Saturday, October 19, 2013


Opinion: Open practice a peek at recruits, rotation


Late Night resulted in so many local crazed basketball fans getting turned away at the door that Kansas University coach Bill Self has decided to have another open practice. Call it Early Morning.

Of course, accommodating the masses isn’t the only reason Self has decided to swing the doors open at 9 a.m. for today’s practice that includes a scrimmage scheduled to tip off at 9:45.

The anticipated crowd in the neighborhood of 10,000 won’t do anything to hurt KU’s chances of landing prized Chicago recruit Jahlil Okafor, a center who is the top-ranked player in the Class of 2014, and point guard Tyus Jones, the fifth-ranked recruit per They have talked about attending the same college.

Just as having so many turned away for Late Night was great for recruiting in that it became an instant national story about the greater-than-ever popularity of the Kansas University basketball program, so too could the less formal Early Morning event, which just might catch on as an annual tradition.

Okafor and Jones can’t play in the scrimmage, so what to watch today? Well, if you really want to make your brain hurt, challenge yourself for a solution to this puzzle: How will Self reduce his rotation to eight players working a roster so rich with young talent?

Generally, he plays eight men, with six or seven getting double-digit minutes. Doing the math makes that challenge seem nearly impossible.

Forecasting the starting lineup requires no great taxing of the brain: Naadir Tharpe, Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis and Tarik Black. Barring an upset, those five will hear their names called during introductions.

Assuming two post players will come off the bench, third-year sophomore Jamari Traylor and talented-yet-raw 7-footer Joel Embiid have the edge on second-year sophomore Landen Lucas and senior Justin Wesley.

Embiid and Traylor make six and seven.

That leaves sweet-shooting small forwards Brannen Greene and Andrew White III and guards Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp battling for the eighth spot? So, again, how can he get it down to eight players?

Impossible, at least initially. Either Mason or Frankamp makes eight. If it’s Mason, then the ninth spot goes to White, Frankamp or Greene. White’s experience gives him the edge.

Plenty of time for Self to sort out all those issues.

As for where all the scholarships will come from if Self lands his top three remaining recruiting targets — Okafor, Jones and Chicago power forward Cliff Alexander (No. 4 in the nation) to join already-committed Kelly Oubre — even more time to solve that puzzle.

Heading northeast from Allen Fieldhouse, a more urgent challenge faces football coach Charlie Weis today a few hours after the basketball show ends: figuring out a way to score points against Oklahoma, no easy task even though the Sooners have lost defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and linebacker Corey Nelson to season-ending injuries.

Basketball in the morning, a break for lunch, football in the afternoon. TGIS. Thank God It’s Saturday.


Doug Cramer 8 years, 9 months ago

Kind of wondering if Andrew White III will red shirt...and possibly one other.

Agree with your starting lineup...but I think this lineup has an outside shot...if Self wants to go big on the perimeter...and...Selden is really a point guard:

1: Selden 2: Greene 3: Wiggins 4: Ellis 5: Black

Jim Erickson 8 years, 9 months ago

I like this for a starting lineup: Tharpe, Selden, Wiggens, Ellis, Embiid.

Black is certainly more experienced, but as we have seen with Aldrich and Withey, it is REALLY nice to have a 7-foot shot altering presence. He doesn't have to be polished to have an immediate impact altering shots. With some analysts talking about him as a top 5 pick in next year's draft, I would assume he isn't TOO raw. Though in fairness, DeAndre Jordan was also described as a raw talent. He didn't do much at Texas A&M, was picked very high in the draft, and is doing fairly well in the NBA. Let's hope Embiid has a more productive college career if he leaves early.

Todd Jones 8 years, 9 months ago

Same here Jim. EVERYBODY is saying Embiid is way better than advertised,

Jim Erickson 8 years, 9 months ago

Early prediction: Perry Ellis will be first team All Big 12.

Greg Lux 8 years, 9 months ago

Could get 3 ... Ellis, Wiggins, Selden... Very possible

Rock Chalk

Jim Erickson 8 years, 9 months ago

I'm hesitant to bet on a true freshman to make All Big 12... Aside from Rush, I don't think we have had one in the Self era, though I could be missing someone. Nonetheless... Selden should be a fun guy to watch as well!

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 9 months ago

Wiggins and Selden are the two best freshmen Self has ever had at KU.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 9 months ago

I miss the old days, by now 4 or 5 people would have criticized Keegans column while 4 or 5 would have praised it.

Greg Lux 8 years, 9 months ago

In all my years I have never been as excited for a season to start as this year. But like many of you I feel for the talented players who will obviously not make the rotation. This is the first year I can remember having so much talent available. It seems impossible that we may have 4 players who could start for any other Big 12 team that may not get into the rotation. Unreal. I feel really bad for the guys who don't make it this year. No matter how it turns out I will feel bad for the few who don't make it ...

Rock Chalk

Doug Cramer 8 years, 9 months ago

Greg - I wouldn't feel too bad for them. Self's system has proved...that if you remain loyal...and work eventually will get those moments to either start or play.

Of course you have the obvious bench guys who will never start. But guys like Frankamp, mason , white III...all those guys will start eventually if they continue to do the right things...and have patience.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 9 months ago

The starting line up is going to be Mason, Selden, Wiggins, Ellis, and Black. Embiid is still too raw to start and play starters minutes. He will be about 12-15 per game. His reactions on defense still look slow and his offensive game still needs a lot of work before he can be a legit threat on the offensive. He has all the tools to get to that point to be a great player, but it's going to take him time because he's still learning a lot of the basic fundamentals of the game. When he does get into the game, expect him to have games where he does look like a potential top 5 draft pick and expect games where he looks completely lost and has never played basketball before.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 9 months ago

That's what I'm expecting.flashes of brilliance and moments that remind us he's raw

Ron Prichard 8 years, 9 months ago

I don't think there is a chance Mason starts over Tharpe. If you have listened to Self's comments the last couple of months he is putting a lot of stock in Tharpe this year. I think Mason sees minutes, but Tharpe starts.

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