Coaching basketball at the super-power level means forever seeing athletes that make the rest of us drop our jaws. Seeing them and yawning. It's what coaches do. They watch young, long, tall jumping jacks rattle rims, sprint the floor and block shots into the bleachers.
Kansas University assistant coach Tim Jankovich remembers the first time he saw Darrell Arthur, the 6-foot-9 forward who scheduled a news conference to announce his signing with Baylor, postponed it a day, and signed with KU. To the best of Jankovich's recollection, it was during Arthur's sophomore year, and he thinks it was during a visit with boss Bill Self to see a teammate at South Oak Cliff High in Dallas. He had heard about Arthur.
Said Jankovich: "As far as when, it's a little sketchy, but I do remember seeing him at the other end of the gym, where the younger players were, and we were like Holy : "
"He was just this incredible athletic specimen, unbelievably long, one of those really thin, strong athletes, unbelievably fast and a quick jumper," Jankovich said. "His whole athletic package was different than you normally see."
KU assistant Kurtis Townsend first saw Arthur play last summer.
Townsend's first impressions: "I thought, 'What a terrific athlete who could run and jump and had a nice stroke for a kid his size.' I thought his ceiling was so high he has unbelievable potential."
And then Townsend saw that potential realized in flashes.
"There were times in the game he would just take it over, grab every rebound he wanted, make shots when the team needed it, block shots, outrun people, just change the game in a five-minute stretch," he said.
It's human nature to ask for a play-alike, even though basketball players are like hail stones, no two are exactly alike. Townsend gave it a shot.
"You know what I think, he's a Kevin Garnett-type kid, and by that I don't mean to say he's as good as Kevin Garnett, I mean a big guy who can run and jump and play inside and out," Townsend said. "And I don't think he handles the ball as well."
Arthur said that while playing in an all-star game, he asked St. Benedict's coach Danny Hurley what coach would be tough on him, and Hurley answered Self.
What does that say about the KU recruit who joins Sherron Collins and Brady Morningstar?
"That he wants to work and wants to get better, and it makes me feel like the kid gets it," Townsend said. "A lot of kids think they know it all, know what it takes. For that kid to say that, I thought was kind of a mature thing."
As an assistant, Townsend coached Jason Kidd, Lamond Murray, Tony Gonzalez and other professional athletes at California. He knows special talent.
"This team has a lot of talent," he said. "A lot of talent."
Townsend, Jankovich and Joe Dooley helped Self assemble it. Now, if the coaches can get the players to be as cohesive as the staff, there's no reason to believe there will be a more entertaining basketball team on the planet to watch next winter.
Think about it. The NBA? No thank you. Florida? Just as good, even better, until proven otherwise. More entertaining? No. The Globetrotters? Weak schedule. North Carolina? Close, but this isn't horseshoes.