While the Kansas men's basketball program still has one scholarship to give in the 2018 recruiting class, Bill Self and the Jayhawks are making some solid progress on the 2019 class, as well.
Never was that more clear than earlier this week, when Class of 2019 point guard Tre Mann, from The Villages, Fla., included Kansas in his trimmed-down list of finalists that also included Florida and Tennessee.
Mann, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound four-star prospect, is ranked No. 37 overall by Rivals.com in the 2019 class.
Busy rehabbing an injured knee and trying to help his AAU team qualify for this summer's Peach Jam event, Mann recently talked to a couple of recruiting analysts about where he stands in his recruitment and had some flattering things to say about Kansas and Self.
“They have great guards that have come through there,” Mann told Russ Wood of Rivals site GatorTerritory.com. “They had guards with size, like tall guards, they have guards that can score from outside then they have another guard that’s also good at getting to the basket. So they were saying that I could be the guard with (incoming Class of 2018 point guard) Devon Dotson to score outside while he’s scoring inside. And really how much they know about developing players for the next level. We haven’t discussed any visits yet, we’ve just been talking and building relationships right now.”
In an interview with Pat Lawless of PrepCircuit.com, Mann added: “They told me that they will help me reach my goal, which is to get to the next level. I’ve seen them do it before with other players that are in the league now so I believe them. I know they are a really good program so why not have them in your top choices.”
Mann, who took two of his five official visits to Florida (May 1) and Tennessee (April 24) still has three visits remaining. Although nothing is on the schedule for a visit to Kansas, it seems like Mann would like to make the trek to Lawrence to take a closer look at the KU program.
Between his own AAU schedule and Self's duties coaching the USA Basketball U18 team during the first couple of weeks of June — Self leaves for training camp in Colorado Springs on Wednesday — the earliest Mann could set an official visit to Kansas would be late June.
But the playmaking point guard who is averaging 16 points, five rebounds and 2.4 assists per game so far this AAU season said he was interested in a KU visit.
“It will probably be later on,” he told Lawless. “I don’t have any set dates, but I didn’t have any set dates for Tennessee or Florida. I kind of felt like I wanted to go and I just set it up.”
As for a decision date?
“I don’t have any time in mind right now,” said Mann. “I’m just going with the flow, but I think it could be after AAU season.”
Earlier this month, KU also made the Top 6 for five-star shooting guard Cassius Stanley, a 6-5, 170-pound North Hollywood, Calif., prospect ranked No. 26 in the 2019 class by Rivals.com. Included with Kansas in Stanley's Top 6 — announced on Twitter — were Arizona, Oregon, Texas, UCLA and USC.
It's not yet clear how many scholarships the Jayhawks will have to give in the 2019 class, but the KU coaching staff seems to be operating with the idea that it will have at least three or four scholarships available for 2019 prospects.
Those would come from at least a couple of early departures from a crop that includes Udoka Azubuike, if he elects to return for his junior year — the deadline for Azubuike to decide hits Wednesday — Dedric Lawson, Silvio De Sousa and incoming freshman Quentin Grimes. Self also could still have in his pocket that remaining scholarship in the 2018 class.
As the Kansas men's basketball program closes in on one week remaining until players report back to campus for the start of summer school and summer workouts — and their leader prepares to leave campus for his stint with USA Basketball — KU coach Bill Self said his team was enjoying a quiet time of sorts in the wild and always-on modern world of college athletics.
A guest on Andy Katz's March Madness 365 podcast this week, Self said the past couple of months have been about as calm of a stretch as any he can remember.
“There have been less balls in the air this spring than there have been a lot of years,” Self said.
One of the reasons for that is the fact that Self and company nearly completed their recruiting in the 2018 class during the early period. Sure, the Jayhawks stayed in pursuit of Romeo Langford through the spring and do still have one scholarship still to give, but that was much easier to manage than it could have been, especially given the fact that the Jayhawks had five scholarships to dish out in the 2018 class.
“We signed one youngster late, but he had committed to us in January, so that wasn't really a surprise,” Self explained. “We were pretty much settled in early with our recruiting class, we signed a few early and then the one that committed to us in January. There weren't a lot of decisions to be made because four of my (2017-18 starters), two of them walked in and said they wanted to go to the combine and sign with an agent and two of them were seniors and so that left just one kid, Udoka Azubuike, to determine what he wanted to do.”
Azubuike, of course, spent last week at the NBA combine in Chicago and has until next Wednesday to decide whether to remain in the draft or pull his name out and return to Kansas for his junior season.
If he elects to do the latter, the 7-foot center will bring quite a bit to the Kansas lineup that will be looking to replace those four starters Self talked about.
“First of all, Udoka's so much better than even where he was four months ago, three months ago,” Self said. “We had to have a good spring with three or four of our guys and I think that happened.”
Asked to share names of those players, Self did not hesitate to mention a handful of newcomers and one returning player poised to make a big jump.
“Dedric Lawson's a really good player. He's taken his body and (improved it) and everything,” Self said of the Memphis transfer who sat out the 2017-18 season and is a likely starter at the 4 spot during the 2018-19 season. “And his brother, K.J. Lawson, has been really solid for us. Then the two kids who have been really impressive are a freshman we had, Marcus Garrett, most kids make the biggest jump between their freshman and sophomore year, and then we had a freshman sit out this past year that started at Cal last year, Charlie Moore.”
Although three of those four will be new to game action at KU next season, Self said the Jayhawks, though young in many ways, figure to have the luxury of still feeling like a veteran club because of the presence of that trio of transfers and Garrett.
“You look at it,” Self began. “We could lose all five starters, we will lose at least four, and what do they have coming back? The reality is we've got quite a bit coming back because we had those three sitting out last year.
“The big thing with us is we've been really fortunate that when we lose a bunch of guys we've had some guys waiting in the wings who have been role players that turned out to be primary guys for us.”
Two of those players, provided Azubuike returns, which most who have tracked his NBA testing expect to happen, can give Kansas the same type of elite player they have had during the past couple of years, albeit at a different position.
Asked if he thought he had a player who could follow in the footsteps of Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham, who earned back-to-back Big 12 player of the year and All-American honors, Self said simply, “I actually think we do.”
“I actually think that, depending on what Udoka does, Dedric Lawson is a guy that could compete for conference player of the year honors in addition to Udoka,” he said. “And the freshmen we have coming in, Devon Dotson and David McCormack were McDonald's All-Americans and all of that, but we have one freshman coming in, Quentin Grimes, that may be a guy that could be mentioned as one of the premiere freshmen in our league, as well. So I think we've got a nice blend of guys but we're just going to be a lot younger and more inexperienced.”
It's comparison season here at KUsports.com and we have no shortage of former Kansas basketball players to pay attention to this week at the NBA combine in Chicago.
As you surely know by now, KU sharpshooter Svi Mykhailiuk went off on Thursday during his first scrimmage of the combine, knocking in 6 of 9 from 3-point range and leading his team with a game-high 20 points.
KU assistant coach Norm Roberts said Svi “opened some eyes” with his Thursday performance. And while there are still mock drafts out there that don't have him being drafted, there also are a few that do.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Svi and the draft — June 21 in Brooklyn, N.Y. — and, at this point, it's anybody's guess whether his pro basketball future lies in the NBA or in Europe.
But couldn’t that be in both places, though?
Let’s say that Svi gets drafted and is “stashed” — as the NBA Draft lingo goes — in Europe for a couple of years, with an NBA team retaining his rights while he develops overseas. His native Ukrainian status make him an easy option to send overseas for a while because teams know he could handle the cultural adjustment.
Besides, the move is good for both player and team, with the former making a little money — or perhaps even a lot — along the way.
Put aside what you know about the player I’m about to mention and just look at the potential similarities. Don’t look at skill set, style of play or, obviously, the career enjoyed by the comparison. Instead, look at how he got there.
When you do, I think you’ll see that it’s entirely possible that Svi Mykhailiuk could — again, could — go on to follow the career path of San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili.
Way back in 1999, at the age of 22, Ginobili was drafted with the No. 57 pick (of 60) by San Antonio and then promptly spent the first three years of his professional career playing overseas in Italy.
Obviously, Ginobili did enough there to catch the eye of the folks in San Antonio and the rest is history.
Over his 16-year NBA career, Ginobili won four NBA titles, was named to the All-Star team twice, earned all-NBA honors twice and also was the league’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2008.
Even if his career goes as well as he could possibly hope, it’s hard to imagine Svi enjoying a career like that. Those are some incredible accomplishments and Ginobili is almost certain to be inducted into the Hall of Fame someday. Svi’s not there yet. Not even close.
But he is on the brink of getting drafted. And if he does it’s looking more and more likely that it will be in the mid-to-late second round. Beyond that, there’s a better-than-good chance that whichever team does draft him also will want to at least explore the idea of the soon-to-be 21-year-old playing a couple of seasons overseas to better develop his game before joining the big league club.
A lot of this, of course, depends on which team ultimately drafts him and what that franchise needs at the moment.
There’s probably a better comparison for Svi in the NBA. And probably one that doesn’t match him up against a future Hall of Famer.
But when you consider the path that Ginobili took to get to that status, it’s not hard to envision Svi’s pro career at least starting in a similar way.
Where he takes it from there is up to him. But he would do well to watch plenty of film on Ginobili and soak up as many of the skills and philosophies that made the Argentinian such a sensational player for so many seasons, not to mention a thorn in the side of so many NBA teams and superstars.
Evidently, he’s already well on his way.
Just before Noon on Thursday, the NBA started releasing the various measurements of the 69 NBA Draft hopefuls participating at this week's combine in Chicago.
Most of the measurements — height, weight, hand size, body fat, etc. — were taken Wednesday but some had to finish up on Thursday morning before getting to the fun part of the combine this afternoon — on-court drills, athletic testing and, of course, 5-on-5 scrimmages.
While we wait for that stuff to get going, the numbers are worth looking at. First a chart to track the notable measurements of the five Jayhawks in attendance. And then a few quick thoughts about what you're looking at.
It's always interesting to look at these numbers and then compare them — heights and weights, at least — to the numbers these guys carried with them throughout their college careers on KU's official team rosters.
Without further ado, here's a quick look at the five Jayhawks in Chicago, by the numbers:
|7' .25"||6' 10"||7.95%||273.8 lbs||7' 7"||9' 4.5"||9.5"||10"|
|6' 1.5"||6' .25"||4.80%||186.4 lbs||6' 6.25"||8' 0"||8.5"||9.5"|
|6' 7.75"||6' 6.5"||8.45%||211.6 lbs||6' 4.75"||8' 4"||8.25"||9.5"|
|6' 3.25"||6' 2.5"||6.25%||189.2 lbs||6' 5.5"||8' 2.5"||8.5"||9.5"|
|6' 10.5"||6' 8.75"||5.45%||222.4 lbs||7' 2"||9' 0"||9.25"||9.5"|
Now, a few quick thoughts on those numbers (as well as relevant comparisons for perspective) before hopping on to watch some of the workouts, which can be seen from 2-6 p.m. today on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app.
• First off, Graham's 4.8% body fat is just insane. I mean, wow. There's a reason that guy was able to play 40 minutes — or at least 38+ — during most of KU's games last season and it has everything to do with his conditioning and the way he took care of his body. He did not carry any extra weight, which often is the reason behind injuries, and was a physical specimen out there running all over the floor. For perspective, I recently joined Genesis Health Clubs, will be 40 this summer and my body fat percentage is a shade over 22%, which my trainer said still puts me in the healthy range for my age, height and weight. And I'm a pretty active guy who still plays ball twice a week and works out 3 or 4 times a week. Graham's 4.8 percent, along with Azubuike's 7.95 number for that matter, just blows my mind.
• Let's stick with Graham for a quick minute. It's always a big moment for guards when they register taller than 6 feet and Graham got there, both in shoes and out of shoes. I know there's not a huge difference between 5-11 and 3/4 and 6-0 1/4 in terms of actual height, but there is when it comes to the sound of it. A lot of NBA execs are turned off immediately by guys who are listed under 6 feet tall. Big news for Graham that he got over that benchmark. As for the other heights, I thought it was interesting that Preston was nearly 6-11 in shoes and also think it's good news for Azubuike than he is a legit 7-footer in shoes. Newman topping the 6-3 mark was a little bit of a surprise but not much.
• Let's look at wing span real quick. If you've looked at him even just once in your life, it should come as no surprise to you that Azubuike's wing span was massive. When that guy walks up and down the floor, his arms hang down past his quads and his long arms have played a huge role in him getting good position and scoring with such ease inside. Azubuike's wing span was the second biggest as the entire combine, second only to Texas' Mo Bamba, who checked in at 7 feet, 10 inches. Graham's 6-6 wing span was pretty impressive for a guard who barely topped the 6-foot mark and, as I'm sure most of you have heard throughout the past couple of years, Svi checked in with the shortest wing span of all of KU's players at a shade under 6-5. Although that does not have a huge impact on his game, it is one of the things that hurts Svi a little in the eyes of the scouts.
• I know hand measurements are important, that whole being able to grip the ball and get into passing lanes and such thing, but I've never really paid much attention to them. So today I went out and measured mine just for comparison's sake. Again, I'm a 6-foot tall, pretty average 40-year-old dude when it comes to height, weight and things of that nature. So keep that in mind here. My hand width, fingers spread from outside of the thumb to outside of the pinky: Just under 8.5 inches. My hand length, top of my middle finger to where my wrist meets my palm: Right about 8 inches even. So take those measurements into account when you consider that all of these guys had hands of 9.5 inches wide or better and most were 8.5 inches long or better. It might not seem by much, but it makes a big difference when it comes to release and handling the ball. I can palm a ball, but have never been able to dunk. That's mostly because of the flat feet and lack of vertical jumping ability my parents blessed me with.
• As for body weights, most of those are right where we expected them. Graham and Newman are both built very solidly. Having all of that muscle and less body fat will do that for you. Azubuike's low-270 number shows he's been putting in some serious work in recent weeks. He was listed at 280 on KU's 2017-18 roster. And Preston, who also is really lean at 222 pounds, was listed near 240 when he arrived at KU. I've seen some stuff from his trainers and those watching his workouts who have said that he looked like the best athlete in the gym during the combine prep.
More to come later this afternoon after drills and such get going.
While Wednesday marked the first day of the NBA's pre-draft combine, it almost exclusively featured the off-the-court action at the five-day event that flies a bit under the radar in terms of media coverage.
From interviews with NBA team officials and photo shoots in front of the camera to player measurements, Wednesday's activity, which began early Wednesday afternoon and runs through the evening, was merely an orientation of sorts for the nearly 70 draft hopefuls who made the trip to Chicago this week for the combine.
The Kansas basketball program will be well represented throughout the week, with former Jayhawks Devonte' Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman, along with current KU center Udoka Azubuike and never-was Jayhawk Billy Preston also at the showcase.
The action will pick up substantially throughout the day today, when the players run through shooting drills, athletic testing and live scrimmages in front of front office types and NBA coaches and scouts for much of the afternoon. The live action stuff will follow a second round of team interviews Thursday morning. Check ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app for coverage of the drills and scrimmages from 2-6 p.m.
Thursday is the day when most of the elite prospects who attended the combine will get their longest looks before moving on and paving the way for the players who are likely to be taken in the late-first and second round of the June 21 NBA Draft to take center stage.
Friday will feature more interviews, drills, testing and scrimmages and throughout the day and a meeting with representatives from the NBA's Players Association in the evening.
On Saturday and Sunday, it's more meetings with NBPA reps and the NBA's player development group along with medical testing for all combine participants who remain.
From there, the former Jayhawks and their peers will leave Chicago to return to their agents and trainers to prepare for team workouts that will take place during the next couple of weeks.
Graham will be one of the few players who will stick around The Windy City an extra day to attend a Chicago Bulls team workout on Monday.
Graham also will be one of those players who figures to really benefit from the off-the-court aspects of the combine as much as what he's able to do on the court.
“I've heard they ask you crazy questions,” said Graham while laughing about the memory of his former KU teammate, Frank Mason III, being asked last year how he would like to die. “But I feel like my personality and all the media training we did here will help me out.”
As for the physical aspects. People know Graham can shoot, they know he's tough, they know he's a natural-born leader and they know he now has true point guard skills. But the recent KU graduate from Raleigh, N.C., said recently that the combine could provide him the platform to flash a few elements of his game that NBA evaluators may not be aware of at this point.
“Some of the agility stuff,” he said. “People might not how quick you can move laterally and stuff like that. I mean, my (vertical jump) test might not be the best ever, but I still feel like just getting out there in front of the GMs and scouts and stuff will just help me.”
Watch Svi hit 13 3-pointers in a row during a light shoot-around Wednesday night:
Watch Malik Newman fly high during the vertical test on Thursday:
There's this notion out there that it's going to be tough for the Kansas men's basketball team to move forward with somebody new in the driver's seat, playing point guard for Bill Self's team during the 2018-19 season.
Makes sense, if you ask me.
After all, the next KU basketball season will be the first in four seasons that did not feature either Frank Mason III, Devonte' Graham or both handling point guard duties for the Jayhawks.
Big shoes to fill. A tough adjustment for the coaching staff, players and, probably most obviously, the adoring Kansas fan base.
But KU fans need not worry about whether the Jayhawks have pieces in place who are capable of handling the role.
We may not yet know if Cal transfer Charlie Moore or incoming freshman Devon Dotson will be able to put up the kind of numbers that Graham and Mason did during their best seasons as Jayhawks.
In case you have not yet grown tired of hearing about those two, here's one way to look at their careers that you might not yet have considered. In the five seasons where KU's latest dynamic duo ran the show in the Jayhawks' backcourt, Mason and Graham's combined averages were: 15.2 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game, 4.9 assists per game and a 41.8 percent clip from 3-point range.
Getting numbers like those from either Moore or Dotson this season — or even the two of them combined — while not impossible to foresee will not be easy.
But forget about numbers for a minute. One of the strengths of the 2018-19 team will be its depth and when you've got nine or 10 guys who can log minutes on the court, the pressure is off of any one or two guys to put up big numbers.
So let's focus on that other element of what being a point guard is all about — confidence, leadership, style and sizzle.
Moore, a tough and crafty guard from Chicago with an outgoing personality, had enough of those qualities to earn the start in all 34 games for Cal during his freshman season in 2016-17. He also was named Mr. Basketball Illinois following his stellar senior season of high school, when he averaged 28 points, 7 assists, 5 steals and 4 rebounds per game.
And then there's Dotson. We don't know exactly what he's capable of yet in terms of delivering at the Division I level. But we do know he has style. Lots of it.
Look no further than the recent graduation video he released to see that for yourself.
Regardless of who's running point for Kansas next season, Self's squad appears to be in good hands in natural leadership and confidence department.
And in case you're entertaining the idea of comparing either of these players to Graham or Mason for the next couple of seasons, do yourself a favor and cast that idea aside today.
Both of those guys, in terms of statistics and what they brought to the program, are all-time greats in program history and asking anyone to replicate their careers is an awfully difficult thing to ask for.
Be sure to check out that Dotson video in the link provided above to get a real feel for the young man's flare.
It should be a fun battle to see which one of these two players wins the starting job — my money's still on Dotson — and how they work together to try to fill Graham and Mason's shoes.
While much of the weekend in Lawrence was about former KU basketball players moving on — Devonte' Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Clay Young all walked down the hill at graduation — a handful of potential future Jayhawks were busy trying to put their best foot forward elsewhere.
With Nike's EYBL event in Atlanta taking place over the weekend, a lot of top prospects in the Classes of 2019 and 2020 were evaluated and talked to about their futures by the gang on the recruiting beat.
Not surprisingly, KU was a program that came up quite a bit with some of the best players in both classes.
Here's a quick rundown of who said what over the weekend, as the push for prospects in the 2019 class started to heat up even more.
• PG Jalen Lecque – 6-foot-4, 180-pound, 5-star prospect in 2019 class ranked No. 9 nationally by Rivals.com
It seems as if the big decision for Lecque at this point is whether he will stay in the 2019 class or try to reclassify and join the 2018 crew.
In an interview with Eric Bossi, of Rivals, Lecque said he was more worried at the moment about getting back home and working on his game this summer while discussing his options with his family then.
Asked specifically about KU, Lecque, who hails from Arden, N.C., said simply: “It’s a nice school. I like their school and the facilities, as well, from the videos they send me of the facilities. They are a nice school and I would love to visit there.”
• PG Tre Mann – 6-foot-4, 170-pound, 4-star prospect in 2019 class ranked No. 37 nationally by Rivals.com
The rising point guard from The Villages, Fla., has recently visited Florida and Tennessee and, according to Bossi, appeared to be zeroing in on making a decision between those two programs and maybe one or two more.
But a recent offer from KU inspired Mann to tap the brakes and now Mann is very interested in checking out what Kansas has to offer.
He currently considers KU, Florida and Tennessee as his top three and told Bossi that he was “going with the flow,” regarding his recruitment, adding: "If I feel like I’m confident about a certain school then it will be done. Right now I have three schools that are like my top three, really."
Asked specifically about KU jumping into the mix, Mann made it clear that he was interested.
“They’ve had great players in the past and a great coaching staff,” he told Bossi. “I haven’t been on a visit, so I don’t know the campus yet. But I want to see it."
• SF Samuell Williamson – 6-foot-7, 170-pound, 4-star prospect in 2019 class ranked No. 44 nationally by Rivals.com
There is no shortage of interest in the smooth wing from Rockwall, Texas, whom Bossi said made the game look very easy during the recent EYBL event in Atlanta.
KU, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Texas are all showing heavy interest in Williamson, and that's just in the Big 12. Outside of the region, Michigan, Ohio State, Louisville, LSU and others also have shown heavy interest.
While it remains early in the process, Williamson shared with Bossi a tie to KU that might keep the Jayhawks in it as long as they want to be.
“My mom is a (KU) graduate and my brother just graduated last year,” Williamson told Bossi. “They (the KU coaches) say that I could come in and play multiple positions and do a lot of different things in their offense.”
According to Bossi, Williamson hopes to pin down a final five by the end of the summer so he can start taking visits and make a decision sometime in the fall.
As graduation 2018 comes and goes and next season's Kansas men's basketball players head home for a few weeks before reporting back to campus on June 2 for the start of summer classes and workouts, Bill Self's Jayhawks remain in possession of a valuable commodity — an unused scholarship.
Thanks to the departure of five scholarship players from last year's team — six, if sophomore center Udoka Azubuike elects to keep his name in the draft — and the fact that the 2018 recruiting class features just four replacements, KU still has one spot left to fill before the 2018-19 season arrives.
But don't bank on the Jayhawks filling that spot. So says KU coach Bill Self, who discussed his options with the Journal-World this week and said the potential for him to keep the 13th scholarship in his pocket was a “good possibility.”
“Oh yeah,” Self said when asked about hanging on to the 13th scholarship. “Especially because we won't have any seniors next year.”
Because there are no seniors on the 2018-19 roster, there is no guarantee that Kansas will get any scholarships back to use on prospects in the loaded 2019 recruiting class.
With that said, it seems likely that KU will have at least two or three open spots after next season because of the potential for early departures from players like Dedric Lawson, Udoka Azubuike, Silvio De Sousa and Quentin Grimes.
As of today, the scholarship players on the 2018-19 roster are:
• 4 freshmen — Grimes, Ochai Agbaji, Devon Dotson and David McCormack
• 4 sophomores — Silvio De Sousa, Marcus Garrett, K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore
• 4 juniors — Azubuike, Sam Cunliffe, Dedric Lawson and Mitch Lightfoot
That's not to say the Jayhawks definitely will hold on to the scholarship instead of giving it out. Just last week, KU welcomed grad transfer Joe Cremo to town for a visit — Cremo ultimately committed to Villanova — and Self and his coaching staff remain on the lookout for the right addition to the 2018-19 roster.
Finding that player is easier said than done, however, given the fact that most of the 2018 talent is already spoken for and very few high-major prospects, if any, remain available.
“We'd have to have something fall out of the sky right now,” Self said. “But we could go with what we've got. There's no problem with that.”
The other option for the Jayhawks, as they have shown a willingness to do in recent years, is to take a transfer who would have to sit out the 2018-19 season the way Malik Newman sat out 2016-17 and Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore sat out the recently completed 2017-18 season.
“That's a possibility,” Self said. “But there's no panic on the deal, though.”
The bottom line, at least as of today, is this: While Self and company would be open to filling the spot if the right player surfaced, they have no plans to use the scholarship just to do it and also feel no pressure to get it done quickly.
While there are players out there who might be considered intriguing options, Self said he and his staff were still in the starting blocks for the few players who are on their radar.
And with Self leaving to coach the U18 USA Basketball team on May 30 through the middle of June, things could be put on hold for a while anyway.
Former KU guard Lagerald Vick may just be listed as an alternate for next week's pre-draft NBA Combine, May 16-20 in Chicago, but that won't keep the 6-foot-5 Memphis native from showcasing his skills for pro basketball talent evaluators this month.
According to a press release sent out on Tuesday, Vick has agreed to participate at the 2018 Professional Basketball Combine presented by Hfactor May 22 and 23 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Much like its NBA-sanctioned counterpart, those who participate will have their accommodations and food expenses covered for the two nights they are there. In addition, the PBC sponsors will provide media training, a marketing consultation, a photo shoot, a branding workshop and access to IMG's trainers and staff, weight room and training facilities during their stay.
The PBC web site touts the experience as an “opportunity to workout, do combine testing and interview for NBA GMs, NBA scouts, G-League personnel and overseas opportunities in what could be a life changing experience.”
According to the site, “A player may only attend the Professional Basketball Combine if they have entered their name into the 2018 NBA Draft or have given up their amateur status.”
As of Tuesday, Vick had not yet signed with an agent but still planned to do so.
As for the reason the PBC was founded in the first place? That, too, is spelled out clearly on the web site.
“We believe that elite athletes should have another avenue to showcase their abilities and increase marketability. Will we find the NBA’s next superstar? We hope so.”
Twenty-three participants who attended the combine in 2017 and four of them landed two-way contracts between the NBA and G League, 11 signed with G League teams and eight secured opportunities overseas.
“We are excited to welcome Lagerald to the 2018 PBC and look forward to seeing him compete in a few weeks,” the release read.
Beyond Vick, Jonathan Williams, of Gonzaga, and internationally famous Ball Brother, LiAngelo Ball, are the biggest names committed to this year's PBC as of today.
Five of Vick's former KU teammates — Devonte' Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman, Udoka Azubuike and Billy Preston — all are scheduled to participate in next week's NBA combine in Chicago. All of them but Azubuike have exhausted their eligibility at Kansas.
The KU center, who will be a junior next season, should he return to school, has until May 30 to pull his name out of the draft.
After five visits to some of the best programs in college basketball, University of Albany shooting guard Joe Cremo on Tuesday morning announced that the opportunity to join the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats was too good to pass up.
The 6-foot-4 Cremo, who shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range during his three seasons at Albany, announced his commitment to Villanova via Twitter, saying, "After thinking it over and talking to my family and friends, I've decided that I'm going to be committing to the University of Villanova for the last year of my career. ... I want to thank all the coaches that recruited me throughout this process and invested their time in me. I truly appreciate it."
Cremo's decision to stay close to his Scotia, N.Y., home — Villanova's campus is about four hours away while KU's is about 19 hours away — leaves the Jayhawks with one remaining scholarship to hand out to fill out its roster for the 2018-19 season.
KU coach Bill Self has said throughout the early stages of this offseason that he would like to add another shooter to the roster to help offset the loss of the team's top four 3-point shooters from last season, who accounted for 94.4 percent of KU's 3-point makes during the 2017-18 team's run to the Final Four.
Adding such a piece could be tricky, however, because the Jayhawks, outside of 3-point shooting, have quality depth in their backcourt despite the loss of four starting guards from last season's team.
Five-star freshmen Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes appear ready to start right away and sophomore Marcus Garrett, who started seven games and played in all 39 as a true freshman, will be joined by Cal transfer Charlie Moore, under-the-radar freshman Ochai Agbaji and former Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe.
Finding playing time on a team that likely will play more three-guard/two-big sets than it has in the past two seasons could be tough for a late addition and likely played a role in Cremo's decision.
The Albany guard said in early April that he wanted to go somewhere he deemed to be a good fit, where he could compete for serious playing time. Cremo picked Villanova over Kansas, Texas, Gonzaga and Creighton.
While it seems likely that Self and company will continue to mine the graduate transfer pool in an attempt to fill that final spot, there are a handful of unsigned players still available in the 2018 recruiting class, three sitting in the Rivals150 rankings.
However, none of those three — No. 11 Jordan Brown (6-10, 220 PF), No. 123 Emmitt Matthews (6-7, 180, SF) and No. 148 Isaac Likekele (6-5, 195 SG) — fit the profile of what Kansas is looking for.
With the KU roster set up well in terms of numbers — potentially six deep in the backcourt and six deep up front if Udoka Azubuike returns and you count K.J. Lawson as a forward — the remaining scholarship could be used in a variety of ways.
They could find a grad transfer like Cremo. Matt Mooney, of the University of South Dakota, and Brock Stull, of Milwaukee, are two names to keep an eye on there.
They could give it to a red-shirt transfer like they did with Malik Newman, the Lawson brothers and Charlie Moore. Remember, transfer numbers are way up these days and continuing to rise. The big center from Florida State (Ike Obiagu) is one of the most intriguing options on that front.
They also could give it to a late 2018 project type of player. They could hold onto it in case the need for it pops up down the road. (Think a 2019 prospect reclassifying or something like that). Or they could go searching for a diamond in the rough and gamble on a player who has not yet received the kind of pub and hype that most KU recruits come with.
The options are plenty. We just now know that Joe Cremo is not one of them.