By now, if you've been a longtime reader of KUsports.com, you know that every once in a while we post various odds that are sent to us from the folks at Bovada.lv, an online betting service that dabbles in all kinds of college and professional sports propositions.
If that sounds famililar at all, you're probably recalling blogs about KU's odds of winning a national championship, Andrew Wiggins' chances of becoming national player of the year or even KU football's low over/under win total.
All of those, and more, have been sent to us and posted on the site during recent years.
Tuesday, I received an email from Bovada outlining the odds for the 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year. Given that the draft just happened and that KU's Kelly Oubre was the highest and only Jayhawk selected, I opened it wondering if his name would be on there and how good or bad his odds might be.
It wasn't. Oubre, who has been touting himself as the greatest player in the draft of late, was nowhere to be found and, obviously, neither was undrafted former Jayhawk Cliff Alexander.
Oubre's omission was not that big of a surprise, but the list remained relevant to KU fans for one other reason. Joel Embiid.
Embiid, the third pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, is listed as a 10-1 pick to be named rookie of the year next season. Those aren't terrible odds, provided Embiid is healthy.
The 7-foot center from Cameroon, of course, missed all of his true rookie season nursing back and foot injuries and, therefore, would qualify for the award if he plays this season and plays well enough to outdo all other candidates. Both are longshots at this point, which is why the 10-1 number was a little surprising.
Here's a quick look at the rest of the list, with Embiid's new teammate, No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor leading the way.
Jahlil Okafor 7/2
D'Angelo Russell 4/1
Karl-Anthony Towns 7/1
Emmanuel Mudiay 7/1
Justise Winslow 9/1
Joel Embiid 10/1
Mario Hezonja 16/1
Willie Cauley-Stein 22/1
Jerian Grant 22/1
Myles Turner 25/1
Sam Dekker 25/1
Frank Kaminsky 25/1
Kristaps Porzingis 25/1
Stanley Johnson 33/1
Cameron Payne 33/1
Trey Lyles 33/1
Devin Booker 33/1
Bobby Portis 33/1
By now, even if you weren't one of the thousands of people who packed the Sprint Center last week to check out the latest and slightly modified version of the KU basketball team in its two exhibition games with Canada, you surely have seen the uniforms.
Whether you saw them when the photo gallery of all of the different looks was released prior to those games or in photos from the games themselves, your eyes probably have made a pass or two over the red, white and blue-themed duds the Jayhawks will wear during the next two weeks at the World University Games in South Korea.
Having done this for as long as I have, I think it's safe to say that I've learned one thing about KU fans, and, really, fans in general — they like to talk about uniforms.
Even with a football team that has struggled mightily during the past half decade, you can always find someone trying to Photoshop a new look for the uniform or, more often, the KU football helmets.
It's a fun exercise, probably doesn't take too long to pull off and even if it does, who cares.
With that in mind, I'm curious what people think of these uniforms. Were you surprised to see them say Kansas instead of USA? Do you like the way adidas meshed the two, with both KU and the United States getting a little love in the look?
Or, would you have liked to see something completely different?
Personally, I thought they would be USA jerseys, given that it's KU that is representing the country and not the other way around. This concept of Kansas against the world is a little strange, and I think it would be cool if the uniforms said USA on them, much the way the uniforms for the rest of the teams competing will say the name of that country.
Taking this a step further, I even dreamed up a scenario before the uniforms were released that I thought would've been incredible — not to mention a hot seller.
Picture this: Do what you want with all of the other stars and stripes and reds and whites and homage to KU's past and all of that. Those touches are all nice. But the centerpiece of the jersey should feature the letters U-S-A, with the cutout in the A being a Jayhawk.
If you have to include “Kansas” somewhere on the uniform, you could possibly stick it on the back above or below the name or go with the “KU” on the shorts. The possibilities are endless.
Regardless of what the final look became, I don't think there's any question that KU fans would've bought those at a scary pace. And it would've been a cool way to keep things in common with the rest of the teams competing in the Games.
It is just a uniform, though, and it's not that big of a deal. I'm just curious what everyone else thought and if any of you had any designs in your heads, as well. If so, explain away or, if you're the Photoshop type of person, post your vision in the comments section below.
Because this has become one of the most enjoyable — if not ridiculous — exercises in sports, let's take a quick look ahead to the 2016 NBA Draft to see what might happen for the current members of the Kansas University men's basketball team.
Last night, in Brooklyn, New York, former Jayhawks Kelly Oubre (15th pick in the first round) and Cliff Alexander (undrafted) learned their pro fates.
By recent KU standards, that's a pretty uneventful draft. It marked the first time since 2009 that Bill Self did not produce a lottery pick, with Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, Markieff and Marcus Morris, Thomas Robinson, Ben McLemore and Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins all being lottery picks between 2010-14.
According to the 2016 draft projections at DraftExpress.com, the Jayhawks will jump back into the lottery next season, with freshman-to-be Cheick Diallo slated to be the 14th pick as of today.
Obviously there is still a ton of time between now and then and a ton of basketball yet to be played, but based on his status coming out of high school and his skills, Diallo definitely has a shot to become a lottery pick with a good freshman season at KU.
Beyond that, there are at least a couple of other guys on the KU roster who could hear their names called in next year's draft. In fact, the very next slot on DraftExpress's oh-so-early mock draft for next season features another Jayhawk, with Ukrainian sensation Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk plugged into that spot.
KU coach Bill Self has said for months that Mykhailiuk could very well be the best pro prospect on the roster. He's a great athlete with good offensive skills, a solid basketball IQ and an insatiable desire to learn the game.
Beyond that, Svi has great NBA 2-guard size (listed last season at 6-8, 195), he's not afraid to play defense and he can flat-out shoot the ball.
If he makes the kind of jump this offseason that many believe he's on pace to make, he easily could move up on the draft board by next June and become a lottery pick himself.
Those were the only two Jayhawks on DraftExpress's early look at the 2016 draft, but there are a few other KU players who easily could wind up being selected next June should they have good seasons and/or decide to leave school.
Senior Perry Ellis, who somehow was not on DraftExpress's Top 60 for 2016, seems like a strong candidate to get a look by NBA brass. He's poised to have a monster year, just keeps getting better and has great work ethic, drive and, perhaps most of all, is a high character guy who any GM and coach would love to have on his bench.
That alone won't get Ellis a roster spot but that combined with a big year certainly could.
Junior wing Wayne Selden is another Jayhawk who could have an NBA future based on his size, athleticism and ability to shoot the ball. In fact, many believed Selden would be gone by now. But a decent freshman year in the shadows of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid followed by a sub-par sophomore season left Selden in Lawrence, where he'll be looking for his best season yet this winter.
If it comes, Selden's a definite candidate to land in the first round next June. If not, the NBA may never come calling.
The last guy on the roster with a real shot at the NBA in 2016 is freshman forward Carlton Bragg, who's size, length, soft shot and good handles have him poised for a big role during his first season at KU.
He's still way too skinny to bang with the big bodies in the NBA on a regular basis and needs to add some polish to a few areas of his game, but he's definitely one of those guys NBA GMs drool over when looking at his potential.
I've heard of more than a few people (including Self) who believe that junior sharpshooter Brannen Greene is a future pro, but he's coming off of hip surgery and still has yet to fully break through. Because of that, projecting him as a possible 2016 draftee seems like a bit of a reach.
That said, identifying five other guys with a shot at being draft worthy in 2016 only adds to the idea that this year's KU squad could be in line to contend at the highest level.
Thursday will mark the first NBA Draft since 2009 that I have not been in attendance.
Most years, draft day sticks out to me like a lighthouse on a rocky shore both because there is so much planning that goes into covering it and also because it's always been one of my favorite events in sports.
This year, however, it crept up faster than I can ever remember.
My not being there in the Big Apple — one of my favorite cities in the world — has nothing to do with me not wanting to be there. I would cover the draft — or anything else in NYC for that matter — at just about any time. But with the KU men's hoops team heading to South Korea and us sending both a reporter (preps writer Bobby Nightengale) and a photographer (Mike Yoder) all the way to the Far East, I started hearing about that costing more than a few hundred bucks and figured this was as good of a year as any to sit it out.
The reason goes far beyond the financial element.
See, part of the fun of covering the draft has been covering the people and personalities associated with it. I'll never forget 2010 and how gracious Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry were to let me follow them around for just about the entire day before their big moments.
Same thing in 2013 with Ben McLemore, who I even asked at one point if he was tired of getting peppered by questions. Not only did he say no but he invited me to ride on the bus back to draft headquarters in case I needed any more questions answered. I did. And most of it made it into my story. Later, when I told KU coach Bill Self that McLemore had said he wasn't tired of me, Self quickly quipped, “Well, he lied.”
A year earlier, Markieff Morris was equally friendly with an old, familiar face, perhaps because twin brother Marcus was in Charlotte up until draft day running through one last workout and it was better knowing somebody there than nobody.
In each case, as well as the others, the thing that made covering these guys in one of the biggest moments of their lives so enjoyable was the fact that I knew them and they knew me. It wasn't like we were friends or even owed anything to one another, but there is a certain appreciation — both ways, I think — that comes with familiarity.
Surrounded by dozens of other reporters asking everything from silly questions about their first purchases to uncomfortable questions about personal things ranging from family life to eligibility issues, there just appeared to be something pleasant to these guys about a guy who knew their story, knew their game, knew Lawrence and knew KU.
That guy was me and it allowed me to get some good access and better information.
A year ago, Andrew Wiggins was the No. 1 pick in the draft after spending less than 12 months in Lawrence. Wiggins was plenty friendly and helpful while I was there to cover his big day but there was no real connection. And how could there be? I think I only interviewed the guy 10 times or so and only rarely was it in a one-on-one setting.
For all the talk about what the one-and-done movement is doing to college basketball, this is the way it most impacts me. I know that doesn't mean much to anybody else and I'm certainly not trying to portray some sob story. But it is a bummer to go out to such a big event in such a cool place and have it become just another day on the job when just a few years ago it was so much more than that.
That, I suspect, is what it would've been like had I made the trek this year to cover Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander's draft dance.
First off, Alexander won't even be in New York and there's no telling where he'll be drafted. And Oubre, like Wiggins before him, was not in Lawrence long enough to really get to know.
The Oubre I interviewed starting last summer and running all the way through the NCAA Tournament in Omaha last March, was a very likable dude. And I'm sure it would've been easy to follow him around and tell his story the way I told the stories of those other guys in the past.
But the deeper connection probably would not be there. And that's a shame.
I'll go back to the draft in the future, perhaps even as soon as next year. And I'm sure there'll be plenty of fun stories to tell and moments to share. But I can't help but wonder if the days of walking out onto 5th Avenue with Aldrich and Henry to get a quick picture for the front of the next day's sports section are done for good.
From the "in case you missed it" folder, check out the following video of former Kansas University football standouts Chris Harris and Steven Johnson leading a Colorado symphony in the KU fight song during a recent event put on by the Denver Broncos.
Harris and Johnson were two of a handful of current Broncos players who participated in a battle of the conductors event of sorts. Each player, including Texas A&M product Von Miller and Tennessee legend Peyton Manning, led the musicians in their school fight songs and fans were encouraged to vote for who did the best job of leading the band.
Here's a look at Harris and Johnson in action:
For years, the one constant with the Kansas University football team — other than all of the losing, of course — has been the Jayhawks' ability to put together a deep and talented stable of running backs that, in many ways, have been interchangeable.
Whether you're talking about the steady presence of James Sims, the dynamic play-making ability of Tony Pierson, the do-it-all demeanor of Darrian Miller or even the always-ready-and-willing philosophies of Taylor Cox and Brandon Bourbon, the Jayhawks always had a few backs they could count on to handle the load in the backfield.
That continued into last season even after Cox and Bourbon went down with injuries in the preseason thanks to the emergence of freshman Corey Avery and newcomer DeAndre Mann. Together, that duo helped the Jayhawks transition away from Sims and into more of the same steady presence on the ground in an offense that struggled at most of the other positions.
On Tuesday, however, first-year coach David Beaty announced that Avery had been dismissed from the program for violating team rules and, all of a sudden, things don't look quite as deep or dependable in the backfield.
Yeah, Cox and Mann will be back, but both are coming off of significant injuries and their health and longterm prognosis have to be at least a little bit of a concern. Cox hasn't played football since tearing his Achille's tendon last August and was out for an extended period of time before that because of a bum hamstring. And Mann spent portions of last season nursing head injuries, a plight that's bad news for any player but especially a running back who's asked to lead with his head and churn out those tough yards with guys flying at him from all directions.
That leaves just a couple of other running backs to look at. And before the 2015 season is complete — or possibly even before it begins — both could find themselves being counted on heavily to handle the ball-carrying responsibilities for this year's team.
Both are newcomers, but junior Ke'aun Kinner at least has the advantage of having been in Lawrence for spring football.
By all accounts, the shifty, 5-foot-9, 180-pound spark plug was one of the more impressive performers throughout the spring and there's no doubt that he will have an important role for the Jayhawks this fall.
He's not quite Tony Pierson — but, really, who is? — but he does figure to bring that same kind of explosive potential every time he steps onto the field. That's good news for Kansas and a fun challenge for offensive coordinator Rob Likens, who, no doubt, is sitting somewhere right now trying to find creative ways to get Kinner the football in space.
After that, you're looking at true freshman Taylor Martin, a two-star back from Fort Worth, Texas, who was one of the better pick-ups in the 2015 recruiting class.
Martin, who chose KU over Colorado State, was receiving late interest from TCU, Illinois and Kansas State.
As a senior at Dunbar High, Martin ran for 1,500 yards and 25 touchdowns and earned a spot on the Star Telegram's Super Team second unit. For his career, he averaged 1,660 yards and 24 touchdowns over three seasons.
He also was a two-time district track champion in the 100-yard dash and his combination of blazing speed and good size (5-10, 185) make him a candidate to handle more carries than most freshmen, should KU need to lean on him right away.
Unlike last season, when KU was forced to move freshmen Joe Dineen and Darious Crawley from safety and wide receiver to help add depth at running back, the Jayhawks, at least as of now, are on schedule to have plenty of bodies to rotate in and out of the backfield, even without Avery.
The possibility always exists, too, that they could even add a back or two via transfer or late pick-up. Should that happen, the stable only gets deeper.
But, quality depth or not, with Cox and Mann coming off of injuries, the possibility remains that KU will be counting on two newcomers in a big way to keep alive the streak of solid play from the running back position in Lawrence.
As the past has shown us, that doesn't necessarily mean bad news. But it does put more pressure on the offensive line and quarterback and it does make the odds of KU continuing its run of solid running back play a little less than a lock.
Tuesday marked the second day of the Team Camp circuit at the Kansas University football facilities, and, like Monday, hundreds of high school athletes from nearby schools braved the heat and took their turn on the turf at KU.
Monday's camp welcomed 17 teams to Lawrence and 16 returned for Tuesday, pushing the total number of campers in town this week to right around 800.
While the specifics of what they did and how they worked meant very little to the KU football coaching staff, the mere fact that that many bodies were able to come up to campus at one time to meet the coaches, see the facilities and experience the KU way of life qualifies as a huge development, even if it's not known for a few years just how big of news that is.
Think about it: Six or seven years ago, a young Ben Heeney showed up for these types of team camps and no one knew then that he would wind up becoming one of the best defensive players to ever come through KU.
A guy like that was out there this week. Whether anyone knew it or not was the bigger question.
Of course, there were plenty of guys that the KU coaching staff did know about. And getting to have them on campus in this type of setting was invaluable for the evaluation process.
One head high school coach told me that there were four or five KU coaches with eyes on one of his top players at nearly all portions of the live action the past couple of days. He added that, “there's always a KU coach within 10 feet of you when things are really moving out here. That's great exposure for the kids.”
And it's an even better tool for the KU coaches, who view recruiting as the lifeblood of the program and are in a position where they simply cannot miss on guys if they hope to get the latest KU football rebuilding project off the ground any time soon.
It's easy to watch highlight tapes or game film and hear good things about athletes from their high school coaches. It's another to be able to watch them in a camp setting like this, when it's hot, they're uncomfortable, they might be getting whipped by another team and they have to really show what they're made of to get through it.
Watching those things can be huge for these coaches and even the smallest misstep by an athlete can lead to him being crossed off the recruiting board.
That's not to say this is NFL-combine style serious business out here. These guys have fun, too. Music, from KU's insanely large loud speaker, is blaring from the hill, they have breaks built in for food and recovery and there's all kinds of camaraderie and sportsmanship on display, even with players and coaches from rival schools.
It's likely that the KU coaches only had a list of 5-10 guys that they truly wanted to watch at this week's camp. But the past is full of guys, in all sports, who got noticed because a coach was watching his hot-shot teammate and happened to catch a glimpse of what he could do. It's entirely possible that a few guys made that kind of impact — or at least were noticed — this week, and at a place like KU, where opportunity is plentiful, there's no telling what that could lead to in the future for either player or program.
KU summer camps will continue throughout the week, with a skills camp in Coffeyville tomorrow, a Friday Night Lights elite camp for high school prospects on Friday and a kicking academy on Sunday.
Just when things were lining up for the Big 12 Conference to have one heck of a trio of men's basketball coaches at the top of the list — and an even deeper top-tier lineup farther down — Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg went and did something everybody knew he eventually would do anyway.
Hoiberg, who has agreed to leave his alma mater to take over the head coaching role with the Chicago Bulls, is bolting college basketball for the chance to work for a close friend, with a stacked team in a league that is so well suited to his style and skills.
Anyone calling Hoiberg anything other than brilliant right now just doesn't get it.
Unfortunately, though, his departure from the Big 12 is a significant blow to the coaching power in the conference.
That's not to say the Cyclones won't find a worthy replacement. The guess here is this search will be a lot like the one K-State had when Bob Huggins left and some guy named Frank Martin, who at the time was known as little more than a former high school coach in Florida, took over the Wildcats' program and continued the momentum that Huggins had started.
With or without Hoiberg, Iowa State would have a terrific team heading into the 2015-16 season. They return a ton of experience, some serious talent and should be ranked in the Top 10 when the preseason polls come out.
Add to that the idea that people probably will be doubting them a little bit now that Hoiberg is gone and you're looking at a potentially more dangerous team that before, whether they make a big name hire, go with Hoiberg's top assistant (T.J. Otzelberger) or hand the keys to Melvin Weatherwax.
So this season is not the issue. And if things go as well for the Cyclones as they did for K-State with Martin, then there's still plenty of reason to believe that Ames, Iowa, can remain relevant in the college basketball world for years to come.
That, of course, is not a given, though, and to call it anything close to that is to not give enough credit to what Hoiberg did and the culture he built there.
There's no doubt that the next guy running things in Ames, whoever he is, will do his best to follow in Hoiberg's footsteps and run things the way The Mayor did so successfully for all these years. That's a solid blueprint, but one that's much easier to want to follow than to execute.
Whether the new coach can get the same kind of transfers, recruit the same caliber of player or run the same kind of program — both in terms of practices and in-game demeanor — is all up in the air and those will be the biggest questions to answer when wondering whether Iowa State hoops can keep its spot as one of KU's top challengers year after year.
What is known already, though, is that, no matter who replaces Hoiberg, the program definitely just lost a lot of its national shine. There's just something appealing about the All-American, hometown kid coaching his alma mater and doing it with a smoothness and confidence that makes him easy to root for.
The loss of Hoiberg is a blow to Iowa State. But it's also a blow to the Big 12 both in terms of the competitive team the Cyclones can field and how bright the spotlight lit up Ames because of Hoiberg's presence.
All of this right after Texas did its part by adding Shaka Smart to the lineup.
The Kansas University athletic department finished the past year ranked 23rd nationally in total revenue earned, this despite continuing to field a football program that severely limits the earning potential of the department.
According to numbers published by USA Today on Friday, Kansas, led primarily by its elite men's basketball program, finished just shy of the $100,000,000 mark in total revenue, pulling in $97,681,066. That total put Kansas fourth in the Big 12 behind Texas (2nd, $161 million), Oklahoma (7th, $129 million) and Oklahoma State (11th, $118 million).
The next closest Big 12 school to Kansas was West Virginia, which pulled in $78 million during the past year and placed 35th nationally.
It's still a ways down the road and far from a guarantee. But imagine for a second if new football coach David Beaty and his staff can get things going again and have Memorial Stadium close to full on a weekly basis year after year. With that kind of financial impact, KU easily could jump into the Top 10, especially if the Big 12 dollars continue to grow.
Speaking of those, the USA Today numbers were released on the same day that Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby revealed that the Big 12 institutions pulled in roughly $25.6 million apiece from a $252 million pie as a part of the conference's revenue distribution from TV deals. That number is for the eight full-share members of the conference. Newbies TCU and West Virginia each pulled in about $23 million as outlined in the agreement they signed when they joined the conference a couple of years ago.
Thanks to ever-increasing television contracts and the continued attractiveness of the Big 12 market, those numbers are higher than the conference was able to dish out a year ago and Bowlsby said that trend is expected to continue in the future. Big 12 officials believe that the payout could reach as high as $44 million per school by the end of the current TV contracts.
Football may be costing KU in a lot of ways, but the financial health of the athletic department certainly looks better than many believe. That's not to say it's smooth sailing up there, but it's also not complete chaos either. And a big chunk of the credit for that goes to athletic director Sheahon Zenger, his vision and his philosophies on spending and not writing checks that your butt can't cash, along with the dedication and commitment to those areas by his entire staff.
Of course, even Zenger himself would tell you that the incredible earning potential of the men's hoops program is the department's golden egg and that one of his main focuses since taking over the job was to make sure that program had everything it needed to continue to function as a national power and world-wide brand.
Not too long ago, the Big 12 Conference's spring meetings were all about conference realignment, athletic directors and presidents ducking out of back exits and reporters stalking the halls of some hotels near the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, hoping to discover some sort of breaking news.
Times have changed since then, of course, and with the spring meetings back in Dallas, some pretty interesting breaking news was dropped into the laps of the laptop jockeys in attendance.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby on Wednesday announced that the conference had passed a measure regarding potentially serious penalties for court-storming following men's and women's basketball games. This, no doubt, was a reaction to the scene that unfolded last winter in Manhattan after a K-State victory over KU in which Bill Self was pinned against the scorer's table and Jamari Traylor was trucked by a wild KSU fan.
Although there are not specific consequences laid out for court-storming incidents the way there are in the SEC — where the schools are fined increasing amounts of money depending on the number of the offense — Bowlsby said he has been given "broad authority" to implement penalties against programs who can't keep their fans off the floor.
Now, obviously this never has been and likely won't be an issue at Allen Fieldhouse, where court-storming just doesn't happen these days. But it's definitely an issue that the rest of the conference should and will take note of, especially when KU comes to town. It's been an all-too familiar scene in recent years to see home fans storm the floor after their squad pulls off the upset over Kansas. Heck, some of those schools have even been ranked in the Top 20 and still seen their fans storm the floor after the emotional win over the conference king.
So be it. But when things boiled over to the point of physical harm and/or danger for the visiting players, something had to be done and the Big 12 has done it.
Bowlsby said the penalties could range from fines to the loss of future home games, both of which surely will get the attention of administrators, coaches and even fans throughout the league.
According to Big 12 rules, it's the responsibility of the home team, not the league, to protect players and team personnel in the event of a court storming.
Bowlsby having the power to hand out such severe punishments should future incidents occur, should create an environment free of rushing the floor throughout the Big 12 in years to come.