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Tale of the Tait

Relax; Not all is lost with Andrea Hudy leaving Kansas basketball

Andrea Hudy turns over her shoulder to laugh with players Thomas Robinson, Niko Roberts and assistant strength and conditioning coach Glenn Cain during a workout session. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Andrea Hudy turns over her shoulder to laugh with players Thomas Robinson, Niko Roberts and assistant strength and conditioning coach Glenn Cain during a workout session. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo by Nick Krug

Let’s take a rational look at the news that strength coach extraordinaire Andrea Hudy is leaving the Kansas basketball program, shall we?

OK. I get it. A lot of you are out-of-your-minds upset — both angry and emotional — about the news of Hudy’s departure, which first surfaced late Thursday night and leaves the Jayhawks looking for someone to take over their strength program less than three months shy of the start of the 2019-20 season.

Tough news, to be sure. Especially when you consider that she’s going to Big 12 rival Texas. But, really, can you blame her there? Austin is an amazing town and UT has as much money, both to pay its coaches and to spend on facilities and programs, as any school in America.

If ever you’re going to make the tough decision to move on from a powerhouse program like KU, heading to a place with twice the annual athletic department budget seems like a good way to do it.

While Hudy’s departure may sting today, it’s not as if this is some sort of catastrophic blow from which the program will never recover.

Hudy is as good as it gets in her industry. And her talents, both as a strength coach and an ambassador for the program, likely will be missed by everyone associated with Kansas basketball.

But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And this certainly feels like one of those moments for KU, the athletic department and the men’s basketball program.

There’s no debating the fact that Hudy’s contributions to Bill Self’s program during the past 15 years have been huge and played a key role in helping the Jayhawks achieve the nearly unprecedented success that they have achieved. But there’s also little doubt that Self and the powers that be at KU will bring in a quality replacement more than capable of filling Hudy’s shoes.

Things might look different. And the process likely will not be the same. But there’s no reason to think that the results will not be.

Remember, this is Self’s program. And everything that goes into it, from strength training to recruiting to travel plans to what’s on the table for team meals, is dictated by Self. And that’s how it should be.

One of the things that makes KU’s Hall of Fame coach so good at his job is his ability and willingness to empower others to be themselves to get the most out of KU’s players.

He did that with Hudy. He does that with his assistants. And he’ll do that with the new strength coach, whoever he or she may be.

As explained when KU shifted to a new health care structure for its student-athletes known as Kansas Team Health three months ago, all hirings and firings involving any sports medicine employees will now be a joint effort made by both the head coach and athletic department and the medical professionals who now oversee KU’s strength and conditioning in all sports.

KU Athletic Director Jeff Long called that "a shared responsibility," and added: “(The) coach is still involved in the hiring but there’s others involved, as well, to make sure that that strength coach or that trainer has the proper credentials and understands our model and can operate and work in our new model.”

That could make things a little more interesting as the Jayhawks seek to replace Hudy. But that’s more from the perspective of the people who might be interested in the job and less from the standpoint of how much say Self will have in who gets it.

I can't imagine a hire being made without Self fully endorsing it. And as long as that remains the case, there’s no reason to question whether the new Hudy will be worthy of the role. They will be. And they’ll be experienced and talented and qualified and ready to step into a big time job. It’s as simple as that.

Beyond that, the vast majority of the key players on KU’s current roster have spent at least a year or two working with Hudy. Given the timing of this news, it’s likely that they’ll take it upon themselves to keep the train rolling along in the weight room and conditioning department as if she never left.

If you squint hard enough, you might even be able to see a potential benefit there. The players taking ownership in the weight room and even bonding over losing their training leader could pay dividends on the court with team chemistry, as well.

Besides, the change that will inevitably come figures to be more of a gradual one that takes place over time. With as many as six players on this year’s roster potentially leaving at the end of the 2019-20 season, things will happen naturally in terms of transitioning from the Hudy way of doing things to the new way.

In relatively quick fashion, it will reach the point where the bulk of the players on the KU roster will never have worked with Hudy at all and the new strength coach, whoever it is, will be able to roll with his or her game plan as if that’s the way it’s always been.

Self and his family are currently on vacation and this news no doubt threw a wrench into his ability to fully get away. But there’s also no doubt that he already has started brainstorming what direction to go and what calls to make.

Because of the involvement of Kansas Team Health, this hire might take a little longer to complete than it would have in years past. But I wouldn’t expect it to take forever to complete even with that in play.

The line to replace Hudy will be a mile long and it will be full of quality candidates who are over-the-moon excited about the opportunity and ready to prove themselves on college basketball’s biggest stage.

That and the fact that the replacement will be working for Self is all the program needs to sustain the excellence we’ve seen for the past few decades.

Reply 11 comments from David Robinett Brad Avery Brian Conrad Pius Waldman Ryan Mullen Dirk Medema Matt Stone Dale Rogers Jeff Coffman Roger Ortega

One of the top prep football players in Alabama eyeing Kansas for basketball, too

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Conner Teahan tried it, Mario Kinsey did it before that, Clint Normore won a national championship by doing it back in 1988 and James Sosinski is the most recent name you might recognize who pulled off the feat.

Today, there’s an interesting prospect out there who appears to be eyeing the idea of playing both basketball and football at KU in the distant future.

Ga’Quincy McKinstry, a Rivals.com 4-star football athlete in the Class of 2021 reported on Twitter Wednesday night that he had received a scholarship offer from the Kansas men’s basketball program.

In the Tweet, McKinstry hit the caps lock button before typing, “I WILL HAVE THE CHANCE TO PLAY BOTH SPORTS #RockChalk” into the message.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound McKinstry does not show up on the Rivals150 list for basketball players in the Class of 2021, but he is the No. 1 ranked football player in Alabama per Rivals and also comes in at No. 30 overall in Rivals’ national rankings.

So how — or perhaps why is the better question — would KU hoops coach Bill Self consider using one of his oh-so-valuable scholarships on a player who isn’t ranked in the Top 150 and is probably a better football player than he is a basketball player?

The answer is simple – he might not necessarily have to. According to NCAA Division I rules, a player may only enter into a financial aid agreement with one athletic program at a given university.

So if McKinstry were to join Les Miles’ football program first and both practice and play in games with the Jayhawks on the gridiron, his scholarship, the way I understand it, would technically count as one of the 25 per class available on the football side of things, essentially making him a walk-on on the basketball program.

That’s how it worked a couple of seasons ago, when KU coach Bill Self brought Kansas football tight end James Sosinski onto the roster when the basketball team needed an extra body in its front court.

Sosinski came to KU as a scholarship football player and therefore did not count against the men’s basketball program’s scholarship numbers.

Sosinski played just nine minutes in seven games with the Jayhawks that season, but did get a Final Four ring out of the deal and even scored in KU's Final Four loss to Villanova.

A similar path was followed by Kinsey in the early 2000s. After coming to KU to play quarterback, Kinsey spent part of one season on the men’s basketball team — then coached by Roy Williams — and actually was a contributor in both sports before leaving KU altogether for disciplinary reasons.

In his one season at QB for the Jayhawks, the ultra-athletic Kinsey threw for 1,215 yards, 7 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

During his lone season with the men’s basketball team (2000-01), Kinsey played in 16 of the 23 games for which he suited up and averaged 1.9 points and 0.6 rebounds in just under 9 minutes per game before being dismissed from the team in February of 2001.

With McKinstry just now entering his junior season of high school, and with him also boasting football offers from powerhouse programs Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame and more, there remains a long way to go before the idea of him even coming to Kansas, let alone playing both sports at KU, becomes a reality.

But at least as of today, the Pinson Valley High prospect from Pinson, Ala., who is best known as one of the top defensive backs in his state, appears to be excited about the opportunity KU is providing him.

Don’t be surprised if the rest follow suit to make sure that they don’t let a Top 30 football talent like McKinstry get away.

McKinstry, who goes by the nickname “Kool-Aid,” already is an accomplished athlete in both sports, having helped Pinson Valley win both football and basketball state titles early on in his prep career. He averaged double-digits for the PVHS team en route to the state title last season and dropped 36 points in an AAU game with the Alabama Celtics earlier this summer.

His first Div. I basketball offer came back in March from Jacksonville State. More followed, including a basketball offer from Auburn in late July.

None by GaQuincy McKinstry™

• Jayhawks offer 4-star PG

Earlier this week, KU offered a scholarship to Class of 2020 point guard Andre Curbelo, according to JayhawkSlant.com. Curbelo, a 4-star prospect per Rivals.com, hails from Long Island Lutheran in New York and is ranked No. 57 overall — No. 11 among point guards — in the 2020 class. In-state program St. John's appears to be one of KU's biggest competitors for Curbelo's services and the 6-foot, 170-pound prospect also has offers from several other east coast programs.

• KU makes cut for KK Robinson

KK Robinson, another 4-star point guard in the Class of 2020, recently trimmed his list of finalists to a Top 7 and left the Jayhawks in the mix. Kansas is joined by Illinois, Iowa State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, TCU and Texas A&M in the point guard's final seven. Robinson, who hails from Little Rock, Ark., is a 6-foot, 170-pound guard who is ranked No. 78 overall by Rivals.com in the Class of 2020.

Reply 9 comments from Dirk Medema Rockchalk1990 Dane Pratt Bee Bee Freddie Garza Brjam Buck Bukaty Steve Corder

Agbaji, Azubuike impress at Nike Skills Academy in California

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) goes hard to the bucket against KU walk-on Michael Jankovic during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) goes hard to the bucket against KU walk-on Michael Jankovic during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A couple of current Jayhawks recently spent some time in Southern California, showing off their bodies and abilities at the annual Nike Skills Academy.

Dozens of pro scouts were on hand to watch the select group that included KU sophomore Ochai Agbaji and senior Udoka Azubuike run through drills and play organized pick-up games.

More than a few media members were there, too. One of them was Rivals.com’s Corey Evans, who wrote a little about what he saw from the two Jayhawks, both of whom are projected starters in the 2019-20 lineup.

First, here’s Evans’ take on Agbaji:

“He didn’t have a tremendous camp but whenever it comes to the immediate eye test, many were stumped at how Agbaji was a potential full-year redshirt candidate at Kansas last year. He still showed that he has more room to grow before he settles into the off-guard spot that could ultimately be his long-term position in the NBA. However, Agbaji is a Herculean figure at 6-foot-5 and just over 210 pounds. He should be Kansas’ primary lock-down defender next season.”

By far the most interesting bit of information from this recap is Evans’ belief that Agbaji not only could be but actually “should be” KU’s primary lock-down defender this season.

Remember, the Jayhawks do still have Marcus Garrett and Garrett has proven himself for two seasons now to be as solid as it gets on the defensive end, guarding bigger players, smaller players and guys his size.

I would take Evans’ read on Agbaji more as a compliment to Ochai than a knock on Garrett. It’s possible that a bit of recency bias is at play here and Evans merely overlooked Garrett while writing his recap. It is still August after all. But if Agbaji really has progressed to the point where anyone believes he will be a better defender than Garrett, we could be looking at an all-time breakout type of season from the sophomore from Kansas City, Mo.

We already know what Agbaji can do on the offensive end. And the expectation — according to many who have been around him this summer — is that he improved his game in a number of facets during the past few months and will be an even better offensive player than we saw in half a season a year ago.

If his defense has elevated to the point where it’s on par with his offensive ability, Agbaji is going to be some kind of handful for KU’s opponents this season.

Now, on to Evans’ take on Azubuike:

“The last time that most of us heard about Azubuike, it was regarding the ligament tear that he suffered in his right hand that ultimately led to the redshirt being taken off of Ochai Agbaji. Back and fully healthy, Azubuike still has a ways to go in the skill department, but when it comes to rim-running, dump-off dunking and rebounding, not many do it better than the Kansas star. This all is enforced further by his 7-foot-8 wingspan. A plus-nine wingspan on a center that weighs more than 275 pounds and competes on each possession is difficult to stop at the college level. Questions continue to circulate about his ultimate fate at the NBA level, but that shouldn’t stop his efficiency numbers from soaring at KU this winter.”

Not a whole lot new here other than an oh-my look at just how big Azubuike really is, from his body and frame to his length and wingspan.

The first thing that came to mind when reading about that plus-nine wingspan was that Azubuike really should be a much better shot blocker than he has been during his first three incomplete seasons at Kansas.

Forget the two seasons when he barely played, let’s just look at the one he did.

In 36 games during the 2017-18 season, Azubuike blocked 60 shots in 23.6 minutes per game. That’s an average of roughly 1.7 blocks per game, which was not even half of what the national leader averaged that season and a far cry from cracking the Top 10, which would’ve taken 2.9 bpg. According to last year’s stats, 1.7 blocks per game would have placed Azubuike 74th nationally.

None of this should come as much of a surprise if you’ve watched Azubuike play. He has not proven to be an explosive jumper, has had a hard time avoiding fouls and generally blocks shots off of his sheer size rather than via precision and timing.

But, still... with a wingspan advantage of plus-nine, it’s not unrealistic or even unfair to expect Azubuike to block more shots and this very well might be the year he does it.

It’s worth noting that his 36-game pace in each of his two seasons cut short by injury was right in line with his 60 blocks in 36 games his sophomore year — 59 in 2016-17 and 56 in 2018-19.

And with greater commitment to his conditioning and another year of maturing under his belt, Azubuike may be in line for his best all-around season yet. A career-high in blocked shots should be a part of that equation.

Reply 6 comments from Forever2008 Len Shaffer Matt Tait Dirk Medema Brjam Steve Quatrocky

Jayhawks galore on national writer’s preseason all-Big 12 lists

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike comes in for a dunk past former Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor and current forward Tristan Enaruna during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike comes in for a dunk past former Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor and current forward Tristan Enaruna during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

National college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein has more than a few Kansas Jayhawks on his radar this preseason.

As part of his tour around the country in which he assesses the preseason teams and names to watch in each conference, Rothstein dug into the Big 12 on Monday, bringing one third of the Jayhawks’ roster into play during his look at the best of the best in the Big 12.

As you might expect, it started at the top.

In addition to labeling the Jayhawks as the preseason favorite in the conference, he also pegged KU senior Udoka Azubuike as his pick for preseason player of the year.

Rothstein is not alone in thinking this way. Back in April, after it was announced that Azubuike would return to KU for one final run, ESPN broadcaster Fran Fraschilla told the Journal-World that, “If he’s healthy, he automatically becomes the leading candidate for player of the year in the Big 12.”

Beyond that, Azubuike appears to be in better physical condition than ever, with recent social media posts of videos and pictures showing his new physique and more agile movement on the court.

There’s little doubt about what Azubuike can bring the Jayhawks in the paint. A big, bad body that’s hard to move and likes to dunk everything as hard as he can is on the top of every college basketball coach’s wish list every offseason. But if he can add to that staple the ability to play more minutes and go longer stretches without getting into foul trouble, it’s easy to see how his size alone could translate into big numbers that could be tough to beat out for the Big 12’s top individual honor next March.

In addition to the POY nod, Azubuike also earned one of the five spots on Rothstein’s preseason all-Big 12 first team. Joining him there was KU point guard Devon Dotson.

This is another no-brainer pick if you ask me. And Dotson could be in line to give his teammate a run for his money in the player of the year voting, as well.

Dotson will no doubt be the player who makes the 2019-20 Jayhawks go. And with his speed, toughness and attack-first mentality causing problems for opposing defenses on just about every possession, Dotson should be poised to put up even better numbers than he did as a freshman.

Joining the two Jayhawks on Rothstein’s all-Big 12 squad were Texas Tech’s Davide Moretti, TCU’s Desmond Bane and Baylor’s Tristan Clark.

No arguments with any of those five here.

After those obvious categories, Rothstein added four more lists, two for freshmen, one for breakout seasons and another for impact transfers.

The Jayhawks had four players on two of those lists and were shutout on the other two.

Junior forward Silvio De Sousa was among Rothstein’s 10 breakout Big 12 players during the 2019-20 season. No explanation was given, but seeing how De Sousa is eligible again and made quite an impact as a one-semester freshman two seasons ago, it’s not hard to see how someone could expect a big season from De Sousa, who could fill any role from fifth starter to first man off the bench.

Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna and the newly committed Dajuan Harris were three of the 10 players on Rothstein’s list of 10 impact freshmen. And that may surprise some of you, given how much was made of KU not signing a player ranked in the Top 40 per Rivals.com in the 2019 recruiting class, it should be a great sign of the potential possessed by this class.

That’s particularly true with Harris, who I continue to hear could wind up being an absolute steal by the time he’s playing and becomes a regular contributor. I wouldn’t bank on that being this season, so Rothstein may be a little off there. But if he wanted to make his list work, he easily could plug in freshman Christian Braun for Harris and not be far off.

Braun had a fantastic summer and his versatility and athleticism cannot be overlooked. I realize that having four Jayhawks on a list of 10 impact freshmen might have been a bit much, but I don’t think it would have been off base at all.

That brings us to the final two categories — Five under the radar freshmen and 10 impact transfers.

Rothstein did not put any Kansas players on either list, but he easily could have. Braun, simply by the fact that he did not crack Rothstein’s list of 10 impact freshmen, certainly could qualify as an under-the-radar freshman. And Isaiah Moss, the grad transfer from Iowa who will report to campus later this month, probably will end up being one of the 10 biggest impact transfers in this conference by season’s end.

Not only does the shooting guard from Chicago have a chance to be among the conference leaders in 3-point percentage, but he also could play a much bigger role on this KU team as a defender and scorer than many people may be projecting.

Time will tell, of course. And you can’t blame Rothstein for not including seven Jayhawks on these lists. That might have seemed like a bit much. But would anyone really have been all that surprised?

Reply 2 comments from Armen Kurdian Dirk Medema

KU walk-on Chris Teahan taking upperclassman role seriously

Kansas forward David McCormack drives to the bucket against Kansas guard Chris Teahan during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward David McCormack drives to the bucket against Kansas guard Chris Teahan during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Former walk-on Tyler Self played just 95 minutes in 45 games during his five-year Kansas career and, outside of a memorable 3-point shot in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, very few of them produced any kind of lasting memories.

But after paying his dues and staying out of the way as a freshman and then slowly but surely building his body and his maturity during the next couple of seasons, Self emerged as an actual leader during his senior season.

Ten Jayhawks played more, did more and drew more attention that season. But in the few instances we were able to grab a behind-the-scenes look at that team, it was Tyler Self who constantly pushed his teammates and made sure things ran smoothly, refusing to settle for half-hearted efforts and anything less than the best from his teammates and the program.

That’s what happens when players mature, and Chris Teahan is experiencing a similar transformation today.

“I started to realize that more toward the end of the season,” said Teahan, when asked if he felt any movement toward a position of leadership on last year’s young and inexperienced team. “Me going up to them and telling them something to do, most of the guys are younger than me so I can sit there and have a good conversation with them and they’ll learn something from me, where I didn’t feel comfortable doing that with Devonte’ (Graham) and Svi (Mykhailiuk) for obvious reasons.”

Among those reasons were the fact that Teahan was just a freshman when that dynamic duo played for Kansas. And as a freshman, and a walk-on, he figured it best to fall in line, do what was asked and follow the yes-sir, no-sir approach to playing basketball.

But as he found his footing and started to feel more comfortable with his place on the team and how things were run, Teahan slowly started looking for opportunities to make an impact, however big or small it might have been.

That alone made Year 2 more fun than Year 1. And now that he’s set to enter his junior season, Teahan is ready for more. Whether that comes in the form of increased minutes or added respect and credibility as a leader, Teahan will take it.

“That’s still driving me for sure. That’s my ultimate goal,” he said of finding a way to up his minutes. “If I can get on the court next season, that’s what I want to do. I’m going to work hard this offseason to do it, and if it doesn’t happen I’m going to work even harder the next offseason.”

No matter what happens with his playing time, that attitude figures to benefit Kansas in several ways. It could help in the leadership department, where Teahan, like Self before him, will help set the tone and the baseline for what kind of work needs to be done on a daily basis. It could help push KU’s rotation players to be their best day in and day out. Or it could wind up leading to the time on the court that Teahan covets.

“I’ve done a lot of shooting, just making sure my shot’s consistent and been working on all facets of my game,” he said.

Asked what one thing might be most crucial in his quest for minutes, Teahan smiled sheepishly before answering.

“Make sure I can play defense,” he said. “Defense is probably the place I struggle the most so I’ve just got to make sure I get a little bit faster and a little bit quicker. You’ve just got to make sure you’re smarter than everybody else on the court.”

Reply 5 comments from Dane Pratt Crimson_bluescottco Joe Ross

Former Jayhawk Frank Mason III fired up to play with NBA’s reigning MVP in Milwaukee

Former KU point guard Frank Mason III walls up on a young camper during the third annual Frank Mason Basketball Camp on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, at Sports Pavilion Lawrence.

Former KU point guard Frank Mason III walls up on a young camper during the third annual Frank Mason Basketball Camp on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, at Sports Pavilion Lawrence. by Matt Tait

Former Kansas point guard Frank Mason III was back in Lawrence on Friday, conducting the third and final day of the Kansas tour of his annual summer camp.

With the help of former K-State guard Will Spradling, Mason ran through drills, showed off his skills and interacted with the 30 or so campers who showed up at Rock Chalk Park to see the former Jayhawk.

“This is always fun,” Mason said Friday. “I love being around the kids. I love giving back and just love helping them, helping them become better young men and better basketball players.”

The Lawrence camp — which followed similar sessions in Wichita and Olathe on Wednesday and Thursday — was supposed to be the start of an all-Mason type of weekend. His annual charity softball game was scheduled for this weekend in Kansas City, Kan.

But Mason’s professional obligations, which now include adjusting to a new team and new surroundings, proved to be too much for the softball game to carry on. Mason said he planned to bring the game back in the future, but wanted to spend the rest of the summer getting settled in with the Milwaukee Bucks, who recently signed him to a two-way deal, which will allow him to split time between the Bucks in the NBA and the Wisconsin Herd in the G League.

It also will allow Mason to play with reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, with whom Mason actually has a brief history.

“I got a chance to work out with him and play one-on-one with him in Las Vegas during Summer League,” Mason said of the man they call The Greek Freak. “It was pretty big time. We did a lot of one-on-one, a lot of skill work, and also worked out with (fellow Bucks) Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton and it was a good time. We all got better and just watching him live and watching his work ethic was unbelievable. I’m just excited to be a part of the team and to get to play with a guy like that.”

Asked what he liked about Antetokounmpo’s game, Mason did not hesitate to answer.

“Everything, man,” he said. “He’s a 7-foot bully on the court. He’s unstoppable in transition, he’s almost automatic around the rim, he super coachable and he’s humble. I’m excited to play with him and he should make my job a lot easier.”

As for Mason’s new NBA home, his representation, newly certified NBPA agent Isaiah Garrett, said the Bucks represented a fresh start for the former NCAA national player of the year.

“It’s just a great organization, obviously, with Giannis and them making it to the playoffs the last couple of yeas and they have a great chance of winning a championship,” Garrett said. “They were only missing a few pieces, some backup pieces, and I think they feel like Frank could fit in with what they need.”

One other aspect of the move that has Mason and Garrett excited is the looming KU connection, with former Kansas walk-on Chase Buford recently being named the head coach of the Herd.

“That’s a great connection,” Garrett said. “I know Frank has a really good relationship with Chase and is really looking forward to working with him... Frank noticed that when he first heard that the Bucks were interested.

“Frank’s always been hungry," Garrett said. "I don’t think he ever lost that. Sacramento just wasn’t the right fit. The opportunities weren’t there for him. We have a great relationship with Sacramento. They have a great organization and it was a blessing for them to go ahead and waive Frank as early as they did so he could find a new home. He’ll continue to work hard and make the best of his situation with Milwaukee.”

None by Matt Tait

Reply 2 comments from Len Shaffer Sean Lancaster

Kansas freshman Jalen Wilson enjoying adjustment to becoming a Jayhawk

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson throws a pass beyond Kansas forward David McCormack and Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson throws a pass beyond Kansas forward David McCormack and Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It’s been a little more than six weeks since Jalen Wilson first stepped foot on KU’s campus with the knowledge that he would be wearing crimson and blue next season.

And in that short time, Wilson has immersed himself in all things Kansas basketball tradition.

Talking about his adjustment to KU and Lawrence in a short video put out by the KU Basketball Twitter account on Thursday, Wilson zeroed in on some of the KU traditions that have wowed him since he arrived.

“Having so many people up there, you know, Paul Pierce is someone I really loved and the great Wilt Chamberlain... Being here where he played is crazy to me,” Wilson began while looking up at the retired jerseys in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters. “Just how much history (is here) and how many great Hall of Famers have been through this gym, being in the next class to be a part of that is still not even real to me yet.”

A late addition to the 2019 class, Wilson has yet to experience several of the traditions, large and small, that Kansas basketball has become known for throughout the years. But those days are coming. And Wilson has heard things. Through his official and unofficial visits to campus in the past, he’s also seen things from an outsider’s perspective.

“Really just like the history here,” Wilson said. “You know, the crowd. This is the best crowd you’re going to find in the whole nation in basketball and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Wilson, who initially was headed to Michigan but got a second chance at Kansas when former Wolverines coach John Beilein left for the NBA, will have to wait a few more months to actually experience that crowd for himself.

But the way he sees it, the small delay, which will bring with it the start of the fall semester, will give him time to reach the end of his adjustment period.

After arriving on campus on the heels of a whirlwind second stint of recruiting, Wilson’s head was spinning. He turned right when he should have gone left, couldn’t get into the KU locker room on his own for a few days and still had to unpack his belongings — and his thoughts — in a place he never expected to be.

But that’s all gone now. And in its place is a singular focus of a player who is thrilled to be a Jayhawk.

“I really just feel at home here,” he said. “Everything they told me, the future they see for me, what my role could be is everything I wanted, so I feel like this will be the best place for me to come and make an impact and win a national championship.”

In many ways, Wilson is the perfect personification of KU’s popular phrase, “Faces change, expectations don’t.”

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound small forward from Denton, Texas, who can play big or small, is driven by his desire to be the best and is comforted by playing for a coach and in a program that expect the same.

“Winning is the best thing about college,” he said. “When you win, everybody looks good and everybody feels good. It’s not about this and that. It’s just about winning. So I want to win a national championship and I would love to make a mark on the Big 12 and just play my game.”

None by Kansas Basketball

Reply 2 comments from Barry Weiss Matt Stone

KU freshman Tristan Enaruna a big part of home country’s offense at FIBA U18 European Championship

Tristan Enaruna in Dutch national team gear (photo courtesy of @TristanEnaruna)

Tristan Enaruna in Dutch national team gear (photo courtesy of @TristanEnaruna) by Matt Tait

This blog was updated at 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Still overseas in Greece, playing with the Netherlands national team in the U18 FIBA European Championship, Kansas freshman Tristan Enaruna's summer run with his countrymen came to an end on Wednesday.

Enaruna, who helped the Dutch advance to the Round of 16 by averaging 19.3 points in 33 minutes per game during Group play, has been a key part of his team’s offense and not been afraid to shoot the ball.

And that continued on Wednesday. In a 79-72 loss to Slovenia, Enaruna played 40 minutes and led the Netherlands with 21 points on 9-of-22 shooting. He also added 13 rebounds and 2 blocks while hitting 3 of 6 from 3-point range in a losing effort.

The loss knocks the Dutch out of the tournament and frees up the rest of Enaruna's summer. He'll report to Lawrence in a few weeks for the start of preseason conditioning and his freshman year at KU. Classes begin on Aug. 26.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Enaruna’s four games in Greece.

Game 1: Spain 98, Netherlands 65

• Enaruna played 33 minutes and scored 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the floor. He was 1-of-4 from 3-point range and added 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and an assist.

Game 2: Netherlands 98, Croatia 63

• In 32 minutes of the blowout victory, Enaruna exploded for 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the floor. He easily could have topped 30 points but shot just 1-of-6 from 3-point range despite being red hot everywhere else. He added 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 2 assists in the easy victory.

Game 3: Finland 59, Netherlands 53

• In 35 minutes on Monday, Enaruna could not find his offense in a six-point loss to Finland that cost the Dutch in terms of seeding in the Round of 16. He finished 4-of-16 from the floor and 0-of-3 from 3-point range in the loss. Doing his best to make up for the off shooting night, Enaruna ripped down 13 rebounds and dished 3 assists while swiping 2 steals.

Game 4: Slovenia 79, Netherlands 72 (Round of 16)

• Although it came in a losing effort, Enaruna saved his best for last, both from a complete-game standpoint and in terms of his time on the court and his 3-point shooting. After making just 2 of 13 from 3-point range in the tournament's first three games, Enaruna knocked in three of six shots from behind the arc on Wednesday, giving him an overall clip of 5-of-19 (26.3%) from 3-point distance for the tournament. Back to back games of 13 rebounds is certainly a high note to go out on, even if Netherlands finished with just one victory in four tries. One alarming note from Wednesday came from the fact that the KU freshman finished 0-of-4 at the free throw line, giving him a 10-of-26 mark (38.5%) at the line for the tournament.

Those last two games, minus the high volume of shots, seem like the best representation of where and how Enaruna can make an immediate impact on the 2019-20 Kansas basketball team, provided he cracks the rotation.

I’d be willing to bet that the 6-foot-8 freshman from Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, won’t take 16 or more shots in a single game during his first two seasons at KU. But he took at least 16 in all four games in Europe.

While that no doubt has been good for his confidence as an offensive weapon — although the 41.6% shooting, 26.3% from 3-point range likely left something to be desired — Enaruna’s biggest impact with the Jayhawks in Year 1 figures to come around the rim, with the long, athletic freshman stealing extra possessions and points on the offensive glass and cleaning things up on defense.

He probably won’t grab 13 boards in a single game at Kansas anytime soon, but that shouldn’t stop him from trying. And based on what we saw from Enaruna during a pair of camp scrimmages and pickup games this summer, staying around the rim appears to be a big part of Enaruna’s plan at Kansas.

Reply 9 comments from Art Jefferson Soswalt4 Robert  Brock Tony Bandle Dirk Medema Marius7782 Jay Scott Karen Mansfield-Stewart

NCAA.com’s Andy Katz picks KU in 2020 Final Four

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa and Kansas guard Chris Teahan (12) celebrate a dunk by a teammate as practice wraps up on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Teams practiced and gave interviews to media members before Thursday's opening round games.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa and Kansas guard Chris Teahan (12) celebrate a dunk by a teammate as practice wraps up on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Teams practiced and gave interviews to media members before Thursday's opening round games. by Nick Krug

With all of those way-too-early preseason polls now a thing of the past, it’s time to transition into the era of media types making their Final Four picks long before the 2019-20 college basketball season begins or the bracket is even formed.

One such prognosticator made his picks public on Tuesday, when Andy Katz, of NCAA.com, pegged KU, Michigan State, Florida and Louisville as his preseason Final Four.

Two of those four teams (KU and Michigan State) are listed as projected No. 1 seeds in ESPN.com's July 24 Bracketology update by Joe Lunardi. Florida and Louisville are both currently projected as No. 2 seeds, with Kentucky and Duke rounding out the No. 1 seeds.

Katz also listed Kentucky, Maryland (a 3 seed according to Lunardi) and Seton Hall (6) as other contenders for a spot in Atlanta next spring.

Of KU’s chances, Katz wrote: “The return of Devon Dotson, Udoka Azubuike and Silvio De Sousa makes the Jayhawks one of the most veteran teams in the country.”

The Final Four picks were part of Katz’s feature titled “20 predictions for the 2020 NCAA Tournament.” In it, he pegged Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston as the national player of the year and North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony as the country’s top freshman.

Mason softball game sacked

Former KU point guard Frank Mason III had planned to host his charity softball game this weekend at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones, for the second year in a row.

But the game has been postponed because of what the event’s Facebook page is calling “unforeseen circumstances.”

Mason, who recently signed a contract with the Milwaukee Bucks after being waived by Sacramento earlier this summer, said he would be using this time “to focus on the next steps in my NBA career.”

Full refunds are available for those who already purchased tickets. Contact the T-Bones stadium box office for more information.

Reply 1 comment from Tony Bandle

Remembering Max

Max Falkenstien

Max Falkenstien

None by Kansas Jayhawks

As the news of the passing of Max Falkenstien sinks in, hundreds of Falkenstien fans — whether they knew him or not — have taken to Twitter to celebrate the longtime KU broadcaster who was a friend to everyone and an ambassador for all things KU.

For many, the stories they tell are personal in nature, that one lasting memory of their time with Falkenstien or that one moment that made them laugh or cry or think the most during years of interactions with him.

For others, the stories are of a time when they grew up listening to “Bob and Max” on the radio or chose the radio broadcast over the television announcers because they had to have their KU games feel just right and Falkenstien and longtime broadcast partner Bob Davis made that happen better than anyone alive.

Regardless of the connection or the reason for their memories, the outpouring of love and respect and admiration for Falkenstien’s life and career showed in no uncertain terms just what kind of an impact he made on the entire KU fan base, those he knew well and those he met in passing.

To include all of the memories and reactions to his passing here would keep one busy for the rest of the week and you still might not get to all of them.

So, in the spirit of honoring him beyond the words about his passing, here is but a small sample of the kind words others offered about their friend Max Falkenstien in the hours after his passing.

Falkenstien died Monday afternoon at age 95 after living a life that could only be dreamt up in the pages of a Hollywood script and will not soon be forgotten.

None by Danny Manning

None by Dean Buchan

None by Dick Vitale

None by John Calipari

None by Brett Ballard

None by Jeff Boschee 🦁

None by Matt Kleinmann

None by Jay Bilas

None by Jeff Hawkins

None by Brian Hanni

None by Brian Hanni

None by Ray Bechard

None by Mike Swanson

None by Jason Lamb

None by Nate Bukaty

None by Gary Bedore

None by Jeff Long

None by Jason King

None by Ardent Media

None by Al Wallace

None by Doug Vance

None by Jason Whitlock

None by Dick Weiss

None by Bruce Steinbrock

None by Carolina Basketball

None by Ken Davis

Reply 4 comments from RXDOC Cassadys Titus Canby

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