Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Amid talk of NBA prospects, KU’s Tarik Black gets NFL attention

Kansas forward Tarik Black delivers on a dunk before Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Tarik Black delivers on a dunk before Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.


An imposing 6-foot-9, 260-pounder who likes to rebound, but also possesses a soft shooting touch around the rim, Tarik Black figures to make some money next season playing basketball in Europe, if not the NBA.

“If I was him, I’d try out for an NFL team, though,” KU coach Bill Self said Wednesday on his weekly “Hawk Talk” radio show.

“Aaron Rodgers told me when he was here, ‘I promise you he has a tryout with us,’” Self added of the Green Bay Packers quarterback who attended KU hoops practice on Jan. 17 and the KU-Oklahoma State game a day later.

“He said, ‘I want to try that guy at tight end,’” Self added of Black, KU’s senior pivot from Memphis. “I said, ‘Tight end? He can’t go across the middle and get hit.’ But then I started thinking about it ... they (NFL teams) love to have basketball players. He (Rodgers) said, ‘I want to throw balls at him and see what he can do.’ Certainly (Black) is a phenomenal athlete for his size.”

There have been some success stories regarding basketball players competing in the NFL. Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas played basketball and football at Portland State. Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez played both at Cal-Berkeley. Chargers tight end deluxe Antonio Gates played basketball at Kent State.

Black, who averages 3.7 points and 2.7 boards while logging 10.3 minutes per game, scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds while playing 23 minutes in Tuesday’s 69-52 victory at Baylor. He was pivotal on a night Joel Embiid suffered from foul problems.

“He gave us a beastly presence when we needed one, especially with (Rico) Gathers in the game,” Self said of Black. “He’s getting more comfortable even though he hasn’t played the last couple weeks because of his (sprained) ankle. You can just tell his confidence is starting to rise.”

Black said he’s close to 100 percent healed from the ankle injury he suffered against Baylor on Jan. 20 in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It’s doing a lot better, obviously,” Black said. “I’m getting back on it, playing hard, not trying to be soft on it. I’m going to go hard. If it hurts, it hurts.”

Of his nine boards Tuesday, he said: “As a big man, that’s your job. We have a lot of offensive weapons. Defense is obviously most important. When the shot goes up, it’s important for us big men to get the rebound. We put a lot of emphasis on that.”

Injuries: KU red-shirt freshman center Landen Lucas reported on Twitter that he had an MRI on Wednesday. Self said Lucas’ back has been sore, but he shouldn’t miss any practice time. Self said Lucas was available to play against Baylor. ... KU senior forward Justin Wesley figures to miss about a week because of a sprained knee, Self indicated.

KU returns safely: The Jayhawks spent Tuesday night in Waco because of heavy snow in Lawrence. The squad was back in Lawrence via charter flight early Wednesday afternoon.

“Today was an off day anyway. We didn’t have school. Nothing was lost. We took our time and enjoyed each other a bit,” Self said of an unplanned overnight stay in Waco.

No news: Self said he’s amazed at the attention ESPN’s report that Joel Embiid is considering returning to KU for his sophomore season has received. Embiid told reporters after the game he’d turn pro after this season if he felt he was mentally and physically ready for the NBA. Earlier he’d told ESPN he was strongly considering returning for a second campaign.

“It’s absolutely not newsworthy at all. Of course he’s considering staying. It’s what everybody is doing right now. Guys are worried about their (college) teams,” Self said of top prospects. “The situation with Joel is that (money) is not the concern, so Jo should go whenever Jo is the most prepared to go. If he wants to be a player, he needs to be a player where he is prepared to play in the league. I think he is without question the best big guy I’ve ever been around. He amazes me on a daily basis. (But) we saw heavy bodies lay on him in certain games and (he) was not effective, so there’s a lot of things he has to do to improve, too.

“That (ESPN) story was absolutely nothing. If you are not definite, of course you are considering staying. He could also say he’s considering leaving, because if he is considering leaving, it’s not definite either.”

Next year looking good: KU thus far has signed big man Cliff Alexander and wing Kelly Oubre in recruiting. “They are as good of prospects as we have in America. They will come in and impact it (program),” Self said. “We always think about next year from a recruiting standpoint, but I believe this ... if things fall right, I think we’ll be better next year than we are this year. That’s exciting to me because we have so many young kids.”

Halfcourt heroics: Andrew Wiggins hit a halfcourt shot to beat the buzzer on Tuesday, leading one to wonder if KU practices the play. “The ones on our team that are best at it ... (Conner) Frankamp is really good at it. Evan Manning, Niko (Roberts) and Tyler (Self) are actually pretty good at it. I don’t know if you’d consider it practicing it. They are just jacking around, (but) they’re pretty good at knocking in the long one,” Self said.


Suzi Marshall 8 years, 7 months ago

Picking up Black was one of the several great moves by Self. Black stablizes and toughens our core. He's a great leader and team player.

Instead of the NFL or NBA, I'd rather he take a commission as a first lieutenant in the US Army. Black would be a great gun-fighter i.e.Special Forces or even a frog man. The pay is not as good but all of us would be more secure with men like Black leading our young men.

Adam Miller 8 years, 7 months ago

I agree with the first blurb, but as to the second part... uh, what? SF or "frog man"... seriously?

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely, Black possesses the ability to grasp the two most important fundamental qualifications; thorough professional knowledge and a capacity for leadership. Qualities of leadership—that courage and evident high purpose which command the respect and loyalty of others. Black always maintains a positive “can do” attitude in the face of adversity, whether it be coming off the bench or overcoming injury. He is always ready to support the team, no matter the conditions. He also possess a formable character with an established reputation for fairness and an apparent unswerving determination to carry through any task assigned to him.

Mental alertness, initiative, vision are must qualities which he has cultivated. He has overcome passive inactivity because he has not been given specific instructions to do this or to do that, which is a serious deficiency in others. He always encourage initiative on the part of others, but initiative accompanied by intelligence, which he obviously possesses.

Whatever field he choices I hope he continues to develop those noble qualities. The truly great leader overcomes all difficulties, and campaigns and battles are nothing but a long series of difficulties to be overcome. The lack of equipment, the lack of food, the lack of this or that are only excuses; the real leader displays his quality in his triumphs over adversity, however great it may be.

I can project Black to be the teammate that will always carry out his incapacitated. Should Black be the one incapacitated, his team would all pitch in to carry him out of harms way.

Benz Junque 8 years, 7 months ago

That's all well and good, but I don't see a 6'9" 260 lb guy sneaking around in anyy type of activity that requires stealth. And it would take his entire platoon to carry him out if he was carrying a full load.

Benz Junque 8 years, 7 months ago

Also true. Max size for US Army is 6'8" and 240 pounds for males ages 21-27.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 7 months ago

One could always apply for an exemption. It happens all the time. Robinson is a good example, although the Navy drew the line for him to fly only because he could not fit into the cockpit.

Al Martin 8 years, 7 months ago

Robinson was an interesting story. He was only a couple of inches over the height limit when they granted his exemption, but he grew another four inches while in school. One presumes that had he been a seven footer when graduating high school, they might not have granted the exemption...

I'm 6'7" and have spent some seatime aboard Navy cruisers (as a civilian contractor), and I can tell you that at my height it was a pain in the neck (literally). I had to dodge ceiling structures all over the place. I can't imagine what being five inches taller must have been like.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 7 months ago

Black ready to enter any game. Note his high ankle protection.

RJ King 8 years, 7 months ago

If a career overseas is short-lived for any reason, I could see Black coaching in some capacity.

On another note, boy does Rico Gathers show a mean streak on the court. I loved how Black didn't react in any way, shape or form to the header he took from Gathers.

And if inadvertent elbows are a flagrant 1 foul, should the game allow players to deliberately throw at an opponent's head in order to gain possession on an out-of-bounds? Seems like anything above the neck should be a foul regardless of intent, just like the elbow rule.

Len Shaffer 8 years, 7 months ago

Good point, RJ; I thought the same thing about the ball off the head.

On a completely different note, I was watching a game the other day (I forget which one) and a coach called three consecutive timeouts. That's utterly ridiculous. There should be a rule that after a timeout, the ball has to be put in play before anyone can call another one. The game drags on at the end enough as it is, without someone calling a barrage of timeouts like that.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 7 months ago

was the coach trying to ice a foul-shooter? I can't imagine any other scenario where a coach would do that... unless he was really struggling to come up with a play in the huddle...

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 7 months ago

If a team can't inbound the ball, they'll call a timeout to avoid a 5 second call.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 7 months ago

I agree with you about the above the shoulders calls. If a player intentionally bounces a ball off someone else's head it should be a flagrant 1. However, watching the replay on the Rico Suave ball off Black's nose I didn't think it was intentionally aimed at Black's face. However, even inadvertantly hitting a player above the shoulders is dangerous and can be a flagrant foul.

I also really liked how Black just shook it off and didn't respond or bark or anything.

Benz Junque 8 years, 7 months ago

How do you prove "intention"? It's very unlikely he was aiming for his head as he jumped and spun. He's trying to throw it off Black SOMEWHERE.

I hope this is just killing time and not a serious conversation. It was a freak occurrence, that's it.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 7 months ago

talking NFL, I think that Rico Gathers is the player who's future may be in the league. He's under tall for the NBA and lacks the basketball skills to make the next level. However he could be a monster in multiple positions in football. Black is a good basketball player, I think that NFL should be a last resort for him. I don't know if he's gonna make the NBA or not, but if I were a GM and I wanted a great locker room guy who could be a very competent backup at the PF or C position I'd give him a shot.

Armed with a degree in Organizational leadership though I think that he could be well primed to coach if he ends up staying close to the hardwood. I think that he will end up on the bench in a suit one day and will be really good at it.

Steve Corder 8 years, 7 months ago

Heard he was cut from the Baylor football team.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 7 months ago

what a shame. But he'd probably be a scout team/practice team guy there anyway. It's a lot harder to to play football if you're focused on basketball. He could be a freak of a DE at 6'8 and 300, but would probably lose some agility and explosiveness on the basketball floor.

Terrence Cernech 8 years, 7 months ago

I didn't know he was at Baylor too. I knew he transferred from Memphis. I think he would have more big time potential in the NFL and a longer more significant career than the NBA. but that's only a real WAG. Good hands maybe great hands as a receiver and what a target 6' 8" or 9" and 260 lbs.; just think of all the QBs that would love that safety net 10-15 yds directly in front of them and he is competitive as all getout.

Brad Farha 8 years, 7 months ago

I think the Baylor reference was for Rico Gathers, not Black.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 7 months ago

Marvin Mattox and Clint Normore as the two football players Larry Brown used to help KU on its run to the 1988 NCAA basketball championship.

Tom Longhofer 8 years, 7 months ago

And Vernon "Pickles" Vanoy went the other way - basketball to football - and was a key player on KU's 1968 Orange Bowl team - defensive end. Pepper Rodgers took several players from the track team, too. When reporters asked him why he tried to talk Jim Ryun into going out for football, Rodgers answered that Ryun would be good in 3rd down and mile to go situation.

Vernon Riggs 8 years, 7 months ago

David Verser also would suit up for basketball after football for a couple of seasons. I don't think he played his senior year.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 7 months ago

I liked the replay of Wiggins' buzzer beater. He hit the shot and just started walking off the court. He didn't throw his hands up or jump up and down. He barely even cracked a smile when his teammates were mobbing him.

He's cool as ice out there trying to act like he's made that shot a million times.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 7 months ago

Coming to KU and getting notoriety has helped black get noticed for other opportunities I do not think he would have gotten if he had stayed and played at Memphis another year. Clearly, the advantages of playing and being noticed on the KU basketball team has its perks.

Jeff Darby 8 years, 7 months ago

Traylor looks like he'd make a good NFL TE as well...

Tony Bandle 8 years, 7 months ago


1] I notice that the Coachs' sons are the most adept at the half court shot...maybe they get to practice that during scrimmages between the first and second teams. [just kidding].

2] Might as well ask the question now...."Where is Andrew White III going to transfer to"?.

3] The KU All-Tough Team...Black, Lucas, Traylor, Selden and Greene.

4] Tarik..stick to basketball, you'll last a lot longer.

5] Conner really needs to redshirt next year, get stronger, improve his defense [which surprisingly is not too bad], perfect his shot and become the "pain in the ass" to our opponents as Heslop, Forte and others are to us!

6] For the second half of the conference schedule we get WV, @KSU, TCU, @TT, TX, OU, @OSU, TT, @WV.

Texas gets @KSU, OSU, WV, @ISU, @KU, BU, @OU, TCU, @TT.

I like our chances...a lot!!!

7] Folks, our Cliff Alexander is a man among boys..and these boys are great players in one of the toughest high school leagues in America. Wait to you see this guy!!

8] French fries, waffle fries or curly fries...which is the best? Please discuss.

9] Sorry..I forgot what I was going to post...but I'll bet it was thougtht-provoking!! :)

Steve Kubler 8 years, 7 months ago

Kubie's Vapors

1] Yes

2] Wichita State (hey it's to cold to be creative)

3] Mason, first off the bench

4] Amen!

5] Sweet thought, KU needs their own PITA

6] Bwhahahaha

7] Oh is this guy good, watch some video if you haven't!

8] Curly fries, waffle fries seem to suck up to much oil and french fries are just so boring.

9] You meant to supply an answer in regards to the meaning of life. To bad you forgot it, I'm sure it would have improved the world.

Did I mention it's too # cold out?

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 7 months ago

2) Please do not even other those words about AWIII. I hope he RS.

3) Mason, Selden, Traylor, Black....I'm looking for the 5th. Maybe Frankamp who shows the warrior spirit. Can't go there with Greene due to his continous numerous lackadasical plays. He had another one vs. BU when he walked OB with the ball.

4) I'm recommending Black for Seal Team 6.

7) Check this out for Big Cliff or Alexander the Great.

6) KSU can provide a big boost for Hawk Title X with their next two home games. A win vs UT and loss vs. Kansas.

RJ King 8 years, 7 months ago

King's DeKrees:

6) Rooting for Baylor to win in spite of Scott Drew. Probably won't happen, but they can pin losses on OU, UT, K-State and Okie State.

8) Garlic Fries at AT&T Park, and Your-Best-Buys-Are Always-At Fries.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 7 months ago

Uh, Frank Mason would be a STARTER on the all-tuff team. Period. Ask Mike Krycyzewski about Frank Mason in Madison Square Garden.

Jeremy Paul 8 years, 7 months ago

I think Mr. Black is way too smart to join the military.

Jeremy Paul 8 years, 7 months ago

He has a college degree and is working on a masters degree. Why would he want a low-paying job with horrible benefits and a substantial risk of dying? If he wants to serve our country, I think he's very qualified in a number of much more rewarding capacities.,

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 7 months ago

Providentially we have had those, like George Washington, who thought the cause of Freedom and Liberty were far more valuable than their personal fortunes…or life.

Fortunately we still have young people that view military service for the defense of the country as the highest calling to duty, even when a congress, in a bi-partisan comprise, cuts their meager wages.

Caleb Longbine 8 years, 7 months ago

to jeremy. dont be an idiot like our secretary of state john kerry and insult the military by calling it for stupid people in america. anyone who insults our military can head over to n korea with dennis rodman! there are 2 things in life i take pride in more than anything and thats Jayhawk Sports and being an American!

Joseph Bullock 8 years, 7 months ago

Tony & Steve, You guys are totally right about Cliff Alexander. He is a beast. His team upset the #1 Team in the Country a couple weeks ago. In that game, I think he had 6 points in the first half, and ended up with 30, for the game. I don't remember how many rebounds he had, but I'm sure it was a bunch. Both Cliff & Oubre, have been selected to play in the McDonald's All American Game. I thought JaQuan Lyle would also get selected, but he just missed out on making it. I'm still hoping he picks K.U., especially since Vaughn took K.U. off his list. But I wanted Lyle over him from the beginning, because he is a great PG, with length and athleticism, not to mention that he is best friends with Cliff! What do you guys think about Lyle? Stay warm, everyone! Can I get a yea, right! ha ha ha ha ha

Tony Bandle 8 years, 7 months ago

CHECK OUT the site Suzi has posted regarding Cliff Alexander. Look at the table behind him in the picture for Curie High School!!!

Their mascot is a Condor but, I'll be damned, it sure looks similar to a Jayhawk....WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT!!!!

Lance Hobson 8 years, 7 months ago

Why in the world are we not playing WSU? We need to get over the grudge, we're missing an incredible opportunity this year. Something historic for basketball in the state.

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