Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mickelson provides highlights in exhibition

Kansas center Hunter Mickelson (42) blocks a shot by Chilean guard Fernando Schuler (13) with Team USA guard Julian DeBose (12) also defending in a Team USA game against Chile Tuesday, July 7, at the World University Games in South Korea.

Kansas center Hunter Mickelson (42) blocks a shot by Chilean guard Fernando Schuler (13) with Team USA guard Julian DeBose (12) also defending in a Team USA game against Chile Tuesday, July 7, at the World University Games in South Korea.


Two of the top individual plays in Kansas University’s 89-66 victory over Pittsburg State on Wednesday came courtesy of athletic 6-foot-10, 245-pound senior big man Hunter Mickelson.

— With a half minute remaining in the first half, the alert Jonesboro, Arkansas native, who was shadowing guard Louis Rollins on the baseline, turned as Rollins dished to trailing forward Denton Hays.

The 6-foot-7 Hays had his left-handed offering swatted cleanly by Mickelson. The ball caromed to KU’s Lagerald Vick, who passed ahead to Carlton Bragg, who took one dribble, then had his driving layup roll off the rim to a trailing Mickelson, who was right there for the one-handed follow dunk.

“It started off with defense. I was able to block the shot,” said Mickelson, who finished with four of KU’s nine blocks. “In a situation like that, where the guy (Bragg) is out ahead, he might have two guys on him or one guy on him, you kind of have to follow in case he might miss. It kind of worked out that way.”

— Midway through the second half, KU guard Devonté Graham dribbled quickly past halfcourt, then at 3/4 court launched a lob pass that was caught and flushed by Mickelson, who was storming in from the right wing.

“I got a good pass and I was able to go up and get it,” Mickelson said, adding of the highlight-reel plays, “they were fun. I enjoyed ’em.”

Mickelson finished with two of KU’s seven dunks and scored 10 points off 5-of-6 shooting with six rebounds and four blocks in just 13 minutes. He was asked if this was a mere continuation of his stellar play (8.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg) over the summer for KU’s gold-medal winning World University Games team.

“I think so,” he said. “I’m still working on playing with a lot of energy and keeping the right mindset.”

Of his ability to run the floor gracefully for a guy 6-10, Mickelson said: “I’ve been used to running. I don’t mind running that much. I’m pretty good at it for a big guy. I can do it, so it’s not too tough.”

Mickelson wasn’t the only one of KU’s bigs to have a solid exhibition opener.

Senior forward Perry Ellis scored 22 points off 8-of-12 shooting, while freshman forward Carlton Bragg netted 14 points off 7-of-12 shooting with six rebounds. Bragg had three dunks.

“Perry is doing what he’s always done,” Mickelson said. “Carlton is coming into his own playing like that. Both those guys playing like that definitely made me enjoy the game a lot more.”

Forward Jamari Traylor had nine points off 3-of-5 shooting with two steals, two assists and two boards in 16 minutes, while a fifth frontcourt player, Landen Lucas, who was battling an ankle sprain he suffered in practice Tuesday, had no points and two boards in eight minutes.

“Frank (Mason III), Devonté, Perry at the three, Carlton at the 4 and Hunter or Jamari at the 5 ... I think that would have been our best team tonight,” KU coach Bill Self said. “Hunter did fine. He blocked some shots. They got the ball in tight several times and didn’t come away with anything. I thought Hunter played pretty well.”

Mickelson said he’s been trying to assist Bragg and fellow 6-foot-9 newcomer Cheick Diallo at practice. Diallo has not yet been cleared by the NCAA to play in games, though he practices with the team.

“How to guard certain actions and how to do things on offense, stuff like that,” Mickelson said. “Carlton played great. For his first outing in front of the crowd and fans ... he played well and with a lot of energy.”

The Jayhawks won by 23 points on a night they committed 15 turnovers and hit just four of 19 threes — 48.6 percent shooting overall to Pitt State’s 28.2 percent. KU won the board battle over the Div. II team, 55-45.

“The effort was good. There’s a lot of stuff we have to iron out,” Mickelson said. “We were still a little rusty tonight.”

Giles to announce: Harry Giles, a 6-10 senior forward from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, will announce his college choice today during ESPN’s 11 a.m. (Central time) edition of SportsCenter. Giles has a list of KU, Duke, Wake Forest and Kentucky with many speculating that the Winston-Salem native will join his buddy, Jayson Tatum, as a Duke Blue Devil.

Giles soon will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a partially torn ACL in his right knee, reported Thursday. He tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee the summer between his freshman and soph years of high school.

Sales pitch: USA Today asked KU’s Mitch Lightfoot and one commit from Wake Forest, Duke and Kentucky to give a last-minute recruiting sales pitch to Giles.

Here’s Lightfoot’s pitch: “Harry, I definitely think that Kansas is the place for you. My biggest thing is the tradition. Kansas basketball is always gonna be Kansas basketball. It’s where basketball got its start. Kansas fans are amazing and crazy and love their basketball. They’re at every game and I can tell you from experience that it’s crazy there, which I know you know!

“I’ve gotten to know every guy on the team. It’s a big family and no matter what we’ll have that support system. We’ve got state of the art facilities where we can work on our games 24/7! Then we’ve got coach (Bill) Self. What else can I say? He’s got the track record, the national title and he’s produced NBA players? Thirty-two of his last 34 power forwards have gone on to have a professional career. It’s a no brainer.” For the other pitches go to


Robert Brock 7 years, 1 month ago

This article is a major diss on a missing person - Wayne Selden.

Benz Junque 7 years, 1 month ago

Because Selden was a missing person in the last exhibition game. He didn't look real interested in pushing it full speed out there. Hopefully he'll be good to go next Friday.

Rodney Crain 7 years ago

He might be injured too. That was not the player we saw over the summer.

Marius Rowlanski 7 years ago

It might be time to let Greene loose and have Selden come off the bench. It will cost us on defense but Greene is the most underused player on the team. As long as he is shooting GOOD shots and not just bailing out, Self needs to let him build his confidence. Already having an NBA 3 pt shot and Selden seemingly always having some injury issue there is nothing to loose at the last exhibition.

Free The Three!

Doug Cramer 7 years, 1 month ago

Love Mickelson. I can see him being the scrappy guy coming off the bench in a heated Elite 8 game and providing the execution and depth needed to move on.

Have thought all along he was underrated.

It's going to be nice having some depth down low...even if Diallo's situation isn't resolved.

Joe Ross 7 years, 1 month ago

Mickelson can't make up for the Diallo's absence. In the first place, having Diallo means you get to rest your big guys more which is important because bigs get winded more easily and it's a long season. Secondly, Mickelson's defense is not what Diallo's is.

Don't take this comment wrong. I am VERY impressed with Mickelson's progress. It's almost even unbelievable to see what Self and Co. have done with him since his arrival. Having Mickelson on our roster is certainly going to help Kansas make a title run. But let's not get carried away. Diallo is not indispensable and Mickelson can not make up for his loss.

Kent Richardson 7 years, 1 month ago

Doug, at first I thought he should be starting instead of coming off the bench, but If responding to the Elite 8 scenario and Bragg is in full flower then it makes sense. When we play a two guard lineup and both can be in along with Ellis it could be our best line up.

I am worried about making a comment on an unknown like Diallo's eligibility because I have been wrong so many times. But if it is in appeal mode then turning around the NCAA ocean liner may take all year.

Rodney Crain 7 years ago

Excellent post Joe.

Diallo adds wins to our season its that simple. Diallo extends our season, its that simple.

I love what Hunter is doing too.

Dennis Gaskill 7 years, 1 month ago

So I paranoid or is KU getting the shaft ? The NCAA Eligibility Center must be populated with previous Alums from back east who want to damage KU's final 4 prospects . They have had all summer and fall to figure this out. Last year they pulled Cliff Alexander as post season play started. KU had to Red shirt several guys over the last few years. I 'll bet Kentucky doesn't have to put up with this.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 1 month ago

Skal Labissiere didn't get cleared until last week and theu had the whole Enes Kanter situation under Cal. Kentucky absolutely has to deal with the NCAA in regards to their players. They've also has to sweat through investigations of DaMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, and Anthony Davis as well.

It's a load of crap if anybody thinks Kentucky hasn't had issues with the NCAA under Cal.

And considering UNC is going to get the hammer dropped on them this year, Syracuse and UConn had it dropped on them in recent years, being an east coast school hasn't helped other elite programs in dealings with NCAA.

If you really want to call a program bulletproof from the NCAA, Durham is where everyone needs to be looking instead of Lexington.

Rodney Crain 7 years ago

I can help with this one Dennis -- your being paranoid.

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