Chiefs supporters were not shy about approaching Kansas junior guard Devonté Graham for selfies and autographs during Sunday’s game against the New York Jets at Arrowhead Stadium.
Graham, a self-proclaimed Dallas Cowboys fan, basked in the NFL atmosphere so close to his college home.
“So many fans came up to me talking about Late Night, how they are going to be here at 12 (noon),” he said. “I asked them, ‘What time does Late Night start?’ They said we play at 6:30 (p.m.). I was like, ‘You are going to be here at 12?’
“It’s a big thing. It’s huge.”
Still several days away, Late Night in the Phog actually will start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks, who are into their second and final week of Boot Camp conditioning drills, had their first Late Night practice on Monday night.
“I think a lot of guys are nervous because you’ve got to dance in front of everybody. A lot of guys can’t dance and dancing in front of people is definitely nervewracking,” Graham said.
“I think Udoka (Azubuike) might be the one who is a little bit more nervous than everybody else right now. I think Josh Jackson and Malik (Newman) might be two of the worst (dancers) on the team right now. I was watching them (at practice). They didn’t look too good, not too much rhythm,” Graham added.
Late Night traditionally includes at least one dance number for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams and a skit or two.
“The dance team came up with a lot of it, because that’s just what they do,” Graham said. “We let them handle all our timing. We came up with a couple ideas that the group agreed to, two or three things and stuck with it.”
Late Night is designed as a big recruiting tool as well as a reward for the current players, who will finish their nine-day Boot Camp on Thursday.
“We’re definitely excited about Boot Camp being over, but Late Night is one of the best nights, especially for the younger guys,” Graham said.
Graham singled out freshman guard Jackson and freshman forward Mitch Lightfoot as faring well at Boot Camp 2016.
“Being vocal, using his voice to encourage guys,” Graham said of Lightfoot. “Mitch has a nice, good voice on him. He does surprise me. I didn’t expect him to be like that. Everybody is doing a good job pushing through, fighting through.”
Graham said in looking at the three Boot Camps he’s been through, “I always say the first one was the hardest. You never know what to expect. We also had the Marines come in that freshman year. Nothing can really compare to that Boot Camp right there. That might have been the hardest one.”
Late Night recruiting
KU’s current players have a big role in helping entertain the recruits Late Night weekend.
High school senior prospects who have said they will attend are: Collin Sexton, 6-1 point guard from Pebblebrook High in Mableton, Ga., ranked No. 7 nationally by Rivals.com; Billy Preston, 6-9 forward from Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va., ranked No. 8; Troy Brown, 6-6 shooting guard from Las Vegas Centennial, ranked No. 12; Cody Riley, 6-7 forward, Sierra Canyon High, Chatsworth, Calif., ranked No. 34 and Tremont Waters, 5-11 point guard from Notre Dame High in West Haven, Conn., ranked No. 36. Marcus Garrett, a 6-5 combo guard from Dallas Skyline, who has committed to KU, will attend on an unofficial visit. He’s ranked No. 37 overall.
“I definitely have some recruits I like better than others. (Some) you vibe with better than others or just like the way they play or act,” Graham said, speaking in generalities, not about the five who will be visiting. “It’s definitely tough to try to get guys here. When they travel to all the top colleges across the world it’s tough because they hear the same thing over and over.
“(KU’s) coaches ask us, ‘Do you think they’d fit in well with us?’ We tell them yes or no, what I like about them or don’t like.”
Jayhawks in NBA
Several Jayhawks in the NBA are going through their specific team’s Media Day this week. That includes rookies Perry Ellis (Charlotte) and Wayne Selden (Memphis).
“I think they have a great chance (to make teams),” Graham said. “Perry did four years (college); Wayne three. They got a lot of exposure. NBA guys really like them. I’ve been talking to them. Both said they’ve been getting good feedback and feel they’ve got a chance.”