* Recorded the afternoon of Tuesday, April 11, before the men's basketball banuqet.
- Recorded Tuesday afternoon, before the men's basketball banuqet.
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reported Monday, through information obtained from their father, that former Memphis standouts Dedric and K.J. Lawson plan to transfer to Kansas.
The two brothers, who are natives of Memphis, where they attended Hamilton High, will sit out the 2017-18 season per NCAA transfer rules and be eligible in time for the 2018-19 season,
Last season, they combined to average more than 30 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists per game for Tubby Smith's Tigers, who finished the season 19-13.
Dedric Lawson, a 6-foot-9, 236-pound sophomore and former McDonald's All-American, averaged a double-double — 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game — while his brother, K.J Lawson, a 6-7, 210-pound, red-shirt freshman, averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Both players committed to former Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who has since moved on to Georgia Tech. Their father, Keelon Lawson, held a position on Pastner's staff but was demoted after Smith arrived in town.
Just after noon on Monday, K.J. confirmed the news with a Tweet that read, "ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK"
According to Parish's report, the latest recruiting haul by Kansas might pay dividends beyond the next two seasons, as Dedric and K.J. have two younger brothers — Chandler and Johnathan — who are top prospects in the 2019 and 2021 classes. Beyond that, a cousin, D.J. Jeffries, also is a Top 10 player in the 2019 class.
Though ineligible next season, the Lawson brothers will be able to practice with the team all year, providing some tough competition for KU's rotation players to battle on a daily basis throughout the year.
Dedric Lawson will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the upcoming season and K.J. Lawson, if he applies for and is granted a sixth year of eligibility because of injury issues earlier in his career, would have three years of eligibility remaining.
Stay tuned to KUsports.com for more...
Kansas senior Frank Mason III is in Los Angeles today for the annual ceremony that announces the Wooden Award winner (7 p.m. on ESPN2).
Given the fact that Mason already has swept nine of nine national player of the year awards in the past few weeks and the regularity with which the Naismith and Associated Press players of the year also have won the Wooden (18 of the past 20 seasons), it seems likely that Mason has one more acceptance speech to make.
With that, his Kansas career will officially be over, when the walk to accept the Wooden Award — should he win it — will mark the final time that Mason represents KU on a national stage.
Sure there will be other times that Mason will be mentioned as “that stud from Kansas,” and he always will be a Jayhawk. But, from tomorrow on, Frank Mason will be representing himself, working his butt off morning, noon and night to impress pro scouts and become an NBA player.
For a guy who was all about the team during his four-year Kansas career, ending with so many individual moments is not the way he pictured it. But he is deserving and it’s for more than just the work he put in or the numbers he put up.
See, in the middle of all of that blood, sweat and tears, between the monster games and memorable moments, Mason actually made it a point to soak all of this up. And that was cool to see.
I’m not gonna sit here and tell you I knew that Frank Mason III was going to have a national player of the year kind of season. Heck, before the year began, if you would’ve told me that Kansas would have one player sweep the national player of the year awards, I probably would’ve made Mason my third guess, behind Josh Jackson and Devonte’ Graham.
My bad. And, boy am I glad.
Watching Mason do his thing from courtside all season long, from Honolulu to New York City and the Big 12 backyards to the NCAA Tournament, was an absolute pleasure.
KU, as you know, tends to bring in the best of the best and puts players on the floor that have incredible skills and talent. From Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor to Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid to Josh Jackson this year and dozens of others in the past decade, I’ve enjoyed covering them all and have been wowed by their wizardry on the basketball court.
But I’m not sure I’ve appreciated anyone quite the way I appreciated Mason this season. Maybe it was because he was so consistent and so solid from start to finish. Maybe it was because, no matter what the night or who the opponent, I almost always was amazed when I looked down at his final line and saw huge totals in nearly every category. Offensive efficiency at its finest, right there.
But, again, it also was about more than basketball. My appreciation for Mason’s season grew from week to week in large part because I could tell, in just about every way, how much it meant to him. That’s cool. That’s something I’ll always remember.
I first sensed there was something different about Mason early in the season, when his answers to questions after a number of non-conference games were more engaging and even longer than in years past. Instead of being the quiet guy who didn’t like to say much, Mason spoke up and spoke for the team the way real leaders do.
But it wasn’t just the way Mason responded to questions or handled interviews that put Mason’s monster season on my radar.
In Honolulu, Mason openly invited Journal-World photographer Nick Krug into a Facebook Live session with him on the beach when Nick was trying to get a few shots of the team relaxing in paradise.
Later, at the team’s annual holiday shopping session in late December, Mason jumped at the opportunity to talk to the couple of media members there, making sure that a KU basketball official captured the moment on his cell phone, presumably for some kind of digital scrapbook of his last go ’round as a Jayhawk.
And, again, toward the end of the regular season, as I interviewed Mason while walking with him out of the locker room and down the halls toward the weight room, I caught a quick glimpse of him capturing the whole thing on Snap Chat.
These moments, and many others like them I’m sure, as much as the clutch 3-pointers, ridiculous finishes in traffic or dagger jumpers that buried teams all season, were a huge part of Frank Mason’s memorable senior year. And it was fun to see him embrace them instead of carrying a too-cool-for-school attitude into his final season in Lawrence.
What he did on the floor made him an All-American and led to all of that hardware he collected during the past few weeks.
But what he did off of it, made those words he uttered on Senior Night ring true. “If I had the chance to play four more years here, I swear I would,” he said.
Frank Mason clearly will miss Kansas. But not nearly as much as Kansas will miss him.
Now that it’s all over, it’s hard to believe that the Carlton Bragg Jr. era in Kansas basketball will go down as an experiment.
But that’s exactly what it was.
Despite earning high praise throughout his prep career and becoming another in a long line of McDonald’s All-Americans to join the Jayhawks, Bragg’s two years in Lawrence were mostly about unfilled potential and missed opportunities.
As a freshman, when he showed promise and seemed to be smiling all the time, Bragg went into games with little pressure and often gave the Jayhawks solid minutes when he was on the floor.
Playing him then was not much of a gamble for the Jayhawks, but on a veteran team with so much talent in the front court, there really was no need for Bragg to be a big time player.
That all changed during his sophomore season, when the Cleveland native was in perfect position to pick up the slack left by Perry Ellis’ departure but could never get it done, mentally or physically, off the court or on.
Bragg’s entire sophomore season was a mess and he rarely — if ever — looked like the kind of player many expected and hoped he would be.
That reality, along with his inability to deliver when the pressure was on — and, really, even when it wasn’t — led to today and Bragg’s decision to leave KU for a fresh start.
It’s a good decision. And it will benefit both sides. While Bragg gets a chance to start over at a program that no doubt will be excited about his physical tools, wherever that may be, Kansas gets his scholarship back and can add another body in the 2017 recruiting class.
Already with combo guard Marcus Garrett and Oak Hill big man Billy Preston in the mix, the Jayhawks now can address both need and desire with the remaining spots.
KU coach Bill Self said the other night that he’d like to add another ball handler for insurance at the guard position and a quick-twitch 4 man to back up Preston.
That was before Bragg’s scholarship was available. Now, with another offer to hand out if Self so chooses (and as long as Josh Jackson declares for the NBA Draft) the Jayhawks can double up on either position and take the best available player out there, be that a high school senior or a college transfer.
By quick-twitch 4 man, Self is talking about a player who owns everything that everyone thought Bragg had and everything former KU stud Kevin Young did have.
If Self could find a Kevin Young type of player, he would almost immediately have some kind of role and impact on next year’s team.
The extra energy, toughness inside and ability to keep up with the fast pace set by KU’s talented backcourt would be an absolute bonus and a nice change from what Bragg offered on the floor.
There are others who have filled this role in recent years, with Jamari Traylor, Cheick Diallo and even Thomas Robinson (before his monster junior season) also fitting that description while playing a supporting role.
Whether Self can find a guy like Young, Traylor, Robinson or Diallo at this point in the process remains to be seen. And with the spring signing period beginning next Wednesday, it seems more likely that such a player would come via the graduate transfer route that delivered Tarik Black a couple of years back.
Here are a couple of names worth familiarizing yourselves with as Self and his assistants scan the country for a player who could fill this role.
• Jeremiah Tilmon, 6-foot-10, 235-pound center from East St. Louis, Ill., recently requested his release from Illinois, where he committed last July. With the coaching change to Brad Underwood, Tilmon, a 5-star prospect and the No. 25-ranked player in the 2017 class according to Rivals.com, reconsidered his commitment and, given that he had Kansas on his list initially, may eventually be on the Jayhawks’ radar again.
• Shakur Juiston, 6-foot-7, 215-pound prospect from Hutchinson Community College has been on KU’s radar for a while and, according to 247 Sports, he received an offer from Kansas on March 6. In fact, Matt Scott of TheShiver.com, reported earlier today that Self and KU assistant Norm Roberts paid Juiston a visit today.
There are, of course, many more names that might surface in the coming days and weeks, as the Jayhawks look to finalize their 2017 class and set their roster entering the offseason.
With March Madness now behind us — good, bad or indifferent, it always goes so fast — the folks at CBS are starting to roll out some of their look-back content that covers everything from spectacular plays and buzzer-beating shots to big time dunks and monster blocks.
These are always fun to watch because, when you're in the middle of the madness you become fixated on looking ahead and worrying about what's next — with your bracket, your favorite team or the team(s) you cover — that you sometimes forget some of the most amazing plays and moments that made the first couple of rounds.
Kansas certainly had its share of those moments in this tournament, as the Jayhawks rolled through the first three rounds by a combined 90 points before falling to Oregon in the Elite Eight. Naturally, that Elite Eight loss has received most of the attention in the past week. And understandably so. It's far more common to look back and try to figure out what went wrong or what could've been done differently in these circumstances than it is to look back and celebrate what went right.
For this year's Jayhawks, what went right was a lot and this video features just a few of those moments.
In all, there are six dunks from KU games in this highlight video, three by Jayhawks and two by KU opponents.
The first two come in the 5:15-5:45 range from Josh Jackson, the third, is Jackson's exclamation point against Michigan State in the second round at the 8:22 mark and the fourth, as you probably guessed, is that 360 show stopper from Lagerald Vick against Purdue in the Sweet 16.
Fast forward (and rewind) to those dunks or watch the whole thing for a little trip down memory lane.
Thomas Allen, the No. 149-ranked player in the 2017 class, according to Rivals.com, revealed on Twitter on Monday night that he had received a scholarship offer from Kansas.
Allen, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard who spent the past season playing at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire — former home of current KU guard Devonte’ Graham and former KU players Naadir Tharpe and Thomas Robinson — and, initially had committed to North Carolina State. But when the Wolfpack fired coach Mark Gottfried, that opened the door for Allen to look around and he recently was granted a release from NC State.
The 3-star prospect who helped Brewster to a 33-0 season and national prep school championship, scored 19 points in the championship game that delivered Brewster its third national title in the past four seasons.
His lone season at the prep school proved memorable in other ways, as well, with Allen netting a school record 50 points in a single game in January. He went 18 of 23 from the floor in that game, with 11 of the makes coming from 3-point range.
According to Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, Allen’s strong season and sudden availability has received plenty of attention throughout college basketball.
“More of a scorer and perhaps a natural two guard, Allen can really shoot from deep and has heard from Kansas, Auburn, Michigan, Tennessee, Providence, Butler, Nebraska and many others,” Bossi wrote this week.
What exactly KU’s immediate needs are in the 2017 recruiting class remain in flux. With Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk likely at least consider leaving early, KU remains in search of a point guard for next season and beyond.
If Graham returns for his senior season, the need is not as great. But KU would love nothing more than for Graham to return and to pair him with 5-star point guard Trevon Duval, the No. 3 player in the 2017 class who remains undecided and is zeroing in on his decision.
Duval is considering KU along with finalists Arizona, Baylor, Duke and Seton Hall.
If the Jayhawks miss out on Duval, there are still a few other point guard options out there, and even though Allen is not a true point guard, adding him to the class would certainly add depth in the backcourt in the form of a player who might stick around for a few years.
One of the available point guards is Allen’s Brewster teammate, Makai Ashton-Langford, the No. 38 player in the Class of 2017 who recently was released from his letter of intent with UConn, but his Rivals.com bio does not list Kansas as an option.
Others who have had ties to Kansas include 4-star prospect, Tremont Waters, who is ranked No. 36 in the class and has asked for a release from Georgetown, with whom he signed in November, and 4-star prospect, Mark Smith, an up-and-comer ranked No. 78 from Edwardsville, Illinois.
Duval remains the top choice for Kansas, and the rest of his finalists, but if the electric McDonald’s All-American elects to sign elsewhere, the pool of options after him is not as shallow as it once seemed to be.
The next signing period is slated to begin April 12 (next Wednesday) and will run through May 17.
Former Kansas walk-on C.B. McGrath, who played for former KU coach Roy Williams from 1995-98 and then spent the next 18 years as part of Williams’ coaching staff for four seasons at Kansas and the last 14 at North Carolina, is officially setting out on his own.
McGrath, a native of Topeka, who starred at Topeka West High, was officially announced as the next head coach at UNC Wilmington on Monday, a few hours before the Tar Heels knocked off Gonzaga to win this year’s national title.
McGrath will be introduced at the school on Thursday and, from there, will start chasing his former coach and boss’ incredible records which include more than 800 victories and three national championships.
"Ever since I began visiting the Wilmington area, UNCW has always been a dream job for me," McGrath said in a statement. "I've been following the program for some time. It's on the upswing, and we want to move it forward from there. I'm looking forward to the challenge and using what was accomplished the past two years as a springboard for the future.”
During his final season as a Jayhawk, McGrath was a team captain and lettered four seasons as a point guard under Williams. The Jayhawks were 58-0 at home during his career as a player and he played in 112 career games, scored 82 points and had 113 assists and 35 steals.
Although he was known throughout the area for tearing up the high school circuit before living out his dream of joining the Jayhawks, one of McGrath’s better known moments in crimson and blue came in December of 1996, when he played out the final few minutes of a 105-73 Kansas rout of UNC Asheville and drew a wild reaction from the crowd and the Kansas bench when his breakaway dunk attempt came up just short and caught the front of the rim.
With McGrath’s dunking days likely behind him, his new bosses at UNC Wilmington seem completely content to hand over a basketball program that has reached the last two NCAA Tournaments and six all-time to a man like McGrath, with playing and coaching experience at two of the top programs in the country.
“We’ve recruited an outstanding head coach to mentor these student-athletes for success on and off the court,” UNCW Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli said in a statement. “C.B. McGrath has been an integral part of North Carolina’s winning tradition, and I know he will bring us that same commitment to sportsmanship and excellence. Seahawk fans everywhere are looking forward to watching the team achieve even greater heights under Coach McGrath’s leadership.”
Having your team knocked out of the NCAA Tournament stinks for any fan of any team no matter when or how it happens.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, particularly for Kansas fans who are used to seeing their team among the top teams in the country year after year as Bill Self’s squad seeks to bring back another national title trophy to Lawrence.
That light shines brightest in the moments immediately after the national title game, on the final Monday of the college basketball season, when national publications across the country start to pump out their “Way-Too-Early Top 25” lists for the following season.
While the start of that season is still more than six months away — haven’t heard a date for Late Night yet, but we’ll get it to you as soon as we hear — following the Jayhawks is a 365-days-a-year type of thing around here and that’s what makes these early Top 25s worth tracking.
Here are a few that I came across Monday night, all of which provided Kansas with plenty of respect entering the 2017-18 season.
Not surprisingly, senior-to-be Devonte' Graham, who may test the waters of leaving early, and 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike were popular players mentioned in these early exercises.
• CBS Sports •
KU’s ranking: No. 1
Noteworthy: Baylor, which is barely ranked in many of the others, comes in at No. 9 on this one.
They said it: "KU is losing Frank Mason and (almost certainly) Josh Jackson. But five of the top eight scorers should be back — and the Jayhawks will also add five-star transfer Malik Newman and five-star freshman Billy Preston. So Bill Self will likely win a 14th straight Big 12 title -- and then some.
• ESPN.com •
KU’s ranking: No. 9
Noteworthy: The Jayhawks were the second-highest ranked Big 12 team, behind No. 8 West Virginia.
They said it: "Once Kansas fans get over another heartbreaking Elite Eight loss, they can take stock of the fact that their Jayhawks just tied pre-modern-era UCLA for the most consecutive conference titles (13!) in college basketball history. Life is good in the Sunflower State. (In the meantime, everyone, please stop talking about what it "means" that Bill Self being 2-7 in the Elite Eight at Kansas. He has been to nine Elite Eights! The answer is in the prompt!) Will 2017-2018 Kansas add to that streak? Why not? Sure, the Jayhawks lose a ton -- including player of the year Frank Mason III, lottery pick Josh Jackson and senior leader/low-post anchor Landen Lucas -- but they could feature Devonte' Graham in a lead role alongside Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman (one of the top point guards in his class two years ago), in addition to top prospect Billy Preston and sophomore center Udoka Azubuike. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk's return at the wing -- not to mention whoever else Self hunts down on the recruiting trail -- could prove crucial. Either way, Kansas will be good. Kansas is always good. The end."
• SI.com •
KU’s ranking: No. 11
Noteworthy: Wichita State is ranked two spots ahead of Kansas.
They said it: "Frank Mason and Josh Jackson aren’t coming back, but there is plenty of perimeter talent remaining in Lawrence, especially with the addition of Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman. Bill Self really needs a big win in the spring signing period."
• USA Today •
KU’s ranking: No. 5
Noteworthy: This one included grades for each team’s incoming recruiting class and the Jayhawks received a C.
They said it: "Devonte’ Graham is pondering the NBA, national player of the year Frank Mason III is graduating and high-flying freshman Josh Jackson is NBA-bound. LaGerald Vick (7.4 ppg) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (9.8 ppg) will see bigger roles, but the key guy is Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman. The 6-4 guard averaged 11.3 points a game for the Bulldogs, but will undoubtedly be better after practicing with Kansas’s nation-leading backcourt this season. Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe will be eligible in midseason, too. Udoka Azubuike, a 7-0 sophomore who had a season-ending wrist injury, could be a force in 2017-18. Self’s recruiting class is so-so right now, with top-20 forward Billy Preston the top name. But the Jayhawks are known to make a late splash with recruits."
• The Sporting News •
KU’s ranking: No. 4
Noteworthy: The Sporting News crew actually published theirs a day earlier than everyone else, on Sunday.
They said it: "(Josh) Jackson’s almost certainly gone, but (Devonte’) Graham’s decision is huge because having a veteran ball-handler will be so very important for this squad. KU’s biggest weakness this season was scoring in the post, but with the arrival of five-star big man Billy Preston, that should be shored up next season."
• Yahoo! Sports •
KU’s ranking: No. 3
Noteworthy: Sophomore-to-be Mitch Lightfoot is not listed on the key returners list.
They said it: "Not many teams can lose the national player of the year, a top-five NBA draft pick and a starting center and return to the top five the following year. But, by the same token, not many teams — or rather, no other team — can win 13 consecutive Big 12 titles, claim a top-two seed in the NCAA tournament eight years in a row, and claim a top-four seed 17 years in a row. Kansas is in a league of its own. And despite the losses of Mason and Jackson, the 2017-18 Jayhawks will be outstanding. Graham is ready to be a lead guard. Mykhailiuk and Vick are already above average Big 12 wings, and should be even better next year. Azubuike showed a lot of promise before his injury. Add in transfers Newman and Cunliffe (who isn’t eligible until the second semester), two talented freshmen and possibly one or two more recruits, and a 14th-straight Big 12 title, plus another top-two seed, seem very probable."
• 247 Sports •
KU’s ranking: No. 5
Noteworthy: Arizona is ranked No. 1 here and the Wildcats seemed to get the most love for the top spot in the polls that I saw.
They said it: "Kansas won its 13th straight Big 12 title by a whopping four games and clinched another No. 1 seed. And the Jayhawks should be strong once again in 2017-18, though massively different. Four of the Jayhawks’ five starters could be gone — Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is the only one expected back at this point, though Devonté Graham has a decision to make. The new players are intriguing: center Udoka Azubuike started multiple games this year as a freshman before suffering a season-ending injury. Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman was the No. 8 overall player in the 2015 247Sports Composite and provides scoring punch. Billy Preston, the No. 16 player in the 247Sports Composite could replace Josh Jackson at the four while returnees Lagerald Vick, Carlton Bragg, Dwight Coleby and Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe — eligible at semester — means the Jayhawks are two-deep at almost every position. So why isn’t Kansas higher? Point guard. If Graham returns, Kansas looks a pretty complete team. If not, and should the Jayhawks miss out on top target Trevon Duval, Kansas could be scraping to try and find an answer at the position. Fear not Kansas fans, coach Bill Self typically figures those things out."
• FanRagSports.com •
KU’s ranking: No. 5
Noteworthy: This entry, by Jon Rothstein, listed a projected starting lineup and it included both Lagerald Vick and Svi Mykhailiuk but no Malik Newman.
They said it: No comments given.
If any others pop up, we’ll add to this log throughout the day, so be sure to check back.
One final thing worth noting, came from the Twitter account of Las Vegas veteran RJ Bell (@RJinVegas), who released the LV Superbook odds to win the 2018 national title shortly after the final horn sounded on Monday's game.
The Jayhawks, at 12-1, are tied with three other teams for the second best odds to win it all next season in San Antonio.