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Friday, June 17, 2005

Chalmers already acquiring valuable experience

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Incoming Kansas University freshman Mario Chalmers has experienced no homesickness during his first two weeks away from family members, who remain in Anchorage, Alaska.

"It's not been difficult. I talk to my parents every two to three days," the 6-foot-1 McDonald's All-American said this week during KU coach Bill Self's youth basketball camp. "The only thing different here is the thunderstorms -- kind of scary. We don't have them in Alaska."

What Chalmers is missing in Alaska right now is the summer solstice. There's sunlight ... "23, 24 hours a day," Chalmers said.

How does one sleep amid all the light?

"Pull the blinds and close your eyes," he said.

¢ Freshman arrivals: Self likes the fact Chalmers and fellow frosh Julian Wright are on campus, with Micah Downs to arrive tonight. Downs, 6-8 from Kirkland, Wash., graduated Thursday from Juanita High.

"Julian and Mario seem to be adjusting well. Homesickness isn't a major factor," Self said. "It's unfortunate they can't work camp, because I'd love to see those two guys do what the other guys did today."

KU's players ran through drills for campers Tuesday. All players except incoming freshmen are allowed to participate in camp drills -- the freshmen are off-limits until the start of the fall semester in accordance with NCAA rules.

"We're not allowed to do anything with them while they are here," Self said, "except the returning guys are working camp now. We can use them to demonstrate to campers.

"We can't watch our guys play at all until school starts in August," Self said. "There's all kind of rules. I think the NCAA is doing a good job of getting rid of some of the silly rules. We haven't quite got all of it accomplished yet."

¢ Good quotes: Self made interesting comments to the 500 or so youths in attendance during the week. Samples:

¢ "We had a good season but a really bad finish. To be honest, we're a little ticked off."

¢ "I think Russell (Robinson, soph guard) patterns his game after Manu (Ginobili). He tries to drive it every time."

¢ Commenting on Jeremy Case scoring an easy basket off a Christian Moody screen: "Who set the screen there? It was Christian. It's why he plays a ton. He does the little things."

¢ Commenting on a Darnell Jackson power move and slam: "We need him to play like that all the time, like a beast."

¢ Wright stuff: Freshman Wright proved wise beyond his years in being handed the microphone by Self to speak to the youths.

"Coach Self is trying to put a little pressure on me. I'm good with pressure, coming from a high school with a little tradition," the 6-9 Wright said of Homewood-Flossmoor in suburban Chicago.

¢ Roberts lauded: St. John's junior Lamont Hamilton, who was in town all week, on playing for former KU aide Norm Roberts: "Coach Roberts is a great guy. I love that man. He's like a father figure in my life."

¢ Stewart speaks: KU soph Rodrick Stewart, who hails from Seattle, on Self: "Coach Self is like a father figure for a lot of us who come from far away."

¢ NBA trip: Self, who will play host to the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Youth Scholarship Golf Classic today at Eagle Bend, Thursday night was in Detroit for Game Four of the NBA Finals. Self is buddies with Larry Brown, head coach of the Pistons, and R.C. Buford, general manager of the San Antonio Spurs.

¢ Draft size: ESPN Insider reports measurements of the three Jayhawks at the NBA Draft camp in Chicago: Wayne Simien, 6-7 1/4 in socks, 6-9 in shoes; Keith Langford 6-2 1/4 in socks, 6-3 1/2 in shoes; Aaron Miles 6-0 in socks, 6-1 1/2 in shoes.

Standing, Simien's reach was measured at 8-11, which is similar to many centers in the NBA. ESPN's Chad Ford's latest mock draft projects Simien as a first-round draft pick of the Houston Rockets, No. 24 overall.

"The Rockets could use a tough rebounder with experience, and Simien fits the bill," Ford wrote. "Concerns about injuries and size are the only things keeping him out of the lottery. He's one of the few guys who isn't afraid to go inside and bang but also has a nice perimeter game. He has worked out really well just about everywhere."

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