Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Jamari Traylor crucial newbie


Thomas Robinson doesn’t become the nation’s only unanimous first-team All-American and finish second in the Player of the Year voting without having the perfect complement to him doing all the things that brought out the best in him.

Jeff Withey’s remarkable shot-blocking ability enabled Robinson to play less aggressively on defense to stay out of foul trouble and conserve energy for crashing the glass and scoring.

Withey’s ability to catch the ball and either throw down dunks or knock down free throws gave foes reason not to run the entire defense at Robinson.

Withey enabled Robinson to be what he was, the second-best college basketball player in the nation.

Now someone needs to emerge as the perfect complement to Withey to enable him to be who he is, a great shot-blocker and a potential go-to scorer, a 7-footer blessed with a soft touch and deft footwork. Strange as it sounds considering how overmatched he looked at times as recently as his sophomore year, he has developed into a darkhorse candidate for first-team All-American honors, a guy with a good shot at becoming an NBA lottery pick. But he won’t get there without relentless help in the paint.

A banger Withey is not, so the guy playing alongside him needs to be a physical presence, and he needs to be a swift athlete who can sky for boards and run the floor like a guard in both directions.

Perry Ellis has so much talent, such a good aptitude, he’ll find a way onto the court for a ton of minutes as a freshman, but he doesn’t qualify as the perfect complement to Withey in terms of a basketball bodyguard. Wiry Kevin Young’s energy comes in handy off the bench. Zach Peters, a high school football player, has the profile, but he’s a freshman. Landen Lucas plays with confidence and aggressiveness, but he’ll likely need time to develop.

Jamari Traylor, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound red-shirt freshman from Chicago, hits the boards and anybody in his way hard. He’s explosive, runs the floor well and has the look of a guy who will play with a mean streak.

Practices are closed to the media, so his game remains a mystery, but those who played against him and with him in practice raved about his explosiveness and strength.

Traylor and Ben McLemore, the 6-5, 185 shooting guard from St. Louis, were restricted by the NCAA to practicing and even at that just for the second semester because of academic concerns. McLemore has generated more excitement because he was rated much higher in high school (34th, compared to 141st by and mixes fancy jams with a feathery three-point touch. But it’s conceivable Traylor could have the biggest impact of the eight newcomers, even though five of the others were ranked higher in their high school classes than Traylor was in his.


Jay Dogger 9 years, 10 months ago

I don't see Lucas competing for minutes with Traylor. I think Lucas will go in for relief for Withey more than anything. He seems to be the second option for playing Center, and we have more PF options.

Will Traylor be closer to T-Rob or Wesley? Or right in the middle?

Ellis, Traylor and Young (probably the first three PF options) all seem to have very different types of game. HCBS should be able to mix n' match to find the best match-ups; I don't think any of them will be able to dominate this coming year, so having numbers and versatility will have to make up for the difference.

Just saw the Celebrity Softball Game...Self seemed to have a blast. It was great seeing the stadium on TV (for once) and nice that it was practically sold out, as was the Home Run Derby.

kellerman411 9 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, we are thin at Center. The truth is, we don't have a backup center that is ready to go in and really hold his own as a true center.

This years team will be good but will be different from past teams. When Withey comes out, our offense turns into something similar to what Missouri had last year. A team that runs the floor and relies heavily on perimeter shooting. That won't be a problem with EJ and BMac stroking it from behind the arc.

roosey 9 years, 10 months ago

"Thomas Robinson doesn’t become the nation’s only first-team All-American and finish second in the Player of the Year voting without having the perfect complement to him doing all the things that brought out the best in him."

Aside from being kind of difficult to understand, there's a problem with this sentence. T-Rob isn't the nation's only first-team All-American. He's the nation's only UNANIMOUS first-team All-American. Hope you guys can get this corrected before print. :-)

Freedman Moor 9 years, 10 months ago

I think he meant "the nation’s only [unanimous] first-team All American".

KULA 9 years, 10 months ago

Just as a matter of opinion, I would also take issue with the label "the second-best college basketball player in the nation."

Alohahawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Until the East Coast biased media took over and took it away from Robinson, TRob had a commanding lead and was everyone's #1 player. Some will argue the fact, but I still think Thomas was more impressive in the championship game than the Kenstinky player (And, believe it or not, I'm drawing a blank on his name.) It's interesting that he was cut from the Olympic team (due to being injured, or so it's been said.) Lame, no pun intended, excuse if you ask me. He just wasn't good enough to compete against the big boys.

As the above article leads us to believe, Jamari Traylor is going to earn minutes on the court due to his sheer strength and tenacity. And JT does have the advantage of 1 semester of Self-ball under his belt. Get the pads out guys, because there's going to be a war fought in the trenches for court time this coming season. And if Perry Ellis is as soft as some have said, going up against JT, LL and ZP down low may help him develop that so-called missing tenacity. They may have said, "You aren't in Kansas anymore, in the "Wizard of Oz", but in this instance I'd say it in reverse. "You're in Kansas (meaning in a KU uniform) now."

JHWK 9 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you, Aloha - having one semester of practicing with last year's first team will be invaluable - both for these two red-shirts, but also for the rest of the team. With so many 'new-comers' with 2 of the youngsters not needing the hand-holding due to their being 'practice sophomores' will enhance HCBS (and the other coaches) to concentrate on ensuring these true newbies become engrained with the expectations and level of competitiveness that will be necessary to have the team ready to win another Big 12 Championship! Rock Chalk!

Alex Peekeaton 9 years, 10 months ago

"Can't compete with the big boys"..."Thomas was more impressive in the Championship game"...let me give you a quote from KU legendary coach Larry Brown - "Anthony Davis Is In The Same Class As Wilt Chamberlain And Oscar Robertson"

And regards to his "lame" injury..."Anthony Davis sprained his ankle prior to heading out to Vegas. During the first day of Olympic practice Davis said that his ankle is only at 65-70 percent." "Coach K said that Anthony Davis isn’t ready yet to really… did a little bit of 5 on 0, but he’s not near 100%.”

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, and he also said whatever team takes him in the draft would win 50 games next year. Any other team could pick whoever they wanted, but Davis' team will win 50.

I think Larry may have been throwing Cal and Davis a bone there. If you think he thinks Davis is the next Wilt Chamberlain, I've got a nice piece of real-estate in the Mountain Shadows development of Colorado Springs you should take a look at.

waywardJay 9 years, 10 months ago

Oscar Robertson comparison is laughable. I don't see Davis dropping a triple double consistantly, Ever. Maybe it's Calipari's way, but I just don't see him blocking that many shots in the NBA nor making that many assists. Turnovers I could see, because he's going to do something to get his offensive game out of second gear, and that might require bending the rules on Dribbling.

The Chamberlain comparison is offensive. Literally Offensive, as In Davis has no Offensive game. The league had to change the rules to slow Wilt down, and Davis won't get within a eyebrow whisker of that in his career.

He's a more gifted Hashem Thabeet at best, and michael Olowakandi at worst.

Alex Peekeaton 9 years, 10 months ago

No offensive game??? I guess you didn't know AD lead the country in offensive effeciency!!! Pitino comparing AD to Bill Russell, Larry Brown comparing AD to Chamberlain & Robertson, Bob Knight comparing AD to Bill Russell...but I guess you know more than these 3 coaches who have all won National Championships...and what are your coaching accomplishments?

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I don't know about waywardJay's basketball prowess, but I can tell you this - he's right about Chamberlain. ANYBODY that compares ANYBODY else to Wilt Chamberlain is an idiot.

There never has been, nor will there ever be anyone who could remotely compare to him.

I'm not just saying that because of my avatar either.

Next time someone AVERAGES 50 pts & 26 rebounds in a season, I'll take it back

Alex Peekeaton 9 years, 10 months ago

So you take the words of one IDIOT and paint the entire state of Kentucky as racists - is that your point? You ask Wall, Cousins, Knight, Bledsoe, Patterson, Rondo, etc. what they think about UK basketball, Big Blue Nation fan base, and Lexington as a city...well, they all come back - several of them even registered for classes and stayed in Lexington during the lockout. Former UK player Mohammad brought the Oklahoma City team to Lexington during the lockout to play ball - Do you think for a second any of these guys would show up in Lexington if what you say is true? We have the greatest fan base in all of sports - just check the attendance numbers for all the teams in the Final 4...UK had as many fans as the other 3 put together.

Ben Simonett 9 years, 10 months ago


Between the Mcdonalds All American and the athletic freak out of KC, Traylor is somehow the most crucial newbie?

Brak 9 years, 10 months ago

You got to remember who wrote the article, the man who will bash the team he writes for just to get a "reaction" from the masses. He's a clown reporter bro.

Steve Kubler 9 years, 10 months ago

Agreed that Keeg likes to write a reactionary article. However I get his point and made it myself in a past thread. Withey is going to need major help in the paint if he is going to carry a good share of the scoring load. While Thomas was able to shrug off a double team and find ways to deal with a triple Jeff isn't going to do that alone. He needs a big, strong, mean partner to set picks, crash the board, and take up space. Of the current crop of Jayhawks Traylor seems best suited to that role out of the box.

Of course that is assuming he plays big, strong, and mean. We won't find that out for a few months yet. Also there is a lot of assumptions about Jeff's ability. I feel he is going to improve, perhaps I am underrating his improvement?

I never expect big minutes out of freshmen, but this year I think it could happen. Jeez, I'm starting to get anxious and it is only July!

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 10 months ago

I still don't see Withey being a major scoring threat. His best work will continue to be on defense. I also maybe underrating his ability and improvement from last year.

RJ King 9 years, 10 months ago

I think he meant "crucial" as in replacing a specific quality or two that Robinson brought to the court. Not Robinson the complete package. And only as it impacts Withey's game.

With EJ, Rele, Withey starting, and Naadir, Young + Wesley getting minutes, it may be rare to see more than one "newbie" on the court at a time. Although B-Mac should provide both productive perimeter shooting and slashing, JT might play the most significant role if Withey is to flourish individually.

We can disagree with this notion, but it is neither absurd or ridiculous. It will also depend on matchups, and we are in good hands with BS.

jaybate 9 years, 10 months ago

• Good to see Traylor grow a KU inch already.

• Keegs not even mentioning Justin suggests he is farther out of the picture than I expected.

• I wish board rats would stop with the "Perry's Soft" stuff. It betrays insecurity among KU fans. If Perry had gone to UK or UNC, there would be talk about why can't KU attract his kind of player. But Perry man's up and comes to KU and gets labeled soft before he plays a game? Cut it out!

• Jeff IS going to need a stud at PF. Or a committee of three with 15 fouls to give. I figure the latter is how it will go.

• While Traylor, Ellis and Peters seem to have the raw materials for the 4 handled, don't count Kevin and Justin out at the 4 and 5 either. We are apt to see quite a bit of Traylor, Ellis and Peters early, as Self tries to see what each can do at D1 speeds, but very soon KY and Justin are going to enter the mix.

• KY proved he can play at the highest level last season down the stretch. He ought to be much, much better this season. Skinny though he is, he is the best, most experienced guy we have at the 4. He will at least play 20 mpg this season.

• Justin is another guy that looks like odd man out, until the recruits start playing like freshmen. Justin was foulamatic last year, but he is also at the phase of his career where he will make a big improvement. And when he wasn't fouling, he could guard and mix it up. Physically and Athletically, he has what the team needs. His deficit is mental. The freshman bigs will be foul prone this year. If he quits fouling, and protects, he will get a few looks early, but his shot to break through will come when Saturday/Monday conference games start and certain of the freshmen have proven they cannot yet guard and protect at D1 speeds.

• I still think it makes sense to go with KY, or Perry, as 10 mpg backups for Trav at the 3, while also playing the 4. Big 3s are trouble for opponents. It would get two of our best 7 players on the floor more. And it would ease the log jam at the 4/5.

REHawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I am right with you on the Perry Ellis issue. Soft players don't accomplish what Perry did his 4 years in high school. If anything, that "soft" talk will rattle his cage, so that he bounces out with something to prove. Several months ago I got accused of being drugged up when I declared that Justin Wesley will earn some valuable minutes this season. I continue to feel that Justin will have developed to the point that Bill Self can depend upon his experience and athleticism for a solid 8-12 minutes per game.

REHawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I envision Perry Ellis to be more of a finesse player than a banger. He might be that old style forward who, sadly, has been missing from today's game. I hope that the coaching staff can build some plays around his style. Bill Self certainly does possess a plethora of varied bodies and talents at the 3 and 4 positions. There could be some spectacular change-ups thrown at opponents, once the kinks are worked out, and the newbies adjust to veteran play.

Ted Hume 9 years, 10 months ago

I think I've mentioned this before, but I see Perry as having a game very similar to Shane Battier of our beloved Duke Blue Devils: finesse, agility, shooting touch, decent post moves, good court vision, can still bang when he needs to....

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 10 months ago

I like your take on KY. He has the potential to be a major scoring threat next year and I agree he will get somewhere near 20 min. a game. He is skinny but he is also a shrewd player who knows how to maximize his game. I did notice that you left out Andrew White. I think he will surprise a lot of people and compete for significant minutes.

kellerman411 9 years, 10 months ago

I always enjoy your posts jaybate (feel a but coming?) but you have simply lost your mind this time. KY gets 20 minutes a game? Ludacris. Yes, he was able to come in last year and give us a lift after the opposing defense had been beaten and bruised by T-Rob but he won't be able to perform anywhere near that level as a starter. Can you imagine KY trying to defend one of the big men that Baylor and Texas have brought in? Jesus, that gives me nightmares.

Let me let you in on a little secret, Perry Ellis is a mickey deeze all-american. So, not only is he by far our best option, Bill has to play him. In college basketball today, when you get a Mcdonalds All-american, you need to play him and develop him quickly (2-3 years) and get him gone to the league.

When the powers that be label a kid as MDAA, they are saying that this is an elite athlete with an elite skill set. When a school such as KU is unable to play and develop these kids, it looks horrible. KU can't afford any more NBA busts.

Alex Resnik 9 years, 10 months ago

I am tired of people expecting so much out of KY heis an energy player. You dont start energy players, they are best served coming off of the bench and only playing a few minutes per game. He will get is 10 min per game and get a crazy amount of rebounds. What i love about him is that he gets the rebounds that are out of his zone. He did show that he can score against OSU, but did he show it again? I think that he will drop 6 pts and grab 8 boards in around 10 min per game. As far as JW goes, he will get playing time when the frosh need to sit the bench to learn a lesson. Just like Self did with Hawkins and Chalmers (and i think that worked out fairly well).

Robert Brock 9 years, 10 months ago

Traylor is really growing and is now up to 6'8. By the time conference play begins, he will be up to 6'10 and 240 pounds.

Robert Brock 9 years, 10 months ago

He's 6'6 1/2. 6'7 is a streeetttttccchhh.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Maybe they all just stand taller and prouder when they are in college basketball's promised land of Lawrence !

RJ King 9 years, 10 months ago

Since he's from Chicago, how about "The L."


(Especially now that he's 6'8".)

Lance Hobson 9 years, 10 months ago

His name is Traylor and he plays for Kansas. Can't see him getting away from being another Tractor.

Chris1955 9 years, 10 months ago

How about Jam Jam (with apologies to the Flintstones) and Jelly (when KYis in the game at the same time)?

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm not suggesting that we compare him at all with Tractor Traylor, but with a dude who's built like a truck and has the name Traylor, you'd have to be burnt toast to come up with something like Jam or Jelly.

REHawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Tractor Traylor>WHEELS. I wonder what his moniker was back in Chicago.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

All the downtown ladies called him "Treetop Lover".

All the men just called him "sir".

Dirk Medema 9 years, 10 months ago

Sould be a nice committee to choose from, and hopefully produce lots of effort/R in practice = PT.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 10 months ago

JTraylor will start in front of PEllis?

Maybe they split minutes, but Perry will see plenty of time/impact. Bringing the beef/D/R's will be a crucial factor in seeing the court, even though there aren't nice glossy statistics to write/boast about.

Lash 9 years, 10 months ago

We had the number one player last year? And there will be 10 new faces on the court this year not 8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

waywardJay 9 years, 10 months ago

why not pair him with mclemore and call them the Eligibles ?

Lance Hobson 9 years, 10 months ago

Keegan's being too kind to Ellis. Everyone knows by now that the knock on him is that he's not always aggressive enough. Being a bodyguard is right out, Self will have his hands full developing him to an adequate level of toughness. He'll be great for us, but not as a goon or anything close to that role.

Curtis Stutz 9 years, 10 months ago

I liked what I saw in videos of Traylor going into last season and thought he'd be the big impact freshman out of BMac/BAnd/NT/JT, so I was definitely bummed when he couldn't play. He would have had a lot of chances to be an energy guy last year off the bench. Fortunately KYo did a good job of filling in off the bench. Hard to see Traylor as a starter, but I think he's capable of hitting the o-glass, swatting some shots and standing his ground in the post. Always good to have athletically gifted players available. He'll definitely make some of the true freshmen work harder in practice. Not sure what the best compliment to a Jeff Withey is, but I think Perry Ellis has a chance to be close to it. I'd say a Marcus Morris type PF that can shoot it, put it on the deck a little, pass it well is the best compliment to a player like Withey. Stretch the D, hit him with some good looks, draw his defender occasionally and let him clean up a few misses. KYo is also capable of playing well beside Jeff I think.

Chris Shaw 9 years, 10 months ago

So this is my concern with Withey and the 2012-2013 squad (BTW-I am as excited about this squad and the next two or three squads as I have ever been for KU hoops). Look, last year there was a handful of posters including myself that thought Jeff Withey would be just fine last season. Despite many of the doubters I kept saying that increased responsbility, increased playing time, playing alongside T-Rob and a sense of ownership to continue the KU excellence would allow Jeff Withey to thrive in Self's system.

Now, even with more of the scoring responsibility, I don't see Jeff Withey having the same type of season as he did last year. I think that if Withey takes on the extra scoring load that 1) His offensive exploits will be shown even more (hurt his stock in the eyes of the NBA) and 2) take away from his defensive presence (Which is the reason he is going to have a long NBA career in the first place).

I think Perry Ellis, Traylor, and Peters will be great compliments, but they aren't T-Rob! For some reason I just feel that Withey's weaknesses will be shown more this year and thus hurt his stock for the NBA next year. I would be shocked if Jeff Withey was a Top 5 pick, but much in the same manner that Jared Sullinger went from a #1 or #2 (Top 5 pick) and fell into the low 20's the next year...................I think Jeff Withey may be in that same category. I hope I am wrong, but just my opinion and two cents. I just think that if Withey takes on more responsbility in the scoring department...............that that hinders his success going forward. I still think he needs to be a plan C or D on offense and roam around defensively doing his thing.

kugrad93 9 years, 10 months ago

Traylor is in the headline, but he isn't mentioned until the eighth paragprah of a 10-paragraph column. Either the headline writer did a poor job, or Keegan buried his lead.

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