Conner Teahan’s living his dream, but would trade it for one thing


LAWRENCE, Kan. – Conner Teahan is living the dream.

He grew up a mere 30 minutes from the University of Kansas in Leewood, KS, and, like most people that grow up a mere 30 minutes from Lawrence, he’s been a lifelong, diehard Jayhawks fan.

“There aren’t going to be many bigger KU fans than I was. I’d be crying when they lost,” Teahan said with a laugh after scoring five points in a 64-54 win over Texas A&M at Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night. “Whenever I thought about what I wanted to do in college, the number one priority was play basketball at KU. That’s all I wanted to do and I got the opportunity to.”

Every kid grows up with a dream like that.

Whether it’s playing centerfield for the Yankees, starting at quarterback for the Packers or tending goal for the Canadiens, we all go to sleep at night with visions of stardom in our head. For Teahan, that vision was stepping foot on James Naismith Court and raining threes while 16,000 fans clad in red and blue belted out the legendary “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” chant.

But unlike most of us, Teahan was able to see that dream become a reality. After playing mostly mop-up minutes in his first three years as a walk-on in Bill Self’s program and redshirting last season, Teahan has finally gotten his chance. He’s the sixth-man for Kansas this year, the first guard off the bench and a sharp-shooter brought in to help spread the floor and keep defenses from collapsing on the leading candidate for national player of the year. He’s averaging 7.1 ppg and 20.8 mpg this season. And despite a shooting slump of late, hitting just five of his last 23 attempts from beyond the arc, he’s still knocking down threes at a 37.3 percent clip.

It’s tough to imagine life being better for Teahan, who has already completed his finance degree and is currently working on a degree in accounting.

So why does he wish he was still riding the bench?


Conner Teahan had options. He didn’t have to walk-on at Kansas. He was a decorated high school athlete, a two-sport star that was good enough to hold scholarship offers in both basketball and football, where he was a 6-5 quarterback.

“I had scholarship offers. I was pretty much Missouri Valley,” Teahan said. “I was going to go to Wichita State when Mark Turgeon was there. I was going to also play football. I was thinking about maybe going to K-State or Missouri, but I couldn’t do it. I just like KU too much.”

Teahan isn’t a typical walk-on, either. He’s what’s known as a preferred walk-on. When he decided to go to Kansas, his spot on the team was already guaranteed. He didn’t have to tryout in the fall like the other guys that lead the cheers and wave the towels at the end of the bench. The only difference between Teahan and the myriad of top 50 recruits that Self brings in every season is that Teahan wasn’t going to be getting his education paid for.

But Teahan also knew that being a preferred walk-on wasn’t exactly a guarantee of playing time. Preferred walk-ons are commonplace in college hoops, but preferred walk-ons are still walk-ons. They are rarely part of the rotation of a powerhouse program without having some kind of back story. Jarvis Varnado, who was an all-conference center at Mississippi State, gave up his scholarship so that Rick Stansbury could bring in Renardo Sidney. Taylor Rochestie, who played at Washington State, and Nick Sidorakis, who played at Oklahoma State, both gave up their scholarships as seniors to avoid having a player that was recruited have to walk-on or transfer. Louisville’s Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith are both walk-ons and starters.

And, of course, there’s Andre Drummond. Drummond was the nation’s top recruit. Teahan was going to Wichita State.

“He’s never had the chance to play,” Self said. “He’s been a good player, but he’s been just good enough not to play because we’ve had so many good players.”

It’s kind of overwhelming when you look at the amount of talent that has gone through Lawrence during Teahan’s time as a Jayhawk. Ten players have gone on to play in the NBA, and that doesn’t include Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor or Jeff Withey, who all have a chance to make the league when they are done with their college eligibility.

It puts Teahan in a bit of an awkward situation. Here he is, the elder statesmen on the roster at 23 years old, but how much of a leader can he be when his goals are so different than that of so many of his teammates.

“Not too many of these guys are doing what I’m doing,” Teahan said. “When I try to motivate and lead or if one of my teammates is down, I try to cheer them back up by saying ‘man, we gotta get it right because time flies by so fast’. I just tell them about my experience, how fast five years have gone by. You don’t ever know when you’re going to be done with basketball.”

“I’m going to be done with basketball as soon as the season’s over. I won’t ever be playing basketball again. I just made up my mind on that. I’m not going to try and go with the overseas route or anything like that. You gotta get it your all every single day, I try to set that example in the locker room.”

So why do it?

“This is something that I always wanted to do,” he explained. “I’m just happy that I got the opportunity to play right now.”


Generally speaking, when a player redshirts in college, they do it as a freshmen.

Maybe they aren’t quite ready to contribute at the college level or maybe the depth on the roster means that he wouldn’t see time in the rotation. Instead of wasting a year of eligibility, he gets stashed on the bench, spending a year developing whatever aspect of his game is holding him back.

Teahan did things differently. He was eligible his first three season, but in what would have been his senior year, he realized that he wasn’t going to be getting any playing time. Instead of toiling away his final year of college buried on the bench, Teahan opted to take his redshirt and see in things would be better this season.

“That was our plan,” Self said. “We talked about it and he was like ‘Coach, if I can’t be in the rotation, let me sit out and then I could hopefully be in the rotation next year’. That’s been our plan with him.”

He wasn’t alone, either. Three of the starters on this year’s team are redshirts.

“We’ve had so much depth that Withey and Releford and Teahan are all redshirts. That’s been good for us,” Self said.

That decision ended up being a blessing for the Jayhawks when the NCAA’s ruling on Ben McLemore, Jamari Traylor and Braedon Anderson came down. (McLemore and Traylor have remained with the Kansas program, but Anderson is now sitting out at Fresno State.) Without those three in the fold, Kansas lost their safety net. the depth that has defined this Kansas program for so long was suddenly gone, thrusting Teahan into the spotlight.

Teahan was finally going to play. He was finally going to be a key member of this team, playing important minutes for one of the best teams in the country.

But if Teahan could have his way, he would be back on the bench.

“To be honest with you, if Ben McLemore was able to play, I probably wouldn’t be playing right now,” Teahan said. “That’s just how it is. I feel absolutely terrible with what’s happened to Ben and he would make our team better. So I’m sitting here like I want him to be able to play. I want to be in a position where I have to beat him or Travis out. It’s very unfortunate what’s happened to them, because Ben and Jamari would be a great addition to our team.”

“But I’m reaping the benefits a little bit and I’m now able to do something that I’ve dreamed about doing. Then again, they would have helped our team out a lot.”

That’s how much Teahan cares about this Kansas program.

He’s living out a dream he’s had since he knew what basketball was but he would trade it all to make his team better.

If that doesn’t define what a team player should be, than I don’t know what does.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

LSU’s Mulkey senses reunion in trip to Texas for Final Four

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DALLAS – Kim Mulkey is returning to Texas for another Final Four, keenly aware that her LSU Tigers will play a short road trip from the school she made synonymous with women’s basketball.

Mulkey is the third coach to take multiple schools to the Final Four, doing so in her second season back in her home state of Louisiana after leading Baylor to the national semifinals four times in 21 seasons.

The Bears won three national championships under Mulkey, combined for 23 regular-season and tournament titles in the Big 12 Conference and made the NCAA Tournament in all but one of her seasons.

“You never spend 21 years of your life building a dynasty, and that’s what we did at Baylor. I think we can all agree with that,” Mulkey said Tuesday. “I still have a home there. My grandchildren are there. So my heart will always be there.”

Mulkey and the Tigers (33-2) will face first-time Final Four qualifier Virginia Tech (31-4) in the opener Friday night in Dallas, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Mulkey’s former college home in Waco. Defending champion South Carolina (36-0) plays Iowa (30-6) in the late game.

Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer took three teams to the Final Four, and Gary Blair made it that far with two.

Blair’s second was Texas A&M in 2011, when he won an Elite Eight showdown with Mulkey at American Airlines Center. Five years later in Dallas, the Bears again fell one win short of the Final Four.

Mulkey is back in Dallas with a new team after a 54-42 Elite Eight victory over Miami.

“There will be Baylor people sitting in my section that are heartbroken that I left,” Mulkey said. “I get it. Someday when I’m retired, maybe I’ll write another book and have more details, but I love Baylor University, the fans there, the Lady Bear fans there. But it was time. Timing is everything in life.”

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has fonder memories of the home of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. The Gamecocks won their first national title there five years ago, beating Mississippi State after the Bulldogs ended Connecticut’s 111-game winning streak in the semifinals.

“Dallas, it will be etched in my memory forever,” said Staley, whose team – the No. 1 overall seed – earned a return trip with an 86-75 victory over Maryland. “I remember vividly the police escorts. I remember our fans. I remember UConn losing. That was a huge moment in college women’s basketball.”

Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks is a Dallas Cowboys fan, so he remembers seeing star quarterback Dak Prescott in the stands five years ago rooting for his alma mater, Mississippi State.

Prescott remembers the “huge moment” to which Staley referred. His reaction to Morgan William’s buzzer-beating game-winner in overtime made the rounds on social media five years ago.

“That was a surreal moment,” Brooks said. “But my surreal moment was last night.”

That’s when the No. 1 seed Hokies beat Ohio State 84-74 to reach their first Final Four in Brooks’ seventh season. Iowa, which beat Louisville 97-83 in the Elite Eight, has advanced this far for the first time since 1993, when Stringer became the first coach to lead multiple teams to the Final Four.

Stringer had done it with Cheyney in the inaugural tournament season of 1982, and after the Iowa trip, she went twice more with Rutgers in 2000 and 2007.

“She called me immediately after we beat Louisville,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “In fact, she was my first voice message I got that night. I know coach Stringer is behind us. I haven’t been able to get back to her yet, but I will soon.”

Mulkey’s Bears were one of the top seeds in 2017, hoping to chase a title just up the road from their Waco campus. Mississippi State beat Baylor in overtime in the Elite Eight before the OT thriller against UConn.

The Tigers are this deep in the tournament for the first time since the last of five consecutive Final Four appearances in 2008, all of which ended in the semifinals.

Mulkey was asked if she felt the burden of living up to those glory years.

“We’ve already done that,” said Mulkey, who has now reached the NCAA Tournament in 19 consecutive seasons as a coach. “Winning a national championship will only put an exclamation mark on it. We have exceeded probably what anybody could just realistically say was possible this quickly.”

Black female athletes: Having Black female coach is crucial

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South Carolina senior guard Brea Beal knew she could trust Dawn Staley before she even suited up for the Gamecocks.

It wasn’t just Staley’s coaching accolades, which include fueling South Carolina’s meteoric rise in women’s basketball, that sold Beal. Beal knew that Staley – a Black woman like her – would best understand how to guide her as she navigated both life and playing basketball on a big stage.

“People that were telling me what this community was about, I know it’s somewhere I wanted to be,” Beal said. “As soon as I got here, she definitely led me down a journey so I could find out who I am.”

Black female representation in the coaching and sports administrative ranks has existed on a minute scale – even in a sport like basketball, which along with track and field has the highest concentration of Black female college athletes. Black female players who have been coached by a Black woman told The Associated Press that it was crucial to their development.

“There are some coaches who will just have all guys with no understanding that there are sometimes things that a young woman may need to talk to another woman about,” said Kiki Barnes, a former basketball player and jumper at New Orleans and current Gulf Coast Athletic Conference commissioner.

While the number of women coaching women’s sports has increased in the past decade, Black women continue to lag behind most other groups. During the 2021-22 school year, 399 Black women coached women’s NCAA sports teams in Divisions I, II and III, compared with 3,760 white women and 5,236 white men.

In women’s NCAA basketball, a sport made up of 30% Black athletes, Black women made up 12% of head coaches across all divisions during the 2021-22 season, according to the NCAA’s demographics database.

Fourteen Black women led women’s basketball teams across 65 Power Five programs this past season – up one from 2021. That’s less than 22% of the total in a sport that was played by more Black athletes (40.7%) than any other race in Division I, according to a report with data from the 2020-21 season.

For the first time in a decade, four Black coaches advanced to the Sweet 16 of the women’s basketball tournament, including Staley, who said she believes it’s more popular to hire a woman at “this stage of the game.”

“And it’s not to say that I’m going to sit here and male bash, because we have a lot of male coaches who have been in our game for decades upon decades,” said Staley, who will lead her team into the Final Four this weekend. “But I will say that giving women an opportunity to coach women and helping women navigate through life like they have navigated through life will allow your student-athletes a different experience than having a male coach.”

For years Staley has been an advocate for hiring more female coaches – especially minorities – in college basketball, but WNBA player Angel McCoughtry said Black female coaches as successful as Staley are still too few and far between in the sport.

“When I was getting recruited in high school, I don’t remember having a Dawn Staley to look up to,” said McCoughtry, who played at Louisville from 2005-09.

McCoughtry also named Carolyn Peck, the first African American woman to coach her team to an NCAA women’s basketball title in 1999 with Purdue, as another example of representation in the sport.

“So there’s one or two every decade,” McCoughtry said. “Why can’t we have 10? There’s 10 Caucasian coaches every decade.”

McCoughtry, a former No. 1 overall pick by the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, got used to being around people who didn’t look like or understand her. She is Black. Her AAU and high school coaches were Black men. Her college coaches were white men. Marynell Meadors, a white woman, was her first coach in Atlanta.

She has fielded frustrating questions from white peers, coaches and owners – like how often she washes her hair, or whether her passionate play was because she was from Baltimore.

“There’s just a disconnect in understanding things,” the 36-year-old said, adding: “We need more coaches to protect us.”

McCoughtry has never had a Black female head coach but did have the impactful guidance of Michelle Clark-Heard, a Black woman whom Jeff Walz brought on as an assistant when he took over at Louisville in 2008.

She also leaned on Tim Eaton, a Black assistant coach who she said advocated for her in her freshman year, when then-coach Tom Collen wanted to send her back to Baltimore because she was late to one of her first practices. Similarly, McCoughtry said, she felt she had less room to make mistakes than white teammates. When she questioned a coach, she was labeled a troublemaker; when she got fired up about a play, she was told she had a bad attitude.

“We just never had any inch to be human, like our Caucasian counterparts,” she said, adding: “But who understands that? Our Black coaches. Because they went through everything we went through. They have a story, too.”

Part of the reason for the lack of Black female coaches is because of who ultimately holds the power to hire, Barnes said. That’s often athletic directors, a level where there is an even greater lack of diversity – 224 of 350 in Division I are white men. Plus, she added, there are changing requirements for what it takes to get leadership opportunities.

“And now the system has changed to where now you’ve got to know search firms because now search firms are the ones that are managing and determining who gets these opportunities,” she said. “Every time we understand how to get in the room and what it takes to be prepared, it’s like the rules change.”

Barnes played high school basketball in her hometown of Minden, Louisiana, where she had an assistant coach who was a Black woman; Barnes still refers to her as “Coach Smith.”

“For her, it wasn’t just about basketball. It was about who I was as a young lady,” Barnes recalled, adding, “I would say it’s similar with a young woman wanting to talk to a mom about womanly things. It’s not that a man couldn’t do it, but I wouldn’t feel as comfortable talking to either my dad or any other man about woman things.”

Priscilla Loomis, a 2016 Olympic high jumper who is Black, said she became a coach to provide kids that look like her the representation the sport has lacked. NCAA track and field numbers mirrored women’s basketball numbers in 2021-22: 5% of head coaches were Black women, while 19% of women’s NCAA track and field athletes are Black.

“They want so badly to feel seen and to feel loved and to be given guidance,” Loomis said. “And so that’s why I always say it’s important to get women of color, men of color to the starting line, because a lot of times we’re so many steps behind.”

Auburn’s top ’22 hoops signee, Traore, plans to transfer

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AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn’s top signee from last year, center Yohan Traore, plans to transfer.

The five-star recruit from France, who played a limited role as a freshman, announced his plans in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-10 Traore initially committed to LSU but landed at Auburn after the firing of coach Will Wade a little more than a year ago. He was rated the No. 24 overall recruit and No. 5 center according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Traore averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds after arriving from Dream City Christian School in Arizona.

Traore was a member of the U15 and U16 French National Team.

He played nine minutes in Auburn’s opening NCAA Tournament game against Iowa. Traore failed to score and didn’t play in the second-round loss to Houston.

Unbeaten Gamecocks, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark star in women’s Final Four


SEATTLE ⁠— An undefeated South Carolina team led by star Aliyah Boston and guided by vaunted Dawn Staley, an Iowa squad that features high-scoring Caitlin Clark and the return of LSU and flashy coach Kim Mulkey headline the women’s Final Four this weekend.

Virginia Tech is the newcomer to the group as the Hokies are making their first appearance in the national semifinals. Hokies coach Kenny Brooks became the third Black male coach to take a team to the Final Four in women’s basketball history.

All of the women’s basketball world will descend on Dallas this week as the Division I, II and III championships will be held there. It’s only the second time that all three divisions will have their title games in the same place.

Staley and the Gamecocks are looking to become the 10th team to go through a season unbeaten and the first to repeat as champions since UConn won four in a row from 2013-16. South Carolina advanced to its third consecutive national semifinals and fifth since 2015 thanks to another superb effort by Boston, the reigning AP Player of the Year. The three-time All-American had 22 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Maryland on Monday night.

Next up for the Gamecocks is Iowa and the sensational Clark. She helped the Hawkeyes reach their first Final Four in 30 years with a game for the ages in the regional semifinals on Sunday night. The junior guard had the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA history in the win over Louisville.

The Gamecocks have the experience edge having reached the Final Four so often with this group. No one on Iowa’s roster was alive the last time the team advanced to the game’s biggest stage. C. Vivian Stringer was the coach of that team in 1993 that reached the Final Four before losing to Ohio State in overtime.

“It is like a storybook, but it’s kind of been like that for us all year long,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I mean, we have had — honestly, we keep talking about destiny and how it’s supposed to happen and it is happening. But I’m so happy for Caitlin. I can remember sitting in her living room and her saying, I want to go to a Final Four. And I’m saying, We can do it together. And she believed me. And so I’m very thankful for that.”

The other game will pit LSU against Virginia Tech. The Tigers are making their first trip to the national semifinals since 2008 when Sylvia Fowles dominated the paint. Now LSU is led by another stellar post player in Angel Reese.

She broke Fowles’ record for double-doubles in a season earlier this year and was key in the Tigers’ win over Miami in the Elite Eight.

Reese, who transferred in this season from Maryland, has made Mulkey’s second season at the school a special one. She came to LSU with a resume headlined by three NCAA titles from her time at Baylor along with some flamboyant sideline looks such as her silver-shimmering jacket with white pants that she wore in the Elite Eight game Sunday.

“What really makes me smile is not cutting that net down,” Mulkey said. “It’s looking around out there at all those LSU people, looking at that team I get to coach experience it for the first time.”

LSU’s opponent is also making its first appearance at the Final Four. The Hokies have had the best season in school history, winning the ACC crown as well under Brooks. He joined former Syracuse Quentin Hillsman and Cheyney State’s Winthrop “Windy” McGriff.

The significance has not been lost on Brooks, who hopes he can inspire other Black male coaches to get more opportunities.

The Hokies run to the national semifinals has been led by star post Elizabeth Kitley and sharpshooter Georgia Amoore. The pair combined for 49 points in the win over Ohio State in the Elite Eight.

Tar Heels’ Caleb Love plans to enter name in transfer portal

caleb love transfer portal
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North Carolina guard Caleb Love says he will enter his name into the transfer portal after three seasons with the Tar Heels.

The 6-foot-4 Love announced his decision with a social media post Monday. He had big moments during an unexpected run to last year’s national championship game though he also wrestled with inconsistency for most of his college career.

At his best, Love has game-changing scoring potential and is fearless in taking a big shot. That included scoring 28 points with a huge late 3-pointer to help the Tar Heels beat Duke in the Final Four for the first NCAA Tournament meeting between the rivals and the final game for Blue Devils Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.

This season he led the team by averaging 16.7 points. but his shooting percentages all dipped after showing gains in 2022. He never shot 40% from the field for a season and twice failed to shoot 30% on 3s.

UNC returns Armando Bacot, the program’s career leading rebounder and an Associated Press third-team All-American, and guard R.J. Davis at the core of an expected roster revamp. That comes after the Tar Heels became the first team to go from No. 1 in the AP preseason poll to missing the NCAA Tournament since it expanded to 64 teams in 1985.