball no doubt would seem awfully appealing to a player of Bagley’s caliber. Beyond that, KU’s recent surge of putting players into the NBA — often via the draft lottery — has inspired top-tier prospects to look at KU’s ability to develop NBA talent in a fresh and more favorable light.
Now, let’s take a look at what might make this less than likely, both now and in the future.
• For one, reclassifying is not a slam dunk. It happens, but it’s not automatic and there is a process that Bagley would have to go through to make it happen. Beyond that, his family recently told Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, that those rumors about Bagley’s reclassification were just that, rumors, and that the elite talent had not yet made any such decision. So it’s possible that all of the Bagley talk was much ado about nothing. And if that’s the case, Kansas will still continue to pursue him, but it won’t be as a replacement for Whitman this season. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish is absolutely convinced that Bagley is en route to reclassifying and Parrish said on his recent radio show that he had been told that Bagley (a) had the grades to get it done and (b) was moving forward full speed ahead. Having said that, one source familiar with Bagley's recruitment told me Thursday that it'll take "a miracle" for him to be able to reclassify and added that Duke and USC were the likely front-runners.
• Even if the reclassification comes and KU gets a real crack at him in time for the 2017-18 season, it’s not as if it’s automatic that KU would get him. Bagley already may have visited Duke, and he’s scheduled to visit USC on July 26-27 and Arizona during the first week of August, when KU is playing overseas in Italy. “The Duke visit was completely geographical and we can drive, and we chose those three because we can drive to all of them,” Bagley’s father recently told FanRagSports.com. “And then we’ll get UCLA after, and then Kentucky and Kansas. We plan to visit them all. We’re going to try to get them in the best way we can.” For what it's worth, most national recruiting analysts seem to believe Duke is the team to beat for Bagley.
• The timing of this whole thing is nuts. Because summer workouts get going almost as soon as the Jayhawks get back from Italy, it’s hard to envision them putting in the kind of work necessary to land him while they’re in Italy. Then again, three members of Self’s staff did not make the trip to South Korea for the World University Games a couple of summers ago, and given that these Italian exhibitions are much less intense and important than those games, it’s not hard to imagine someone such as assistant Kurtis Townsend staying back to make a run at Bagley if that’s on the table. Having said that, Bagley’s also the type of talent that you’d easily still welcome into your program even in September or later if that’s what it takes to get him.
• Perhaps one of the most important things to remember about this deal is that Bagley’s whole motivation for reclassifying is not because he cannot wait to play college basketball for his school of choice. Instead, it’s because doing so provides him with the quickest path to the NBA and the money that awaits there. If Bagley is able to play college ball in 2017-18, he would be eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft, where he would at least be in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick and certainly would be a surefire Top 5 choice. “I want to go the NBA,” Bagley recently told Andrew Slater of 247Sports. “That's my goal and those schools help get you there. They prepare you for that. That's why they made my list.”
• As for what he’s hoping to get out of whichever college program he signs with, Bagley said his whole mindset was focused on development. “I just want to get better,” he told Slater. “Wherever I feel like that is, wherever I feel like I'm around good people, around people who push me every day and tell me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear, that's where I see myself.”
At this point, it’s hard to picture exactly how all of this is going to play out. Bagley has not given any kind of time frame for a decision about his school or a decision about reclassifying and, even though there still is time to iron it all out, August is quickly approaching and things get a little tighter from there.
According to Slater’s report, Duke and now Kansas, thanks to Whitman’s departure, might be in the best shape of the bunch should Bagley reclassify because they have spots available immediately.
Regardless of KU’s chances of landing him or what his immediate future holds, this much we know: For at least the next few weeks, those interested in Kansas basketball would be wise to pay attention to whatever news comes out of the Bagley camp.
Three former Kansas basketball players earned all-Summer League honors this week following strong showings in Las Vegas during the past couple of weeks.
Phoenix rookie Josh Jackson, the No. 4 overall pick in June's draft, landed on the first team while second-year pros Wayne Selden Jr., and Cheick Diallo both earned second-team nods.
The accolades represent a couple of key things for the players and their franchises, with the Suns receiving validation of a job well done after selecting Jackson when they did and Selden and Diallo gaining even more crucial confidence as they strive to find their way and make an impact on their respective rosters.
Selden was oh so close to being named a first-team selection and he easily could've been on the first team, which was made up of Jackson, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith, Caleb Swanigan and John Collins.
The former KU standout was fourth in the entire league at 22.7 points per game and helped lead the Memphis Grizzlies to the semifinals of the Summer League tournament. Not only did Selden score in bunches — with deep jumpers, dazzling dunks and repeated trips to the free throw line — but he also emerged as the go-to scorer on Memphis' young squad.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t even play a dozen games with the team last season and spent three times as much time in the D League as he did on an NBA roster.
It's likely that Selden missed out on making the first team because his rebound (3.8) and assists (3.0) totals were not as high as some would've liked to see. While those areas clearly are important parts of the game, Selden's emergence as a take-over type of player was one of the better stories of the Vegas circuit.
He looked strong, confident, crazy athletic and comfortable in any and all situations. In short, he looked a lot like the guy KU fans got glimpses of during his three years at Kansas, most notably during his 33-point outburst in a home victory over Kentucky during his junior season.
While some might perceive Selden’s second-team selection as a snub or a slight, the guess here is that Selden’s just fine with it. Ever since going undrafted in 2016, the former Jayhawk guard has taken full advantage of any and all opportunities to fill his tank with fuel for motivation.
The result was his stellar summer and a two-year contract with the Grizzlies. If this latest dose of motivation delivers the same way the previous fuel did, Selden could be poised for a breakout season when NBA action returns this fall.
As for Diallo and Jackson, both used their athleticism and high motors to become big time factors in Vegas.
Jackson, as he did during his one year at Kansas, consistently flashed his all-around game, putting up points, playing tough defense and getting on the glass game in and game out. The Detroit native averaged 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in five outings with the Suns, and routinely found his way into highlight shows with his play on both ends of the floor.
Diallo, who has opened some eyes in New Orleans with his growth and maturity as a player, not only scored 18.6 points per game in Vegas, but also averaged 9.8 rebounds per night, good for third in the league. Diallo enjoyed three 20-point outings, recorded a double-double three times and never finished with fewer than five rebounds in New Orleans’ five games.
Other former KU players who recently wrapped up play in the Vegas summer league include Perry Ellis, who averaged 11.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in five games with Minnesota; Landen Lucas, who averaged 1.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in two games with Boston; Frank Mason III, who averaged 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 16.5 minutes per game with Sacramento; and Julian Wright, who tallied 3.0 points per game in four games with Utah.
So last week news broke that Marvin Bagley III, currently the No. 1 ranked prospect in the Class of 2018 according to Rivals.com, was considering reclassifying and heading to school this Fall for what likely would be his lone season of college basketball.
Many recruiting analysts have said that Bagley is the clear-cut No. 1 player in the 2018 class and the 6-foot-10, 220-pound, 5-star prospect brings a well-rounded and explosive game to the floor every time he suits up.
As you would expect with a player of that caliber, all of the major players in college basketball are in on him and any one of them — Kansas included — would love to have him playing in their colors when he hits the college hoops scene.
At this point, Bagley has a Top 6 of Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and USC, with only a visit to Duke scheduled so far.
He grew up in Southern California and also spent some time living in Arizona. So it’s easy to see why those three schools are in play here, as well. And then Kansas and Kentucky are, well, Kansas and Kentucky so that makes sense, too.
What does not make sense is the belief that Bagley would consider reclassifying without knowing where he wants to play his college ball.
I’m not saying it’s a done deal. Not even close. In fact, Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, recently spoke with Bagley's family and reported that they're calling the news "rumors" and saying they have not made any such decision about jumping up a class.
I don’t know the kid and barely know the circumstances surrounding his recruitment. But I find it hard to imagine that he would make a major move — or even consider one — like reclassifying in order to attend college a full year before he previously was expected to without having a pretty good feel for where he wants to go after the paperwork is done.
The guess here is that place will be Duke.
In order for it to be Kansas, the Jayhawks likely would need Bagley to decide against reclassifying and to stay in the 2018 class, which certainly is possible and definitely would give Bill Self and company more time to make their pitch and also time to find room to add him.
As of today, the Jayhawks are full and bringing on another player — whether he’s a monster player like Bagley or a 3-star big man for added depth — would require some movement on the scholarship front in order to open up a spot.
With the trip to Italy coming in two weeks and preseason camp starting shortly after their return, it’s hard to imagine anyone from the current roster moving on for one reason or another at this point.
The Bagley thing is interesting, not because it’s rare — reclassifying has become more and more common during recent years — but because he’s such a big time talent.
But his move, should he make it, probably would not mean much for the Jayhawks at this point in time. Now, if he stays in the Class of 2018, stay tuned...
The other night, when I was perusing yet another NBA Summer League box score, a thought occurred to me that inspired a little extra examination.
Why is it that a short story about an average game by new Sacramento Kings point guard Frank Mason III gets a ton of love on our site, while a similar note about former KU forward Cheick Diallo topping 20 points and impressing New Orleans’ coaches entering Year 2 of his pro career draws far less interest?
The answer was easy to find. And it has everything to do with how long the two players were in Lawrence and what they did while they were here.
With Mason, a four-year player and three-year leader who capped his KU career with the best individual season by a guard in Big 12 history, the opportunity for fans to watch him succeed and fail, to share the ride through college basketball’s ups and downs with him, took KU fans on a long journey and provided time for them to feel a true connection with the once-quiet Petersburg, Va., native.
With Diallo, and others like him, the time was short-lived and left many Kansas fans with a ‘We hardly knew ya,’ attitude toward the once-hyped, highly coveted former prep standout.
I’ve long been a believer that the Kansas basketball players who are remembered the longest — and the fondest — are the ones with whom the fans feel a true connection.
Sure, winning a title trumps everything. So, yeah, Danny Manning, Milt Newton, Kevin Pritchard, Chris Piper, Scooter Barry and that gang, along with Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Sasha Kaun and the 2008 crew will always be beloved for bringing home the hardware.
But there’s more to the college basketball experience than cutting down nets. Especially for the fans. And there have been more than a few KU players throughout the decades who have held a special place in the hearts of thousands of rabid KU fans for reasons beyond their basketball accomplishments.
Be them personality traits, hardships, memorable moments or unforgettable toughness and courage, those players have endeared themselves to Kansas fans everywhere for eternity and will not soon be forgotten.
For this exercise, and because KU coach Bill Self last season called Mason the greatest guard he’s ever coached, let’s take a quick look at the most memorable fan favorites of the Self era.
1. Frank Mason III
Heading into his senior season, I’m not sure I would’ve put Mason on this list, let alone this high on it. But then he became the unanimous national player of the year, turned in one of the best seasons in Big 12 history and did it all while being the face of the standard of toughness for all past and future Kansas players. Add to that his sudden rise in the NBA Draft, which came with Mason still maintaining his underdog persona, and you’re talking about a player who every KU fan felt like they knew on a personal level and rooted for like family.
2. Thomas Robinson
This is tied directly to the death of his mother, Lisa Robinson, who passed away unexpectedly during T-Rob’s sophomore season, just weeks after the powerful power forward lost two of his grandparents. At such a heartbreaking time in the young man’s life, the Kansas faithful opened their collective arms as wide as possible and wrapped them around the KU forward, who, beyond using the KU family to help him get through such a tough time, also turned in All-American numbers in leading the Jayhawks to the national title game one year later. The wins were great. But it was the bond created between player and fan — one that later even extended to Robinson’s younger sister, Jayla — that landed Robinson so high on this list.
3. Mario Chalmers
Yes, Chalmers is on this list — and dozens of others — because he hit arguably the biggest shot in the storied history of Kansas basketball. But his status as a fan favorite was cemented long before the 3-pointer to tie Memphis in the 2008 national title game. That, obviously, did not hurt his standing, but more than the shot, or any number of deadly 3-pointers and steals that Chalmers drained or swiped during his time at KU, was the smirk. The look on Chalmers’ face that surfaced when KU had an opponent beaten or when the outcome was still uncertain, but Mario wasn’t, was the stuff of legends and endeared him to KU fans everywhere. It was the kind of look that you loved if it was on your side and absolutely despised with every fiber of your being if you were on the other side.
4. Darnell Jackson
One of the true all-heart players to come through Kansas, Jackson enjoyed the perfect career trajectory, from seldom-used sub as a true freshman to national champion starter as a senior. Sometimes, simply paying your dues along that path is enough to inspire grand appreciation from the KU fan base, but, with Jackson, there was much more that went into it. For starters, his personality. A no-nonsense guy on the court, with a fun-loving and expressive personality off of it, Jackson carried with him that lovable teddy bear vibe, provided that teddy bear came in a 6-foot-8, 250-pound, rock solid frame. As was the case with Robinson, the personal tragedies Jackson endured during his life, both while at KU and after, (his grandmother died in a car wreck and mother later passed away after an overdose of pain pills) tugged at the heart strings of many KU fans and created that deeper connection between the player and the fans.
5. Sherron Collins
The perfect combination of Mario Chalmers’ swagger and Frank Mason’s toughness, with the bulk of his playing career sandwiched right between the two, Collins’ Chicago-style persona and constant willingness to sacrifice his body in any and every way for the KU basketball program in pursuit of the next bucket or victory made him one of the most beloved Jayhawks of the past couple of decades. His passion for the game, ability to play bigger than his size and raw emotion and fiery mentality provided Self’s post-title teams with the perfect leader for the next era. Add to that the huge role he played in delivering the 2008 title and it’s easy to see why Collins was so loved and still is.
Have an opinion about which one of these Jayhawks stands above the rest? Or maybe your guy didn't make this list? Vote here in our fan favorite poll and/or name your guy and why in the comment section below.
The best thing that ever happened to Wayne Selden Jr., came on draft night 2016, when 30 NBA teams told him for 60 picks that they did not believe he was good enough to play in their league.
Until that very moment, Selden spent most of his life thinking otherwise and doing it with pretty strong conviction.
That night, however, lit a fire under Selden that led him to last weekend, when he signed a two-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies and, in doing so, became a bona fide NBA player.
Sure Selden played a handful of games with New Orleans and Memphis during his rookie season. And, yeah, he even started two games in the freakin’ playoffs. But those moments were short-lived and did not guarantee the former Jayhawk anything.
This contract does. It guarantees Selden a real chance. It guarantees that he will be able to work and fail, grow and learn, win and lose, without having to worry about what every move he makes, good or bad, will mean for his future.
Give a guy like Selden, who stands 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and appears to have his explosive athleticism back, that kind of freedom and relief and there’s no telling what’s possible.
Is Selden going to take this chance and turn it into the first chapter in an All-Star story? Doubtful. But is it possible that this chance will be the one that allows Selden to stick around the league for the next 5-7 years, providing him the opportunity to live out a dream and make some good coin while doing it? You bet.
And speaking of betting, I’d be more than willing to bet that’s exactly the way this will go down.
Selden is talented enough to play in the NBA. He’s fast, physical, can shoot it well enough and has that inner drive that is required to keep up with the best basketball players in the world.
He showed that throughout his stint in the NBA’s Developmental League (now known as the G League), where he often looked much more angry than happy to be there.
There was a reason for all of it. Selden was angry. Angry at the ball, angry at the rim, angry at the hand the basketball gods had dealt him. But instead of allowing that anger to eat him up, Selden used every ounce of it to prove himself. Talk about a heck of a success story.
When I caught up with Selden in early June after the annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, the anger was gone. Not only was he cool to talk to and happy to share his story, but he also seemed very much at peace with his life and career. That was before the guaranteed, two-year contract. And you know what? Something tells me Selden was that way because he believed good news was coming.
Now that it has, and now that Selden appears to be comfortable with where he’s at again, don’t expect him to pull back or ease up an ounce.
Selden’s smart – one of the more intelligent KU basketball players I’ve dealt with. He knows what got him here. And he knows what it will take to stick.
Now he just has to do it.
So far so good in that department. Through the first two games of Summer League action in Las Vegas, Selden has made two starts and is averaging 25 points per game on 16-of-33 shooting (48.5 percent), including a 6-of-11 clip from 3-point range.
Selden and the Grizzlies (2-0) will return to action at 3:30 p.m. today against Utah.
The wild ride as an NBA rookie soon may be slowing down for former Kansas point guard Frank Mason III, but that does not mean the reigning national player of the year will be.
Mason, who will wrap up summer league action in Las Vegas with the Kings later this week, will jump into the camp circuit shortly thereafter.
The former KU standout will host four camps in the next couple of weeks, with three of them coming on consecutive days in late July in Kansas.
The first, July 27, will take place at Olathe Community Center. One day later, Mason will return to Lawrence for a camp at Lawrence High on July 28. And he will follow that up with a July 29 camp at Wichita Hoops. The final camp will take place Aug. 5 in Sacramento.
All three Kansas camps will feature two sessions (9 a.m.-Noon and 1-4 p.m.), will be open to young athletes in grades K-12 and will cost $50 for one day and $90 for a two-day pass in two locations. The price rises to $60 and $110 after July 18.
For more information, or to sign up, visit www.frankmasonbasketball.com.
As for Mason’s latest showing in Vegas, the reserve guard exploded for 24 points in 24 minutes during the Kings' 95-92 loss to the Lakers.
Mason, who shot 9-of-13 from the floor, was 2-of-3 from 3-point range and added five rebounds, six assists and two steals in what was easily his best game of the summer to date.
Mason looked a lot like his old, national-player-of-the-year, KU self during this one, showing extreme confidence with his handles and driving to the rim for tough finishes over the L.A. defense.
His play also led the Kings on a wild comeback. After trailing by more than 20 in the first half, Mason went off for 20 points in the second half alone and brought the Kings all the way back before watching L.A. hang on late.
One night earlier, Mason's Kings fell to former KU teammate Wayne Selden Jr., and the Memphis Grizzlies on a night when Selden kept his positive momentum going.
Mason tallied just six points, three rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes in that one, but Selden dropped in 21 points in 29 minutes on 6-of-13 shooting and a 7-of-8 mark at the free throw line.
It marked the second consecutive game of 20 or more points for Selden, who, earlier this summer, signed a two-year deal with the Grizzlies.
With a surplus of guards and a need up front, the Boston Celtics made somewhat of an inevitable move on Friday. And it involved a former Kansas basketball player.
According to multiple reports citing sources, the Celtics have agreed to send guard Avery Bradley to Detroit for former KU standout Marcus Morris. The Pistons also will be getting a future second-round draft pick in the deal.
Morris, if the trade goes through, will be playing for his fifth team in his first seven NBA seasons. And there’s no doubt that this next squad will represent his best opportunity at team success.
The Celtics, who earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, reached the conference finals a year ago and added prized free agent Gordon Hayward, along with No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum, during the offseason.
The key portion of the deal for Boston was to move Avery's contract so they could sign Hayward to a max deal. But getting a young forward with size and good athleticism in return certainly does not represent the Celtics walking away as the losers in this deal. It seems to have the potential to be mutually beneficial for both sides and all parties.
Bringing the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Morris twin into the fold gives Boston coach Brad Stevens even more flexibility and versatility and also brings some beef and attitude to the team trying to break through and reach the NBA Finals.
Stevens has talked recently about moving more toward positionless basketball, playing with three positions instead of five — guard, wing and big man. Morris fits into that idea very well and should give Stevens a variety of options on the perimeter and down low.
Morris made news last postseason by showing up to a Washington Wizards playoff game to support twin brother, Markieff, in an authentic Washington Markieff Morris jersey. The move opened eyes throughout the arena and even led some to speculate that Marcus may have filled in for Markieff following an injury in the postseason.
Morris enjoyed one of the better and more consistent years of his career last season, averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds in 79 games with Detroit.
He has career averages of 10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 416 NBA games, but surrounded by all of that talent in Boston, it’s easy to see how he could carve out a key role and improve on those numbers in the coming years.
July 4, as you well know, is known as Independence Day in the United State of America, but there’s a developing situation for another, lesser-known holiday a couple of days later.
Thanks to the last-chance vote for this year’s Major League Baseball All Star Game, July 6 might forever be known as Moose Day.
All morning and afternoon, Twitter has been on fire with Kansas City Royals fans — and therefore many KU basketball and football fans, as well — Tweeting #VoteMoose in an attempt to get Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas into this year’s All Star Game next week in Miami.
While the fun has extended to all walks of life, with people adding “#VoteMoose” to the end of Tweets that have absolutely nothing to do with sports, and others getting creative and putting out movie challenges in which you replace a word or two in a popular movie with the words Vote Moose for a good laugh, the movement officially reached KU at 2:16 p.m. Thursday afternoon, when Kansas basketball coach Bill Self joined the fun.
Self, who has more than 220,000 followers but just 261 Tweets to his name — including a whopping nine so far this year — wrote simply, “Let’s get another Royal into the All Star Game. #VoteMoose.”
As of 2:57 p.m., Self’s Tweet had 1,264 likes, 667 ReTweets and 24 replies.
Self’s Tweet will only count once in the voting, but you can bet there were a few folks out there who follow the KU program and its coach that followed suit after they saw Self fire off his Tweet.
Falling in the "Go Figure" category, Self's Twitter picture is actually of him and his son, Tyler, at Kauffman Stadium.
Moustakas, who reached the All Star Game in 2015 via this very same path is expected to find out at a 5 p.m. announcement whether he received enough votes to make the team.
In 2007, Kansas forward Julian Wright, whom some called a young Magic Johnson because of his size, athletic ability and vision as a passer, became an NBA lottery pick when the New Orleans Hornets made him the No. 13 overall pick following two stellar seasons at Kansas.
Today, Wright is trying to make it back into the league as a center.
Listed on the Utah Jazz summer league roster, with a big C by his name, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound former Jayhawk Wright again is knocking on the door of the league he played in from 2007-2011.
During that time, Wright played in 231 games in three seasons with New Orleans and a fourth with Toronto, making a total of 40 starts and underwhelming most of the way.
Though plenty gifted athletically, Wright struggled to transition to the pro game, primarily because his jump shot was not where it needed to be, and that led him to more bench time than playing time. His four-year averages landed at 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, and, from there, he jumped overseas, where he has continued his playing career to this day.
Last listed as a member of Pallacanestro Reggiana, of Italy’s LBA, Serie A Basketball League, Wright has played with eight different franchises overseas from 2012 to today, with two stints in Israel, two in Italy and at least part of one season in Greece, Puerto Rico, Russia and Turkey, as well.
While it remains to be seen what comes of Wright’s summer tryout with the Jazz, Kansas coach Bill Self told the Journal-World on Wednesday that he had heard some favorable feedback on Wright already this summer.
“Somebody told me he’s big enough, he can switch screens, he could do some good things if he could get in shape, and maybe he could make a team,” Self said of his former Chicago standout. “But who knows?”
Wright’s presence on the Utah roster has caught the attention of those who cover the Jazz on a regular basis. So, too, has his physical presence. Much larger than he ever was during his days as a thin, dynamic play maker in Kansas, Wright looks like a completely different player today and, in many ways, is almost unrecognizable on the floor.
Calling him a Center might have caught some off guard, but at least one outlet, Utah’s SB Nation site, believes that Wright could be auditioning as a stretch big, which, given his height, was the way some of his overseas clubs used him during recent years.
Evidence of this guess appears in the following video clip, where Wright (No. 30) can be seen fading to the corner at the bottom of the screen.
While playing a stretch four (provided his shot has improved to that level) might be Wright’s best path toward getting a legitimate look, don’t expect it to be one that leads to a roster spot.
Here’s another quick video in which you get a little closer look at Wright, with that beard that has been a part of his signature look for the past several years.
And here's a video interview from a couple of years ago, which opens with Wright talking about his Kansas experience.