Tuesday, June 5, 2018


Tom Keegan: David McCormack doesn’t look, sound or play basketball like a teenager

Blue Team center David McCormack blocks a shot from Red Team forward Silvio De Sousa (22) during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at the Horejsi Athletic Center.

Blue Team center David McCormack blocks a shot from Red Team forward Silvio De Sousa (22) during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at the Horejsi Athletic Center.


Seeing a teenage post player competing for the first time generally means listening to opinions of those who don’t come right out and say it but drop hints that they were expecting to see more.

“For his size, he didn’t dominate,” is a popular complaint.

Or: “You didn’t even notice he was out there half the time. I honestly don’t see why he’s ranked that high.”

It’s usually not the post player’s fault because in AAU ball or at summer basketball camps, the guards have the ball and decide who gets the shots, which usually means the guards get the shots. Plus, big men become comfortable with their bodies at a later stage and sometimes need to be coaxed into aggressiveness.

So, I always tamp down my expectations when taking a first look at a young big man playing basketball. And then there was Tuesday afternoon’s scrimmage at Horejsi, home of the Bill Self basketball camp.

I leapt (two inches off the ground and winced upon landing) at the chance to see Kansas freshman David McCormack play for the first time.

Rivals ranked McCormack No. 33 in the Class of 2018.

There were 32 better college basketball prospects in the senior class than McCormack? After watching him play and then listening to him talk basketball, I have only three words to say about there being 32 better prospects in one class: Hoe lea cow!

Nothing about the way he looked, played or talked suggested this was a teenager.

First, most high school players listed at 6-foot-10 appear to be closer to 6-8. Not McCormack. He looks 6-10, and a rocked-up 6-10 at that.

His impressive motor stayed revved throughout the scrimmage. He has great hands, tremendous leaping ability, and even has a nice 3-point stroke, although there won’t be much point in letting him stray that far from the basket because his hard dunks trigger louder responses from the crowd and soften the rims to almost the extent that Udoka Azubuike’s do.

And one more thing: He loves to block shots.

Talking with McCormack is a lot like talking to KU sophomore Mitch Lightfoot. Their lips move and your mind deceives your eyes into thinking they’re wearing headsets, providing color analysis of a game. Your mind messes with you again and you see gray hair because nobody but a veteran of decades in the booth after decades playing and/or coaching can deliver that much insight so smoothly.

McCormack’s so impressive, especially considering he's a recruit who hasn’t generated nearly as much excitement as Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson and incoming freshman guards Quentin Grimes (ranked No. 8 by Rivals) and Devon Dotson (No. 18).

McCormack and sophomore Silvio De Sousa were going at it hard, playing physically in the scrimmage and just within that short period of time, evidence of adjustments and improvements, were easy to find. De Sousa put up a shot early and McCormack swatted it. So the next time De Sousa looked to score down low he initiated contact to create a little space and put up a hook shot that rattled in.

“It’s a great feeling playing against another high-level, elite athlete and we’re just making each other better all the time,” McCormack said. “We’re both competitive, both strong, both big, so we push each other to do better.”

Azubuike didn’t play and even without him the quality of big-man play was what stood out.

“Outstanding frontcourt, by far,” McCormack said. “Me, Silvio, Dedric, Mitch, Dok, of course, we’re all skilled, all powerful. We all know how to play the game and we know how to play to our strengths. So I feel we can have the best frontcourt in the nation.”

McCormack played at the nation’s most famous prep-school basketball factory, Oak Hill Academy, so he’s no stranger to strong competition.

“This is definitely a different experience, with this many well-trained and developed bigs,” McCormack said.

Boasting isn’t obnoxious if the talk is backed up with results.

If all KU’s big men make it through the season healthy and eligible, no reason to think the Jayhawks can’t have the nation’s strongest collection of big men.


Andy Godwin 4 years ago

If Tom is throwing out superlatives before the first official practice, then looking forward to see him in Big 12 action. I must completely agree with your assessment, “If all KU’s big men make it through the season healthy and eligible, no reason to think the Jayhawks can’t have the nation’s strongest collection of big men“. At least one big “if” will dampen enthusiam until the season starts. Nevertheless expectations should be high if the guard play can efficiently facilitate Self’s high-low action.

Dave Miller 4 years ago

I'm sure Coach Self will see to it that the guards include the bigs. I'm wanting to see high-low, domination down low, and stretching opponent's defenses to the limit. Dang, I want to see basketball start now! lol

Craig Carson 4 years ago

outside of Silvio, no other KU big men have any eligibility issues..I wouldnt play Silvio this season though until I knew for certain that the school wouldnt have to vacate any games..if they can get a final "OK" from the NCAA..then KU will have the best frontcourt in the nation...if the back court can make enough 3's to make teams honest, the sky is the limit for them

Steve Zimmerman 4 years ago

Lawson, Lightfoot, both can shoot from outside. McCormack is very versatile, can take Js and dominate the post. Dok will continue to be a beasty force on the inside and hopefully, we will do a lot more pick-n-rolls for him, Cormack, and DeSousa, which will be our top rebounder. A very scary frontcourt, indeed. I'm also just as excited to watch Charlie Moore - he looks better than Garrett.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

To be honest Steve, I believe that expecting threes from Lightfoot will only leave you disappointed.

Steve Zimmerman 4 years ago

Fair enough, Marius. Lightfoot will probably warms the bench mostly.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

I would like to see him (Lightfoot) sit one season and let Hudy do her magic. Not sure it happens unless Silvio plays next year.

Jonathan Allison 4 years ago

I hadn't realized that McCormack had previously weighed 320 lbs.

How much did that fact impact his national ranking? Perhaps at 320 lbs he was the #33 ranked recruit, but at 260 this guy is an amazing athlete and the potential is almost unlimited.

The last time I remember Keegan heaping praise on a player after his first camp scrimmage it was Frank Mason. Keegan recognized Frank's ability early on, way before us average fans believed him.

Barry Weiss 4 years ago

Anyone know when we will find out the fate of Silvio?

Jonathan Allison 4 years ago

I'm hearing from anonymous current and former high ranking FBI officials that an announcement on Silvio's investigation is imminent and should be expected as early as mid to late March of next spring. This is, unless the FBI Inspector General report recommends prosecution of said current and former high ranking FBI officials.

David Howell 4 years ago

So ..... how can an announcement be imminent, but not expected until next Spring ?

As for McCormack, I could tell from the all star games he had a high motor and skills !

[''] 4 years ago

Was that Cunliffe on the red team doing some impressive scoring in the middle of that highlight real? If so, he looks good.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

Maybe he is finally doing what Self expects from him. I'm actually surprised that he is still on the team.

Jonathan Allison 4 years ago

or maybe it has more to do with Bill Self not being anywhere near the gym where he's playing.

Cunliffe definitely has talent. But can he guard? If we're gonna be talking about redshirts, maybe Cunliffe should take one. He's still got 3 years to play 2 seasons, and I can't imagine that he's still be here is Bill Self didn't want him, but you've gotta think that PT is gonna be slim this season unless he make a giant leap from last year.

Dirk Medema 4 years ago

While McCormick might be able to dominate down low, Villanova clearly demonstrated that having bigs that can effectively step outside can be a game changer. Not expecting it from Dok - I'll be happy with FTs, but I would hope that other bigs would be interested in fully developing their game. Definitely have to be able to defend out there.

Jay Scott 4 years ago

Mitch is a far better candidate for some time at the 3 than many realize. He's got a solid stroke and is athletic enough to guard.

On that topic....where's Joe Ross to explain how Perry Ellis has the same skills and potential as Harrison Barnes? Will Perry be signing that max contract soon or is he still refining his Jr High girls set shot?

Jonathan Allison 4 years ago

come on man, why can't you just flip on some Doobie Brothers, chill out, and cut JRoss some slack

Jay Scott 4 years ago

LOVE Doobies! Can't listen to "What a Fool Believes" without laughing about what a fool Joe is after he used that quote....

Mallory Briggans 4 years ago

Lol......thats my boy Jay!.....what up yo.......i missed seeing you post for awhile i wondered about where you were always have " a hot sports opinion"....welcome back 😄

Matthew Coleman 4 years ago

Seems like Self's high/low game is going to see a lot action, so passing ability, particularly from the 4 spot, is going to be valued. Who is our best big man passer? Dedric? Mitch?

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