Saturday, June 18, 2016

Breath of fresh air: Self takes swing at sizing up freshman class

Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self watches his drive from the first hole during the Bill Self/LPRD Golf Classic, Friday, June 17, 2016, at Eagle Bend. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Wee Folk Scholarship fund.

Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self watches his drive from the first hole during the Bill Self/LPRD Golf Classic, Friday, June 17, 2016, at Eagle Bend. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Wee Folk Scholarship fund.


The setting happened to be sunny, scenic Eagle Bend GC, and the event the Bill Self/Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department Golf Classic, but the subject after lunch and right before 1 p.m. tee time Friday was basketball, of course.

Everybody’s buzzing about 2016-17 Kansas University freshmen Udoka Azubuike, Josh Jackson and Mitch Lightfoot, who each had a batch of highlights the past two Wednesdays in Self campers games and who also have impressed in KU’s official summertime practices.

Azubuike, a 7-footer from Nigeria, scored 26 points off 13-of-15 shooting in last Wednesday’s camp intrasquad game, shaking the Horejsi Center rims in the process.

“I don’t know exactly what he was, he was around ‘three bills’ when he got here,” Self said of Azubuike, who pushed the 300-pound standard. “It is going to fall off him in a short period of time.

“I think he’ll lose 15 or 20 (pounds) pretty easy,” Self added of baby fat on the 16-year-old center. “He’s not too heavy, though. He carries it well. He probably for longevity probably needs to drop a few. He is an explosive dude. I can’t get over how athletic he is.”

Azubuike’s raw power already has impressed many.

“We’ve had some pretty strong guys We’ve never had anybody you are scared every tine he dunked, it (backboard) could shatter,” Self said. “If you’ve seen that movie ‘Blue Chips,’ when Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) is in that back gym dunking before anybody knew about (him), that’s what Udoka looks like. Of course, he doesn’t have the skill set yet to be great right now. He has good feet, soft hands. I think he’ll develop that and be a really special player.”

Jackson, 6-8, 200 from Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., who is ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2016 by, scored 19 and 21 points in the two campers games the past two weeks, showing a nice touch from three-point land, as well as strong ability to drive and finish via the dunk.

“Josh is doing well. I think he’s very happy. Josh didn’t play much ball in the last couple months, let his body kind of rest up and heal up,” Self said. “He had some nagging stuff (bumps, bruises). Josh is going to be a special guy. If you were just to watch them all right now you would say, ‘Well, this 15 or that 15 minutes one looks better than the other.’ I’m pretty confident when he gets really comfortable, he’s going to look really good the vast majority of the time he’s out there.”

Then there’s ultra-competitve 6-8, 210-pound Gilbert, Ariz., freshman Mitch Lightfoot, who is known for his competitive spirit. He had 11 points in the first of two camp games.

“Very competitive and a good athlete,” Self said. “He’s going to remind us a lot of the Travis Relefords, Elijah Johnsons, Kevin Youngs and the Bradys (Morningstar) and Tyrels (Reed) that come in and pay their dues, but you look up and say, ‘Gosh, I’m glad we got him.’ I think he’s going to be one of those guys.”

Lightfoot was thrust in the spotlight when he went up to block Jackson’s dunk try in the first campers game, appeared to get all ball but bumped Jackson, who fell hard to the ground. Jackson had his wind knocked out but was uninjured on the play.

“I heard about it,” said Self, who couldn’t watch the camp games in accordance with NCAA rules. “They (Jayhawks) should play. Whatever playing is, that’s what they should do. I don’t look at it as, ‘Don’t go after Josh.’ I wouldn’t say that about any player. Summertime obviously you don’t want to do anything that would be jeopardizing anybody. If you play, you are gonna get hit. If you get hit, you are gonna fall. Certainly that was the case with that one play. Josh is fine. He didn’t have a problem with it.”

Coleby doing more: Self on 6-foot-9, 240-pound junior transfer Dwight Coleby, who had left ACL surgery last Oct. 17: “I still think it could be any time he gets cleared. He’s doing more and more. He’s doing contact half-court. The doctors haven’t released him up and down to be full go yet.”

Self on soph guard Lagerald Vick, who erupted for 29 and 23 points in the two campers games: “I would say even in our workouts, Lagerald has to be probably the most improved over last year so far. You’d like to see all your veterans get better. Usually the guys who improve the most are the guys between their freshman and sophomore year. He so far looks the role of taking the biggest step.”

Self on 6-10 soph Carlton Bragg Jr.: “I think Carlton is going to be terrific. He wasn’t confident last year enough probably to be a scorer with all the other guys. This year I think he’ll be confident enough to be a scorer. He certainly is a talent. He’s getting bigger to me. He looks bigger. I don’t know if we can get him close enough to the rim to rebound it right now, because he definitely wants to play on the perimeter, which all big guys do. He’s really a talented kid.”


Karen Mansfield-Stewart 6 years, 3 months ago

I hope Lagerald gets some PT this year. I'd like to see what he can do when he's comfortable out there.

John Randall 6 years, 3 months ago

The most remarkable thing about nearly every Jayhawk recruit is the evidence we see of strong character and team spirit ... I can't remember even a few bad apples among them.

LaGerald having no health/injury problems equates to the next WS, Jr whether he starts or backs up all three perimeter spots for 20+ mpg.

It won't be long before we can rotate our two point guards and put two all-conf wings and depth on the floor with either Frank or D'Vonte.

I'm nearly as up on the guys inside. No team in the country will have four bigs as solid as Landon, Carlton, Coleby and the new Azub guy once he settles into a role HCBS believes matches the size and athleticism we all drool over.

Damn, October seems a long time to wait !!!

Joseph Bullock 6 years, 3 months ago

Agree, and Agree! Vick was probably the best defender on the team, last year!

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 3 months ago

Mostly the guys who come in and play out the remaining minutes of a game all but officially over..

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't see Vick getting the mop up minutes this year as he is too good to not be in Self's final rotation. We got 3 really good recruits this year but Vick may be this years biggest surprise.

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

Who sits? Mason, Graham, Jackson or Svi?

Brian Wilson 6 years, 3 months ago

There are only 11 players that will be active and it appears the Tyler Self will get a few minutes per game his senior season especially in blow outs. What I love about this team is that no one will really sit this season and there is not very many players vying for backup minutes. VC has the team listed this way even though that's not how we will play:

PG: Mason - Graham
SG: Vick - Self
SF: Jackson - Svi
PF: Bragg - Coleby - Lightfoot
C: Lucas - Azubuike

You have to figure that the backup at each spot will get about 10 minutes and Self and Lightfoot will be odd men out. This should leave about 30 minutes or 15 minutes each for Svi and Vick to split time backing up Mason, Graham, and Jackson. Another great thing is our small and big lineups. Mason - Graham - Vick - Svi - Jackson may be the best ballhandling small lineup we have ever had. And Azubuike - Lucas - Bragg - Jackson - Svi could be excellent as well.

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

You think Svi is a "backup" and will compete with Vick for a portion of leftover time?

Clubouse leader for most clueless comment of 2016.

BTW.... That guy suiting up in #21 is Clay Young. He's not likely to make the rotation but he's a lot better than Tyler Self. There are 12, not 11...

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 3 months ago

Nobody knows for sure how the lineup will work out. I guess my question would be, if Svi isn't a backup, who is he going to put on the bench? Mason? Graham? Jackson? I can't see Self going away from the 2 guard lineup of Mason & Graham so it seems like Jackson is the only person Svi could play ahead of. IMO, for that to happen, Jackson has to have a lot of trouble picking up the offense/defense, or he has to be a massive disappointment relative to his ranking coming in.

There are 120 minutes available for the 3 guard spots. My best guess (right or wrong) is that Self will try to back down Mason/Graham's minutes a bit compared to last season which will open up another 5 minutes or so for the backup guards. So if those two take up around 60 minutes, then the other 60 are split by Jackson/Svi/Vick. I "think" most nights Jackson will get more minutes than Svi and Svi/Vick will get about the same minutes (Svi the majority some nights, Vick the majority some nights, rarely getting equal minutes unless they are both struggling). So I'd say Jackson gets 25-30 min a game, then Svi & Vick get 15-20 minutes depending on if they are "feeling it" that night and depending on match-ups.

Obviously foul trouble, injuries, blow outs, etc. will all greatly alter this. There could certainly be some games where Mason or Graham are having an off night and one of them gets less minutes than Svi or Vick.

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

You seem to also be saying that Svi and Vick are on equal footing and are likely to play about the same minutes.

Thats absurd.

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 3 months ago

Rather than simply saying everyone else's opinions are absurd and clueless, why don't you tell us what you think will happen?

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

Svi, Graham Mason and Jackson will play about the same number of minutes. Svi would be the most likely one to come off the bench. Vick will get scraps, barring injury...

He's a nice kid and will be a good player next year. He has neither the talent nor the experience to win playing time against the other four.

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 3 months ago

So you previously said: "You think Svi is a "backup" and will compete with Vick for a portion of leftover time? Club(h)ouse leader for most clueless comment of 2016."

And when asked what you think will happen, you said: "Svi would be the most likely one to come off the bench. Vick will get scraps, barring injury." which means Svi is a "backup" and will compete with Vick for leftover time (and will win the majority of the minutes).

Seems like you're saying the same thing, only you're going a bit further by saying who will win the competition between Svi & Vick for minutes. Seems odd to say the most clueless comment of 2016 isn't all that different from what you believe will happen.

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm sorry Shannon.... I'll type slower so you can understand better..... The issue is the idiotic notion that Vick and Svi are on equal footing competing for minutes.... Svi is a cornerstone piece who is projected to be a first rounder. Vick is a lightly recruited player who hasn't played a minute of crunch time yet.

In basketball a player who comes off the bench but plays equal minutes to the staters isn't called a backup.

Does this help you?

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 3 months ago

Do you want to be a condescending prick or do you want to get your point across? You have an amazing track record of becoming a condescending ass anytime anyone questions anything you say, even if they agree with your overall sentiment. Are you like this in real life or just on here? Did you know it's possible to state opinions and have discussions without being an ass?

Your statement still doesn't help since you said Jackson would play equal minutes to Mason & Graham (who both played well over 30 mpg last season) which only leaves 20-25 minutes for the remaining guards. Yet you said a player who comes off the bench but plays EQUAL minutes isn't a "backup". So how does Svi play the same minutes as Mason, Graham, and Jackson if they take up well over 90 minutes per game and there aren't enough guard minutes remaining for that to happen? So either: 1) You think Mason, Graham, and therefore Jackson will all play under 30 mpg (history says that's not gonna happen), or 2) Svi doesn't play the same minutes as Mason, Graham, & Jackson (you're wrong & he's a backup), 3) Jackson won't play the same minutes as Mason & Graham ( your prior statement false, you're wrong), or 4) you can't explain it, you just said it to cover up your previous statement without considering that it would guarantee one of your statements above is wrong.

Here is another little tip you apparently aren't aware of: Projected pre-season first rounders don't always play big minutes (See: Diallo, Alexander) and what the NBA projections are means absolutely nothing to Bill Self and how he utilizes that player (See: Mason, Graham, Ellis, Young, etc.). Self has always maintained that he doesn't care about projections, he cares about how effective they are in his system and who gives him the best chance to win. So using a player's NBA projections as evidence of the number of minutes he'll play at KU could place you as clubhouse leader for most clueless comment of 2016.

So in summary, do you know with 100% certainty that Svi will give KU a better chance to win than Vick next year? No, you don't. You just have your opinion which is no more valid than anyone else's on here at this point. So acting like you're the undisputed authority on all KU basketball subjects rather than simply stating your opinion and reasoning and having a civil discussion shows your immaturity (which has nothing to do with you being old in age). Three types of people like to be online trolls: immature kids, immature adults, and miserable adults who want to make everyone else feel their misery. Which one are you?

So are Svi and Jackson going to play equal minutes, or are Mason, Graham, and Jackson going to play about the same minutes? You've said both but they can't both be true.

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago


You're making up ideas and attributing them to other people. You're being the poster child for where condescending comments belong.

Let's keep this where it suits you best - simple.

Svi will play about the same number of minutes as the starters. Lucas is a starter. Bragg will be a starter. Mason and Graham will start. Svi might start, as might Jackson. Those six are the core. They're not "backups". Do you understand this simple idea, or are you just too simple?

Svi is a more talented, more versatile, more experienced and just plain better player than Vick. He's a junior. NBA scouts, college analysts and everyone but you understand this. Your childish insults won't change it.

Vick will be an excellent reserve. He may play a few minutes in some games, more in others, and maybe NONE in some.

Svi and Vick are not on equal footing. That's it.

If you feel the need to make up ideas of what people think or say, do it to yourself. You look like a fool and fully deserving of much condescension...

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 3 months ago

Notice who started the condescending wasn't me. You like to dish it but get super offended if someone dishes it back. Ever heard to treat others as you want to be treated? You say people's opinions are clueless or absurd and they aren't going to bow before you and kiss your feet and beg for you to please bestow some more of your "knowledge" upon them.

Your narrative keeps changing. First it was Svi and Jackson playing similar minutes, once I pointed out there weren't enough minutes to go around, you changed it to Svi will play similar minutes to Bragg or Lucas. It would seem your stretching your definition of "backup" if your saying they aren't a backup because they play similar minutes to a starter that they would never substitute in for. I know you make the rules up for your own definitions as you go along though so it's not surprising.

It seems like it would be much easier for you to just agree that nobody (including you) knows how the minutes will play out and while you think you have a better idea than most (and you may or may not), that doesn't make everyone else's opinions clueless, absurd, or invalid. They simply differ from yours.

This is hopefully my last comment on this subject since we'll never be on the same page but knowing how much you love to get the last word in, I may hang around.

Mike Greer 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't see anyone displacing the three starters from last season, Lucas, Graham, and Mason, from the 2016/17 starting lineup (baring injury or national disaster). If Jackson is as good as he looks and is predicted to be, then he takes the fourth spot in the starting lineup. So we're down to one spot in the starting lineup with contenders being; Svi, Bragg, Vick, then Colby, Lightfoot, Az, and Young, in no particular order. I think we'll have to wait and see how coach sets his lineup, but I'm guessing Bragg is the fifth guy starting, because I'm guessing coach will go with a lineup similar to previous years and have two "big" men on the floor. That would make Svi the first one off the bench with the exception of replacing Lucas. Because of Svi's size and ball skills, he could come off the bench in a number of spots, not just the 3, so if anyone but Lucas needs a break or is way off their game, he should see playing time. I'm sure coach will have it all figured out by the start of conference play, and his opinion counts way more than anyone here. No matter who starts, it's going to be a great season for the Jayhawks, they're loaded with talent.

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