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Tale of the Tait

Jayhawks at Summer League: Thomas Robinson’s new approach

San Antonio Spurs forward Thomas Robinson looks to the basket during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

San Antonio Spurs forward Thomas Robinson looks to the basket during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, in Salt Lake City. by AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

As the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas draws to a close, it’s time for one final look at how a few former Jayhawks fared.

For the past two weeks, nearly a dozen players who once suited up for Bill Self tried to put their best feet forward to catch the eye of NBA teams in time to earn a spot on one of the league’s 30 rosters heading into the 2019-20 season.

Some of them, like Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham and Detroit’s Svi Mykhailiuk were basically locks to be on an opening-night roster because of their contract situations and performance during their rookie seasons.

Others, like recent KU forward Dedric Lawson (Golden State) and past Kansas greats Thomas Robinson (San Antonio), Malik Newman (Cleveland), Frank Mason III (Sacramento) and Jeff Withey (Washington) were fighting for their NBA lives.

And while putting up points and flashing confidence are key elements of making a roster, there’s much more to these Summer League auditions than scoring.

In a recent interview with Bleacher Report’s Sean Highkin, Robinson explained as much while talking about his lottery past and hopes for his future.

“I’m not 30, man,” Robinson told Highkin. “I’m only 28. I’m not no old, retired player. I can still play. I can jump just as high as these young guys. I can run just as fast. I can play with anybody. I'm just trying to get back and show teams that I'm ready to return.”

Doing that, after two years overseas, is about much more than displaying the physical dominance that made Robinson and All-American at Kansas and a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

It takes savvy and smarts, too. In fact, that might be the most important part for Robinson, who told Highkin that one NBA GM recently told him that his lack of basketball IQ would keep him from enjoying a long and lucrative career at basketball’s highest level.

While Robinson admitted that was hard to hear, he also took it to heart.

“Over the course of the last two years, I really locked in on watching certain players,” Robinson told Highkin. “I changed my game from watching Kobe (Bryant) and LeBron (James) to paying attention to Draymond (Green) and Montrezl Harrell, and how they’re finding success in the league. That’s helped make the game so much easier for me.”

While some of that showed up this summer, when Robinson averaged eight points and seven rebounds per game on 57% shooting in helping the Spurs finish 2-3 in Las Vegas, the exact benefits of that approach remain uncertain.

If enough teams saw it and believe that the more cerebral Robinson is what they’ll be getting, that might be enough for them to offer a roster spot. If not, there’s still plenty of money to be made and work to be done overseas for the former Jayhawk.

Here’s a quick look at a few recent highlights and big games from the other Jayhawks who played in Vegas this month.

Malik Newman, Cleveland Cavaliers

Much in the way he did during his lone season at Kansas, Newman went out with a bang with the Cavs’ Summer League squad.

In 31 minutes of a two-point win over Sacramento on Friday night, Newman scored 33 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range with four rebounds and two steals.

Frank Mason III, who was waived by Sacramento on July 4 but retained a roster spot on the Kings’ Summer League team, not only did not play in that game but also did not even appear in the box score as a “DNP,” signaling that the search for his new NBA squad had fully begun.

Svi Mykhailiuk, Detroit Pistons

If you’re on Twitter, you likely saw Mykhailiuk’s cross-over, step-back 3-pointer that made his defender fall down and reminded Kansas fans of just how talented the Ukrainian guard was at KU for four seasons.

While that highlight certainly made the rounds, it was one of just a couple for Mykhailiuk in his final Summer League game with his new squad. In 31 minutes of the Pistons’ 20-point loss to Brooklyn, the second-year pro scored six points on 2-of-12 shooting, with four rebounds, three assists and three turnovers.

In three games last week, Mykhailiuk shot 7 for 25 from the floor and scored 22 points.

Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte Hornets

The second-year pro and former KU All-American played in one of three games for the Hornets last week, a clear sign that the franchise has seen enough from its former second-round draft pick to know what they’ve got heading into the 2019-20 season.

In that game, a 75-72 loss to Chicago, Graham scored 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds and dished seven assists in 29 minutes.

If his career continues to progress at the rate it’s going, that outing could go down as Graham’s last in the Vegas Summer League.

Landen Lucas, Atlanta Hawks

Landen Lucas’s time in the NBA’s Summer League could be winding down, as well. The former KU big man played just one minute in a Hawks win over the Spurs last week and three minutes in a 20-point win over the Pacers a couple of days earlier.

Jeff Withey, Washington Wizards

Withey, who also was included in the recent Bleacher Report article featuring former KU teammate Thomas Robinson, played in just one of four games for the Wizards last week, netting four points, one rebound and two blocks in 13 minutes in his lone appearance.

Withey’s professional future is likely overseas, where he played the 2018-19 season.

“Even if nothing comes about (from 2019 Summer League), I played in the NBA for five years and I got my pension, so I'm good,” said Withey in the Bleacher Report story.

Reply 5 comments from Shannon Gustafson Dane Pratt Jeff Coffman

Is former Jayhawk Marcus Morris headed to the Knicks?

Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris, right, and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James react after James didn't cross the half court line in the allotted time during the second half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 27, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris, right, and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James react after James didn't cross the half court line in the allotted time during the second half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 27, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant may have not wanted any part of playing for the New York Knicks. But, believe it or not, there are players out there who are interested in doing just that.

And one of them is a former Kansas Jayhawk.

A few days after agreeing to a two-year, $20 million free agent contract with the San Antonio Spurs, reports surfaced that forward Marcus Morris may have changed his mind and was interested in heading to the Big Apple.

A New York Post report cites sources as saying the Knicks were wildly impressed with Morris’ 2018-19 season with the Boston Celtics, which included averages of 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game to go along with 37.5% shooting from 3-point range.

All three numbers are higher than Morris’ career averages of 11.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 36% 3-point shooting, and even Morris’ free throw percentage with the Celtics (84.4%) was significantly better than his career mark of 74.7%.

Morris, who will be 30 at the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, is entering his ninth year in the league and has played for four different teams during that time.

According to the Post’s report, the Knicks have offered Morris a one-year deal worth $14.8 million, which not only may be enticing for the per-year salary but also for chance for Morris and his agent, Rich Paul, to get into the New York market.

Morris’ change of heart, however, has ruffled a few feathers in the NBA, with the report making note of the fact that many agents have quietly voiced their displeasure about Morris’ move, both because of what it does to the Spurs today and what it could mean for the future of free agency in the league.

Beyond that, Morris also is putting himself at risk for future negotiations once he becomes a free agent again, which could be as soon as 2020 if he joins the Knicks.

It remains to be seen how it all plays out, but a Thursday report from Ian Begley, of SNY.tv, indicated that the Knicks now believe that obtaining Morris is “a likely scenario.”

Add this to the list of interesting moments regarding the Morris twins. There’s never a dull moment with those two.

Speaking of Morris’ twin, earlier this summer Markieff Morris agreed to a free agent deal with the Detroit Pistons, his fourth team in nine years.

Reply 3 comments from Oddgirl2 Kall3742 Bryce Landon

Comparing Frank Mason III’s pro path to that of other recent college basketball players of the year

Sacramento Kings' Frank Mason III, right, and Cleveland Cavaliers' Dwyane Wade battle for a loose ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Sacramento Kings' Frank Mason III, right, and Cleveland Cavaliers' Dwyane Wade battle for a loose ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Two years ago, Kansas point guard Frank Mason III was on top of the basketball world, sitting as the reigning college player of the year and just a couple of weeks removed from being drafted into the NBA with the No. 34 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings.

Today, Mason, who has been dealing with a nagging right hip injury, is fighting to find his footing with the Kings’ summer league squad and is in search of a new NBA team to play for during the 2019-20 season after recently being waived by the team that drafted him.

Mason has not appeared in any of the Kings' three Summer League games thus far. Sacramento will look to improve to 3-1 in the Las Vegas league with a 9 p.m. clash with the Clippers tonight.

While big time college hoops fans and Kansas fans who have followed Mason’s career closely — in Lawrence and beyond — are probably not surprised by Mason's current situation, the more casual basketball fan may be a little confused.

How is it that one year a guy can be named the best player in all of college basketball and two years later that same guy can find himself battling to be a role player at the next level?

It’s actually much more common than the college honor might suggest and, in many ways, mirrors the trials and tribulations of many college football Heisman Trophy winners.

Several Heisman winners have gone on to have less-than-stellar pro careers, and that certainly also has been the case with a handful of college basketball’s best over the years, as well.

It’s different, of course, in that nearly half of all Heisman Trophy winners — 34 of 83 — have been quarterbacks, many of whom were drafted to be franchise-saving players, while college basketball’s players of the year have come from all positions and often been drafted onto teams that already had solid and established players at the position.

But you’d still think that if a player was good enough to be the cream of the crop in college basketball — as Mason so clearly was during his senior season at Kansas — he would be able to not only stick with an NBA team but carve out a pretty nice pro career, as well.

Maybe Mason still will. I certainly wouldn’t bet against him. But things are tough these days, with pro prospects getting younger every year and NBA teams constantly searching for ways to upgrade their rosters with youth and talent.

Through two seasons with Sacramento, Mason holds career averages of 6.8 points, 2.6 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game over 90 career appearances.

So where does that leave Mason in comparison to the other Naismith Award winners during the Bill Self era at Kansas?

Because he’s still so young and still has time to build his career, Mason seems to be in a better shape today than a lot of these guys.

The biggest difference? All but three of the 16 Naismith winners since Self arrived at Kansas went on to become lottery picks in the NBA Draft. Only Mason, Jalen Brunson and Jameer Nelson were picked outside of the lottery.

So in that regard, when weighing expectations versus production, Mason is ahead of the game and may only be able to help himself from this point on.

Here’s a quick look at the pro careers — some finished and others ongoing — of the 15 other Naismith Award winners since 2003-04:

• 2018-19 – Zion Williamson, Duke

The reigning Naismith Award winner and No. 1 pick in last month’s draft, Williamson has all eyes on him along with the potential to be a franchise-changing player.

Heisman comp: Kyler Murray

• 2017-18 – Jalen Brunson, Villanova

Played in 73 games for the Dallas Mavericks during his rookie season, starting 38 and finishing the season with per-game averages of 9.3 points, 3.2 assists and 22 minutes. Brunson was drafted by Dallas with the No. 33 overall pick.

Heisman comp: Marcus Mariota

• 2015-16 – Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

During his first three seasons in the league, the former Oklahoma star has appeared in 244 games and made 149 starts with two franchises, Sacramento and New Orleans. Hield owns NBA averages of 14 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game while playing 27 minutes per night. Hield was a lottery pick of New Orleans in the 2016 NBA Draft, picked No. 6 overall.

Heisman comp: Jameis Winston

• 2014-15 – Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

Although he played in 81 games as a rookie, Kaminsky’s first four seasons have been full of inconsistency. Drafted with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Kaminsky has made 23 starts in 282 career games with Charlotte, holding a career scoring average of 9.8 points in 22 minutes per game.

Heisman comp: Sam Bradford

• 2013-14 – Doug McDermott, Creighton

Another former lottery pick (No. 11 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft), McDermott has played for five teams in his five pro seasons and owns career averages of 7.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 341 career games, 14 of them starts.

Heisman comp: Desmond Howard

• 2012-13 – Trey Burke, Michigan

Drafted with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Burke has played in 361 career games with four different franchises and owns career marks of 10.9 points and 3.6 assists in 24 minutes per game.

Heisman comp: Derrick Henry

• 2011-12 – Anthony Davis, Kentucky

One of two bona fide NBA superstars on this list, the newest Los Angeles Laker who has been a fixture on all-defensive teams and at the NBA All-Star Game owns career averages of 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks per game while playing 35 minutes a night. Davis was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Heisman comp: O.J. Simpson

• 2010-11 – Jimmer Fredette, BYU

Drafted in the lottery with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Jimmer played in 235 games during his first five NBA seasons (including just six during the 2015-16 season) before heading overseas for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Back in the NBA a season ago, Fredette played in just six games for Phoenix, bringing his career totals to 7 starts in 241 appearances while averaging 6 points per game on 41% shooting.

Heisman comp: Tim Tebow

• 2009-10 – Evan Turner, Ohio State

Solid but not spectacular, Turner has appeared in 686 games and made 295 starts during his NBA career, averaging 10 points and 5 rebound per game. Turner was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Heisman comp: Vinny Testaverde

• 2008-09 – Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

The next best pro on this list behind Davis and Kevin Durant, the former OU star has racked up career averages of 22 points, 9 rebounds and 4.5 assists while starting all 604 games of his NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons.

Heisman comp: Bo Jackson

• 2007-08 – Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

Drafted No. 13 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, the former North Carolina star started double-digit games just once in his seven-year NBA career (29 in 2010-11) and has not played in the NBA since the 2015-16 season. He finished with averages of 6.7 points and 4.2 rebounds in 17 minutes a game.

Heisman comp: Robert Griffin III

• 2006-07 – Kevin Durant, Texas

One of the baddest dudes on the planet, Durant has started all 849 games in which he has played and owns career averages of 27 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game with Seattle/Oklahoma City and Golden State. He also has two world championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards and just signed a monster deal with Brooklyn despite injuring his Achille’s tendon during this year’s playoffs. Durant famously was drafted No. 2 overall — behind Greg Oden — in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Heisman comp: Barry Sanders

• 2005-06 – J.J. Redick, Duke

Still going strong after 836 games in 13 NBA seasons, Redick owns career averages of 13 points per game on 41% shooting from 3-point range while playing with four different franchises and recently signing to play for a fifth in Year 14. The former Duke sharp-shooter was drafted as the No. 11 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Heisman comp: Tim Brown

• 2004-05 – Andrew Bogut, Utah

Although his contributions in the NBA have slowed to a crawl during the past three seasons, Bogut’s still out there and has racked up 661 career starts in 706 games while averaging 10 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists in 28 minutes per game. Like Davis in 2012, Bogut was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.

Heisman comp: Carson Palmer

• 2003-04 – Jameer Nelson, Saint Joseph’s

The 2018-19 season was Nelson’s first out of the league and it followed a 14-year career that saw him record 639 starts in 878 games. During that time, the tough-as-nails point guard who stood 6-foot, 190 pounds (Mason is listed at 5-11, 190) averaged 11 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists in 28 minutes per night. Nelson was the No. 20 pick in the the 2004 NBA Draft.

Heisman comp: Mark Ingram

Parting thought: If you’re confused about why I included the “Heisman comp” for each player, join the club. But, hey, it’s July and it seemed like a fun thing to do. Beyond that, I really do think the pro success of Heisman winners and college basketball's MVPs is eerily similar.

Reply 6 comments from Crimson_bluescottco Len Shaffer Oddgirl2 Tony Bandle Dirk Medema

3-star PG from Missouri picks up offer from Kansas

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

One of the fastest rising players in the Class of 2020 appears to have caught the attention of the Kansas basketball program.

Dajuan Harris, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Columbia’s Rock Bridge High, revealed Tuesday on Twitter that he had received a scholarship offer from Kansas.

Harris, a 3-star prospect in the Class of 2020, initially had been committed to Missouri State but, according to Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi, recently received his release from Missouri State and has reopened his recruitment.

Ranked No. 136 in the 2020 class, Harris is the type of player that Bossi said “could have been a potential player of the year in the Missouri Valley (Conference).”

“The guy is just a leader. He wins a lot of games and makes everyone around him better,” Bossi wrote.

In addition to the uncertainty surrounding where Harris might wind up, there also is some uncertainty about when.

After initially committing to Missouri State as a member of the Class of 2019, Harris changed gears and reclassified into the 2020 class, according to what his high school coach, Dana Ford, told the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader back in May.

That move leaves the door open for Harris, who graduated from Rock Bridge this spring after helping lead the school to the Class 5 Missouri state title last winter, to sign in the next couple of months and play college basketball in the 2019-20 season or attend prep school for a year and arrive on a college campus in time for the 2020-21 season.

Rivals.com’s bio for Harris has him listed as a prospect from Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, a basketball powerhouse that fields a post-graduate team each year.

Regardless of the when and the where, both Bossi and KUsports.com recruiting insider Matt Scott believe big things are in store for Harris in the near future.

“Shools are just figuring out that Harris has gotten his release from Missouri State,” Bossi wrote last week. “Expect high-major offers to flood in during July.

Added Scott of Harris’ game: “He’s the closest thing you’ll see today to a true point guard. He can completely control a game without scoring a ton of points. He’s good. He’s just not someone who’s going to be ranked all that high because he isn’t a flashy scorer.”

Harris currently is in Georgia with MOKAN Elite, playing in the EYBL’s annual summer Peach Jam AAU event.

Since he rejoined the MOKAN roster after decommitting from Missouri State, Harris and company have not lost a game.

That streak continued on Wednesday, when MOKAN knocked off Mean Streets (Ill.), 80-62. Harris played 27 minutes and finished with 4 points, 7 assists and 2 steals while shooting 2-of-4 from the floor. Among the game’s highlights were this steal and flush from Harris.

None by D1 Circuit

Reply 5 comments from Forever2008 Mlbenn35 Bill Pitcher Bryce Landon Dane Pratt

Schedule, uniforms set for Self Made squad in TBT

Kansas guards Tyshawn Taylor (10) and Elijah Johnson go over a gameplan against Texas during the first half on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guards Tyshawn Taylor (10) and Elijah Johnson go over a gameplan against Texas during the first half on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Ten former Jayhawks are now just two weeks away from returning to the court in crimson and blue.

Self Made, a 10-man team put together by former KU guard Elijah Johnson for a run at the $2 million prize in this year’s edition of The Tournament, is putting the final touches on their plans for the big event.

Johnson, who graduated from KU following the 2012-13 season, has said that the team will host a training camp of sorts in Lawrence before heading down to Wichita later this month.

But the 10 Jayhawks who will be vying to bring the title home — Johnson, Tyshawn Taylor, Travis Releford, Mario Little, Landen Lucas, Perry Ellis, Kevin Young, Jeremy Case, Darnell Jackson and Darrell Arthur — now know their schedule for the road to Chicago.

Each team that advances out of the eight regional sites will travel to Chicago for the final three rounds, slated for the first week of August. According to the TBT website, the prize for winning the Wichita regional is nearly $60,000.

The full bracket, along with information on tickets, can be found at thetournament.com and the website is even offering a bracket challenge for fans.

Self Made, a 3 seed in the Wichita region — the No. 9 overall seed — will open the event at 6 p.m. July 25 against No. 6 seed Sideline Cancer.

A win there would put the former Jayhawks into a 3 p.m. matchup with the winner of the 2-7 game between AfterShocks (Wichita State) and Iowa United on July 27.

The regional championship game is slated for 3 p.m. on July 28. All games will be played at Koch Arena and will be broadcast on ESPN.

“ESPN took a chance on TBT by streaming our first ever championship game in 2014 and we’ve been with them ever since,” said Jon Mugar, founder and CEO of TBT, in a news release announcing this year’s bracket. “It’s hard to believe we’ve gone from 2 hours streaming in 2014 to all TBT games available on the ESPN App and 48 hours on linear TV in 2019. It’s a testament to their commitment to the event and how our relationship has grown.”

Self Made this week also got a look at its uniforms for the event. Sponsored by Puma, the jerseys are blue with the words “Self Made” written in white and outlined in red across the chest.

Taylor, the former KU point guard who played with Johnson and helped lead the Jayhawks to the 2012 national title game, recently said the formation of an all-KU team in the event has added to the fun.

“This will be my fourth time playing,” Taylor said. “So I’ve been in it a couple of times, and for guys in my situation, overseas guys who come home for a couple of months in the summer of just one-on-one training with your trainer, I think it’s good.

“For me, it’s great because I’m playing basketball, playing pickup in high school gyms with high school kids and college kids all summer anyway. So, I mean, make it for $2 million and sign me up.”

The uniforms for this year's "Self Made" squad in the TBT in Wichita in late July were unveiled this week.

The uniforms for this year's "Self Made" squad in the TBT in Wichita in late July were unveiled this week. by Matt Tait

TBT schedule for 2019 Wichita Regional

TBT schedule for 2019 Wichita Regional by Matt Tait

Reply 2 comments from Buddhadude Kall3742

Devon Dotson’s decision to stay marks return of one of Bill Self’s true workhorse point guards

Kansas guard Devon Dotson drives to the basket against Tennessee during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Kansas guard Devon Dotson drives to the basket against Tennessee during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger) by Associated Press

It’s been a little more than a month since Kansas freshman Devon Dotson made the big announcement that he was returning to KU for his sophomore season.

And given just how massive that news is for the 2019-20 Kansas basketball program, it’s worth celebrating it the way junior high kids in relationships tend to celebrate their anniversaries — by the week, to the day or even on the hour would all be acceptable.

That’s how important Dotson’s return is for the Jayhawks, and one need look no further than one key stat from his freshman season to see that in crystal clear fashion.

Not counting Dotson — or Aaron Miles, who KU coach Bill Self inherited — there have been eight other players who have consistently played point guard for Self during his time at Kansas. And not one of them, as a freshman, even came close to playing the kind of minutes that Dotson did during the 2018-19 season.

Former KU great Tyshawn Taylor, a true freshman during the 2008-09 season (on a loaded team, no less), came the closest. But even he was 240 minutes shy of matching Dotson’s total of 1,168 minutes a season ago.

Using Dotson’s 2018-19 average of 32.4 minutes per game, that’s a gap of bigger than seven games.

Put in even more mind-blowing terms, Dotson played more minutes at the point during his freshman season than soon-to-be-All-Americans Frank Mason III (565) and Devonte’ Graham (517) played during theirs combined.

Here’s one more: The average number of minutes played by a freshman point guard at Kansas in the Self era is 536, with Taylor (928) and Sherron Collins (847) on the high end and Naadir Tharpe (175) and Elijah Johnson (151) on the low end.

Granted, the makeup of each roster had a lot to do with Dotson’s load and the lighter work handled by his predecessors. And, in Graham’s case, the mere presence of Mason in the class ahead of him, limited his early opportunities.

But, still. No Self-era point guards played anywhere close to the kind of role that Dotson played a season ago, a fact that merely adds to the excitement surrounding Dotson’s immediate future.

“It helps a lot, me coming in and coach believing in me and sticking with me,” Dotson recently said of the heavy workload he received as a freshman. “It helps a lot going into this year. I know what to expect, I know what it takes to win out there at a high level and I’m ready.”

I initially limited this glance to KU freshmen because that’s exactly what Dotson was a season ago. But as I kept pounding away at the keys, one thought kept creeping into my mind. Forget freshmen PGs, how many point guards period during the Self era at Kansas played those kinds of minutes for the Jayhawks?

The answer? Five players, eight times, including one during each of the previous four seasons, when Frank Mason’s minutes went up from 1,207 to 1,272 to 1,301 during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, and Devonte’ Graham played a whopping 1,474 minutes during his stellar senior campaign.

Part of those totals have to do with games played, though. Remember, Mason’s last two seasons ended in the Elite Eight and Graham, in his lone season as KU’s only point guard, reached the Final Four.

If Dotson’s Jayhawks had played even just two more games, his total minutes for his freshman season — factoring in his average minutes per game — would have reached 1,233 and been the fifth most by a Bill Self point guard in the last 16 seasons at Kansas.

Dotson’s case is interesting because of the era in which we live. Fans across all sports constantly want to say this player is the next so and so or that player is on pace to be this guy. And while the comparisons can be fun and often are a good way to track a player’s progress, they’re not always a case of comparing apples to apples.

Take Dotson for instance. If he were to stay at Kansas for four seasons like Graham and Mason did he would be a near lock to wind up on their level. But with the smart money being on Dotson turning pro after the upcoming season, it’s hard to know if Dotson, at Kansas, will ever produce like Mason and Graham did before him. Age, maturity, experience and opportunity all played a huge role in those two becoming All-Americans.

Is Dotson ahead of where those two were as freshmen and sophomores? It sure seems like it. And the numbers certainly back that up. But how much of that is talent and how much of that is opportunity and timing?

First on the team in assists, steals and games played and seven minutes shy of tying for the team lead in minutes played, — as a true freshman, remember — Dotson inherited a monster role from Minute 1 and only saw it gain importance as his freshman season went on.

The same should be true in Year 2, and maybe then it will be easier to start stacking up Dotson against some of KU’s all-time greats.

For now, all that matters is the fact that Dotson is the best point guard on this Kansas roster and one of the best in college basketball, both of which figure to be key factors in what the Jayhawks hope will be a memorable 2019-20 season.

Here’s a quick look at the ranking of minutes played per season by the Jayhawks' primary point guard in each of Bill Self's 16 seasons at Kansas:

1 – Devonte’ Graham, 2017-18 – 1,474 (39 games)

2 – Tyshawn Taylor, 2011-12 – 1,303 (39 games)

3 – Frank Mason III, 2016-17 – 1,301 (36 games)

4 – Frank Mason III, 2015-16 – 1,272 (38 games)

5 – Sherron Collins, 2008-09 – 1,229 (35 games)

6 – Frank Mason III, 2014-15 – 1,207 (36 games)

7 – Sherron Collins, 2009-10 – 1,187 (36 games)

8 – Devon Dotson, 2018-19 – 1,168x (36 games)

9 – Elijah Johnson, 2012-13 – 1,146 (37 games)

10 – Aaron Miles, 2003-04 – 1,117 (32 games)

11 – Russell Robinson, 2007-08 – 1,100 (40 games)

12 – Russell Robinson, 2006-07 – 1,046 (37 games)

13 – Naadir Tharpe, 2013-14 – 1,001 (34 games)

14 – Aaron Miles, 2004-05 – 992 (30 games)

15 – Tyshawn Taylor, 2010-11 – 977 (36 games)

16 – Russell Robinson, 2005-06 – 910 (32 games)

x = freshman

Reply 7 comments from Joseph Bullock Barry Weiss Brian Skelly David Robinett Matt Tait Marius7782 Steve Quatrocky

Jayhawks at Summer League: Svi Mykhailiuk off to another hot start in Vegas

Detroit Pistons' Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (19), from Ukraine, dunks the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Detroit Pistons' Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (19), from Ukraine, dunks the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) by Matt Tait

Former Kansas Jayhawk Svi Mykhailiuk is at it again out in Las Vegas.

After shining with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Summer League squad in 2018, Mykhailiuk found a similar groove with his new team, the Detroit Pistons, over the weekend.

Showing steady feel and rising confidence, Mykhailiuk proved to be one of the Pistons’ main offensive weapons over the weekend.

In the opener, a 96-80 exhibition-type victory over Croatia, Mykhailiuk tallied 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting and also dished five assists while playing as one of Detroit’s primary ball handlers, able, asked and willing to turn the corner and make plays for others. He hit 2 of 6 from 3-point range and also was hit with six turnovers.

In Game 2, a 93-73 Detroit win over Portland, the man who hit the biggest shot of KU’s Elite Eight win over Duke back in 2018 made his second straight start, scoring 18 points and dishing four assists in six fewer minutes. He hit 4 of 10 from 3-point range in that game and trimmed his turnovers down to two.

“Offensively, he’s done a really good job of making decisions, making good plays,” Pistons assistant coach Sean Sweeney told The Detroit Free Press. “Defensively, I’ve been pretty pleased with his ball pressure. He’s getting down in his stance and competing.”

That first part could be the most crucial, given the potential the coaching staff sees for Mykhailiuk with the Pistons.

Back in March, shortly after landing with the franchise via trade, Detroit News beat writer Rod Beard Tweeted that Pistons coach Dwayne Casey said Mykhailiuk’s future fit with the franchise could come at point guard.

Asked recently by the Free Press what worked last summer and what he planned to do this summer, Mykhailiuk said simply, “I was just playing. It just happened to be good games. Just work hard and don't think about what you’re doing on the court. Just play.”

Svi and the Pistons will look to move to 3-0 at 4 p.m. Monday against Indiana.

Here’s a quick look back at how a few other former Jayhawks fared in Summer League action over the weekend.

• In a battle of former teammates, Devonte’ Graham’s Charlotte Hornets topped Dedric Lawson and the Golden State Warriors, 93-85, in the Summer League opener for both clubs. Graham, who started and played 27 minutes, finished with 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Lawson, in 10 minutes, matched Graham’s steal total and finished with 2 points and 3 rebounds.

Graham followed up his solid debut with a rough 3-of-13 performance in a loss to San Antonio on Sunday for eight points in 26 minutes. Lawson, meanwhile, grabbed two more steals and scored five points in 15 minutes during Golden State’s bounce-back win over Toronto.

• Frank Mason III, who recently was waived by Sacramento but retained on the Kings’ Summer League roster to allow him to audition for other teams, did not play in the Kings’ Vegas opener.

• After a strong showing of shot making last week in Salt Lake City, shooting guard Malik Newman did not play in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Vegas opener and then started during Sunday’s win over the Chicago Bulls. In 23 minutes, Newman finished with five points, three rebounds and three assists and hit two of nine shots from the floor.

• Attempting to find a spot on an NBA roster after two stints overseas, Thomas Robinson’s run in Vegas is off to a slow start. After putting up better numbers in big minutes last week in Salt Lake City, Robinson scored two points in nine minutes in the Spurs’ opener and did not play in Sunday’s win over Graham’s Hornets.

• Cliff Alexander, who’s also trying to find his way back into the league, scored 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor and 5-of-6 shooting at the free throw line for the Los Angeles Clippers in a win over the Lakers. LeBron and Anthony Davis versus Kawhi and Paul George it was not, but Alexander added four rebounds in 15 minutes in the Clippers’ Summer League opener.

• Former KU center Jeff Withey started for the Washington Wizards in their Summer League opener, playing 12 minutes and recording three points and a block in a win over New Orleans. Rookie and reigning No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson did not play in the game.

• Former KU big man Landen Lucas did not play in the Atlanta Hawks opener and added one point and three rebounds in eight minutes off the bench in a 24-point Atlanta loss to Minnesota on Sunday.

• Lagerald Vick (Houston) and Andrew White III (New York Knicks) did not appear in the box scores of those teams last weekend. And former Jayhawk and Kansas native Conner Frankamp, who finished his career at Wichita State, received a pair of DNPs (Did Not Play) with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Reply 4 comments from Plasticjhawk Dane Pratt Brjam Brian Babcock

Class of 2020 KU target Bryce Thompson invited to USA Basketball training camp, eyeing date to trim list

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

According to his Twitter account, Class of 2020 Kansas basketball target Bryce Thompson is headed to training camp for the USA Basketball Junior National Team.

That fact is only going to add fuel to his fast-rising recruitment, which already includes KU and North Carolina and figures to reach the best of the best by the time it’s finished.

Thompson, a 5-star guard from Booker T. Washington High in Tulsa, Okla., recently made another unofficial visit to KU to meet with KU coach Bill Self, the rest of the Kansas coaching staff, see the facilities and get a feel for how the Jayhawks see him playing at the college level.

Ranked No. 18 overall by Rivals.com, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard who jumped more than 20 spots in the most recent Rivals rankings has been lauded for his vision, play-making ability and knack for scoring.

“Tremendous basketball IQ,” KUsports.com recruiting insider Matt Scott said of Thompson. “He really knows how to control the tempo and set up his teammates and he can completely control games that he only scores 6 points in because he’s so good at getting others involved and playing to his teammates’ strengths.”

Rivals recruiting analyst Shay Wildeboor recently caught up with Thompson’s father, Rod, to talk about the family’s recent visit to Kansas and more.

“The visit to Kansas went great,” Rod Thompson told Wildeboor. “It was really good. We were very eager to get back up to Kansas for this visit. One thing you look at, you know, is the players, so last time Bryce was on campus, he didn’t really get to interact with him like he did this time around. It was just good to get back up to Kansas and talk with Coach Self and interact with the coaching staff and players.”

Thompson's father, you may recall, played for Self for one season at Tulsa back in the late 1990s.

“I’ve known Coach Self for a long time,” Rod Thompson told Wildeboor. “We were able to ask questions we had and stuff like that, which was great for us. Coach Self, you know, is a competitor and he wants the best players. Of course, we’ve always known, but Coach Self just reiterated how much he wants Bryce and he was sure to let us know how early he offered Bryce.

He continued: “Coach Self told Bryce that he wants to push him and make him work and that he’s a priority for them in the 2020 class. Coach Self has said all of those things before, but as it gets closer, and as Bryce continues to ascend and get better and improve, which I think is very attractive to a lot of guys, Coach Self just wanted to let Bryce know all of those things again."

While Thompson’s immediate future includes the USA Basketball minicamp — July 25-28 in Colorado Springs, Colo. — his dad told Wildeboor that the family also would likely spend some time in the near future narrowing down his list to a more manageable group of finalists.

After taking official visits last fall to Arkansas, Colorado and Texas A&M, Thompson has a long list of schools that are interested in him including that trio, KU, Carolina, in-state programs Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, Houston, Iowa, Marquette, Notre Dame, Michigan State and a dozen more.

“We’ve been trying to get a lot of the visits out of the way,” Rod Thompson told Wildeboor. “We’re going to cut the list pretty soon so that we won’t have to take a bunch of time and try to take five official visits and all that kind of stuff. We want to go ahead and try to get a lot of that done right now. “We’ll cut the list, probably to five, after USA basketball.”

None by Bryce Thompson👑

Reply 2 comments from Dirk Medema Dale Rogers

Jayhawks galore on NBA Summer League rosters

Detroit Pistons' Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (19), from Ukraine, shoots against Cleveland Cavaliers' Nik Stauskas (1) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Detroit Pistons' Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (19), from Ukraine, shoots against Cleveland Cavaliers' Nik Stauskas (1) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) by Matt Tait

With the NBA’s Summer League now under way, it’s time to take a look at the handful of former Kansas Jayhawks competing for various NBA teams this month.

The list includes several well-known names from KU’s recent past and features players in a variety of positions with the teams they’re playing with, from players who already have guaranteed contracts to those who are simply trying to make their break.

While full of dozens of players — recently drafted and otherwise — trying to catch the eye of that one coach or scout who might see enough value in you to go to bat for you with the guys at the top, Summer League is a terrific place to make a name for yourself. But playing well in Summer League does not guarantee much.

Last summer, Svi Mykhailiuk was an absolute assassin during Summer League action, finishing as one of the top five players in the league and lighting up the highlight shows with point explosions and athletic plays.

And while that helped him make a name for himself, it didn’t do much to earn him playing time once the 2018-19 regular season rolled around.

In 39 games with the Los Angeles Lakers — the team that drafted him — Mykhailiuk averaged 10.8 minutes per game before being traded to Detroit, where he appeared in just three games with the Pistons and spent the rest of the season playing with Detroit’s G League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich.

So take that as a precursor to what’s ahead. Yes, Summer League games have started in Salt Lake City and Sacramento, but the Vegas event (July 5-15) features all 30 NBA teams and has long been known as the main attraction, with media coverage and fan interest growing by the year.

Here’s a quick look at the former Jayhawks expected to be playing in Las Vegas starting Friday, with many of them needing good showings to keep their NBA careers alive.

• Dedric Lawson – Golden State Warriors

KU’s most recent All-American is in such an interesting position with the Warriors. As a team loaded with superstars and monster salaries, Golden State will be looking for players who can contribute reliable minutes on cheap contracts. Lawson could fit that description perfectly, but he’ll need to prove it in Summer League games before the Warriors commit to him. After Lawson went undrafted in last month’s draft, KU coach Bill Self said he liked the fit with Golden State because Lawson knows how to play with good players. If he can show a willingness to do things that many other players at the NBA level don’t like to do — pass, rebound and defer — he could find himself in a decent spot heading into the rest of the NBA’s offseason.

• Devonte’ Graham – Charlotte Hornets

Graham is arguably the one player on this list who is sitting in the best shape with his current NBA team. After a strong rookie season that featured him dominating G League games and contributing when called up to play with the Hornets, Graham will be looking to step into a bigger role with All-Star point guard Kemba Walker now headed to Boston. G League competition and Summer League games aren’t exactly the same thing, but Graham should have the confidence to deliver good numbers and further prove he belongs while running the show for the Hornets this month.

• Svi Mykhailiuk – Detroit Pistons

After being traded to Detroit by the Lakers (who drafted him) and then suffering a hand injury that shut him down for the end of the 2018-19 season, Mykhailiuk is facing his first true opportunity to show the Pistons what they got in trading for him. Remember, this is a young, versatile player who Magic Johnson fell in love with last year (and who the current crop of Lakers would probably love to still have), who can shoot it, create off the dribble and play just about any style. There has long been some intrigue about Mykhailiuk’s ability to fill the play maker role — like he often did with the Ukrainian national team — and the Pistons may be looking at that this summer as much as anything. Beyond that, though, Svi is a knock-down shooter and if his shot is on in the next couple of weeks, the outlook for his first full season in Detroit could include some excitement.

• Frank Mason III – Sacramento Kings

Mason said last month after his debut performance at the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic that his first two NBA seasons had not gone like he wanted and that he also hoped to be back with Sacramento for Year 3. On Thursday, the Kings announced that they had waived Mason but would keep him on their summer league roster. Those moves give him an opportunity to keep playing while essentially auditioning for a spot on another roster. Mason is absolutely the same kind of player Kansas fans grew to love, gritty, tough, determined and unafraid of having to overcome obstacles to get where he wants to go. His game has improved a ton since leaving KU, but he’s still trying to prove that a consistent role in an NBA rotation is something worth giving him. KU fans learned a long time ago that it’s never a good idea to bet against Mason, so there’s no need to start now.

• Lagerald Vick – Houston Rockets?

A week or so ago, it was reported that Vick would join the Houston Rockets’ Summer League squad out in Vegas. But when the franchise released its official roster for the next couple of weeks earlier this week, Vick’s name was not on it. It’s possible he still could be added. And even if he’s not, Vick could still work out a deal to play for someone else. But this is not exactly the way anyone wants to start a make-or-break summer session. Vick worked out with Charlotte, Oklahoma City, New York, Chicago and Washington. So if not Houston, maybe one of those teams will pick him up.

• Thomas Robinson – San Antonio Spurs

In an attempt to revitalize his NBA career after a couple of stints overseas, Thomas Robinson has jumped out to a great start with the Spurs. In San Antonio’s first couple of Summer League games in Salt Lake City, Robinson flashed an ability to score, rebound and work while helping lead the Spurs to a couple of victories. Beyond that, he is fulling embracing everything that a chance with San Antonio can provide, including being in absolute awe over Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon when he first saw her at a team workout. A former lottery pick of the Sacramento Kings, Robinson has the ability and experience to make a comeback in the NBA. For him at this point in his career, it’s all about fit. And the next couple of weeks will go a long way toward showing the Spurs whether Robinson fits what they’re looking for.

• Malik Newman – Cleveland Cavaliers

Another former Jayhawk star who has dabbled in the G League and hung since leaving KU, Newman brings an elite skill to the floor every time he suits up — his ability to shoot the ball. If he’s hot this summer, that could go a long way toward helping him catch the eye of the Cavs or some other NBA team looking for more shooting. Newman can flat out shoot the ball and, so far, he has shown an improved ability to get his own shot off the dribble. If that continues, his maturity and mindset, along with his shooting, might be worth taking a chance on.

• Landen Lucas – Atlanta Hawks

Lucas is a perfect Summer League player for any roster because he knows how to play the game, executes whatever is asked and has the size and experience needed to compete with other big men, even those with more size and better skills. While that could keep him employed by an NBA club for the next few summers, it’s probably not going to lead to a full-time roster spot. Lucas has plenty of other things going on in his life, however, to keep him from stressing too much about his chances in the NBA. In addition to playing opportunities overseas and in Japan along with his never-ending work with his Landen Lucas Foundation, which helps create athletic opportunities for young people in Lawrence and Portland, Lucas has dipped his toe into the insurance business with Seeker, a company that aims to provide realistic and reliable quotes from companies throughout the country. Lucas is as smart as they come and knows how to handle his business. Getting a crack with another Summer League squad is likely pure gravy and yet another opportunity to test himself at the highest level while he’s still young.

• Cliff Alexander – Los Angeles Clippers

Although he never made much of a name for himself with the Jayhawks, the former Top 10 prospect out of Chicago has been able to find a little footing in the NBA and G League. And he’s still young enough and intriguing enough to keep taking a look at during settings such as Summer League. Alexander’s size and ability to dominate on the glass and around the rim could catch an eye, but he’s going to have to be more consistent than ever before and show a little versatility to really make a name for himself.

• Jeff Withey – Washington Wizards

After a couple of years in the NBA — including a prominent role on the floor for the Utah Jazz the night Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in his final game — Withey has spent the past couple of seasons playing overseas. But there’s little doubt that his size, timing and shot-blocking ability put him in position to at least be noticed. With the NBA transitioning more and more away from traditional big men, Withey could be a victim of the times. But he’s still young and he’s still getting looks. What he does with them is up to him.

• Andrew White III – New York Knicks

It’s easy to forget White because he went to both Nebraska and Syracuse since starting his career at Kansas. But his blend of size and smarts along with a reliable and dangerous jump shot could make White a player to watch this summer. White, in two seasons in the G League, owns a career points-per-game average of 14.1. He also played 15 games for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2017-18 NBA season.

• Conner Frankamp – Los Angeles Lakers

Another KU player who transferred out, the Wichita native and Wichita State alum is getting his shot with the severely undermanned Lakers this summer. No, LeBron James and Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma won’t be playing. But some of their future teammates might. And they will be watching. The Lakers, like Golden State, are facing a salary situation that will have them looking for quality players who can contribute on the cheap. Frankamp, who also has a high basketball IQ, is a born shooter and it’s easy to see how he could catch a team’s eye if he shoots it well this summer. If he doesn’t, he’ll probably have to go overseas to make his money.

Reply 4 comments from Oddgirl2 Matt Tait Jayhawk

Former Jayhawks Josh Jackson, Markieff Morris find new NBA teams

Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson (20) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson (20) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A couple of former Jayhawks were on the move Wednesday afternoon, with one-time lottery picks Josh Jackson and Markieff Morris switching teams.

Jackson, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was traded by Phoenix to Memphis, making the 6-foot-8 wing the latest Jayhawk to join the Grizzlies’ roster.

According to a report from The Athletic, Morris, who, along with his twin brother Marcus, was selected in the lottery of the 2011 NBA Draft — with back-to-back picks, no less — agreed to a contract with the Detroit Pistons, where he will join fellow former Jayhawk Svi Mykhailiuk on the new-look Pistons roster.

Still just 29 years old, Morris played for both the Washington Wizards and Oklahoma City last season, averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 58 games.

The Pistons become the fourth team for Morris, who is entering his ninth season in the league and owns career averages of 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 579 contests.

Until last season, Morris had averaged in double figures for eight consecutive seasons, showing improved range from 3-point land in each of the past three seasons.

Like Morris, who was drafted by Phoenix, Jackson will be looking to kickstart his career — and for a fresh start — outside of Arizona.

According to a report from ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Jackson, along with DeAnthony Melton and a pair of second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, was traded to Memphis for Kyle Korver and Jevon Carter.

In 156 games with the Suns during the past two seasons, Jackson started 64 games and averaged 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game while shooting just 45.5% from the floor and 29% from 3-point range.

Jackson’s time with Phoenix also included a couple of off-the-court incidents and the Suns are now moving on while Jackson prepares to team with 2019 No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant and former Michigan State standout Jaren Jackson Jr. in Memphis.

Reply 2 comments from Oddgirl2 Barry Weiss

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