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Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander work out for NBA personnel at D-League Elite Mini Camp

Perry Ellis, from Kansas, participates in the NBA Draft basketball combine Friday, May 13, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Perry Ellis, from Kansas, participates in the NBA Draft basketball combine Friday, May 13, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Frank Mason III and Svi Mykhailiuk weren’t the only former Kansas players hoping to impress NBA decision-makers in Chicago this week.

Although their draft days came and went without the results for which they hoped, former KU forwards Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander continued pursuing their professional objectives the past couple of days at the 2017 NBA Development League Elite Mini Camp.

After going un-drafted in 2016, Sunflower State native Ellis relocated to North Carolina, where he played in 50 games for the D-League’s Greensboro Swarm. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 22.4 minutes a game. He shot 45.1% from the floor and hit 41 of 109 3-pointers (37.6%), while garnering enough interest with his offensive game to nab an invite to the minor league’s offseason showcase.

The D-League camp setup mirrored that of the draft combine, with body measurements, athletic tests and scrimmages. The 23-year-old Ellis measured 6-8 in shoes, at 221.4 pounds, with an 8-7.5 reach and 6-10.5 wingspan. The former KU standout displayed a 31.5-inch no-step vertical and 36-inch maximum vertical.

Mike Schmitz, who covered the D-League elite event for DraftExpress.com, reported Ellis’ measurements have been in that range since he was a 16-year-old prospect in Wichita.

“With that said, Ellis was excellent on the floor all camp long, scoring at least 17 points in all four games (20 and 25, respectively, Tuesday) on efficient shooting,” Schmitz wrote. “His footwork, ability to create with spin moves and straight-line drives from the perimeter, touch around the rim and improved 3-point shooting were evident in Chicago.”

Overall, Schmitz assessed Ellis helped his NBA prospects at the camp after a “fairly average rookie year” and compared him to Detroit’s Tobias Harris, as an undersized 4-man who can score.

None by Jonathan Givony

In Ellis’ first scrimmage, he led his team with 18 points, shot 8-for-11 and made one of two 3-pointers. He was one of two players on the team without a turnover.

During his next outing, Ellis went 2-for-4 on 3-pointers and 6-for-12 overall, while putting up 17 points and five boards (three offensive).

As referenced at DraftExpress, Ellis really took of on Day 2, when he first connected on nine of 15 shots and four of six 3-pointers en route to 25 points — the most by any player in any of the eight games — and four rebounds.

Ellis closed out the scrimmage portion of the D-League camp once again leading his group in scoring, with 20 points, on 7-of-10 shooting, while collecting just one rebound.

Portland Trail Blazers forward Cliff Alexander (34) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Cliff Alexander (34) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Un-drafted in 2015, Alexander, still just 21 years old, played for both Erie and Long Island in the D-League over the past several months. Between his two stops, he played in 40 games, averaging 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks, while converting 51.7% of his shot attempts.

In his hometown of Chicago this week, Alexander measured 6-8.5 in shoes, with a 9-1 reach and 7-3.5 wingspan, and weighed 247.6 pounds. His no-step vertical leap reached 30.5 inches and he had a max vert of 37 inches.

Schmitz reported Alexander, whose 9-1 reach ranked second among the prospects, didn’t play in Tuesday scrimmages due to an injury.

“Measurements have never been Alexander's problem,” Schmitz wrote at DraftExpress, “… he'll have to play with a consistent motor and strong enough mentality to work his way back into the NBA. He posted the second-worst lane agility score at the camp, which doesn't bode well for his switch-ability at the NBA level, but isn't a deal-breaker, either.”

Alexander, who teamed with Ellis, shot 6-for-9 from the floor on his way to 13 points, and added a team-best eight rebounds in his first scrimmage appearance.

The big man was even more efficient scoring inside in his next showing, going 7-for-8, with 16 points and five rebounds.

Both Ellis and Alexander, like the 36 other players attending the mini camp, are unrestricted free agents, able to sign with any NBA team interested in them this offseason. As their former KU teammate Wayne Selden Jr. already has proven, playing in the D-League isn’t a death sentence for one’s NBA ambitions.

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Despite tumultuous season, Cliff Alexander remembers time at KU fondly

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) comes in to celebrate with  guard Devonte Graham after Graham forced a turnover by Baylor guard Kenny Chery (1) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) comes in to celebrate with guard Devonte Graham after Graham forced a turnover by Baylor guard Kenny Chery (1) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Like fellow one-and-done Jayhawk Kelly Oubre Jr., Kansas freshman forward Cliff Alexander won’t have a press conference to discuss his decision to leave early and enter the NBA Draft.

An NCAA investigation into his eligibility that forced KU to keep Alexander off the court for the final eight games of the season surely had much to do with that.

The 6-foot-8 big man from Chicago played 28 games for Kansas, started six of those and finished his short-lived career as a Jayhawk averaging 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, while shooting 56.6% from the floor and 67.1% from the free-throw line.

Despite unpredictable production on the floor and off-the-court issues surrounding an alleged extra benefit for a family member, Alexander says in a video released by KU Athletics that he will remember his time with the program fondly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14GI7moNedM

Alexander says his first trip to Allen Fieldhouse, the venue that became his temporary basketball home, really stands out for him.

“It means a lot to me to know that a lot of great players have played in the fieldhouse,” Alexander says. “Basketball was invented here and one of the greatest coaches coached here, one of the greatest coaches still do coach here. It was just a great experience.”

(Give Alexander a pass on that “basketball was invented here” part of it. Someone on campus probably told him that or he inferred it from the tales of KU lore. Of course, the inventor of the game, Dr. James Naismith, coached at Kansas from 1898 to 1907.)

While the video doesn’t get into his reasons for leaving or his at times tumultuous season, it does give the young forward a chance to thank KU coach Bill Self and offer a final message to the Kansas fans.

“Thanks for being with me, supporting me the whole way. I love you guys and miss you guys. Rock chalk Jayhawk.”

Alexander reached double figures in scoring nine times in his lone season in Lawrence and twice had double-digit rebound totals.

The potential first-round pick showed brief flashes of what he might some day become as a player, but you can see in this chart from StatSheet.com just how erratic a year he had.


Here is a look back at Alexander’s most productive games for Kansas:

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) turns for a shot over Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) and forward Khadeem Lattin (12) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) turns for a shot over Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) and forward Khadeem Lattin (12) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

  • Nov. 24 vs. Rider: 10 points, 4 rebounds 4/4 FGs, 2/3 FTs in 13 minutes

  • Nov. 28 vs. Tennessee: 16 points, 4 rebounds, 5/6 FGs, 6/9 FTs in 20 minutes

  • Dec. 5 vs. Florida: 12 points, 10 rebounds, 2/4 FGs, 8/8 FTs in 19 minutes

  • Dec. 20 vs. Lafayette: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 4/6 FGs, 2/2 FTs in 17 minutes

  • Jan. 4 vs UNLV: 10 points, 5 rebounds (4 offensive), 2 blocks, 5/12 FGs in 21 minutes

  • Jan. 10 vs. Texas Tech: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 6/8 FGs in 15 minutes

  • Jan. 19 vs. Oklahoma: 13 points, 13 rebounds (7 offensive), 3 assists, 4/7 FGs, 5/7 FTs in 23 minutes

  • Jan. 24 at Texas: 15 points, 9 rebounds (5 offensive), 6/11 FGs, 3/6 FTs in 27 minutes

  • Feb. 10 at Texas Tech: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4/5 FGs, 2/3 FTs in 20 minutes

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Bill Self, Jayhawks turn their focus toward postseason

Coach Bill Self congratulates Kansas guard Frank Mason III after the Jayhawks overtime win over the West Virginia Mountaineers Tuesday, March 4.

Coach Bill Self congratulates Kansas guard Frank Mason III after the Jayhawks overtime win over the West Virginia Mountaineers Tuesday, March 4.

Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self and his Jayhawks finally can turn their focus to the postseason.

At a press conference Monday in Allen Fieldhouse, Self spoke plenty about this week’s Big 12 Tournament and some about the NCAA madness that follows.

Of course, the status of three guys who didn’t play for KU at Oklahoma on Saturday — Perry Ellis, Cliff Alexander and Brannen Greene — came up too.

Here are some of the highlights from the Q&A:

• On being named the Big 12’s AP coach of the year: It’s nice, but it’s a reflection of the fact you have good players and a good team. There were several guys who could’ve won it.

“For the first time, I think the media actually knows what it’s talking about,” the coach joked (we assume).

• The mood after KU’s loss at Oklahoma was positive. The Jayhawks played hard, and fought and just got beat.

Losing on the last play again, like at West Virginia, made it harder to stomach. KU didn’t make shots the first half and did much better in the second half. The Jayhawks played better than they had the week prior, too.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) drives against Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue (22) during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) drives against Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue (22) during the second half on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

• Perry Ellis will be evaluated tomorrow, as he has been every day. The hope is he will be able to go full speed at practice by Wednesday. If that’s not the case, he won’t play Thursday.

Ellis will wear a brace the rest of the season, regardless, for precautionary measures.

• Self has never thought it is that important to win the Big 12 Tournament. The Jayhawks want to go and win, just like every team. But it’s the only game where you can lose and immediately be recharged and looking to what’s next.

As soon as you win it, your whole focus turns. There is no relishing it. You want to win it because you’re competitive and it’s against your peers, but it’s not the end of the earth if you don’t.

• One could make a case for seven or eight different teams winning the Big 12 Tournament if they get hot. You could also make a case that if those same teams don’t come out ready on Thursday, they will lose.

• Self might watch some other games this week if they’re on TV, but he won’t study them.

Kansas head coach Bill Self slaps hands with center Joel Embiid as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 86-64 win over Georgetown on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self slaps hands with center Joel Embiid as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 86-64 win over Georgetown on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

• In terms of preparing for the NCAA Tournament, Self will do something differently this year. Last year the team thought it was going to get Joel Embiid back and prepared for him to play. That was a mistake. The Jayhawks should’ve prepared not expecting him, and if he came back it would be a bonus.

KU spent too much energy thinking Embiid would come back. So this year, Self won’t count on Cliff Alexander coming back. If he gets cleared, KU will plug Alexander in.

• Based on Self’s limited information, which he read on the Yahoo! report, he doesn’t really know where Alexander’s situation stands.

So Self is planning not to have Alexander available.

“He’s a stud… He’s down.. But his attitude’s great,” Self said of Alexander. And the freshman big man probably has practiced better than ever.

Every good player in the country has “somebody meet with somebody.” It becomes illegal if there are things beyond that. And Self doesn’t have enough information on it to comment on that part of it.

• The players feel bad for Alexander, but there won’t be a negative situation if they don’t get him back. The guys are prepared and focused.

• Landen Lucas, Self thought even before the sophomore’s big day at OU, would be good enough to start at Kansas one day. He is a good player and a part of the program’s future moving forward.

• Brannen Greene should play on Thursday. He has handled his business since Saturday’s suspension. He needs to keep doing that.

• Self hasn’t talked to Wayne Selden Jr. since the game at OU, but the report from the trainer is he is fine. He should be 100 percent by Thursday.

Selden also has suffered from the flu.

“We checked everyone’s schedule and there is no time for anyone to get sick,” Self joked.

• Both Kansas State and TCU — KU’s potential opponents on Thursday — guarded Kansas really well in the regular season.

• The play KU ran to get Frank Mason III fouled on a three-pointer at the end of the Oklahoma loss worked out well. They call it “home run,” and probably every team in America runs it or something close. It is like the famous Valparaiso play.

• There is so much hype on the NCAA Tournament, it means more in people’s minds and you have to deliver. From KU’s perspective, you know the difference between some of the seeds is very small, even if some people think of certain outcomes as monumental upsets.

Everybody can beat everybody.

• Kentucky is “really good.” They won games where they didn’t play well and that’s what is impressive about their undefeated mark at this point.

But if something happens and they don’t win it all, it won’t be monumental. The best team doesn’t always win.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) dives out of bounds for an attempted save before the Jayhawks' bench during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) dives out of bounds for an attempted save before the Jayhawks' bench during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

• Jamari Traylor’s season has been up and down, but the last two games he has been really good. “He’s not big enough to do what he does,” Self said. Last year the role was easier for Traylor because he had big guys like Embiid and Tarik Black ahead of him.

Self just wishes he would defensive rebound the ball a little better. He’s on an uptick right now.

• Nothing that happened Saturday at OU will hurt Kansas, it can only help the team.

• You don’t want your guys practicing more than an hour and 10 minutes or so at this time of year to avoid fatigue. You might work on a couple of late-game situations a day and have some refreshers, but you don’t necessarily spend more time on those sorts of plays.

• “The Big 12 Tournament should stay in Kansas City.” That’s not because it is close to KU, it’s because it is the best setup. You’re guaranteed sellouts. At other conference tournaments there will be tons of empty seats in those early rounds.

Self joked, Fred Hoiberg would rather it be in Des Moines. But other league coaches like it in Kansas City, Missouri, too — not just Self.

• If KU hadn’t played such a good schedule the Jayhawks wouldn’t have had the same chance at a high seed as they do now, with a 24-7 record. The Jayhawks are used to playing hard schedules.

— Listen to the complete press conference: Bill Self talks Big 12 Tournament, March Madness and more

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Jayhawks have to learn and improve from Temple ‘beatdown’

Kansas coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks suffered a 77-52 loss to the Temple Owls Monday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Kansas coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks suffered a 77-52 loss to the Temple Owls Monday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.

A week removed from his team’s second loss of the season — a poor showing at Temple — Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self hadn’t put the 77-52 “beatdown” behind him yet, when he met with the media Monday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse.

Self, whose No. 13 Jayhawks (9-2) return to the court Tuesday night against Kent State (8-3), often used the pre-Christmas embarrassment as a reference point while discussing where KU is at right now, with two non-conference games remaining before Big 12 play begins Jan. 7, at Baylor.

Here are the highlights from the Q&A:

Watching tape of Kent State, they almost won at UTEP. They’re quick on the perimeter and play around a big guy who can score.

Frank Mason III has been KU’s best player and most consistent player to date. And the sophomore point guard still hasn’t played to his full capabilities. Mason also is KU’s best perimeter defender and because he plays so many minutes he isn’t as turned up on that end as he could be. Self is really pleased with him and his toughness.

Coming off a one-sided loss at Temple: “Losses suck and you obviously learn from them and get better.” This loss, like the Kentucky setback, was a “beatdown.” The Jayhawks played tired and didn’t come to play in Philadelphia. There are things KU could learn from losing to Temple. Kansas didn’t play at the same level as the Owls.

KU used to play a cupcake after Christmas, before going into Big 12 play, but they haven’t done that as much lately. It’s probably not the same formula a lot of teams have used… But, in late December/early January, you can’t determine this will be the springboard for the rest of the season. It’s too early to do that. But KU needs to be good these last two non-conference games (Kent State and UNLV, both at Allen Fieldhouse).

Freshman big Cliff Alexander hasn’t “been active at all” of late. A lot of it is health-related. He has a bone bruise on his shin and turned an ankle, and that is slowing him down. Alexander needs to score off other people’s misses.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis gets boxed out on a rebound during the Jayhawk's game against the Temple Owls Monday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis gets boxed out on a rebound during the Jayhawk's game against the Temple Owls Monday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.

By the end of the year, Alexander could be the guy KU throws it to inside to score. Perry Ellis could be that guy, too. The bottom line: Kansas has good guards, but no backcourt is going to carry you through the Big 12. The Jayhawks need to deliver inside with their big men. … KU scored two baskets on the block at Temple, and neither of those came off back-to-the-basket touches. In all the years Self has coached, his teams have played inside-out.

On KU’s offensive sets: Basketball is an uncomplicated game. It’s about players. You run stuff and hopefully put them in places where they take advantage of their skillsets. There are a lot of little things to improve, and KU’s timing can become better. They can also tweak some things. But you can’t coach enthusiasm and energy — speaking of the Temple game, only. It’s not like it’s totally busted. KU is No. 2 in RPI. But KU was broke at Temple. Energy finds the ball. That’s where it starts. Teams that win are turned up all the time. “We played like a bunch of duds” at Temple, and the Owls were “really good.”

Self didn’t take Mason out vs. Temple as a statement to the rest of the guys. That was his way of telling them what he thought of how everyone played. … Wayne Selden Jr. might need to play less with Mason so he can replace him as a point guard. And hopefully they’ll get some good news on Devonté Graham’s toe.

Kelly Oubre Jr. plays with a swagger and personality even when he isn’t shooting the ball well. He should be as good an offensive rebounder on the wing as there is in the country. Oubre can get confidence on offense by playing with energy and getting deflections on defense.

Graham can’t do anything in terms of physical activity right now, until doctors re-examine his injured toe. That will happen this week.

There needs to be something the staff does to promote energy with this team, but the players have to get to a point where they generate that on their own, too. Self said it was his fault they played Temple two days after a game and headed into the holiday break… The thing that bothered Self most about Temple? “They’re no bigger than we are and they blocked eight shots.” And KU blocked two. Self said he has to do a better job coaching them. Kansas has talented kids, but they’re “ridiculously” young. You get off to a rough start and they’re down 11-2. “Now do we have the toughness to come back without a home crowd?” KU came back from a huge deficit vs. Florida, but the crowd won the game. “Individuals aren’t gonna beat a team any day of the week.”

Young guys don’t remember, that’s a good thing. But coaches don’t forget. The players should be fine now that the Temple game is behind them.

“My stress level has probably been a little higher this year,” Self said. But that’s not about the kids, that’s on him. He needs to enjoy the process and not worry about the expectations of the team. He has never understood with preseason media polls and picks if that’s where they should be right now or when the season is over. Based on right now, KU isn’t where they should be. The Jayhawks are young and going through some pains. The schedule has exposed them and prepared them for the Big 12, which is important, too.

— Listen to the full press conference here: Bill Self: Jayhawks need to play with more energy

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Self seeking more productivity from his Jayhawks

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre gets to the bucket against the Rhode Island defense during the first half on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre gets to the bucket against the Rhode Island defense during the first half on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. by Nick Krug

Coming off a tournament championship at the Orlando Classic, and with another top-tier non-conference opponent just around the corner, Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self talked about the Jayhawks’ accomplishments to date and what’s left to be done at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

While Florida’s Friday visit to Allen Fieldhouse for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge proved to be a hot topic, so were minutes, starting fives, defense, player comparisons and much more.

Here are a few of the highlights from the Q&A:

• KU has rebounded the ball a lot better since that Kentucky loss. The Jayhawks also have improved in moving the ball, looking more organized.

Frank Mason III was KU’s second most valuable guy at the Orlando Classic. He rebounded and took care of the ball vs. pressure. Didn’t score a lot of points, but didn’t take a lot shots. He was the team’s best defensive rebounder. He “went and got ‘em.” The PG aggressively pursued the ball.

The Jayhawks haven’t forced turnovers enough yet. They’re not quick and active defensively like they need to be. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is the best defensive positioning guy but he isn’t a stealer of the ball. Neither is Wayne Selden Jr. KU is better at this juncture on “D” than it was a year ago. Personnel has a lot to do with how many turnovers they force. Kansas doesn’t yet have great anticipators on defense and the Jayhawks don’t play with their hands enough yet. Most of the opponent turnovers have been guys throwing the ball out of bounds, not KU running through the ball.

Self likes the current starting five — Mason, Selden, Mykhailiuk, Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas — because it has gotten the team off to better starts. Cliff Alexander, a freshman power forward off the bench, is going to foul quick… The starters aren’t as important as the five who finish, either.

Selden has leadership abilities: He’s tough, smart, cares a ridiculous amount and is definitely an alpha male. He hasn’t been quite as good a leader yet because he hasn’t played his best. More leadership will show up as he improves. Selden hasn’t shot it well at all, but he struggled shooting early in non-conference last season, too, then picked it up.

Kelly Oubre Jr. has been better in practices than in games but he’s still not comfortable. He’s a thinker right now, not a reactor. A lot has been made of him not playing to the hype but it’s six games in. He’s never played guard under pressure. He has to impact KU moving forward. It’s just a matter of time before he snaps out and finds his way… He should be a slasher, extra-possession guy who creates havoc defensively.

With KU’s non-conference schedule, there are numerous quality opponents. It is harder to get guys minutes if they’re figuring out who they are and if they can play. Self knows Oubre can play. He hasn’t had much of an opportunity to play through mistakes. He just needs to go and make something good happen for himself. … Not thinking too much is possible, because he has a good enough understanding. Self would rather a guy play with reckless abandon and screw up than play slower because he’s thinking too much. You can’t play to “not screw up.”

Based on KU’s personnel, Selden needs to be the top perimeter defender. The Jayhawks don’t have a guy as skilled as Andrew Wiggins anymore. Self also would like Oubre or Devonté Graham to develop into that kind of stopper, too.

Florida has played a difficult schedule and the Gators were beat up when they lost to Miami (Florida). They lost a one-possession game in overtime to a good Georgetown team and another to a very good North Carolina team in the Bahamas. Florida will be a high seed in the tournament eventually.

Kansas can win without a 7-footer. KU has had teams with this size before. They weren’t big when they won it all in 2008. It’s a nice luxury to have someone up front who can block shots and correct mistakes. The Jayhawks are big enough to win… Self was joking with Georges Niang this past summer and the Iowa State star forward said the Cyclones beat KU in the Big 12 Tournament because that “monster” Joel Embiid wasn’t out there. Sure, KU would like to have that but they can be good without a 7-footer.

Florida’s Kasey Hill and Chris Walker were two supremely talented players coming out of high school and Michael Frazier II can really shoot it. They have a lot of talent.

Rock Chalk Video does a great job for KU in producing quality videos — many unseen by the public, recruiting videos and that sort of thing — and it’s an important part of the program.

Graham is doing fine with his shoulder and is practicing full speed. It was good they only had to use him limited minutes in Orlando.

Sherron Collins is “the baddest boy we’ve had here,” so Self hesitates to compare Mason to Collins. The coach thinks Mason is more athletic than Collins. That would be a great goal for Mason to get to the point where he could play at Collins’ level.

Alexander has a tendency to put his hands on guys in other jerseys, which leads to a whistle. That is why Self likes bringing him off the bench. Alexander also gets to watch some of the game from the bench. … Alexander will end up starting, most likely. But it’s more about minutes played.

More than likely, Mykhailiuk will be around at KU for just two years. He just has some things to tighten up. He’s a legit 6-7 and 1/2 and he’s going to fill out and get stronger. He should be playing against Olathe North or Free State High or Lawrence High. “Svi” projects out as high as anyone on the team four years from now. He’ll be 21 and a “bad boy.”

UF coach Billy Donovan is as good as the college hoops profession has. He won a national title when no one thought they were any good and another one when everyone expected them to win it all. Self knew the Gators were good last year, but they ended up being one of the best teams in the country, maybe the best, before losing at the Final Four.

— Listen to the complete press conference: Bill Self on importance of starting five

— Hear from Kansas big men Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor: Lucas and Traylor discuss KU's improving rebounding and how Mason factors into that

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Bill Self expects improved toughness, defense out of Jayhawks

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor is photographed while filling out a humorous list of questions during Kansas basketball Media Day on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2014.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor is photographed while filling out a humorous list of questions during Kansas basketball Media Day on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2014. by Nick Krug

Thursday marked the very unofficial start of the college basketball season at Kansas University, where Bill Self and the Jayhawks went through media day at Allen Fieldhouse.

Self provided some insight on what’s to come in the months ahead for KU, as well as some of the shortcomings that impacted last season, and what he, the coaching staff and the players learned from those experiences.

• KU has three smaller point guards. He doesn’t know yet what the norm will be. Kansas needs more ball-handling and play-making from its lead guards. That position didn’t play as he hoped in 2013-14. Wayne Selden, a bigger option, could play point with two big wings or Frank Mason or Conner Frankamp or Devonté Graham could be out there running things.

• The Jayhawks could be very versatile this season. Self sees them playing small a lot, but could play Kelly Oubre or a bigger wing player at the power forward.

• Junior forward Hunter Mickelson is a “prototypical” four-man. He faces up. The challenge will be for him to play bigger than he is. Self can’t see anybody beating Perry Ellis out for power forward minutes. With Mickelson’s skills, he’ll have to do some more things to see playing time. He is the team’s best shot-blocker. Mickelson blocked more shots than Joel Embiid did last year in his last season at Arkansas.

• Self likes who Ellis is. He doesn’t want to get him too much out of his comfort zone in some aspects. Ellis won’t be a vocal leader. Leading by example involves doing your job. If Ellis adds a little leadership to his repertoire, it will make KU a lot better. Self wants Ellis to go score. That’s who he is.

• Brannen Greene has really improved. He was very talented last year, too, and didn’t play much. He is in a loaded position, with Selden and Oubre and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Greene is arguably as good a shooter as Kansas has. He still has to buy into guarding on the other end.

• So far Mykhailiuk is transitioning great. "Svi" understands the language maybe less than Joel Embiid did when he first arrived. The only knock on Svi is he is young. He is going to be really good. His youth could be a factor in how much he plays. A defender could knock him off his line pretty quickly. He may have played against the strongest competition, among current KU players, in his international experience.

• Alexander can be a physical player. He will have to learn how to guard and pick his spots. Self sees some similarities with Thomas Robinson and Alexander. Alexander has to get where he goes after every ball. If he plays his best and everyone else does, too, Alexander should be their most physical player.

• Without seeing this team going up and down a lot yet, Self doesn’t know for sure what the team and some young individuals will look like. But Devonté Graham is a well liked guy that pushes the ball up the floor and is certainly capable of challenging for starting minutes. Graham reminds him of Aaron Miles. He is a leader and can make a shot. His intangibles will probably allow him to play more immediately. The Marines who worked with the Jayhawks picked Graham as the best leader. But Oubre and Selden will be leaders, too.

• The Jayhawks need to be better defensively than last year. They “stunk” last season on defense. Embiid could cover up mistakes. They don’t have that this year. But Self expects KU to be better defensively.

• KU has a lot of things that will be good for recruiting, with the DeBruce Center and McCarthy apartments and new locker room renovations.

• Self used to do more micro-managing when he was young. Now that he is older he doesn’t think as much about things that don’t impact wins and losses, such as where guys sit in a locker room and things like that.

Junior forward Jamari Traylor attempts a long 3-point basket before a team photograph during the 2014 KU men's basketball team media day, Oct. 2, 2014.

Junior forward Jamari Traylor attempts a long 3-point basket before a team photograph during the 2014 KU men's basketball team media day, Oct. 2, 2014.

• Mason didn’t guard last year like he can. Graham can pressure the ball. Svi can slide his feet and anticipate defensively, he is so quick and athletic. Jamari Traylor does some things with pressure and running the floor, as well. Self isn’t a big press-defense advocate. You play a style that gives you the best chance to win in the postseason. When you play good teams they have good guards, and good guards often love to see a press. Full-court pressure won’t be a staple.

• Landen Lucas might have had as good an offseason as anyone. He is fighting for major minutes.

• Frankamp, in high school, was a volume shooter, as most high school stars are. Then he only got a few looks as a freshman and he felt like he had to make them. His whole play was based on whether he made a shot. Strength has been a factor for him some in the past, but he can help the team in other ways, besides shooting the ball. He had to make shots for minutes the way it played out last season. … Frankamp has to get stronger. Everybody has something they have to get better at. Strength and shooting are key for Frankamp becoming great.

• Self learned something through “The Program” they went through with Marines. KU has some guys who are really good at what they do and they don’t want to take away from who they are. Kansas needs Graham and Selden to be leaders.

• Selden, Self thinks, needs to play more consistently and knock down more shots from three-point range.

• It is hard for Self to make a complete evaluation of Oubre yet. And Oubre is good enough that he won’t be at KU very long. He can do some things that a lot of wings don’t typically do. He is a talented player.

• You always think about a starting five before the season begins. Whether he will tell anybody publicly right now is another thing. Guys have to earn it. By Big 12 play, Self has a team in mind but a lot has to do with how fast the young guys pick stuff up.

• Top to bottom, this Kansas team reminds him a little bit of the 2008 team. That team’s best player was Brandon Rush and he went in the NBA lottery. That team had pros. This is a team like that, there isn’t a top-three pick right now, but KU has a whole bunch of good players and depth. There isn’t much size, but they are skilled and deep. A lot of balance.

• There isn’t hoopla this year like they had with Andrew Wiggins, who handled it well. But KU has players that will be as good at the college level as Wiggins and Embiid. Kansas has more guys who can impact the college game this year.

• Self doesn’t know who would be a candidate to red-shirt this season. Right now he doesn’t think it will be a possibility.

• Late Night is always big for recruiting. It is big for the players, too. Guys look forward to it. Last year there were some issues with getting people in and those have been resolved. Only twice has KU had to turn people away, Self’s first year and last season.

• Self may talk about last year’s NCAA Tournament performance with this year's players. But that team wasn’t truly who the Jayhawks were. That team on the floor wasn’t a No. 2 seed. They didn’t have Embiid. That could be their motivation, to not let that happen again this coming postseason. But sometimes unexpected things just happen in sports. They didn’t have a lot of margin for error last season.

• Looking at the All-Big 12 preseason team, Self was surprised that not one of KU’s players got a vote other than Ellis. “That may be something that we tell our guys.”

• KU might be picked to win the Big 12 when those predictions come out. But Texas could be a top-5 team nationally and plenty of other teams appear to have top-25 talent.

• With the personnel KU had last year, the Jayhawks weren’t as tough as a typical Kansas team. The staff didn’t do a good enough job fixing that. Coaches will emphasize toughness this year. Personalities and youth probably had a lot to do with that last season.

• Just a bit off topic, on the Kansas City Royals… It’s awfully cool to watch. It’s fun to see guys having the time of their lives. They had the fastest guy in baseball (Jarrod Dyson) dancing at third base in extra innings on Tuesday and he hadn’t even scored yet. That’s cool. Self gets a kick out of all the strategy, too. The Royals are really good.

— Listen to the complete press conference: Self talks 2014-15 expectations at media day

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