Bill Self’s Coaching Plus Elite Talent is a Scary Proposition

Posted by BHayes on October 9th, 2013

Bennet Hayes (@HoopsTraveleris a national columnist.

Tweets that end with a hashtag of “#RockChalk” are not hard to find in the Twitterverse, but one in particular had to bring a smile to the face of Bill Self and Kansas fans everywhere on Tuesday. Kelly Oubre, one of the top prospects in the prep class of 2014, announced his commitment to Self and KU yesterday morning via social media.

The Findlay Prep (NV) wing, who now looms as the natural replacement on the wing for presumptive one-and-done Jayhawk freshman Andrew Wiggins, is another huge get for several reasons. Oubre (#10 in RSCI’s summer rankings for the class of 2014) is a significant coup for Self, a coach whose recruiting efforts – at least in terms of the star power at the top of the rankings – haven’t always matched up with the prodigious success his teams have enjoyed on the court. This isn’t to say the Jayhawks have been winning multiple Big 12 titles and making Final Fours with two-star recruits from western Kansas, but with the Wiggins/Wayne Selden/Joel Embiid class now on campus and this commitment from Oubre for next season also in the books, Self and Kansas should be taken more seriously than ever as major players in the recruitment of the nation’s top prospects.

Kelly Oubre, A Consensus Top-15 Prospect In The Class Of 2014, Is The Latest Highly Regarded Prep Star To Commit To Bill Self And Kansas

Kelly Oubre, A Consensus Top-15 Prospect In The Class Of 2014, Is The Latest Highly Regarded Prep Star To Commit To Bill Self And Kansas

According to RSCI Hoops, prior to this year’s incoming class, Kansas had landed just two consensus top-20 recruits (Xavier Henry and Josh Selby) since 2007. Of course, that number may as well have been one, as class of 2010 guard Selby never realized the potential he flashed during his high school days, averaging only 7.9 PPG in one disappointing season in Lawrence. For an interesting frame of reference, intrastate rival Kansas State — a program with nowhere near the hardwood history as KU — has recruited just as many top-20 players in that span. For (mostly) better or worse, Self simply hasn’t chosen to draw from that group of elite talents as often as the other national programs — granted, part of the reason for that may be some light reluctance on the side of the blue-chippers — but he has seemed pretty comfortable building winning teams without so many prep superstars dotting his roster.

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Saturday’s Kansas Collapse a Long Time in the Making

Posted by KoryCarpenter on April 1st, 2013

You could watch the final possession of Kansas’ 87-85 Sweet Sixteen loss to Michigan 100 times and never figure out what was going through Kansas guard Elijah Johnson’s head. The prep point guard turned college shooting guard turned college point guard never adjusted to his new(er) role as floor general this season, and it was no more evident than in those final eight seconds of overtime against the Wolverines in Cowboys Stadium. Kansas had been melting down like Mickelson at Winged Foot since the 2:25 mark in the second half, but they still had eight seconds to force another overtime or win the game outright. Bill Self drew up an effective play for the situation. Jeff Withey set a fake screen at the top of the key and Michigan bit. The 6’8″, 250-pound forward Jordan Morgan immediately switched off Withey and onto Elijah Johnson with five seconds left, changing directions and giving Johnson momentum to go with his decided speed advantage. “I thought he could get to the rim,” Self said after the game. Correction: Johnson was given a free pass to the rim.

Picture 1

There Wasn’t Much Between Johnson, The Rim, And Double Overtime.

For whatever reason, Johnson didn’t take another dribble after this point. Not only that, but he took an awful route to the basket. And when that awful route led him to no-man’s land under the hoop, he did what coaches for decades have told point guards not to do from first grade to college and beyond: He left his feet to make a pass. But not only that, either. He left his feet before deciding where the pass was going. As most know, he ended up kicking it 30 feet away to Naadir Tharpe for a three-point floater off one foot as the clock expired. Because when you have three seniors and the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft on the floor, giving your backup point guard jack up a floating one-footer from distance is the way to go.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 01.11.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 11th, 2012

  1. Frank Haith compared Royce White to Magic Johnson earlier this week, a comment White himself called “outrageous.” Now, his own coach has compared him to Kevin Garnett, as if he didn’t have enough expectations placed on him already. After a triple-double against Texas A&M, White will be a nightmare matchup for Missouri, a team that travels to Ames tonight for another road contest. Defensively, White may end up guarding Kim English or another guard or wing, but the forward isn’t worried. “I’ve guarded wing players before,” White said.
  2. Tyshawn Taylor and social media just do not mix. The senior point guard, who’s been no stranger to online controversies during his career, called out his critics on Twitter in a harsh manner last week. Fans were attacking Taylor on the website for his turnovers, which have been well-documented this season. Taylor fired back: “If half that talk about ball could actually ball,” Taylor said, “but y’all can’t do (so you’re) stuck to being a fan.” As coach Bill Self said, Taylor probably just needs to step away from the computer and be the better man here. But Taylor’s actually got a point. A lot of these clowns mocking Taylor for his turnovers probably couldn’t run a mile without passing out, much less start at point guard for a Top 25 basketball team. As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once famously said in Airplane, “Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.” Same thing applies here, Twitter bozos.
  3. And since we’re on the topic of KU controversy, Self is fending off criticism from former guard Josh Selby these days. Selby has apparently told Memphis Grizzlies’ officials that the Kansas head coach held him back at Kansas. Of course, the always interesting Kim English of Missouri also set off this firestorm by revealing some of Selby’s comments about Self on a radio station in Kansas City. English, a good friend of Selby’s from Baltimore, told a radio host that Selby regretted his decision to go to Kansas. Self, though, isn’t about to let anybody bully his program. “You shouldn’t use certain words over the airwaves, but that’s absolute crap,” Self said.
  4. After losing to Missouri and Kansas to start Big 12 play, Oklahoma finally played some equal competition in Oklahoma State on Monday in the Bedlam series. Unfortunately, Lon Kruger’s rebuilding job took a step back in an ugly loss to a beatable opponent. The article even calls the game the low point of the season, a fair label considering Kruger’s team thrived against weak competition in November and December. The Sooners’ offense struggled, and leading scorer Steven Pledger did not help the matter by making just three of 13 shot attempts.
  5. Once considered a contender in the Big 12, Texas A&M has fallen apart lately. The Aggies, now 0-2 in the league, rank near the bottom of the conference in almost every offensive category. They have scored the fewest points, they are the worst three-point shooting team, and they are the worst at free throws. But hey, Billy Kennedy‘s team is ninth in field goal percentage! Kennedy says it’s a result of poor shot selection and a lack of an attacking mentality offensively. A&M better figure it out soon, or its NCAA Tournament hopes could vanish quickly.
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Who’s Got Next? Stokes Denied Appeal, Pronouncing Muhammad’s Name is an Issue…

Posted by Josh Paunil on November 23rd, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at

Lead Story: Jarnell Stokes Still Ineligible For His Senior Season

Jarnell Stokes Is Ineligible For His Senior Basketball Season. (Wildcat Blue Nation)

Top-20 Recruit Left Searching For Other Options. The TSSAA Board of Control, the body of people responsible for deciding whether Class of 2012 power forward Jarnell Stokes can play basketball his senior season, announced Monday that they denied his appeal to the August ruling that said he cannot play in the 2011-12 season. Stokes was initially ruled ineligible by Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association executive director Bernard Childress after transferring from Central High School (TN) to Southwind High School (TN). Stokes has lived in the same address for the past nine years in the Southwind district but was able to attend Central on an academic exemption as a freshman. However, Stokes’ academic record over the last three years doesn’t meet any of the ten TSSAA guidelines that would have allowed him to transfer and become eligible at Southwind this season. Despite the setback, Stokes and his family still have several other options. One option, something that Stokes’ father says is a possibility, is that Stokes can graduate early and enroll in college in January (keep in mind though that he is still uncommitted). Another option he has is to return back to Central, but his father says that almost certainly won’t happen. Stokes is a good enough player though that, even if he doesn’t player basketball this year, the likes of Arkansas, Memphis and Kentucky will still recruit him and his recruitment should be unaffected.

What They’re Saying

  • Senior standout Ricardo Ledo on who Providence is going after: “We’re trying to get [Class of 2012 power forward] Chris Obekpa, we’re trying to get [Class of 2013 center] Nerlens Noel, we’re going hard at him. We’re trying to get [Class of 2012 small forward] JaKarr Sampson.”

Ricardo Ledo Says Providence Is Going After Chris Obekpa, Nerlens Noel And JaKarr Sampson.

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Big 12 Team Previews: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by cwilliams on November 13th, 2011

Predicted finish: 1st

2010-11 Record: 35-3 (14-2, Big 12)

Head Coach: Bill Self, 9th season

Key Losses: Marcus Morris (17.2 PPG), Markieff Morris (13.7 PPG), Tyrel Reed (9.7 PPG), Josh Selby (7.9 PPG), Brady Morningstar (7.1 PPG), Mario Little (5.1 PPG)

The 2011-12 Jayhawks face a daunting rebuilding task, after losing six players from last season’s 35-win team. If there is one coach who has proven he knows how to reload instead of rebuild, it’s Bill Self. The appeal of NBA riches hit the 2010-11 Jayhawk team hard with the early departure of the Morris twins and Josh Selby. That won’t stop Self and his squad from competing for a Big 12 championship, though, a title they’ve earned the past seven seasons. Kansas will not roll over, especially at home — Allen Fieldhouse has had 164 consecutive sellouts and has one of the most intimidating student sections in the game. Like always, the Jayhawks will thrive at home. Where we will see who they really are is on the road. Despite not being considered as talented a team as compared to those in recent years, Kansas will still have the bulls-eye pinned to their backs. All season long.

It Says Here That Self's Team Will Find a Way...

The Stars: All eyes will be on Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson this season. Taylor is the lone returning 2010-11 starter. He averaged 9.3 PPG last season with 4.6 APG. He will have to carry this team with his leadership this season, both on the court and off. Robinson was Kansas’s sixth man last season, contributing 7.6 PPG and 6.4 RPG. Robinson is more known for his personal tragedies off the court last season. We watched as the young man experienced the death of his maternal grandparents and his mother all in the course of a month (read the tragic yet inspiring tale here). He  provided us with one of the more awe-inspiring sports comebacks, as he played the rest of the season as an integral part of his team despite the darkness resting on his shoulders. I expect Robinson to have an All-America caliber season.

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NBA Lockout Speculation: Two-and-Through All But Certain?

Posted by rtmsf on November 1st, 2011

Today the RTC preseason All-America Team was announced, and it contains three sophomores on its first team who could have been viable 1-and-done prospects last spring had the NBA’s labor situation not been so tenuous. Those players are Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones, and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes. The second team has two more — Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb and Baylor’s Perry Jones, III. The third team has two players who may declare for the NBA Draft after this, their freshman, season — Duke’s Austin Rivers and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.

Battles Like These Between Barnes & Jones Could Become the Two-Year Norm (Getty/C.Trotman)

It’s no secret that the top talent in college basketball these days tends to skew younger, as our inclusion of seven freshmen and sophomores to our three preseason All-America teams clearly exhibits. In a different year assuming those five sophomores were already in the NBA, we might have included more freshmen such as Connecticut’s Andre Drummond or Oklahoma State’s LeBryan Nash on our list. But we didn’t have to, and the reason for this is that the pool of talent is deeper this season than it has been for the last five years, in the same way that the last half-decade was more talented than the prep-to-pros era of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Now, imagine if the following players were also back: Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Texas’ Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, Tennessee’s Tobias Harris, Kansas’ Josh Selby. You see where we’re going with this. And the NBA brass, always thinking about its own worldwide marketing of star players and its bottom line, does too. According to Chad Ford over at ESPN Insider, one of the few areas of consensus among the key folks in the ongoing NBA owner and labor negotiations is that 1-and-done is likely on its last legs. Two-and-Through appears to be the new standard. From Ford’s piece:

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Morning Five: 08.26.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 26th, 2011

  1. Isaiah Armwood, who announced that he was leaving Villanova last week, has decided that he will be moving on to George Washington. Armwood, who played at nearby Montrose Christian, should help bolster the frontcourt for a team that has fallen off significantly in the past four seasons after making the NCAA Tournament three consecutive years. Although his contributions to the stat sheet in the past (2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last season) are marginal he was named captain of this year’s team so he should help with the “intangibles” that the team has probably been missing.
  2. It seems like we are always dealing with these conference realignment rumors, but yesterday was a fairly interesting day for the Big 12 as Texas A&M officially told the conference that it was exploring its conference options and Southern Methodist declared its interest in joining the conference. Honestly, from the Big 12’s point of view this would be a pretty significant downgrade unless SMU returns to its “Pony Excess” glory, but realistically as long as the conference has Texas (and maybe Oklahoma) the rest of the conference probably doesn’t matter financially. We know that Kansas runs the conference in basketball, but they are essentially irrelevant in the conference in football with the exception of a few seasons under Mark Mangino.
  3. It appears that Bruce Pearl has already started his PR/spin tour after receiving a three-year show cause penalty from the NCAA. According to Pearl the NCAA is using him as an example and called the sanctions a “very, very heavy price for the mistakes that we’ve made” while criticizing the NCAA’s rulebook for being too onerous. Later in the day, Pearl went on The Doug Gottlieb Show for what turned out to be a fairly insightful interview in which he appeared to throw his assistants under the bus for the infamous photo of him illegally meeting Aaron Craft andJosh Selby. While at some level I understand Pearl’s need to frame this a certain way if he hopes to get back into college basketball I sort of wish he could just own up to what he did without having to cloak it in a handful of qualifiers.
  4. ESPN released the schedule for its Tip-Off Marathon, which is scheduled for November 15th. We will have more on the line-up later, but ESPN appears to have put together a fairly impressive line-up yet again. Obviously this year they are helped by the Champions Classic that features Duke against Michigan State and Kentucky versus Kansas, but Florida at Ohio State may be the best game on the docket. The other intriguing games are Belmont at Memphis and what will probably be George Mason at Virginia Tech. Outside of that the games aren’t particularly noteworthy, but at this point in the year we would take just about anything that we can get.
  5. When we first heard the story of DePaul assistant coach Billy Garrett, who reportedly came back from a trip with the team to Europe to find his house had been burglarized we were shocked. Among the items that were reportedly stolen were some family memorabilia including mementos from his father William, the first African-American player in the Big 10, and shockingly an oxygen tank used by Garrett’s son, who suffers from a form of sickle cell disease. Now news has come out suggesting that the case may be a disagreement between Garrett and his landlord. We aren’t sure which direction this story is going, but we assume that it is going to get very messy.
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NBA Draft Thoughts From a College Perspective

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2011

The NBA Draft has come and gone with one of the most boring evenings in its televised history.  Maybe it was the arena setting, maybe it was the lack of marquee names, maybe it was the fact that none of the draftees wore anything particularly ridiculous, but the league’s capstone summer event was so uninspiring that even Bill Simmons’ usually-hilarious draft diary felt trite and mailed in.  Still, the draft represents to every major college basketball player the culmination of a lifelong dream to hear one’s name called by David Stern, and it’s worth a quick reflection on how things went last Thursday for many of the players we’ve been watching and tracking for years.

The 1-and-Dones Did Well in This Year's Draft (AP)

The 1-and-Dones.  Generally speaking, the NBA Draft went well for the seven 1-and-done players who declared after their freshman season.  Excluding Enes Kanter, who never played a minute at Kentucky, from the discussion, six of the seven players who left school after one season were drafted, and five of those went in the first round.  Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Texas’ Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, and Tennessee’s Tobias Harris were chosen in the first thirty selections, while Kansas’ Josh Selby was taken in the next thirty picks.  The lone holdout was Illinois’ Jereme Richmond, a player who clearly had a much higher opinion of himself than did NBA general managers (although if you listen to his uncle, delusions of grandeur may extend beyond Richmond to his extended family).  Whether any of the others are “ready” for the NBA is an irrelevant notion in this day and age, but seeing Thompson jumping up to the #4 selection despite not being able to shoot the ball, and Joseph going at #29 despite averaging only 10.4 PPG as a “scorer” has us raising our eyebrows. 

Sneaking Into the First Round... Not Exactly.  We heard time and time again in April that the impetus behind numerous marginal players deciding to enter the NBA Draft this year was because players like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and Terrence Jones were not coming out.  The logic was that their staying in school opened up more first round spots for lesser talents, a statement certainly true in theory but in no way a sane justification for a dozen additional players to declare for the draft.  Four doesn’t equal twelve the last time we checked.  Interestingly, three of the four beneficiaries to earn guaranteed first round money were college seniors: Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson, Cleveland State’s Norris Cole, and Marquette’s Jimmy Butler (Texas freshman Cory Joseph was the fourth player to benefit).  As for the players who came out early in an attempt to sneak into the first round of this year’s weaker draft, it didn’t really work out for them.  We’re looking at second rounders like Shelvin Mack (Butler), Jordan Williams (Maryland), Trey Thompkins (Georgia), Darius Morris (Michigan), Malcolm Lee (UCLA), Travis Leslie (Georgia), DeAndre Liggins (Kentucky), and Isaiah Thomas (Washington), as well as undrafted guys like Scotty Hopson (Tennessee), Jeremy Green (Stanford), Terrence Jennings (Louisville), Greg Smith (Fresno State) and Carleton Scott (Notre Dame).  What’s going to be awesome is in future years when underclassmen have roughly two weeks to gauge their draft prospects before having to commit to the draft or heading back to school — we’re sure this will result in nothing but great decisions.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Josh Selby

Posted by rtmsf on June 7th, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Josh Selby

School: Kansas

Height/Weight6’3, 195 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft RangeLate First Round

Overview:  It was perhaps the most anticipated debut of the 2010-11 regular season.  On December 18 against USC, Josh Selby made his long-awaited appearance in a Jayhawk uniform.  The nation’s #1 recruit according to Rivals had spent the regular season to that point on the bench as a result of a nine-game “improper benefits” suspension meted out by the NCAA.  In that first game, Selby immediately appeared to be the best player on the court, going for a game-high 21 points and five rebounds, including a couple of late-game treys (of five makes) that salted the game away.  Those 27 minutes of action were the peak of Josh Selby’s collegiate career.  Through a combination of nagging injuries and Bill Self losing confidence in his talented freshman guard, Selby’s minutes and production steadily declined to the point where he rarely logged 20+ minutes and never saw double-figure scoring in the last thirteen games after Valentine’s Day last season.  His season averages of 7.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 2.2 APG on 37.3% shooting (36.2% from three) shouldn’t impress anyone interested in spending millions of dollars on a young player, but in the modern era of potential over production, Selby will still end up an NBA Draft selection later this month.  His physical tools, athleticism and a sense that the free-flowing pace of the NBA will suit his game better than it did at Kansas ensures that, and it’s not unprecedented.  Several players who had average freshman seasons and declared for the draft later become productive NBA players — Gerald Wallace and Jrue Holiday come immediately to mind — and it’s instructive that both of those guys, like Selby, had exceptional athleticism at their disposal.

Selby Was a Bust at Kansas: What Does That Mean?

Will Translate to the NBA:  The reasons he’ll get drafted are these three numbers:  195, 42, and 3.20.  Even though only one year removed from high school, Selby is a solidly-built 195 pounds.  He’s muscular without being bulky, possessing exactly the kind of guard’s body built to withstand pounding in the lane en route to the hole.  The second number is Selby’s ridiculous vertical jumping ability, best in this year’s draft class.  He doesn’t have unbelievable length, but his hops more than make up for it (his jumping reach maxed out at 11’8, well above the rim).  Finally, his 3.20 speed in the three-quarter court sprint was also among the best in the class — Selby can get up and down the court faster than just about anyone.  Will these physical tools mean Selby becomes a good NBA player — nobody knows for certain, but someone will be willing to risk a pick on him.

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Dissecting the Law of Unintended Consequences, Early Entry Style

Posted by rtmsf on May 9th, 2011

Welcome to the law of unintended consequences, folks.

Starting with Jared Sullinger’s surprising decision to return to school in the aftermath of #1 Ohio State’s upset loss at the hands of Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament last month, a number of projected top draft picks have similarly shocked the world by deciding to stick around their college campuses for another season.  Subsequent to Sullinger, Baylor’s Perry Jones — another top five pick — followed that up with his own shocker.  Next, UNC’s Harrison Barnes and John Henson — both projected lottery picks this June — each decided that another year in Chapel Hill was to their liking.  On Saturday, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones was the latest projected lottery pick to spurn guaranteed millions in favor of playing as an amateur for another season (ok, stop your snickering about the word “amateur”).

Counting up the number of lottery pick slots that opened up in the June draft, we come up with a total of five (of 14) and certainly the following early entrants will be this summer’s beneficiaries: Arizona’s Derrick Williams, Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, UConn’s Kemba Walker, and Kansas’ Marcus Morris.  Five additional slots in the first round, though, isn’t the same as a floodgate opening, and we fear that the oft-repeated mantra of “weak draft” combined with a lack of an opportunity for players to get good evaluation feedback (thanks, ACC coaches!) has led to a bunch of poor decisions at the back end this year.  Like we said, the law of unintended consequences.

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