Jamari Traylor, Derrick Nix, Denzel Valentine

Jamari Traylor: From homeless to playing for Kansas

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Jamari Traylor has had a tough time breaking into the Kansas rotation this season.

That’s what happens when you’re a freshman on a team that includes the likes of Jeff Withey and Ben McLemore. At Kansas, you wait your turn, and success will eventually find you.

And while he may only be averaging 2.7 points and 2.9 boards for the Jayhawks, Traylor has, without a doubt, the most heart-warming story of anyone on the Kansas roster.

When he was a freshman in high school, Traylor’s father disappeared. It wasn’t until months later than he found out his dad was in prison with a life sentence for trafficking cocaine. Traylor was devastated by the news and eventually spent a year on the streets, living in boarded up cars and burnt out buildings.

Basketball pulled him out of it. And Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal has the story.

Here’s an excerpt from the story (I’m not going to pull too much, because it really deserves a read):

With nowhere else to go, Traylor started walking. He’d been living like this for a while, ever since he found out his dad was in prison. At first, no one knew what had happened to Jessie Traylor. Jamari remembers calling his phone every day for months, thinking this would be the time he heard his father’s voice on the other end. He started to fear the worst.

I know where he is, Traylor’s mother said one day. Jessie Traylor was in prison, arrested in connection with a drug trafficking ring. So began the spiral — the arguments, the bad grades, skipping school — that led Jamari to move out of his house and start living on the street. This is how a rusted-out Buick sitting outside a car wash became Traylor’s only refuge.

Traylor wedged his hand inside and forced the window down. He crawled inside, wondering what would happen if the Buick became his coffin.

“I just remember thinking, ‘If I die right now, if someone came and just killed me, would anybody even care? Would anybody know?’” Traylor said. “It felt like nobody cared about me at all and nobody would even know.

“That’s like the worst feeling, knowing you’re irrelevant to anybody.”

When you combine this story with the fact that Traylor is the guy that did this, I think I can go ahead and slide this kid into my top five favorite players list.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.

h/t ShockerHoops.net

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.

The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.

“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.

“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.

“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”

Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.