Kelly Kline/Under Armour

Kelly Oubre Sr.: ‘Coach Self doesn’t kick you out if you are not ready’

Leave a comment

Kelly Oubre committed to Kansas on Tuesday afternoon, picking the Jayhawks over what many believed to be Kentucky and … well, only Kentucky.

A 6-foot-7 wing that can score, defend and really, really shoot the ball, there are some that believe that Oubre could end up being one of the best long-term NBA prospects in the Class of 2014. The Jayhawks recruited him to fill the void left by Andrew Wiggins, but Oubre could very well end up following in Wiggins’ footsteps, spending one season in Lawrence before heading on to the league.

Oubre’s father, Kelly Oubre Sr., shared his thoughts on the one-and-done rule and the reasons his son chose Kansas with Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Courier-Journal on Tuesday (emphasis mine):

There’s a chance Oubre will stay at KU more than one season.

“If it calls for that, yes, I could,” Oubre Jr. said. “I have no problem with that. If the time’s right and I’m ready to come out, I’d do that.”

The elder Oubre, who is a special-education teacher, said: “That’s one of the reasons behind choosing Kansas. Coach Self doesn’t kick you out if you are not ready. I don’t care too much for it (one-and-done) because if you look at it over the last couple drafts, the success of the guys one-and-done is few and far between. Every once in a while you find guys who can make it through. I’m more concerned about his education after maybe a two-year stint or three-year stint. How close is he to that degree and having a greater business mind going into the next level, whatever that is?” added Oubre Sr. “I think the first year in college as well as the pros, maybe two, is a learning curve. That learning curve can be cut considerably if he stayed and developed in college.”

Reading between the lines, that comes off as a not-so-subtle shot at John Calipari, the coach that lost the Oubre sweepstakes. If it was, it would be wrong — Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, etc. — but I also don’t think that Oubre Sr. was actually taking a swipe at Coach Cal.

I think he was simply making the point that Bill Self’s bread and butter are the kids that come in and play for two or three years. Self may be the best in the country when it comes to developing talent. And Oubre Sr. is an educator. He teaches special-education, which is the kind of career that makes it very easy to appreciate the value of school.

My point: I think Oubre Sr. was trying to say he likes Bill Self because Self wants guys there for two or three seasons. I don’t think he was implying that he dislikes John Calipari because he thinks Coach Cal only wants his son for one season. There’s a difference. Oubre Sr. tried to clarify that point to Kentucky Sports Radio yesterday:

“It was not a statement at all in reference to Kentucky. Eight schools were in the running for my son. The media turned into the big two. But some of the other schools were talking about one and done but Calipari was not one of them. Me and Calipari share the same view on the one and done situation. We both don’t think it is a good idea.”

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
Leave a comment

Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Leave a comment

Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.