Back in 2011, when former KU forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris were awaiting their NBA draft fate, the general consensus was that Marcus would be the higher pick of the two.
After all, it was Marcus Morris who was the Big 12 Player of the Year and Marcus Morris who was more of a household name with a starring role on a loaded team.
Markieff, many believed, was merely a role player. Don’t get me wrong: Most people knew Markieff had an important role for the Jayhawks and that he played it extremely well. But there was definitely more hype surrounding Marcus.
At the time, NBADraft.Net wrote the following: “(Marcus) Morris is one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft and should be considered a lock for the lottery.”
That’s exactly where he went, selected No. 14 overall by Houston with the last pick of the lottery that year.
One pick earlier, however, it was Markieff’s who heard his name called first by then-NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Consider this analysis from NBADraft.Net on Markieff before the 2011 draft: “Though he lacks the upside of most lottery picks, he’s one of the safest options in this year’s draft.”
The reason? Because, with an NBA body and the ability to rebound at a high level, it was easy for people to see how Markieff would make a living. And he’s done exactly that for the last 12 years, earning roughly $50 million and an NBA championship over 715 NBA games with seven different teams.
Marcus has earned closer to $60 million during his career, so it’s clear that things worked out just fine for both Morris twins.
So what’s the point or reliving draft night for the Morris twins? Because I’m starting to have that same feeling about Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji in this year’s draft.
Full disclosure: I don’t think there’s any way Braun will be drafted ahead of Agbaji tonight. Agbaji, to me, seems like he’ll fall in that 13-18 range while Braun is almost certainly in the mid-20s to early-30s range.
But as you listen to the draft analysts and read predictions about the two players’ futures, it’s clear that most think Agbaji has the higher ceiling.
Would it be crazy to think that Braun actually does, though?
I don’t think so.
I think both will have long and fruitful NBA careers, so we may be splitting hairs here just a bit. But it’s worth remembering that Braun is still a year younger than Agbaji and therefore may have more room to grow.
Think about where Agbaji was a year ago and how much of a jump he made during his senior season at Kansas. Now project that same type of jump for Braun in the year ahead and think about what that could look like.
Braun’s intangibles are already off the charts. He’s the type of player that any coach would like to have on his roster and he’s a fierce competitor with a good blend of confidence, cockiness and humility. If he can work his jumper into becoming lethal and learn a few tricks to increase his defensive presence, he could be a weapon in a number of different ways.
Agbaji is more polished today — remember, he’s a year older — and figures to bring more of a steady game to whatever team drafts him. That likely will keep him in the league for a long time, but I wonder how much breakout potential he has.
None of this matters in the big picture, of course. Both former Jayhawks appear to be well on their way to being first-round picks later tonight and we know that both will bring incredible work ethic and passion for the game to their new teams.
And the reality of the situation is that they'll probably end up having careers that look pretty similar, both in terms of production, impact and earnings. That's certainly been the case with the Morris twins, but only one of them has a ring and he might not have been the one that people expected to get it back in 2011.
Coverage of tonight’s draft is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN, and we’ll have all kinds of reaction and coverage of the landing spots for Agbaji and Braun throughout the night.
After making the U.S. Open cut after Round 2 by a single stroke, former University of Kansas golf standout Gary Woodland rallied to deliver his fourth top-10 finish at a major championship.
Woodland’s 1-under-par 69 on Sunday landed him in a tie for 10th place at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, marking the fourth-best finish of his career at a major.
Woodland won the 2019 U.S. Open and finished tied for sixth and tied for eighth in back to back years at the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019.
The Topeka native’s 69 on Sunday was the third time Woodland shot 1-under this week and it put him six strokes behind Matt Fitzpatrick, who won the event at 6-under.
Woodland finished even for the tournament with 69s in Rounds 1, 3 and 4 and a 3-over 73 in Round 2 on Friday.
After a strong finish to Round 3, Woodland opened Sunday’s round with a little trouble. He carded a double-bogey 5 on the par-3 second hole, which plagued him all week. Woodland recorded a triple bogey at the hole earlier in the week and also bogeyed and parred it, making him 6-over par on the 209-yard hole for the week.
Woodland responded to the double bogey with four consecutive pars and back to back birdies at Nos. 7 and 8. His hot streak continued with a birdie at No. 10 and he added a birdie at 17 and a bogey at 12 to finish 1-over on the back nine and even for the round.
In addition to cracking the top 10 for the fifth time this season, Woodland, 38, also collected a nice paycheck. His tie for 10th place was worth a season-best $407,220 and he’s now up to $1.9 million in earnings for the season.
On a day when most of the remaining players at the U.S. Open shot over par, former Kansas standout Gary Woodland fired a 1-under 69 to move up the leaderboard heading into Sunday’s final round.
Woodland’s Saturday round, which ended with him at +1 for the tournament, was a wild ride.
After opening with three consecutive bogeys on the first three holes, the Topeka native and 2019 U.S. Open champion eagled the par-5 eighth hole to get back some of the strokes he gave away.
That led to a par on No. 9 and a 1-over 36 on the front nine.
Another bogey on No. 12 moved Woodland to 2-over for the day, but he carded birdies on three of his final five holes — including back-to-back at Nos. 16 and 17 — to move to 1-under for the day.
At the time he finished, Woodland had moved up 25 spots into a tie for 15th at The Country Club course in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was just three strokes off the lead at the time, as well.
Woodland finished the day in a tie for 11th place, five strokes behind co-leaders Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick.
While U.S. Open scores tend to stay closer to par, Woodland’s strong finish on Saturday put him in position to make a run at the top on Sunday.
He’ll have to play his best round of the week — if not the year — to contend, but he’s in far better shape to make a run at the trophy now than he was when Saturday’s round started or down the stretch on Friday.
At 2-over par through the first two rounds, Woodland made the cut to advance to the weekend by a single stroke.
He'll tee off at 12:50 p.m. Sunday in the sixth-to-last group to hit the course.
Early trouble on Friday leads to fall down U.S. Open leaderboard for former KU golf standout Gary Woodland
Former University of Kansas golf standout Gary Woodland recovered from a rough start to Round 2 at this year’s Open but still dropped several spots on the leaderboard.
Woodland shot a 3-over 73 on Friday to fall to +2 for the tournament.
Nearly all of the damage came on his second hole of the day, where he recorded a triple-bogey 6 on the par-3 second hole at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Woodland, who won the 2019 U.S. Open, rallied with birdies at the fifth and seventh holes to finish Friday’s front nine at 1-over. But he carded a pair of bogeys and seven pars on the back nine to fall back to 3-over for the day.
At the time he finished, Woodland was in a tie for 43rd place, 29 spots down from where he ended Day 1 after shooting a 1-under on Thursday.
Woodland ended his day just six strokes behind the leader but also was just one stroke clear of the projected cut line.
If he’s able to stay on the right side of the line, he’ll stick around Massachusetts for the weekend hoping to make a run at the leaders.
Former University of Kansas golf standout Gary Woodland opened the 2022 U.S. Open golf tournament with a 1-under par 69 on Thursday afternoon at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Woodland carded three birdies and two bogeys on the day, including a bogey on his last hole of the round, the par-4 ninth.
He birdied two of the four holes before that after picking up a birdie on his second hole of the round earlier in the day.
Woodland's round left him in a tie for 14th place, three strokes behind leader Adam Hadwin.
Woodland, who won the 2019 U.S. Open to become the first Jayhawk to win a major, will get Round 2 under way at 7:02 a.m. Friday on the first tee. He is slated to play with Justin Rose (-2) and Bryson DeChambeau (+1).
Multiple sources told the Journal-World on Tuesday that Central Michigan baseball coach Jordan Bischel was in Lawrence and on KU’s campus, presumably to interview for the open Kansas baseball job.
Bischel, who turned 41 on June 2, just completed his fourth season in charge of the Chippewas and, in his first three seasons, reached two NCAA regionals.
He won 47 games in Year 1 in 2019 and finished first in the Mid-American Conference with a 22-5 record. Like the rest of the world, he had the 2020 season wiped out by COVID-19. And, in 2021, he won 42 games with a 30-9 record in the MAC and another first-place finish and NCAA regional appearance.
This season, the Chippewas finished 38-16 overall and second in the conference at 30-7.
Bischel is also a two-time MAC Coach of the Year and his 2022 team was ranked 16th in the preseason by Collegiate Baseball.
Prior to his stint at CMU, he coached four seasons at Northwood, where he reached two NCAA DII regionals and finished first in the conference twice and third in the conference twice.
He owns an overall record of 275-130 in nine full seasons as a head coach, including a two-year stop at NAIA Midland in 2013 and 2014. Prior to that, from 2010-12, he was an assistant coach at nearby Northwest Missouri State.
Other than the age — and younger is in no way a bad thing here — there seem to be a lot of similarities between Bishcel and Kansas football coach Lance Leipold. Both are grinders, who have paid their dues at smaller schools, know how to work hard and value substance over style.
In addition to that, Bischel was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and played college baseball at St. Norbert College, in De Pere, Wisconsin, where he was a first baseman and pitcher and then started his coaching career as an assistant.
From what I’ve been able to gather, Bischel is very well liked by his players and brings a lot of energy to the field with him.
According to his bio on the CMU website, “the cornerstones of Bischel’s formula of success are strong starting pitching and an offense fueled by a high on-base percentage, moving runners, wearing down opposing pitching, and taking full advantage of scoring opportunities.”
The 2021 Chippewas ranked fourth in the nation in walks with 340, were sixth in on-base percentage at .415, were 28th with 408 runs, were third with 55 sacrifice bunts, and ranked 29th with 79 stolen bases.
CMU’s 3.71 team earned run average was 17th in the nation and Chippewa pitching finished 37th nationally in hits allowed per nine innings at 8.09.
Bischel is one of a handful of people — head coaches and assistants — who have been on KU's radar during the current baseball search, which is likely to continue with more in-person interviews throughout the week.
Former Kansas All-American Ochai Agbaji has been invited to the green room for draft night next week in New York, according to NBA draft guru Jonathon Givony.
Kansas has not had anyone invited to the draft green room since Josh Jackson in 2017. Jackson was selected fourth overall in the 2017 draft by Phoenix.
In 2018, Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk were both second round picks. No one from KU was selected in 2019 or 2021. And Udoka Azubuike was the lone Jayhawk drafted in the 2020 draft, picked No. 27 overall by Utah.
Most years, green room invitations are extended only to players who are likely lottery picks or who carry a high profile. I covered five NBA drafts in a row a few years back — started with Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry in 2010 and ended with Andrew Wiggins going No. 1 in 2014 — and it was incredibly common then to have the Jayhawks, along with their families and often times KU coach Bill Self or other KU staff members, sitting at the table with them.
Scheduled for June 23 in Brooklyn, the 2022 NBA draft will have extra meaning for Kansas fans, as two starters from last season’s national title team are eligible to be drafted and projected to be picked in the first round.
Agbaji is the highest of the two in the late lottery (top 14 picks), with teammate and longtime friend Christian Braun projected by many mock drafts to be a late first-round pick.
Self said Monday that more NBA executives and general managers have called him to ask about Braun than Agbaji, but noted that that was mostly because there is a wider range of teams in position to pick Braun.
As an example, Self said he talked Monday with one GM who picks in the top three of next week’s draft and he did not ask about either Agbaji or Braun.
“Their focus is not Ochai Agbaji,” Self said. “Their focus is Chet (Holmgren), Paulo (Banchero) and Jabari (Smith). I mean, if you're picking in the top three, that's your focus.”
The Kansas baseball coaching search continues to make its way toward a resolution, but, as of Monday afternoon, sources told the Journal-World that no finalists had been formally identified and the timeline for a hire remained up in the air.
After several Zoom interviews last week, the long list of applicants has been cut down to a more manageable number and it appears as if KU’s internal search committee is now preparing to invite candidates to campus for in-person interviews.
Those are expected to begin this week, and sources with knowledge of the search told the Journal-World that the goal remains to have a new coach in place well ahead of the July 1 transfer portal deadline for spring sports athletes.
While going through the process of hiring Kansas football coach Lance Leipold in the spring of 2021, KU Athletic Director Travis Goff showed his ability to manage that type of timeline. He knew then that he needed to get a new football coach hired as quickly as possible to ensure that the program entered summer workouts on solid footing. There’s no reason to think that Goff won’t follow a similar path here, therein giving KU’s new baseball coach at least a week — if not longer — to work through whatever transfer portal efforts are needed, be it with returning players or new talent.
With NCAA regionals, super regionals and the upcoming College World Series taking place throughout the search thus far, it has not been lost on anyone on either side how important the Zoom element has been in the hiring process.
With that said, it seems as if there still no substitute for face-to-face interviews, which significantly benefit both parties.
The only new names that landed on my radar during the past few days are KU pitching coach Ryan Graves, who did receive a formal interview, and Ole Miss assistant coach Mike Clement.
I can’t see Graves getting the job, but he absolutely deserved the chance to interview for it. Clement is another quality candidate, but he is most interesting because a couple of sources told me they wondered about Clement because of the timing, with Ole Miss scheduled to play in the College World Series, which opens Friday in Omaha, Nebraska.
The other names on the list are names that have been there from the beginning. A couple of different sources said Monday that they got the feeling that Goff and company are prioritizing hiring someone with head coaching experience. The more I’ve talked to people and the more I’ve compared this to Leipold — a veteran with a reputation as a program builder — the more that makes sense.
If that’s the case, that would put current head coaches Jordan Bischel (Central Michigan), Lane Burroughs (Louisiana Tech) and Rob Vaughn (Maryland), along with longtime former Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress, in a tier by themselves.
I haven't heard whether anyone involved in the search feels strongly about one candidate over another, but, with head coaching jobs open at Baylor, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and USC, KU landing a sitting head coach from that list would be a nod to the way the search was conducted and demonstrate the value KU, as a whole, carries on the national stage.
That’s not to say assistants like Nate Thompson (Arkansas) and Justin Seely (Oklahoma State) are out of it, but the guess here is that the job will go to a head coach and I still think the end of the week is realistic for some kind of announcement.
People familiar with KU’s search, even before the Zoom interviews began, said it was clear that the search committee had done enough research and vetting on the front end — another shared trait of the search to find Leipold — to be able to move quickly when it reached this point in the search.
Don’t overlook Omaha’s close proximity to Lawrence, should KU officials need to make a quick trip up there. And don’t think for a second that announcing the hire just before or during the College World Series wouldn’t be good for business. Talk about maximizing your exposure.
The University of Kansas will have a new head baseball coach in a matter of days.
The guess here is that we’ll know his name by the end of next week, perhaps earlier. This much we know already, though. Before KU’s new coach hosts his first team meeting or fills out a single lineup card, he already will have had a major impact on the Kansas baseball program.
He’ll have brought it together.
Don’t get me wrong, the 2023 KU roster is going to look different — think transfer portal — the philosophy and approach is likely to change — think more local recruiting — and building the program into a consistent winner will not happen overnight.
But the program appears to be moving forward with a serious injection of support. And we’re not just talking about the backing of the KU athletic administration, which is positioned to make a strong hire and may be in that spot because of a possible willingness to pay well above what former head coach Ritch Price was making.
For the first time that I can remember, players from all kinds of eras of Kansas baseball have really rallied around the program during the past couple of weeks. Credit KU AD Travis Goff for some of that. His approach to hiring coaches — across all sports, high-profile or low — is all-inclusive and seeks input from anybody connected who is willing to give it.
But Goff only deserves part of the credit here. The former players themselves deserve the rest. They’re a proud bunch. Most of them didn’t really win much at KU. But they all enjoyed their experiences and laid it on the line for the program, the school and their teammates every time they took the field.
Most often they were overmatched. Rarely did they care. And now that the program has reached the point where it can make a key hire that can reset the path of Kansas baseball for the foreseeable future, many of them are stepping up and doing what they can to be involved.
Some of that has been through conversation and consultation. Some has been financial. And some has been by simply showing they care and that the program matters.
You know the saying about keeping one’s ear to the ground to feel and hear if any footsteps — animal or human — were approaching in the distance? This is like that, only, with as many ears as the KU baseball family has to the ground right now, they’d know if a cotton ball hit the turf in California.
Most of the input from many of these guys is both consistent and trivial. As was the case with the football search for Lance Leipold, KU has an internal search committee in place and is getting assistance from outside sources to help things run smoothly and quickly. They’ll be the ones who make the final decision, not a bunch of former players.
But the interest and insight from these former Jayhawks has shown the KU administration that a bunch of people care whether they get this one right. Baseball will never be a big revenue sport, but there are enough people out there who need and want it to be more than an afterthought.
Feeling that, you’d have to think, will both raise the stakes and provide a shot of adrenaline for those making the hire.
The search has reached a new phase and things could start moving even more quickly from here. It sounds as if Zoom interviews — maybe a dozen or so — will be conducted sometime this week, with the goal being to narrow things down to a final list early next week. I’d bet on the final group having three names in it. Those candidates, I presume, would then be brought in for in-person interviews.
I heard more than 100 applicants threw their name in the ring. One person told me it might’ve even reached as high as 150. And it sounds as if KU’s search committee took a serious look at each and every application it received.
While there surely were some easy thanks-but-no-thanks names in the pile, there also were, and are, some pretty impressive resumés in it, too. At this point, I think every type of background you could imagine is still in the mix — Power 5 head coaches, mid-major up-and-comers, longtime assistants and more.
As things stand right now, I still feel like this has a power coach kind of feel to it, with Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn, longtime Texas A&M head coach and current Nebraska assistant Rob Childress and Louisiana Tech head coach Lane Burroughs firmly in the mix and possibly among the leading candidates.
But there are definitely a couple of assistants and mid-major coaches who are very much still alive, and I don’t get the sense that these Zoom interviews are in any way just a formality.
Kansas point guard Dajuan Harris thrilled about facing best friend Isiaih Mosley when KU visits Missouri next season
Topeka — Although it’s not officially listed on the Kansas basketball schedule for the 2022-23 season yet, the Jayhawks know that at some point during the upcoming season, they’ll be heading to Columbia, Missouri, to take on the Missouri Tigers.
That matchup, wherever it lands on the schedule, just became even more exciting than it already was for Columbia native and current KU point guard Dajuan Harris Jr.
That’s because on Monday, Harris’ good friend Isiaih Mosley committed to the Tigers.
When asked about what Mosley’s addition does to the KU-Mizzou showdown during the upcoming season, Harris could hardly contain his smile.
“We were talking yesterday on the phone and I already told him, ‘All that stuff you think you’re (going) to be doing, it ain’t working. We’re going to lock that up,’” Harris said between sessions at Washburn basketball camp on Tuesday.
There was some thought this offseason that the Missouri State transfer guard could be reunited with his lifelong friend and former Rock Bridge High backcourt teammate on the KU roster for the 2022-23 season. But Mosley never visited Kansas, and the Jayhawks reached their scholarship limit when Kevin McCullar Jr. transferred in and Jalen Wilson decided to return for his junior season.
Mosley then chose between Mizzou and Mississippi State after receiving interest from KU, Kansas State, Texas Tech and others throughout the process.
Harris never said much about what landing Mosley would have meant to him, but it’s clear that playing against him during the 2022-23 season will be nearly as big of a thrill as playing with him.
“That’s my best friend,” Harris said of the 6-foot-5 guard who averaged 20 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 42% shooting from 3-point range last season. “We’ve been playing together since fourth grade. We know a lot about each other. We’re just going to have fun, though.”
So, too, will the crowd at Mizzou Arena.
As if defending national champion Kansas coming to town wasn’t already a big enough deal, the idea of two Columbia natives doing battle on the floor on what figures to be a national stage surely will add to the day’s buzz when it arrives.
Asked Tuesday what he thought about returning to his hometown for a game of that magnitude with his best friend, Harris said his focus would be entirely on the task at hand.
“That’s home,” he said. “I’m going to have a lot of people there, but I ain’t going to be too busy on the crowd. I’m going to be focused on the game for real.”
As for whether the two Rock Bridge alums would be matched up against each other on game night, Harris said he was up for anything.
“If coach wants me to (guard him) I will,” he said. “But we’ve got Kevin (McCullar) now, so I probably don’t have to now.”