Bill Self

Are we overlooking Kansas this preseason?


Unless you write for Lindy’s, the general consensus seems to be that Kentucky should be the nation’s No. 1 team in the preseason.

And that’s fair, considering the fact that they are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes of all-time, they have eight guys that could one day be picked in the first round of the NBA Draft and they have a coach that has excelled at convincing teams with an overload of talent to buy into their roles.

Lindy’s had Michigan State ranked No. 1, a team that seems to join with Louisville to complete a consensus top three.

Arizona has gotten plenty of preseason hype as well, in large part due to landing Aaron Gordon, and with Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood joining Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke has been crowned as the favorite in the ACC, the best league in the land.

It may just be me, but it seems like one of the nation’s best programs has been overlooked throughout much of the summer: the Kansas Jayhawks.

Now, when calling Kansas overlooked, we have to keep it in perspective. But the fact of the matter is that, given the talent on their roster and the head coach they have stalking the sidelines, doesn’t it make sense that the Jayhawks be in the conversation with Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville as a title favorite?

Think about it like this: the guy that everyone expects to be the best player in the country and the No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, is a Jayhawk. There are quite a few people that expect him to have the impact that Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant did in their one season on campus, and I count myself among them.

But he’s not alone. In Draft Express’ latest 2014 mock draft, Kansas is projected to have two of the top six picks (Joel Embiid) and three of the top 14 picks (Wayne Selden), which is more than anyone else in the country.

Yes, Kansas does have question marks. The point guard spot could end up being an issue all season long, and youth isn’t guaranteed to be good immediately at the college level. Perry Ellis’ development will be critical as well, and it will be interesting to see just how good the Jayhawks end up being from a defensive standpoint.

But while everyone has spent the summer lauding Kentucky’s recruiting class, it seems like the talent that Bill Self has amassed has managed to somehow slide a bit under the radar.

Iowa State lands three-star SG Jakolby Long

Steve Prohm
Associated Press
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Iowa State received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Friday morning, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long made his pledge to Steve Prohm’s program. A native of Mustang, Oklahoma, Long attends Mustang HS and played for the Athletes First grassroots program this summer.

In Nike EYBL play for Athletes First, Long averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

According to Cyclone Fanatic, Long was also considering Georgia, Texas and Utah before deciding that he’ll play his college basketball at Iowa State.¬†Long will join junior Matt Thomas, sophomore Hallice Cooke and transfer Nick Babb in the competition for minutes off the ball when he arrives on campus next year. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, Long could be a in a position where he sees solid playing time immediately.

Long joins junior college products Donovan Jackson and Emmanuel Malou, and 2016 forward Solomon Young in Iowa State’s 2016 class to date. And the Cyclones, who won’t use all 13 scholarships this season, still have room for a couple more additions for next season.

Iowa State has four seniors (Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay), and junior point guard Monte’ Morris is considered by some to be a candidate to enter the 2016 NBA Draft.

UofL foundation hires firm to review escort allegations

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An independent Louisville affiliate has hired a law firm to review an escort’s allegations that former men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee hired dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring Thursday of the Stites & Harbison law firm. The foundation does fundraising for the university.

Louisville President James Ramsey also said Thursday he “fully” supports athletic director Tom Jurich “as we work to identify the facts in this situation.” Ramsey reiterated the school has hired former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt to lead the athletic department’s investigation.

Men’s basketball spokesman Kenny Klein had no comment on a CBS Sports report that former Cardinals recruit JaQuan Lyle, now an Ohio State freshman, confirmed the “gist of allegations” detailed in Katina Powell’s book during a meeting Tuesday with the NCAA.

Lyle originally signed with Louisville before de-committing and eventually landing with the Buckeyes. OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg confirmed the NCAA meeting via email on Wednesday but said there were no issues with Ohio State. He did not mention Louisville.

Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” was released online last weekend by a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. A hardcover version of the 104-page book is scheduled for release on Monday.

The book states that McGee hired Powell and other dancers, including three of her daughters, for 22 shows allegedly performed from 2010 to 2014 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 for Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on paid leave Friday. A message left Thursday with his Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, was not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for IBJ’s publishing arm could not be reached either.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said McGee denied Powell’s allegations. In a radio interview Tuesday he denied knowledge of what took place and said last week that others he talked to didn’t know about the activities described in the book.

“I’m going through 15 people who worked here, and not one person even had a premonition of something wrong,” Pitino said Friday. “Not one person living in the dorm had even the slightest premonition. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Hall of Fame coach wasn’t mentioned in Ramsey’s statement in which the chancellor praised Jurich’s athletic program as “exemplary” at the school.

“It is important that the university – all of us – stay focused on our day-to-day work of providing our outstanding students with a world-class education,” Ramsey said. “The investigation of the allegations may take time and we must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward.”