Former KU forward Perry Ellis was injured in what proved to be a short-lived run through the TBT tournament last week with Self Made in Wichita, bringing into question the status of Ellis’ immediate professional future.
Just nine days before Self Made’s Round 1 loss, Ellis inked a new contract with Osaka Evessa club in Japan for the upcoming season.
Now, he’s awaiting surgery and rehab and wondering where his next opportunity might come.
The former KU All-American, who spent the early portion of his pro career playing in the NBA’s G League as well as overseas in Australia, Italy, Germany and Turkey, revealed this weekend the extent of his injury in a YouTube video that was not exactly Ellis’ idea.
“My girlfriend’s kind of making me do this,” Ellis said with a laugh. “Not gonna lie. But, nah, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands now so I think it’ll be kind of cool to do this. This is a way I can keep people updated on my journey (of) trying to return back to the court.”
The injury — a tear of the patellar tendon in Ellis’ right knee — happened shortly after Self Made’s opening game tipped off.
“Basically, I was just falling backwards,” Ellis said. “I looked back at the clip and that’s really all that happened. I’m falling backwards, trying to catch myself on my right leg and so much weight was on the back I guess it just gave away. I remember falling and looking over at my mom, looking over at her and I said, ‘It’s a wrap.’”
In the video, Ellis explained that he knew right away that it was his patellar tendon.
“Sure enough, I went to the hospital and that’s what it was,” he said. “When I looked down at my knee, I said, ‘Yo, it looks like I’ve got a (disproportionate) knee like a camel. This ain’t looking right. Something looks crazy.’”
Ellis, who has played professionally in the NBA’s G League, as well as in Australia, Turkey and Germany, said the injury will keep him from going to Japan and instead force him to rehab and recover while looking for his next opportunity to play professional ball.
“That’s basketball,” he said. “And now it’s just time to get better. It’s a new obstacle in my way and now I’m just trying to get better and get back to what I was.”
The former KU forward who will turn 26 in September said his immediate future holds a lot of Xbox and icing of his knee until the swelling goes down enough to have surgery.
He plans to track his journey with video updates on his YouTube channel throughout the process and said he was appreciative of all of the love he had received since the injury occurred.
“Last but not least, I want to thank everybody for the support and prayers and all the messages,” Ellis said at the end of his video. “This is my way to kind of keep up with you all and kind of keep you guys in the loop.”
Ellis played last season at Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi in Turkish BSL league and averaged 13.8 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Ellis also played for Oliver Baskets (BBL) in the German league, where in 12 games he recorded averages of 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He also played 9 games in the FIBA Europe Cup, where he averaged 13.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game.
Back in his hometown of Peoria, Ill., for a charity golf event this week, Kansas basketball assistant Jerrance Howard was in Chicago over the weekend and he caught up with a couple of Jayhawks past and present.
As luck would have it, the two were actually working out together, making it even easier for Howard, now in his seventh season on Bill Self’s coaching staff, to reconnect with former KU forward Cliff Alexander and new KU signee Isaiah Moss.
“He was up there working out with Isaiah,” said Howard of Alexander, a one-and-done KU prospect who recently became a father. “And what was so cool about it was I walked in and he had all Kansas gear on. That was so exciting because Cliff loves Kansas.”
After picking KU over Illinois in a highly publicized and televised college announcement back in 2014, Alexander played in 28 games for Kansas during the 2014-15 season before eligibility concerns ended his college career eight games early.
From there, the 6-foot-9 power dunker who was ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2014 class by Rivals.com spent bulk of the 2015-16 NBA season on the Portland Trailblazers’ roster — appearing in just eight games — before going on to find some success with four different franchises in the NBA’s G League.
Still pursuing ways to play professional ball — Alexander has played overseas in France and Germany in recent years — the former Jayhawk and Chicago native continues to help out his old school whenever he can.
“Cliff helps us recruit in Chicago,” Howard said. “He’s always repping Kansas, always talking about Kansas. People think because of the way his time ended here that he doesn’t like Kansas, but he does. Everyone asks him how was the experience and he’s like, ‘I love Kansas. I love coach.’ He’s grown up a lot and it was good to see him.”
Spending some time with Moss was also a bonus for Howard, who believes the Iowa grad transfer’s experience, maturity and all-around game will be an asset for Kansas during the 2019-20 season.
His time in Chicago, and on the recruiting trail prior to his trip home, only reinforced that belief.
“What was refreshing was, when we went out on the road (recruiting) last week, a lot of the Big Ten coaches came up to (Self) and said, ‘Hey, you guys got a good basketball player,’” Howard recalled.
Familiar with Moss even before KU signed him because of his relationship with the new KU guard’s coach at Chicago’s Simeon High, Rob Smith, Howard said conversations with Smith, past and present, only added to the excitement around adding Moss to the 2019-20 roster.
“Everyone talked about his shooting, which I know we needed,” Howard recalled. “But I have a relationship with his high school coach and he was like, ‘Jerrance, this dude can guard.’ That’s what’s really going to stand out with coach and the fans. We got a two-way player and we got a good one.”
What stands out most to Howard about Moss is not so much his skill set as it is his veteran presence.
“He’s been battled tested,” Howard said. “He started for three years and his demeanor is one where he doesn’t get too high or too low, which is why he’s really good in the clutch. … Those fifth-year seniors are like McDonald’s All-Americans now. That’s how I look at it. They help you win. They understand what you have to teach guys that are coming in, freshmen. There’s nothing wrong with it. Everybody’s got to go through it. And it’s stuff that you can’t really learn until you go through it. But (older players like Moss) understand getting their rest and eating right and the importance of studying scouting report and that every possession counts.”
Introducing “Foul Shots,” a podcasting partnership between KUsports.com & Nick Schwerdt and Elijah Johnson
The crew at KUsports.com is excited to announce a podcasting partnership with Nick Schwerdt and Elijah Johnson that promises to bring must-listen content to your headphones each week.
Schwerdt, the host of “Rock Chalk Sports Talk” in Lawrence and Johnson, the former KU guard who helped the Jayhawks reach the national title game in 2012 and delivered a few of the most memorable individual performances in recent KU history, have started a brand new podcast called “Foul Shots” that plans to bring unique and entertaining hoops insight and the kind of who-knows-what-they’ll-say-next content to KU fans everywhere.
The first episode will drop Thursday, June 6, and a new “Foul Shots” podcast will be available each week from here on out.
“Rock Chalk Sports Talk” glue guy Derek Johnson also will be a part of the project as the “Foul Shots” producer.
Now, here’s where we come in.
In addition to sports editor and KU basketball beat writer Matt Tait being a regular contributor to the podcast, we also have arranged to bring the “Foul Shots” content to you a day early each week, with new episodes posted every Tuesday exclusively at KUsports.com.
This adventure, which has been a long time in the making, no doubt will be a lot of fun and aims to bring a completely new dynamic and style to the KU podcasting world.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do with Elijah for a while now,” Schwerdt said. “I’d gotten a chance to talk to him a handful of times over the years and have always appreciated the way he shoots from the hip and the unique perspective he brings to the table. Who better to talk about what’s going on inside the locker room than a guy who’s lived it? We’ve been working on this for what seems like an eternity — Skyping back in forth while he was in Greece last year just tossing ideas around. And we’re excited to finally launch the Foul Shots podcast and share it with KU fans. I really hope they enjoy it.”
Added Johnson: “I think this podcast will be what everyone’s in need of. The from-the-bleachers-to-the-bench format will open the audience up with talks on current events, controversial opinions and much more.”
The “Foul Shots” concept has been well thought out and organized, is ambitious in its goals and vision and will be much more than just a couple of guys sitting around talking into a microphone.
The fun begins tomorrow. But the buzz begins today.
Give the "Foul Shots" Podcast a follow on Twitter, check out the following tease to Episode 1 and be sure to check back with KUsports.com on Thursday — and every Tuesday from here on out — for a new episode of “Foul Shots” with Nick Schwerdt and Elijah Johnson.
Two members of the 2008 national championship team rounded out the Elijah Johnson project known as Self Made, an all-Kansas alumni team hoping to participate in this summer’s event known as The Basketball Tournament.
Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson were announced late last week as the final former Jayhawks on the squad, bringing the roster total to nine.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the 2019 TBT team,” Arthur said in a video announcing his inclusion. “Looking forward to seeing all my KU fam, all my brothers that I haven’t played with or against in a long time. Looking forward seeing everybody, the fans, you all come on out and support. Thanks.”
If Self Made is able to entice 1,000 fans to sign up as official supporters on The Basketball Tournament’s website, the team will be able to add a 10th member at no additional cost.
As of mid-day Monday, Self Made had 916 registered supporters — nearly twice as many as the squad began with last Friday — and was on pace to eclipse 1,000 any day.
Speaking of cost, the team which also includes four members of KU’s 2012 national runner-up squad — Johnson, Tyshawn Taylor, Travis Releford and Kevin Young — will be vying for a $2 million prize if it makes the field of 64, which includes many teams like Self Made, which are made up of players from the same schools or conferences competing in the one-and-done event.
“I think that we’ve got the chance to win it all,” Johnson told Rock Chalk Sports Talk host Nick Schwerdt back in April when he first starting putting the team together. “There’s no way that I’m going to look at these names on the roster and say we don’t have a chance. Of course we have a chance.”
Joining Arthur, Jackson, Johnson, Taylor, Releford and Young on the roster are former KU teammates Landen Lucas and Perry Ellis and tough-as-nails Chicago native Mario Little.
KU fans can track the latest with Johnson’s Self Made endeavor by following @SelfMadeTBT on Twitter or on Instagram at selfmadetbt.
That’s not the only way fans can get involved. In fact, Johnson and the former Jayhawks need a little help.
The bracket is put together based on the desire of any given team’s fans to see it play. KU fans can sign up on the TBT website to toss their support behind Self Made or by Tweeting at @thetournament with the hashtag #TBTRecs to tell event organizers that they'd like to see Self Made in the field of 64.
For more information about the tournament itself — including dates of KU’s likely games in Wichita and how to get tickets — log on to The TBT website for more on this year’s event and the history of the summer showcase that has gained attention and traction year after year.
If Self Made gets in, it almost certainly would be placed in the Wichita Region, with games slated for July 25-28 leading up to the winner-take-all finale Aug. 1-6 in Chicago.
It’s been a big week for former Kansas basketball greats and Halls of Fame, with Nick Collison and Perry Ellis both receiving career honors in the past seven days.
Last weekend was Ellis’ turn, as the former KU forward and native Kansan was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the state track meet in Wichita.
Ellis, who hails from Wichita, and left KU as the program’s No. 8 all-time scorer (1,798 points), enjoyed unprecedented success during his high school days at Wichita Heights.
A four-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and four-time starter and state champion, the four-time all-state selection also was class valedictorian.
At KU, Ellis became one of the most effective and efficient scoring forwards in school history. In addition to leading the Jayhawks in scoring during his final two seasons, Ellis also finished as the program’s No. 12 all-time rebounder and earned multiple all-Big 12 and All-American honors along the way.
Collison’s honor came late this week, when it was announced that he and 12 others would be inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame later this year.
Like Ellis, Collison, the Iowa Falls, Iowa, native, also was inducted into the Iowa State High School Activities Association’s Hall of Fame in recent years and he also recently had his jersey retired by the Oklahoma City Thunder following a 14-year NBA career with the franchise.
Collison’s time at Kansas was full of honors and big moments. After earning McDonald’s All-American honors during his senior year of high school, the power forward went on to earn dozens more individual honors during his four-year career at Kansas.
Included among them were a multiple all-Big 12 honors and a consensus All-American selection in 2003. Collison helped lead KU to back-to-back Final Fours in 2002 and 2003 and ended his Kansas career as the Big 12’s all-time leader in scoring and rebounding.
The induction ceremony for the 13-member 2019 class, which also features former KU standout swimmer Tammy Thomas Ammons, will be held on Oct. 6, 2019, at the Kansas Star Casino, located at 777 Casino Drive, Mulvane, KS, 67110.
The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, which soon will have 297 inductees, is in its 58th year of operation and is located at the Wichita Boathouse.
Ellis, who has enjoyed a professional career overseas with teams in Italy, Australia, Germany and Turkey, since leaving KU, is planning to play in this summer's $2 million event known as The Tournament for a team called "Self Made," made up of former Jayhawks and put together by Elijah Johnson.
Johnson finalized the "Self Made" roster this week and the nine-man squad now includes: Ellis, Johnson, Kevin Young, Mario Little, Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor, Landen Lucas and the two newest members of the squad, Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson.
The 64-team tournament is slated to take place this July, with Self Made likely playing opening-round games in Wichita.
Collison, meanwhile, is lining up what to do with life after professional basketball and continues to spend time in the Lawrence and Kansas City areas.
Elijah Johnson’s “Self Made” squad seeking to take home The Tournament’s $2 million prize this summer
You’ve seen it before at alumni scrimmages, the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic or various other charity events over the years.
But now there will be something on the line. Something huge.
Former Kansas guard Elijah Johnson and a team of yet-to-be-named former Jayhawks will be throwing their name in the ring at this summer’s event known as The Basketball Tournament.
The 64-team, single-elimination TBT battle comes with a winner-take-all prize of $2 million and Johnson, who appeared on Rock Chalk Sports Talk with Nick Schwerdt on Monday to talk about the upcoming challenge, believes his team of former Jayhawks will have the right recipe to bring home the top prize.
“I think that we’ve got the chance to win it all,” Johnson told Schwerdt on Monday. “There’s no way that I’m going to look at these names on the roster and say we don’t have a chance. Of course we have a chance.”
As for who those names are, Johnson promised to unveil the roster, one by one, throughout the day Tuesday. But he teased the lineup just a little bit and said there were some big names from KU’s past on the squad, which will play under the team name “Self Made” this July and August when the tournament gets rolling.
“The roster has changed numerous times,” said Johnson, who has been on social media interacting with KU fans over who they’d want to see on the squad for several weeks. “Overall, I’ve had 18 or 19 different names on the roster and we’ve had to narrow it down to the nine names or 10 names that we’ve got now.”
One thing Johnson likes about the team he has constructed is the fact that they all come from the same place and were taught basketball in the same manner.
“That’s what made me want to build my team around KU because we all know each other, even if we didn’t play at KU together,” Johnson said. “With us mixing our same background together and just knowing how to win, I think that gives us a better chance than most people from the beginning. I think it gives us that edge that most teams don’t have.”
Stay in touch with KUsports.com and this blog right here throughout the day for updated news about the Self Made roster.
For more information about the tournament itself — including dates of KU’s likely games in Wichita and how to get tickets — log on to www.thetournament.com for more on this year’s event and the history of the summer showcase that is now in its sixth year and has gained attention and traction year after year.
ROSTER UPDATES, starting at Noon on Tuesday, April 16:
(It looks like players will be announced one at a time throughout the week so stay in touch with KUsports.com for updates or follow @SelfMadeTBT on Twitter)
On pages 42 and 43 of the 2009-10 Kansas basketball media guide sit a couple of small glimpses into the academic career of former KU point guard Sherron Collins.
On page 42, under the section called “The Collins File,” it lists Collins’ favorite subject as English.
On page 43, under the section titled “Off the Court,” it lists the major of Sherron Marlon Collins as African and African American Studies.
Collins’ previous work in both academic disciplines led to one of the biggest days in Collins’ life on Wednesday, when the former KU All-American officially became a college graduate.
Collecting a degree in liberal arts and sciences, Collins finally completed what he began more than 12 years after he first stepped foot on the KU campus as an official student.
“One of KU’s all-time greats and one of my players I’m most proud of just graduated,” KU coach Bill Self tweeted around 1 p.m. on Wednesday. “Congrats Sherron Collins, you’ve made many happy and proud. Rock Chalk.”
To commemorate the big day, Collins posed for a photo with Self, KU assistant Kurtis Townsend and KU staff members and former Collins teammates Jeremy Case and Brennan Bechard in front of the newly remodeled entrance to the men’s basketball offices.
After leaving KU following the 2009-10 season, Collins received limited interest from a couple of NBA teams and bounced around the international basketball scene before returning to the United States and settling back home in his native Chicago.
Last year, Collins, who has not retired his high-tops for good just yet, relocated to Lawrence, where he has remained close with the program, easily visible at home games and regularly talking with KU’s guards to help them understand how to play for Self and what it takes to play at Kansas.
Recent KU grad Devonte’ Graham often praised his time with Collins — they both wore No. 4 at Kansas — for helping him develop into the kind of A-plus leader and first-team All-American player that he became. And current KU point guard Charlie Moore, who, like Collins, also hails from Chicago, said Collins had already made it a point to coach Moore up, as well.
“I was with Sherron for a weekend earlier this summer and we just bonded and talked a lot about the season,” Moore said before his summer trip to Italy. “He (told) me about his stories and stuff like that. That’s my guy. Sherron’s great. And what he did for this program is nothing short of fantastic.”
Collins, who finished his four-year career with 1,888 points, is the fifth-ranked scorer in the history of the KU men’s basketball program and also ranks 10th on KU’s all-time assists list with 552 assists from 2007-10.
It’s Border War time in Kansas City again and Jayhawks and Tigers everywhere have people on both sides of the storied rivalry to thank.
At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, Mo., nearly 20 former KU and MU players will get together for what’s being dubbed “Rivalry Renewed,” a game between alums that will be for both bragging rights and charity.
The game came about when Steve Gardner, a 1991 KU graduate and die-hard Kansas fan, was contacted by former Missouri standout Kareem Rush about putting the game together.
The two have a mutual friend who lives in Los Angeles and after Rush mentioned the idea to him a couple of years ago, the friend told Rush he should get in touch with Gardner. Rush did and, a year and a half later, the two are on the brink of the first of what Gardner hopes will be many summers of Rivalry Renewed type games.
“This is something that has been on the radar and talked about and we’ve gone back and forth on for a while,” Gardner said in a Friday interview with the Journal-World. “And now it’s here. We’re thrilled and we’re ready to go.”
KU and MU, of course, have not met in an official college basketball game since KU's epic comeback victory at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 25, 2012, when the Jayhawks stormed back from 19 down in the second half to win in overtime.
Last September, the two teams got together for an exhibition game at Sprint Center — also won by KU — to raise money for hurricane relief. At least for now, after Missouri's decision to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, it's exhibitions and games like Saturday's that will have to satisfy the Border War cravings of KU and MU fans.
Gardner, who has more than 20 years of experience in the sports agency world, putting on events that feature pro athlete speakers, said there was some uncertainty early on about whether the game would actually happen this summer or if they would have to put it off until a year from now. But once Intercom came on board and helped promote and market the game, a couple of sponsors followed and things went fast and furious from there.
Gardner said they already have sold more than 2,500 tickets for the event and the majority of the money raised — after expenses — will go to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City, the This Too Shall Pass charity and Rush’s Rush Forward Foundation.
General Admission tickets are $38 apiece and VIP tickets, which include admission to the game and a VIP event at Harrah’s Casino from 7-10 p.m. on Friday night are $129 apiece.
The goal, Gardner said, was to raise $20,000 for the charities and between the game and the VIP event, which also will feature a silent auction hosted by former KU great Calvin Thompson. Gardner said he believes they are well on their way to reaching that goal.
The game, which will be broadcast live on 610 Sports Radio, will feature regular college rules, 20-minute halves, referees, ball boys and “even people to wipe up the sweat on the floor.”
“They’re going to get after it,” Gardner said. “But we may give the guys just a touch longer during timeouts to catch their breath.”
Former KU guard Sherron Collins, who recently was a special guest at Frank Mason's camp in Lawrence, was hoping to play, but, as of Friday, Gardner was not sure whether Collins would suit up.
“I’ll probably play," Collins told reporters at the Mason camp. "Too much of a competitor to sit out, especially a Mizzou game.”
If the game were featuring anyone other than Missouri as the opponent, Collins probably would pass.
"There isn’t another way to put it, I just hate those guys," he said. "I hate everything about Mizzou. There is a kid from Chicago that is going to Mizzou, I know him real well. I just told him I can’t support him. I just hate them, I hate everything about them. I hate going there, I hate them coming here. I feel like K-State was a rivalry, but it was more of a respected rivalry. I just don’t like (Mizzou).”
Regardless of what Collins elects to do, the rest of the KU squad will feature Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson, Travis Releford, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Jeff Hawkins, Jeff Graves, Nick Bradford as a player/coach and maybe one or two more.
The MU group will include: Kareem Rush, Keyon Dooling, Rickey Paulding, Leo Lyons, Johnnie Parker, Jevon Crudup, Stefhon Hannah and more.
“When we first started planning this, we were thinking if we could sell 1,500 tickets, that would be great,” Gardner said. “So we’re well past that goal and really looking forward to having some fun. Being a KU guy, and even with Kareem being my business partner, I certainly think we’re going to beat them pretty good.”
Out in Southern California last weekend for yet another AAU event, Class of 2019 power forward Chandler Lawson, the younger brother of current Kansas players Dedric and K.J. Lawson, took a break from the action to discuss his game and his recruitment with a handful of reporters.
KUsports.com recruiting insider Matt Scott got ahold of that interview and received a little more insight into where the 6-foot-8, 200-pound prospect’s mind is heading into the final week of July.
“My recruiting’s going very well,” Lawson told a group of reporters, noting that Kansas, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Florida, Illinois and “a lot of SEC schools” had made the most contact with him thus far.
Lawson said his interactions with the KU coaching staff thus far had been as much about his siblings as his own status.
“They’re just telling me a lot about my brothers and to just keep on playing hard and keep on working hard,” said Lawson, who not only looks a lot like the two Jayhawks, but also sounds nearly identical to Dedric Lawson during interviews.
The younger Lawson, who labeled his versatility as his biggest strength, said he had been working on his guard skills and his back-to-the-basket game a lot this summer.
As for his plans for how the rest of his recruitment would play out, the four-star prospect, ranked No. 86 in the Class of 2019 by Rivals.com, admitted to being pretty go with the flow about the whole thing.
“I don’t really know,” he said when asked if he had a time frame or process in mind. “I’m just going to pick.”
Regardless of when or how that happens, it’s clear that Kansas will have a shot to be in the mix.
“Coach (Bill) Self, he’s a Hall of Famer. I like him. He’s hard-nosed,” Lawson said. “It’s a big thing having my (brothers) there, because they can teach me a lot about the game and tell me how college is going to be when I get there."
Chandler Lawson, recently announced on Twitter that he will play his senior season at famed Oak Hill Academy, the same school that produced recent KU big men Billy Preston and David McCormack.
The most noteworthy aspect of the move to Oak Hill, however, is why it happened in the first place.
After playing for former NBA and Memphis State star Penny Hardaway for three seasons at Memphis’ East High — yes, Memphis was actually known as Memphis State when Penny played there — Hardaway left the school to become the new head coach at Memphis.
While that move clearly figures to make Memphis an attractive option for Chandler when it comes time to pick a college, the move out of Memphis will give him a year to experience life out of his hometown.
If he likes it and wants to join a blue blood program where he could possibly play with one or both of his older brothers, KU would certainly seem like the perfect option.
If he misses it and realizes that home is where the heart is, Hardaway could be in position to land Chandler as his big splash recruit — Chandler is in the Top 100 right now and could easily continue to rise — and begin to repair some of the wounds that inspired talented players like Dedric and K.J. to leave Memphis to begin with.
The belief around the city of Memphis is that Hardaway is exactly what the program needs to get back on track. Adding a player like Chandler — which could only help in Memphis’ pursuit of the youngest Lawson brother, Jonathan, a Class of 2021 forward — no doubt would generate some serious buzz within the Memphis basketball scene.
It’s far too early to tell if this is a Memphis vs. Kansas, Hardaway vs. Self type of recruiting battle. But if it is, each coach and program has its own built-in advantages.
It’s more of the same in college basketball when it comes to awarding the sport’s signature event to a host city.
Long gone are the days when a venue like Kansas City’s Kemper Arena — I still marvel at this every time I drive by it — and in to stay are massive buildings, many of them football stadiums, that, for one weekend in early April love to slap a college basketball court in the middle of the madness to crown a national champion.
Fresh off of a return to San Antonio, where the Kansas men’s basketball team joined Villanova, Michigan and Loyola-Chicago at this year’s Final Four, the city best known for the Alamo and Gregg Popovich can start making plans to host the event again in eight years.
The NCAA on Monday afternoon released the Final Four sites for the next set of four years, with San Antonio, which by nearly all accounts has been universally praised as a wonderful host city for the Final Four, earning its way back into the coveted rotation for the fifth time since 1998.
Those cities who got good news on Monday — at least in terms of revenue, tax dollars and visitors galore — were:
2023 – Houston (site of the 2016 Final Four)
2024 – Phoenix (site of the 2017 Final Four)
2025 – San Antonio (site of the 2018 Final Four)
Are you sensing a pattern here?
2026 – Indianapolis (site of the 2015 and 2021 Final Four and the 2018-19 season’s Champions Classic clash)
Add those sites to the following host cities, which were already in place and you’re looking at at least another eight years — and probably much longer — of Final Fours in enormous venues.
2019 – Minneapolis (last Final Four here was in 2001)
2020 – Atlanta (site of 2013 Final Four)
2021 – Indianapolis (see above)
2022 – New Orleans (site of the 2012 Final Four and one of three cities, in my opinion, that should be involved in a fixed, three-year revolving door system to host the event. (Indianapolis and San Antonio are the other two I like)
While the move to massive domes had been met with some negativity, the NCAA has done well during the past couple of years to make the make the venues as fan-friendly as possible while still maintaining their financial edge.
And while there were preliminary discussions as recently as 2012 about returning the Final Four to true basketball arenas, those talks appear to have been squashed altogether for the next decade or so, with the strength of the dollar winning out over the intimate feel of playing the game in a venue built for it.
The last time a true basketball arena hosted the Final Four came in 1996, when previously named Meadowlands Arena became Continental Airlines Arena and used its 20,000-seat capacity to host a Final Four that included Kentucky beating Syracuse in the 1996 national title game.
From 1997 to 2013, the NCAA required that all Final Fours take place in venues with a minimum seating capacity of 40,000 people. In 2009, the minimum capacity was bumped up to 70,000, which severely limits where the Final Four can be held, which is why you see the same cities over and over, and maximizes the NCAA’s earning potential off of the world class event.