LAWRENCE — On Saturday morning, a few hours before the Kansas football team plays Oklahoma at Memorial Stadium, Bill Self will open Allen Fieldhouse for a public practice and basketball scrimmage.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
The doors open at 9 a.m., the scrimmage is slated to run from 9:45 to 11 a.m., and thousands are expected to stream into the venerable old Fieldhouse for another look at the Jayhawks’ young squad.
Oh, and one more thing … two of the top five senior recruits in the country will be on campus for their official visits. Chicago center Jahlil Okafor, the nation’s top recruit, and Minnesota guard Tyus Jones, Rivals’ No. 5 overall player, are both taking official visits to Kansas this weekend, according to Rivals.
That Okafor and Jones are on campus together is no coincidence. They’ve grown close through the years while playing together with USA Basketball. And both have been staunch in their declaration that they will attend the same school next year.
And while coaches are prohibited from discussing the recruitment of specific players, the timing of Saturday’s open practice is probably not a coincidence either. And if it is, well, it’s a bit of really fortunate happenstance.
Okafor and Jones could not take their KU visit during the weekend of Late Night in the Phog, when more than 20,000 Kansas fans lined up outside Allen Fieldhouse to watch a night of dancing and scrimmaging on Oct. 4. So Self and Kansas are playing host to another open scrimmage that figures to draw in thousands.
“We didn’t show much at all during Late Night (in the Phog) other than 20 minutes of bad ball,” Self said earlier this month. “This way KU fans can come see us before heading to the football game.”
Kansas landed the first commitment of its 2014 class on Oct. 8, when shooting guard Kelly Oubre, Rivals’ No. 12 overall recruit, picked the Jayhawks after visiting on Late Night.
For now, Okafor has reportedly focused his attention on a group of schools that includes Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky. Jones, meanwhile, is still considering Baylor, Duke, Kansas and home-state school Minnesota. Earlier this week, he told Rivals.com that he'd like to decide by early November.
"I grew up a big Kansas fan," Jones said. "When I was younger, I was a big Kansas fan. Kansas has always been a school that I liked and Kansas has always been a school that I've cheered for -- so I think that's what sticks out to me."
Okafor and Jones have already taken a co-visit to Baylor in late September, and Baylor coach Scott Drew pulled out all the stops. The coach, according to Jones’ official blog, arranged a feeding with some live Bears that apparently live on campus. Self will probably keep the Fieldhouse free of live animals during KU’s open scrimmage. But a few thousand Kansas fans showing up for a practice seems like a solid substitute. (Okafor and Jones also plan on visiting Duke, according to Rivals.)
Here is video of Okafor, a 6-foot-10 senior from Whitney Young High School in Chicago.
Here is video of Jones, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Apple Valley High in Apple Valley, Minn.
To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/rustindodd.