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Kansas releases official statement regarding corruption trial verdict

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The University of Kansas released an official statement after Wednesday’s guilty verdicts were passed down during the college basketball corruption trial in New York. During the trial, Kansas men’s basketball, including head coach Bill Self, assistant coach Kurtis Townsend and current and former Jayhawks, were brought up in testimony.

Earlier on Wednesday, the school announced that sophomore Silvio de Sousa will be held out of competition due to eligibility concerns after being a key part of the trial.

De Sousa was connected when former Adidas AAU coach and bag man T.J. Gassnola testified that he agreed to pay De Sousa’s guardian, Fenny Falmagne, $20,000, so Falmagne could reimburse a Maryland booster that had already paid him.

Texts and transcripts revealed during the trial between Kansas staff and Gassnola appear to make the school at least aware that Gassnola was speaking with Falmagne. Adidas and Kansas had recently agreed to a 12-year, $191 million apparel contract.

Since this college basketball corruption trial is only the first in a series of three major trials, the Kansas statement from Chancellor Douglas A. Girod and Director of Athletics Jeffrey P. Long isn’t saying much with regard to how Kansas will handle the future. The statement does mention that the Adidas and Kansas sponsorship deal remains intact despite Adidas representatives being on trial throughout this process.

Most importantly, Kansas is still supporting everyone involved in the trial, as it doesn’t appear anyone is in any kind of trouble quite yet.

From the Kansas statement:

While that work continues, we remain fully supportive of our student-athletes, our coaches and our men’s basketball program. Coach Self and Kansas Athletics are committed to maintaining a culture of compliance, and we will continue these efforts. Kansas Athletics has been, and will continue to be, committed to excellence and integrity.

The Kansas statement is likely to be a model for how many other schools will follow these trials. There are still two more cases to play out in 2019. The NCAA hasn’t even gotten involved with anything yet.

So we’re still a long time away from any potential issues for these schools from a penalty standpoint. With new information likely to come out in those two cases as well, we still have to wait to sift through all of this to figure out the final ramifications.

For now, De Sousa is being held out of competition, and it is unclear when, or how, he might clear his name to return.

VIDEO: Bill Self parodies Matthew McConaughey at Kansas Late Night at the Phog

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Kansas head coach parodied actor Matthew McConaughey during an entertaining Late Night at the Phog ceremony on Friday night.

McConaughey has been doing the often-parodied Lincoln car commercials for several years now, as Self took the format to trumpet the Kansas Big 12 title streak and recent Final Four appearances. In the mock ad, Self discusses positives of the Jayhawk program before searching for his whistle, looking all over the car amongst a sea of trophies, rings and medals.

The video is a little over three minutes, and it’s a simple reminder of all of the success Self has achieved during his time in Lawrence.

Besides for Self’s Hollywood moment, rapper 2 Chainz had a performance for the sold-out crowd while the preseason No. 1 team in the country also got in a brief scrimmage.

From a basketball standpoint, it is interesting to point out that returning Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike might have an improved free-throw stroke. As Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star pointed out, Self was praising Azubuike’s improved form at the line, as he’s hoping to see the junior improve from his 41 percent from the charity stripe as a sophomore.

Azubuike attempted 109 free throws last season, so if he increased his percentages into the 60s, then it would help himself and the Jayhawks quite a bit.

Kansas puts together another loaded non-conference schedule

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Kansas, perhaps the preseason No. 1 team in college basketball next season, will also have one of the nation’s best non-conference schedules. The Jayhawks officially released the dates for their non-conference games late last week as it includes high-major heavyweights and some talented conference regular-season champions.

The season opens on Nov. 6 with a matchup in Indianapolis against Michigan State in the Champions Classic before the Jayhawks enter the Preseason NIT. The opening home games are against Vermont and Louisiana before Kansas potentially plays Louisville, Marquette or Tennessee in Brooklyn.

Stanford and defending national champion Villanova will also travel to Lawrence while Kansas will host New Mexico State in Kansas City. And a return trip to Arizona State, after the Sun Devils beat Kansas at home last season, will also be on the radar on Dec. 22.

With a lot of talent transfers and a deep freshman class, Kansas becoming an intriguing potential No. 1 team when senior Lagerald Vick surprisingly returned to the team after opting out of the 2018 NBA Draft. Kansas has the depth and overall talent to be a national champion this season. This non-conference schedule will be a good indicator of what this team’s ceiling might be with a lot of early challenges.

Report: Kansas and Missouri working on exhibition matchup for this month

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The Border War may be making a return to college basketball. Sort of.

Kansas and Missouri are in talks to faceoff on the basketball court later this month, but in an exhibition to raise money for hurricane relief efforts, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday.

The game would be played Oct. 22, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, but needs a waiver from the NCAA to proceed, the Post-Dispatch reported.

If the two programs are able to get this done, it would appear to be a major step forward to actually seeing these long-time conference rivals return to actually playing real games against each other. They haven’t shared a court since the Tigers left the Big 12 for the SEC in 2012. The Jayhawks lead the all-time series, which dates back to 1907, 172-95.

Kansas coach Bill Self, who has not been in favor of playing his easterly neighbor, said this past summer he thought the two schools would eventually face off again.

“I’m sure there will be a time where Kansas and Missouri play again. I don’t know when that time will be,” Self said in July, according to the Kansas City Star.

It didn’t seem like anything was moving toward a reunion this summer this summer, though.

“I certainly don’t have any ill feelings toward our bordering state or school at all,” Self said. “But I’m not interested in doing what’s best for Missouri. That doesn’t interest me at all, just like they are not interested in doing what’s best for Kansas. I’m interested in doing what’s best for us.

“Certainly I think my athletic director and my new chancellor, I’m sure they feel the same way. If it’s best for us to play them, then I’m sure we’ll play. That will be a decision by more than just me.”

It would seem there’s momentum to get this done, and for a good cause. Hopefully it clears the way for these two to reignite a great rivalry with regular on-campus games in the near future.

Bill Self responds to comments from ex-Mizzou chancellor

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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.

Self pays freshman Jackson a major compliment

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Freshman phenom production under Bill Self has been something of a contentious topic. Many fault the coach, who has won one national title and 12-straight Big 12 championships, for not developing one-and-done talent to their fullest potential during their single-season stays in Lawrence. Cliff Alexander and Cheick Diallo are Exhibit 1-A and 1-B for this argument in recent years.

Whatever outside criticism there is (Andrew Wiggins did go No. 1 overall just 2 years ago, after all), Self isn’t shying away from hyping the latest freshman with big expectations to come to KU. When asked who the greatest athlete of all-time is at the school’s annual Tradition Night last week, Self had a simple, if tongue-and-cheek, response.

“I’ll say Josh Jackson,” Self said of the the 6-foot-8 shooting guard ranked No. 1 in his class, according to Lawrence Journal-World.

With others answering with the likes of Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, it’s pretty fair to say Self was playing to the crowd with the answer, but it’s still telling that he was willing to deliver such a sound bite, even if it was before a welcoming audience. Self didn’t try to seriously depress expectations for Wiggins, a player Jackson is often compared to, and it looks like he won’t for Jackson as well.

Jackson, though, won’t have the burden Wiggins had as there’s one of the country’s best backcourts in Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham to help shoulder the workload for the Jayhawks.