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Tale of the Tait

Four-star center Gethro Muscadin sets Nov. 1 decision date

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Four-star, Class of 2020 center Gethro Muscadin has picked Nov. 1 as decision day.

The 6-foot-10, 215-pound big man from Aspire Academy in Louisville, Ky., has been on KU’s list of targets for a long time and made an official visit to Lawrence in late September.

He also has visited Minnesota, Kansas State and, most recently, Texas Tech, which had been thought to be the leader for Muscadin’s services throughout the summer.

Last week, however, Rivals.com recruiting analyst Corey Evans switched his pick from Texas Tech to KU, saying, “I thought for a long time that he was Lubbock-bound but, despite the recent (allegations) cast down upon KU, Muscadin seems to be favoring the Jayhawks. He could visit Louisville one last time before deciding, but momentum is definitely on the side of Kansas.”

Earlier this year, Muscadin delivered a final eight of KU, Minnesota, Texas Tech, Kansas State, UNLV, New Mexico, VCU and UConn.

After not being ranked by Rivals.com for the past couple of years, the rising center jumped into the Top 150 in August, landing at No. 130 and earning a four-star rating.

Asked by RedRaiderSports.com in August to list his strengths, Muscadin said: “I really compete. I like to work hard. I have a lot of skills. I can push the ball down and make some plays. I really try to help my team to win, that’s all I care about. My biggest strengths would be how hard I run (the floor). I can pass it, rebound, block shots, and shoot it, too.”

With his decision coming in a little more than two weeks, Muscadin almost certainly will be an early signee when the early signing period arrives Nov. 13 and runs through Nov. 20.

Six of the seven analyst predictions on Muscadin’s Rivals bio have picked Kansas, with five of the six projections coming in the last week.

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Five-star forward Isaiah Todd 2 days from announcing decision

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

With a Monday commitment from junior college guard Tyon Grant-Foster getting the Kansas basketball program on the board in the 2020 recruiting class, the Jayhawks now turn their attention to a Thursday announcement from another prospect.

Five-star power forward Isaiah Todd is expected to announce his choice between KU and Michigan sometime Thursday, which is also his 18th birthday.

Todd, who is ranked No. 10 overall in the 2020 class by Rivals.com, is a 6-foot-10, 210-pound forward from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C. He trimmed his list to a final two on Oct. 7, when he cut Kentucky, Memphis and North Carolina from his group of finalists.

After competing at the USA Basketball minicamp last weekend, Todd sat down with recruiting analyst Corey Evans, of Rivals.com, to discuss his top two programs in detail.

Evans calls Todd, “a game-changing prospect that can work in a variety of systems and boasts the physical dimensions that will soon make an NBA Draft prospect.”

And while there has been a lot of talk of Todd skipping college and going the professional route overseas like R.J. Hampton did in New Zealand, some analysts believe that college is still very much in play for the talented big man.

While the commitment, to either program, is a key first step in landing him, whichever school Todd picks on Thursday will likely have to sweat out the overseas stuff all the way to the end.

For now, though, let’s focus on the decision.

Here’s a quick look at some of what Todd had to say about Kansas in the recent interview with Evans.

• Why did KU and Michigan make it to the end?

“These two schools, they were going to be my top two schools because they are really similar with what they are preaching and what they are selling to me. I like both coaches, both programs and both teams. Based on both of those visits, I still feel the same about both schools so it is going to be a tough choice.”

• How did your visit to KU for Late Night go?

“I was just excited to get there since they have been recruiting me since the beginning of my freshman year, and everybody just talks about the Kansas visit, especially Late Night. I was just excited to see the facilities that I heard so much about.”

• Any concern about the NCAA allegations against Kansas?

"(Self) just preached that he would be fine and if anything were to happen, that I would be fine. I honestly think that it could turn around and be a positive. If I was to go there, it would show that I really trust him and that he would obviously trust me."

According to Evans, Todd is unsure about whether he will sign a letter of intent during the early signing period that runs Nov. 13-20 or wait until the regular period next spring.

He told Evans his decision likely would come down to his final conversations with his family, particularly his mother.

Stay tuned...

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KU basketball notebook: Vitale has Kansas at No. 1, Dotson on watch list and a recruiting decision coming?

Members of the Kansas men's basketball team laugh as they prepare for the official team portrait during Media Day on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Members of the Kansas men's basketball team laugh as they prepare for the official team portrait during Media Day on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The No. 1 team in college basketball resides in Lawrence, according to longtime ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale.

Vitale, who is set to begin his 41st season of calling college basketball games, on Monday released his Top 40 preseason rankings and had the Jayhawks on top.

“Bill Self has paid attention this offseason to an NCAA letter of allegations, and now Self is concentrating on competing for a second national title in Lawrence,” Vitale wrote next to KU’s position as his top team in the country entering the 2019-20 season. “Self was happy to have Udoka Azubuike return and if he stays healthy, watch out as the new rules should allow him more freedom in the paint. Devon Dotson will have more responsibility in the offense. It will be interesting to see how Silvio De Sousa contributes in his return.”

Self's Jayhawks consistently have been ranked in the top two or three by most national publications throughout the offseason and also have been the pick of many as the heavy favorite to win the Big 12 Conference.

Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke and Louisville rounded up Vitale’s preseason Top 5, and the Jayhawks could face two of those four programs in the first month of the season.

KU will open the regular season on Nov. 5 against Duke in the Champions Classic in New York. And KU and Michigan State are on opposite sides of the bracket in the Maui Invitation and could meet three weeks later if both reach the title game in Hawaii.

If you count Michigan State, KU’s schedule features 11 games against the Top 40 teams on Vitale’s preseason list.

Dotson on watch list

Kansas guard Devon Dotson has been named one of 20 watch list candidates to the 2020 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Monday.

This is the second straight year Dotson has been named to the award’s watch list, and he is looking to become the second Jayhawk to win the Cousy Award after Frank Mason III claimed the honor in 2017.

Dotson enters his second year as KU’s starting point guard on the heels of a strong freshman season that left him in the top 10 on several KU freshman lists. He was seventh in points (442), ninth in scoring average (12.3 ppg), tied for fifth in assists (127), seventh in steals (49), third in free throws made (115), eighth in free throw percentage (78.2), second in minutes played (1,168) and tied for second in games started (36).

Dotson is one of two Big 12 student-athletes on the 2020 Cousy Award watch list, along with Texas Tech’s Davide Moretti.

Thompson decision nearing?

With a visit to Oklahoma on the schedule this weekend and the Nov. 13 signing period nearing, five-star prospect Bryce Thompson, of Booker T. Washington High in Tulsa, Okla., is closing in on a decision.

Thompson, who visited KU the weekend of Late Night, is down to a final seven that includes KU, OU, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Texas and Michigan State.

He already has made official visits to KU, UNC, Texas and Oklahoma State this fall and plans to get serious about his choices next week.

“After the Oklahoma visit I will sit down with my family, we will go through the pros and cons of each school, see where I fit and see where I can contribute as a freshman and can win,” the 6-foot-4 shooting guard told 247sports.com at last weekend’s USA Basketball minicamp in Colorado Springs.

Thompson is ranked No. 19 in the 2020 class per Rivals.com.

KU also is awaiting a final decision from fellow five-star prospect Isaiah Todd, who is down to Kansas and Michigan and is expected to announce his choice on Thursday, his 18th birthday.

Todd, a 6-10 power forward from Raleigh, N.C., is ranked No. 10 in the 2020 class by Rivals.

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KU lands commitment from 2020 Indian Hills C.C. standout Tyon Grant-Foster

New Kansas commitment Tyon Grant-Foster on his official visit to KU

New Kansas commitment Tyon Grant-Foster on his official visit to KU by Matt Tait

The Kansas basketball program picked up its first commitment in the 2020 recruiting class on Monday morning, when Tyon Grant-Foster officially announced his pick for KU on Twitter.

The 6-foot-7, 187-pound guard from Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa, was in Lawrence for an official visit over the weekend and that was all he needed to make his decision.

Grant-Foster, a native of Kansas City, Kan., told the Journal-World during a Monday morning phone conversation that he made up his mind and told KU coach Bill Self about his decision on Saturday afternoon.

“I just felt like it was the best timing,” he said. “I felt like I would have the same opportunities at other schools, but if I can get this opportunity and I can do it at home, close to where I’m from, that’s a blessing. It would be a real bad idea if I turned it down.”

In 32 games with IHCC as a freshman, Grant-Foster made five starts, played significant minutes and had a strong second half of the season to finish with averages of 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

With his length, athleticism and versatility, Grant-Foster fits the mold of recent KU signees Tristan Enaruna, Jalen Wilson and Christian Braun, players who can play multiple positions and be used in a variety of ways.

The preseason juco All-American who also had offers from Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa State, Kansas State, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma State, Oregon, SMU, Texas and more, said Self and company told him he could play any of the three guard positions at Kansas.

Asked if he had a preference, Grant-Foster said he would pick the 2 if he had to decide. But he added that he also had been working on his point guard skills during the past several months, hoping to become good enough on the ball to open up even more possibilities down the road.

Indian Hills has a true point guard, but Grant-Foster said he was one of the team’s primary ball handlers. He said the way the Warriors run their offense is “exactly” like KU, with multiple ball handlers on the floor at the same time.

Another major factor in Grant-Foster’s decision to pick Kansas was his relationship with KU assistant coach Jerrance Howard. Not only did Grant-Foster and Howard form an immediate bond, but the juco guard also said seeing Howard’s connection to his entire family was fun to watch.

“I feel like I can really relate to coach,” Grant-Foster said of Howard. “Coming from where he came from and coming from where I come from, we connected right off the bat. Say we’re at practice or I had a bad day, I can go talk to him about anything because I can relate to him so well. My relationship with Coach Howard was huge.”

Grant-Foster said his two younger brothers, 15-year-old Trayvon and 16-year-old Trayon, are both good players at KC Washington High and he hopes they one day will follow him to Kansas.

Making this decision for them and for other young players in KCK high schools was also on Grant-Foster’s mind.

“It was really important,” he said. “It shows everybody if you just stick to your dream and work hard, you can make it come true no matter what. So I feel like I’m going to be a real great role model for them.”

When asked if he planned to make his commitment official when the early signing period arrives on Nov. 13, Grant-Foster said, “Oh yeah.”

As for the looming NCAA allegations against KU, Grant-Foster said he and his family asked about the situation during his visit. What he heard in response from the Kansas coaches put his mind at ease.

“They were totally honest about it,” he said. “Coach Self said he was going to take care of it, and I’m not worried really at all. I just want to hoop.”

Grant-Foster is the first player in the 2020 class to commit to Kansas. With three seniors on the current roster, one open scholarship and the potential for early departures after the 2019-20 season, the Jayhawks could look to sign as many as four or five players in the 2020 class.

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He Will, He Won’t, He Might 2019: Silvio De Sousa

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) jokes with a camper during a Washburn University basketball camp on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at Lee Arena in Topeka.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) jokes with a camper during a Washburn University basketball camp on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at Lee Arena in Topeka. by Nick Krug

You’ve been teased by his potential ever since the Final Four run of 2018 and watched him develop both as a player and a person even while he was sitting in street clothes.

Those two facts make the 2019-20 season for KU junior Silvio De Sousa one of the most anticipated in recent memory, as both De Sousa and the adoring Kansas fans are dying to see what the big man from Angola can do now that he’s eligible again.

In 20 games with Kansas during the 2017-18 season, De Sousa started slow and finished strong. There were moments during conference play toward the end of the regular season when KU coach Bill Self could not even put De Sousa on the floor for more than a minute or two.

But when center Udoka Azubuike went down with a knee injury just before the Big 12 tournament, something clicked, De Sousa started playing ball and his contributions were enormous for the Jayhawks the rest of the way.

If he gives that kind of production to this team, the coaches and his teammates surely will take it. But the belief among most people close to the program is that De Sousa has much more to give and that his stats will show it.

With that in mind, here’s a look at three things to watch with De Sousa this season.

He Will: Lead this team in rebounding

With Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack both having the size and skills to challenge De Sousa for this title, it’s his drive and hunger that will set him apart.

Even as a young true freshman, De Sousa’s motor ran nonstop and it was obvious that he had great passion for the game and was hungry to improve his game.

That was particularly impressive given the fact that he was still fresh out of high school and had next to no time to get acclimated to the college game. Even with those limitations, De Sousa averaged 3.7 rebounds per game in 8.8 minutes. Expanding those numbers out over his a projected minutes-played number of 26.4 per game this season, De Sousa’s rebounds per game would jump all the way to 11.1.

If he comes anywhere close to that number, that should be plenty good enough to finish ahead of Azubuike (a career 6.4 rebounds per game player) and McCormack, who averaged 3.1 rebounds per game in 10.7 minutes played over 34 games a season ago.

Although he no doubt will still be a presence in the paint and on the glass, part of McCormack’s offseason was spent expanding his game toward the perimeter.

I think De Sousa will be this team’s best offensive rebounder and could get a quarter of his boards on the offensive glass this season.

He Won’t: Ever stop smiling

This one was too easy. If he hasn’t stopped smiling yet, there’s no way he’s going to stop now that he’s playing again.

I, like everyone else, have been so impressed with De Sousa’s demeanor throughout the past couple of years and I don’t think you can overstate how remarkable his attitude has been while his future was uncertain at best and in jeopardy at worst.

When I talked to De Sousa shortly before his suspension was reduced to one year by the NCAA in April, he credited his mother for his positive attitude. He said she always tried to teach her children to stay positive and look at the good in even the worst situations.

“I think it’s just a family thing,” De Sousa said at the time. “I was raised that way, and my mom always taught me and told me to be a good person no matter what, to care for others even when I’m not in a good position.”

De Sousa was not in a good position throughout the 2018-19 season, but you never would have known it by watching him. Whether on the bench, with his teammates, away from basketball or in front of the cameras, De Sousa stayed upbeat and showed the world a lot about his character.

He Might: Get the loudest single ovation in the history of Allen Fieldhouse

I’ve got De Sousa in my starting lineup for the 2019-20 Jayhawks, but whether he starts or not is more or less irrelevant.

Mark the date down. Friday, Oct. 24, 2019, the date of KU’s first exhibition game of the 2019-20 season.

If he’s in the starting lineup that night, the ovation could be endless and no doubt will rival some of the loudest we’ve heard in years. Even if he’s not, you know PA announcer Eric Danielson will make it a point to sit up a little straighter, talk a little clearer and project a little louder when announcing De Sousa’s move to check into the game.

The last KU-MU game at Allen Fieldhouse was ridiculously loud. K-State has drawn some loud nights, so have West Virginia, Kentucky and half a dozen others.

But when it comes to a single ovation for an individual player, I’m not sure we’ll ever have heard anything quite like this. We got a taste of it at Late Night, but game nights should be even louder.

Kansas fans love De Sousa. And he loves them just as much. Together they fought the NCAA’s two-year suspension — and won — and now they get to spend some time together, around 40 games if things go well.

It should be a heck of a reunion and it should be as loud as ever from the outset.

He Will, He Won't, He Might 2019:

• Devon Dotson

• Udoka Azubuike

• Ochai Agbaji

• Mitch Lightfoot

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2 years after calling out KU, Baker Mayfield is back in the middle of a handshake controversy

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws over Kansas linebacker Osaze Ogbebor (31) during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws over Kansas linebacker Osaze Ogbebor (31) during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

It’s been nearly two years since Joe Dineen Jr. and the rest of the Kansas football captains walked to midfield at Memorial Stadium and refused to shake hands with the Oklahoma Sooners and future Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield after the opening coin toss.

Evidently, that’s long enough for Mayfield to forget how he felt about that move.

After that game, a 41-3 drubbing by the Sooners in November of 2017, Mayfield was asked about the pregame snub and said he had no idea where it came from.

“If that’s how it’s going to be, that’s how it's going to be,” Mayfield said that day. “Competitive games. I love that kind of stuff. But it’s just kind of funny that they wouldn’t shake our hands.”

Fast-forward to Monday night, with Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns in San Francisco for an equally lopsided Monday Night Football game with the 49ers, and you’ll find something that doesn’t quite add up.

This time, it was Mayfield and his team on the opposite end of both the drubbing and the handshake controversy.

Rather than shaking hands with the Niners to open the game, Mayfield chose the route taken by Dineen and the Jayhawks two years ago, drawing the ire of San Francisco’s all pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

"That's some college (expletive),” Sherman told reporters after the game, according to NFL.com. “It's ridiculous. We're all trying to get psyched up, but shaking hands with your opponent — that's NFL etiquette. And when you pull bush league stuff, that's disrespectful to the game. And believe me, that's gonna get us fired up.”

“Respect the game,” Sherman added. “You can have rivals, but pay your respect in that moment — especially when you’re young. He hasn’t earned anything in this league. How many games has he won? He’s acting like he was the MVP last year. If (Patrick) Mahomes did that, it would be one thing. But he would never do that, because he has too much respect for the game.”

Wednesday Update:

Throughout the day Tuesday, as Sherman's comments made the rounds, videos from that pregame coin toss began to surface.

Several of them, from different angles, actually showed Sherman and Mayfield shaking hands before the coin toss. Mayfield appeared to shake hands with all of the 49ers players gathered on the field for the toss.

When asked about the videos, Sherman immediately apologized, saying, "Sometimes you remember things a little differently than it happened. Obviously it still motivated me the same way."

Here's the full apology:

"It's definitely my bad," Sherman told the Pat McAfee Show. "I never want anybody to have to deal with some stuff that they didn't do. And so, you know, the questions that he's gonna get and the annoying, nonsense questions about some stuff that happened in a game that's already been done, you know, sure he'll get an apology for that. I'll probably reach out to him via text or social media to actually get ahold of him and talk to him ... on the phone. He definitely deserves an apology, and that's my bad on that."

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3-star center, Late Night visitor Davion Bradford to announce college choice Friday

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Late Night visitor Davion Bradford has pegged Friday as decision day.

Three days after attending KU’s annual season tipoff event at Allen Fieldhouse, the 7-foot center from St. Louis announced on Twitter that he would announce his college choice at 5 p.m. Friday.

Bradford is a three-star prospect ranked No. 133 overall in the 2020 class by Rivals.com.

As a junior, Bradford attended Mehlville High in St. Louis and played last summer with the MOKAN AAU program. Prior to that, Bradford played for two other high schools, starting at Christian Brothers College High in St. Louis and transferring to Hillcrest Prep in Arizona for his sophomore season.

Today, a little more than a year after his mother died in a car accident, he’s back at Mehlville for the second season in a row and has zeroed in on several area programs for his potential college destination.

Four Rivals.com analysts, including Eric Bossi, logged their picks for Kansas State on Monday. Bradford also has been tied to Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma State and Tulsa throughout his recruitment.

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Kansas makes final cut for 5-star forward Isaiah Todd

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Five-star power forward Isaiah Todd on Monday morning narrowed his list from a final five to a top two, keeping Kansas in the mix along with Michigan.

The 6-foot-10, 210-pound Todd, who hails from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C., revealed his two finalists in a Tweet early Monday and said he would pick between KU and Michigan on Oct. 17, which also is his 18th birthday.

Todd, who is ranked No. 10 overall in the 2020 class by Rivals.com, eliminated North Carolina, Kentucky and Memphis from his list.

“I liked all of the schools but Michigan and Kansas are the two schools that have really been standing out for me,” Todd told Jason Jordan of USA Today High School Sports. “I’ve gotten close with Coach (Bill) Self and Coach (Juwan) Howard and I know they can really help me take my game to the next level.”

It has been rumored that Todd, like former KU target R.J. Hampton, might consider going overseas to play instead of heading to college. But all of his attention today appears to be on his college decision.

“It’s going to be very tough because both schools have great coaches, great opportunity and have great programs,” Todd told Jordan. “It really comes down to the details now. I’ve got a little over a week to get my thoughts together and make my mind up.”

Todd, who averaged 28 points and 15 rebounds a game as a junior, will attend USA Basketball’s junior minicamp in Colorado Springs this weekend. He visited Michigan the last weekend of September.

The earliest Todd could make any commitment official is Nov. 13, the start of this year’s early signing period, which runs through Nov. 20.

It's worth noting that Rivals.com recruiting analyst Corey Evans on Sunday logged his pick for Todd's choice to Kansas.

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Top 10 Kansas target Isaiah Todd to name final 2 schools on Monday

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Class of 2020 power forward Isaiah Todd was in Lawrence over the weekend for Late Night and now plans to narrow his list of finalists to two sometime Monday.

Coincidence?

I think not.

The guess here is that KU will make the final two for Todd, the 6-foot-10, 200-pound, five-star forward from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C.

Where things go from here, and which of his four other finalists will crack the final two, is anyone’s guess, but you can’t be the school of choice without making the top two.

The No. 10-ranked player in the 2020 class per Rivals.com is down to KU, Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina and Memphis.

He visited Michigan a week ago, was in Lawrence over the weekend and also has made several trips to Carolina during the past 12 months.

Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi wrote recently that Todd is in no rush to make a decision and added the talented forward who sat right behind the KU bench for the featured acts at Late Night on Friday “is another player with speculation about the possibility he may end up overseas” like R.J. Hampton recently did.

Todd Tweeted on Sunday evening that he would be revealing his “TOP 2” on Monday but gave no further details.

The news is likely to drop sometime in the afternoon and if there’s any connection to Todd’s KU visit and the timing of the announcement, Kansas fans should feel pretty good about where the Jayhawks sit.

We’ll know soon enough. But it still could be several weeks before Todd makes his final choice known.

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Late Night Notebook: Ochai Agbaji with the ball, KU’s speed demons and an injury update

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) looks to drive around Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) looks to drive around Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Given the fact that Snoop Dogg’s Late Night set was three times as long and a lot more eye-opening than the Jayhawks’ scrimmage, it makes sense that the music stole so many headlines Friday night and Saturday morning.

But this was a basketball event after all, and KU coach Bill Self was more than happy to talk hoops after it was over.

“I thought neither team guarded a lick tonight and I thought it was brother-in-law ball,” Self said long after the festivities had ended. “I thought that big guys didn’t rebound and guards didn’t pass it very well and I really think that was a perfect example of how we’re not supposed to play.”

While similar words have come out of Self’s mouth after every Late Night scrimmage for the past decade and a half — he even made note of that himself on Friday — there were still a few notable moments during the Jayhawks’ scrimmage, which came before Snoop took the floor and featured 10 scholarship players.

The Crimson squad, which featured three projected starters — Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett and Silvio De Sousa to the Blue team’s two in Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike — topped the Blue squad, 32-30, in a fast-paced, up-and-down 12-minute teaser for the season ahead.

Here’s a look at a few highlights:

Agbaji the ball handler

Although Self twice noted that nobody should take too much from Friday’s scrimmage, the fact that sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji handled the ball in the half court and even initiated a little offense off the dribble was important.

“Ochai needs to become our third handler, no question about that,” Self said. “That’s really been something that’s kind of been thrown in there (with) the reality that that could become an issue here in the last week or 10 days.”

Before that, Self and company believed that freshman guard Issac McBride would fill that role, even if only in an emergency capacity. But with McBride leaving the program last month, the need to identify another reliable ball handler behind Dotson and Garrett moved to the top of the priority list.

“If one of those guys were to get hurt then Ochai would have to be our second handler in the game, at least the way I see it right now,” Self said. “So it’s going to be real important that Marcus and Devon stay healthy.”

Speed demons

The breakneck pace of the 12-minute scrimmage rarely slowed and became a flat-out foot race at times.

But don’t take that to mean the Jayhawks will employ a run-and-gun style all the time during the upcoming season.

“Well, I think we could play fast,” Self said. “But it’s a lot easier to score fast when the other team never tries to guard you. That’s not how we’ll play. … I do believe that there’s some potential to score the ball (fast), but there should be more potential to defend it and you didn’t see that tonight.”

Self has seen much better defense throughout the practices KU has had without 16,000 fans watching.

“Yeah. Pretty good,” he said. “Not great. We still have to figure out how to guard ball screens because we’re not good at it yet. But hopefully in the next two or three weeks we’ll become better and by the time we play Duke we’ll be much better than we are today at it.”

Injury update

After tweaking his hamstring on the first official day of practice last week, KU senior Isaiah Moss, a graduate transfer from Iowa, got back to practice earlier Friday but did not participate in the scrimmage.

“He practiced (Friday),” Self said. “And his hamstring tightened on him so we decided to hold him (out).”

That fact, at least in part, contributed to the Jayhawks playing a 12-minute scrimmage instead of the more traditional 20-minute battle.

“We were going to go 20 minutes,” Self said. “(But) I’m glad we didn’t because we only had 10 scholarship guys out there and then you throw in (walk-ons) Elijah (Elliott) and Chris (Teahan) and Michael (Jankovich). One team only had six. So even playing a short amount of time, that wasn’t enough time to accomplish anything so I thought it was better to get in and get out considering our injury situation.”

Up next

With KU basketball Media Day slated for Wednesday and Big 12 Media Day set for Oct. 23, the Jayhawks have just a handful of practices and those two media days remaining before the arrival of the 2019-20 season.

KU opens exhibition play on Oct. 24 against Fort Hays State at Allen Fieldhouse and will follow that up with their final tune-up on Oct. 31 versus Pittsburg State.

After that, things get going for real, with KU taking on Duke in the season opener at 6 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

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