There is a reason Bill Self tries to get recruits to visit for the annual Late Night in the Phog each October. The event has led to a number of commitments over the years, most recently when Kelly Oubre, the #12 overall recruit in the class of 2014 according the Rivals.com, committed to the Jayhawks a few days after taking in Late Night festivities this year. But when the schedule didn’t match up with those of a pair of top recruits this year, Self decided to have a Late Night Part II. He opened the doors to Allen Fieldhouse Saturday morning for a scrimmage lasting about an hour, and an estimated 10,000 fans showed up. Here are a few observations from the informal (and raw) scrimmage:
- The fact that over 5,000 fans were turned away at the door before Late Night in the Phog earlier this month was surely one of the reasons for the open scrimmage, but more importantly were the visits from two of the best recruits in the class of 2014: Jahlil Okafor (C, #1 overall on Rivals) and Tyus Jones (PG, #5). Jones walked in with the team and Jones walked in 15 minutes later to a standing ovation. Everything points to the duo as a package deal to one lucky school next year, and both players have visited or plan to visit four of the same schools: Baylor, Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas. Best guess? Kansas or Duke.
- The starting five looks to be set, with Naadir Tharpe, Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis and Tarik Black starting the first scrimmage for the blue team. The only real discussion seemed to be between Black, a senior transfer from Memphis, and Joel Embiid, a true freshman from Cameroon. It was no surprise that Black got the nod from Self this early in the season, especially after watching him play. He looked like a 21-year-old with three seasons of college ball under his belt and was strong around the rim, but…
- Joel Embiid will be starting before the season ends. He has played only a few seasons of organized basketball in his life, but he has all the tools to be a great player for years to come: solid footwork, a soft touch, the ability to finish with either hand, and a legitimate 7-foot body. When things start to click, whether it happens in November or January, he will be one of the best big men in the country. There is a reason Rick Pitino said Embiid could be the No. 2 overall draft pick behind Andrew Wiggins in next summer’s NBA Draft. He is currently a mid-to-late lottery projection in most mock drafts.