With Okafor and Jones Visiting Kansas, Allen Fieldhouse Sells ItselfPosted by Taylor Erickson on October 19th, 2013
Bill Self has been making strides on the recruiting front the past few seasons in college basketball when it comes to convincing top-shelf talent to make a pit stop in Lawrence for a brief eight months before bolting for the NBA, and it doesn’t appear he’s too interested in slowing down. In front of an estimated attendance of 10,000 fans early Saturday morning, Kansas held an intrasquad scrimmage and open practice to provide fans with a glimpse of what they can expect when the season tips off in a few short weeks. This comes two weeks after Kansas hosted its annual “Late Night in the Phog” on October 4, which featured a variety of skits and dancing, followed by a short scrimmage. Four days after visiting Kansas for Late Night, shooting guard Kelly Oubre of Findlay (NV) Prep committed to play for Self’s squad in 2014-15. The hype and excitement surrounding this season’s Late Night event created such a buzz that as many as 7,000 fans were turned away as Allen Fieldhouse had reached capacity. KU Athletics released a news brief following the event, apologizing for fan conduct problems when the doors opened, leaving some who had spent hours in line left out of the action. Little did Bill Self know that this would prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Absent from Late Night were Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, two top recruits in the nation who have long been rumored to be a “package deal” for the school lucky enough to host the duo next season. Instead, these two had identified this weekend as their official visit to Kansas, which provided the school an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by hosting the open scrimmage Saturday morning. From a PR standpoint, this was a great chance to make up for the crowd management catastrophe from two weeks ago and give those who weren’t able to make it inside a chance to see Kansas in action. But make no mistake about it, this was about Okafor and Jones. Self can provide these two all the information they need as to how they will be used in his system, and can give them the opportunity to explore facilities inside and out, but at Kansas, the best recruiting tool might be Allen Fieldhouse itself. While it is still too early to know exactly how Okafor and Jones felt about their visit, it appears those fans in attendance did all they could to make the two feel comfortable, giving them a standing ovation as they entered the building Saturday morning. Okafor in particular appeared to enjoy himself, sharing fan tweets welcoming him to Kansas throughout the day on the social media network.
As for the actual scrimmage itself, any conclusions drawn should certainly be taken with a grain of salt, but the overarching theme appeared to be that Andrew Wiggins came out extremely aggressive early on, leading all scorers with 21 points in the three scrimmage sessions. Perhaps Wiggins has kept an eye on those questioning his intensity over the past few weeks, and therefore decided to make a concerted effort to get in on the action early and often. Whatever the case, we’re now 10 days away from seeing Wiggins and the rest of KU’s squad take the court in their first exhibition game of the season on October 29 against fellow Kansas school Pittsburg State.
Here are a few brief highlights posted to YouTube by Kansas Athletics: