LSU is reportedly out of the running for a top-10 talent.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported on Thursday night that Will Wade and staff are no longer pursuing Western Kentucky transfer Mitchell Robinson, a Louisiana native. Robinson was a consensus five-star recruit, rated No. 8 overall in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals.
He had signed to play at Western Kentucky and was on campus earlier this summer before leaving the program and school in late July. Several weeks prior, Western Kentucky assistant coach — and Robinson’s godfather — Shammond Williams resigned from his position.
The 7-foot McDonald’s All-American is set to visit Kansas this weekend, according to multiple reports. Because he enrolled in a session of summer courses at Western Kentucky he will likely need a waiver in order to compete this season. Skipping college altogether and playing professionally overseas is also a course of action for Robinson, who is projected to be a first round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Kansas’ already thin frontline took a hit Wednesday night when it came to light that Jack Whitman will not suit up for the Jayhawks.
Whitman, a transfer from William & Mary, will leave the Kansas program, according to multiple reports.
The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season for the Tribe before deciding to graduate transfer, committing to the Jayhawks in May.
“I know I can play with these guys, contribute and help us win games this year,” Whitman told the Kansas City Star last month.
Instead, the Jayhawks will have to make due with a frontcourt that will be lacking much depth. Udoka Azubuike is back after missing most of last year with an injury while Billy Preston and Mitch Lightfoot will also be expected to be contributors. Whitman wasn’t expected to put up huge numbers for the Jayhawks, but his departure does leave them vulnerable should injury or foul trouble find the Kansas big men at some point.
As the KC Star points out, though, Kansas is in contention to land top recruit Marvin Bagley, who is considering classifying to 2017, a class in which Kansas now has an open scholarship that could conceivably go to the 6-foot-10 five-star prospect.
The Border War between Kansas and Missouri has not been played since the Tigers left the Big 12 for greener football pastures in the SEC in 2012.
Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk wants the rivalry to be renewed. Kansas head coach Bill Self has deflected those questions, previously stating, “… that’s a decision that will be made at a university level, not just at a basketball level.”
On Thursday, former Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin blamed the Self and his “big ego” for not restarting the Border War, stating that an offer was on the table for a football game between the Tigers and Jayhawks to be played at Arrowhead Stadium.
Self, the soon-to-be Hall of Fame coach, responded to those claims later that day in a text message to Matthew Galloway of the Topeka Capital-Journal:
“Tell the ex-Missouri chancellor that I coach basketball, not football,” Self wrote in a text message to The Capital-Journal. “That we would never play a game in Arrowhead or even discuss it. It’s too cold. We play our games indoors. But (I) look forward to meeting him someday if he’s ever in Lawrence.”
These comments serve as nothing more than as a deflection and Self’s disinterest in reigniting the series with Mizzou.
But it’s important that Missouri is aggressively pursuing this. There’s plenty of hype surrounding the program right now: Cuonzo Martin taking over the program, projected top pick Michael Porter, Jr. committing to the Tigers, ticket sales up, etc. If that hype can be turned into on the court success, you’d have to imagine Sterk’s pursuit of this annual game only intensifies.
Kansas’ attempt for a 14th consecutive Big 12 title, and run for Bill Self’s second national title, got a shot in the arm Wednesday.
Svi Mykhailiuk announced that he will return to Lawrence for his final season of eligibility. “Senior year going to be fun,” he wrote on his Instagram page.
The Jayhawks were already going to be loaded this season with Devonte Graham, a potential All-American, returning for his senior season and Udoka Azubuike healthy after missing last year due to injury along with Malik Newman becoming eligible after a transfer from Mississippi State and recruits Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett bolstering the ranks. The return of Mykhailiuk, though, only solidifies Kansas’ place not only atop the Big 12, but in the country.
Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-8 forward, had something of a breakthrough season as a junior, posting career highs nearly across the board, including shooting 39.8 percent on nearly five 3-point shot attempts per game. With his size and shooting ability, Mykhailiuk was sure to garner professional interest, even though it would have been more likely than not he would been drafted in the second round of next month’s draft.
Mykhailiuk’s situation is certainly a unique one for college basketball as the Ukraine native enrolled at Kansas in 2014 just after his 17th birthday. He won’t turn 20 until next month, making him the same age as many sophomores and more likely to be viewed by NBA teams in the future as having upside, rather than a typical 22- or 23-year-old senior who scouts look at as having come close to reaching their ceiling.
Mykhailiuk wasn’t going to be the linchpin of Kansas’ success next season, but his decision to return shouldn’t be underestimated. His size, experience, skill and versatility provide the Jayhawks with a real weapon that will help alleviate pressure and expectations from other players up and down the roster. He’s very much a difference-maker for a team that will be contending for a spot in the Final Four.
Kansas freshman forward Josh Jackson was in court on Wednesday, pleading not guilty to criminal property damage stemming from an incident outside a Lawrence bar back in December.
Jackson was charged with misdemeanor criminal damage in late February for damages he allegedly caused to the vehicle of a Kansas women’s basketball player. According to the affidavit, McKenzie Calvert had thrown a drink into the face of KU guard Legerald Vick, her ex-boyfriend. This led to Jackson following her outside where witnesses told authorities that Jackson damaged a tail light and door of Calvert’s car. The estimated cost of repair exceeded $1,100.
According to Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star, Jackson is due back in court on May 24. That is the same date as the deadline for entry in the 2017 NBA Draft. Jackson, a projected top-3 pick, has not announced his decision to either go pro or return to Kansas for his sophomore season.
Jackson’s attorney is expected to file for diversion, which is a rehabilitation program for a criminal offender. Completion of this deal would mean Jackson would avoid conviction and a criminal record.
Kansas freshman Udoka Azubuike remains on the road to recovery.
The 7-footer had surgery Tuesday to remove the screw from the injured wrist that sidelined him for his first season in Lawrence, Jayhawks coach Bill Self told the Lawrence Journal-World.
“He’s gonna be very limited the next couple weeks,” Self said. “But then he’ll be right back into full rehab.
“He’s been doing all kinds of rehab with his wrist and he’s been doing basketball activity, but just non-contact. We don’t expect him to have contact until June, but all indications are that he is right on schedule.
“He’s gotta take a couple weeks off from doing that stuff to allow the sutures to heal and that kind of stuff. After that, then he’s back on and we’ll become more aggressive with his rehab, but he’s still non-contact until June.”
Azubuike played in 11 games, starting six, last season before damaging his wrist in practice in December and shutting down his season, watching from the bench as the Jayhawks won their 13th-straight Big 12 regular season title and advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to Oregon.
He averaged 5.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in just under 13 minutes per game in his abbreviated freshman season. A healthy Azubuike, a top-50 player in the 2016 class, figures to have a major role this upcoming season for the Jayhawks, who will once again be favored to win the Big 12 and compete for a national title in 2017-18.