Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mentor: Ex-Oregon recruit Kasongo college-ready athlete

Kansas University basketball recruiting.

Kansas University basketball recruiting.


Former Oregon signee Ray Kasongo, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound unranked power forward from Canada who will visit Kansas University with his parents Friday through Sunday, as a freshman will be able to hold his own physically against top college talent.

So said his mentor, former Louisville player Brandon Bender, in a Wednesday Facebook chat with the Journal-World.

“He’s super-chiseled,” Bender said, also referring to the former Faith Christian School (Mesa, Arizona) standout as a “powerful dunker and physically athletic specimen.”

In addition to all that ...

“If you look at Serge Ibaka’s body now, that’s what Ray looks like,” Bender told ESPN-affiliated radio station 92.9 FM/680 AM of Memphis. “He’s like Amar’e Stoudemire when he first got in the NBA. That’s what he is.”

Kasongo — he made a name for himself by scoring 24 points with 15 rebounds and seven blocks in a game in Las Vegas two summers ago against a team that included KU signee Cliff Alexander and Duke signee Jahlil Okafor — also is planning on visiting Memphis and California before choosing a school.

“You know, I’m pretty excited about Kansas. Kansas is a big school and they send a lot of big men to the NBA. The NBA is a big goal of mine, so I’m pretty excited to meet the coaching staff, the team and I can’t wait to see what the fans are like at Kansas,” Kasongo told “I’m just really excited for this opportunity that I have.”

As far as being denied admission to Oregon ... Bender said Kasongo will have no problems qualifying academically.

“It’s totally an Oregon admissions issue,” Bender told the Memphis radio station. “Every coach involved in recruiting the kid say they’ve never heard the story I told them (about allegedly being turned away for his grades in non-core courses). It shocked them. … The coaches at Oregon are devastated and heartbroken. Ray would’ve started for Oregon.”

Mickelson update: Kansas University junior power forward Hunter Mickelson had one rebound, one steal and no points while playing 14 minutes in USA East Coast’s 77-66 loss to Estonia in the finals of the Tallinn Cup on Wednesday in Estonia.

Lucas has big scrimmage: KU sophomore forward Landen Lucas scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in an Athletes in Action Baltic Tour team scrimmage on Wednesday. He hit eight of 12 shots and also had six steals in the 40-minute simulated game. The team will play its first game on an overseas tour on Saturday in Lithuania.

Brunson update: Jalen Brunson, a 6-1 senior point guard from Stevenson High in Lincolnshire, Illinois, tells he has set three official visit dates — to Illinois Aug. 29-31, Villanova Sept. 4-6 and Temple Sept. 11-13. He also is considering KU, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and UConn. He’s ranked No. 15 in the Class of 2015 by

More recruiting: De’Aaron Fox, a 6-3 junior point guard from Cypress Lakes High in Katy, Texas, who is ranked No. 13 in the Class of 2016 by, has been offered a scholarship by KU. He tells he’s planning on visiting KU at the same time as Braxton Blackwell, a 6-7 junior forward ranked No. 33 in the Class of 2016.


Rodney Crain 8 years ago

Super, specimen, Ibaka, Amar'e, way too many hype descriptions for me on Konsongo. How about we sign a top 50 player for next year like other schools are doing now instead of taking a flyer on somebody like this?

Suzi Marshall 8 years ago

Also, consider the source for that hyperbole, Brandon Bender. He is one of those guys you should keep away from, in every way possible.

Aaron Paisley 8 years ago

I didn't see anything about Kasongo's, game being compared to Ibaka or Amare, just the physique which there are definitely plenty of kids who look the part coming out of high school.

Rodney Crain 8 years ago

It is all hype Aaron. This recruit is a red flag as large as a football field.

Robert Brock 8 years ago

Nice to have the kid visit. But when he leaves, get back to work doing something important:

Like recruiting Rabb, Diallo, Bragg, Zimmerman, Davis etc.

Ron Sterling 8 years ago

From what I've heard, Kasongo is sold on KU. Memphis doesn't think he'll even make it there for a visit.

Either way, though, having him sign won't hurt anything. Worst case, he comes in and sits for a couple of years or transfers. Best case, he gets good over time.

But the only way he's stopping us from landing a 5 star big is if he turns out to be that good himself. If that's the case, what's the problem?

Out of the guys you listed, though, I think only Diallo, Bragg, and Davis are realistic options. I'm pretty sure Rabb and Zimmerman will go to Zona or somewhere else out west.

Rodney Crain 8 years ago

It does hurt, he takes up a scholarship, we do not have an unlimited supply of those.

Robert Brock 8 years ago

The crew at filed a recruiting report yesterday in which they claimed that KU was the school to beat for Zimmerman's services.

The Hawks don't need to squander scholarships and load up on guys who are low-rated "practice players." Texas and Iowa State are not fooling around.

Ron Sterling 8 years ago

We don't need an unlimited supply. If those guys commit and we're out of scholarships, someone else will go. It happens every time not just here, but at every school. It could even be Kasongo himself. Name one blue chip that anyone has ever turned down because they've run out of scholarships.

As for Zimmerman, I hope that's true. Everything I've heard, though, is that we're best set with Diallo and Davis, and that we are in the top 2 or 3 with Bragg, but it's really close.

Rodney Crain 8 years ago

My apologies I was not aware you were president of the Kasongo fan club. It's a complete waste of our time, not to mention a scholarship. I am not sure if you are being serious or not about this player since you seem to think we should be chasing guys like this for our program. In any case Robert is right, let's focus on players that can help us, not ones that can fill out a jersey.

Ron Sterling 8 years ago

My apologies, I wasn't aware you couldn't read. I said Kasongo was expendable, so I don't see how that makes me a fan. If we get Diallo or Bragg and Kasongo is the odd man out, he'll transfer: problem solved. As for wasting time, August 1st - Sept 8th is a quiet period, meaning high school seniors-to-be can't be contacted right now:

So how does this waste any time versus recruiting other players, exactly? I can't tell if you're being serious or not with your post because you seem to have no idea how recruiting works, but either way, to answer your question, yes, I'd rather have Diallo than Kasongo, but you're wrong, recruiting him has absolutely 0 costs.

Rodney Crain 8 years ago

Original, mercy you are worse off than I thought if you cannot come up with a response without just repeating my points. Try harder buddy...

Let me take another swing at this wasting time on nobodies like your boy Kasongo does not get us closer to winning, anything. It's pointless. If you think recruiting guys like him is how to build winning teams I do not think reason is something you are going to respond to. I cannot think of a more unrealistic statement as you zero cost one. Settling for Players like him is not a habit I would to see us get into. It's costly to chase nobodies when there in very little chance they can contribute.

ps- any coach can text or call any recruit regardless of "quiet periods". Pick uo your game Ronnie, or stay on topics you might actually know stuff about.

Ron Sterling 8 years ago

You do know that Kasongo is a class of 2014 player, right? Same as Alexander, Oubre, Graham, and Svi, right? You know that because he never enrolled at Oregon, he doesn't have to redshirt, right? You do know that we have an unused scholarship for this season, right? You do know that if we don't use the scholarship, it just goes to a walk on, right? You know that after one season, Self is under no obligation to renew that scholarship, right? How exactly is giving an unused scholarship to a freshman 'settling'? There's no one else to left recruit for this class. What did Merv Lindsay cost us? Or Milton Doyle? Calling and texting takes what? Maybe an hour out of a day? You're seriously clueless.

Staying on topics you know something about is great advice. You should take it. And for both our sakes, I hope Self isn't visiting players when he shouldn't be. NCAA death penalties aren't exactly the way to win anything either.

Jonathan Allison 8 years ago

Coaches are free to call or text recruits as often as they want (effective in June 2012), even during the Quiet Period. They can't make home visits or attend recruit's games etc., but they can host campus visits.

Rodney Crain 8 years ago

Ronnie you are wrong about using a scholarship for this year for Kasongo, you are wrong about coaches being able to text or call any recruit at anytime, and you are very wrong that in some unbelievable way this would bring out the death penalty, you have lost touch with reality son. (it sounds like you do not understand what the death penalty is, that can only happen to a program that exhibits numerous repeatable offenses, especially while on probation). You need to read up on recruiting in the NCAA, things have changed, since 2012. Strike 3 my man. If you have been following our program, I don't think you have btw, we are not anywhere near the death penalty.

You are going to use Doyle or Lindsay to support your point??? Those two prove my point if you think about it. My word, I think this is an all time low for posters here, I am worried you might have lost it buddy. It is very hard to respect your comments when you use examples like that. Settling is bringing players into your program, who you have never shown any interest in btw, with the understanding that the players best interests to pursue their dreams is probably with some other program. Just to be clear we have a nice group of very talented wings already here, why add a body??? This guy is expecting to play if you listen to Bender, which no one should be. He just will never see any PT while in a KU jersey. As many others have posted here in this thread, using a scholarship for this guy is a waste and in a way misleading this kid that he will ever be able to get into our rotation. Your other points, if I would even agree they were valid, make no sense. You keep bringing up meaningless things hoping one of them makes sense. There is just no reason why we should chase this guy who is unranked, has a questionable path to us, and has done nothing of note in the last two years. Sorry but you rarely find diamonds or even birth stones in College bb this way. I would rather not use the scholarship then to give one to a nobody like this on a gamble that will not payoff. You keep saying it does not cost us anything... it does, everything about it will cost us something, money, resources, time, room and board, on and on. It is a waste of our time to pursue him. He adds nothing.

Ron Sterling 8 years ago

Ok. I get it. You're trolling me. Ha ha. Maybe I can make this clear for you, though, just in case you're really this thick: I don't expect Kasongo to add anything. I don't care if he signs. It makes no difference. It doesn't help us. It doesn't hurt us. If we don't use the scholarship, then it's just wasted anyways.

We don't get the resources back just because we didn't spend them on him. We'll spend them on Christian Garret instead. Guess what? He adds nothing too. The time it takes to pursue Kasongo would just be spent playing golf, unless you think Self texting recruits requires 9 hours of work a day. His path to us is 'questionable' because he got rejected to enroll by the Oregon admissions staff? The NCAA already cleared him. The coaches still wanted him. What exactly is 'questionable' here? We aren't going to get any penalties for taking a player we don't use. You keep talking about a gamble, but have as of yet to define a risk. So if the only money and time he takes is on something that would be wasted, where is the cost? What's the hurt? Doyle and Lindsey prove your point? What did they cost us? Who did we lose because they came and went? Really think about it this time instead of spouting off nonsense. But just to give you a heads up, it doesn't matter one way or the other.

Kevin Whelan 8 years ago

Self and crew are a pretty good judge of talent. Let's wait and see what happens.

Jack Wilson 8 years ago

Any hyperbole regarding Kasongo is absolutely ridiculous and just plain stupid. It happens every time we have a recruit. But it is worse with these unranked guys.

News Flash: Guys are unranked for a reason. Scant few unranked guys ever start at KU.

Rankings aren't the know all, say all. But they are excellent guides. And they can change. But they are very good indicators of success. Our only national title in the last 25 years came with a team full of top 50 guys (only Jackson, ranked in the 60s) was outside that range.

Consider this -- his biggest selling point on Kasongo is his alleged performance against Alexander and Okafor two years ago. Right. Two years ago. So this didn't (allegedly) happen recently, and thus his lack of a ranking reflects this meaningless selling point.

The fact this guy is now a hot commodity means nothing. It's supply and demand. There are teams with open scholarships, and very few players available. It means nothing.

We saw chatter regarding Lucas, and Traylor, and Peters, and Woolridge, and Milton Doyle. "Diamond in the rough"; "coach Self must see something"; "should be ranked higher." blah, blah, blah. I recall Anrio Adams' coach said he was the next Dwayne Wade, or something like that. Milton Doyle was a tough Chicago kid that everyone just overlooked. Heck, he had to be great because he played in the Chicago city league.

Now we get that he's a physical specimen like Ibaka and that “He’s like Amar’e Stoudemire when he first got in the NBA. That’s what he is.” -- from his AAU coach. Ugh. Sure he is.

All this guy is, until proven otherwise, is a body. A guy that would come in, bang in practice, and if all goes right, develop into a back-up like Traylor. Sure, we could get hit by the Trey Burke or Derrick Williams lightning bolt, but I've never seen that lightning bolt hit at Kansas.

Comments like Kevin's above are just silly. Look at all the folks that have been signed then leave, and/or do very little. And those comments completely ignore that the low/unranked guys we signed are usually signed because we missed on other guys.

While we say that coach Self is a good judge of talent, tell me where his recruiting deviates from the rankings? He goes after the guys at the top of the rankings, and works downward. He has not once found a diamond in the rough that comes here, starts, and is a star.

We have an open scholarship. That's all this is about. It's also insurance -- if Ellis and Alexander leave, and we miss on the top big guys, he has a body.

I agree with Rodney. Give me top 50 guys, over, and over. But if he signs, and doesn't work out, I'm sure a spring transfer when needed is simply a Bill Self conversation away -- I'm sure Kasongo might have a daughter, or other family member, he'd like to be closer to. He's not going to stand in the way of us signing the guys Self really wants. There is no real risk with this move, if we make it. But it deserves zero excitement.

Erich Hartmann 8 years ago

Spot on as usual, Jack...agree 100%. Just like this "scrimmage" stats on Lucas (16pts/16rbs/6steals)--> as much as I'm rooting for Traylor & Lucas, I'd sure love to see either of them avg double figs for a stretch of live Div1 games before I proclaim either one "the next Bill Self success story..." Same logic applies to Mickelson (former top50 big), now add 2 yrs of Div1 experience, age maturation, Huditioning, and a year of practicing Self's playbook...we'll see what we get outta that equation.

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