ESPN analyst/former St. John’s, New Mexico and Manhattan head coach Fran Fraschilla, who has watched “12 or 13 teams” practice this college basketball preseason, checked out Kansas’ workouts Monday and Tuesday.
“Everybody is a work in progress, including Kansas. They obviously have the material to be ranked in the top 10, no doubt about that,” Fraschilla said in a Tuesday afternoon phone conversation.
“But when you watch the first few practices of a season, you are really watching a coach implement his offenses and defenses. It’s not what it’s going to look like a month from now. I obviously think they (Jayhawks) have a chance to be outstanding because they have a great mix of veterans and talented young players.”
As far as individuals …
“One guy I think has made a big step up is Lagerald Vick,” Fraschilla said of KU’s sophomore guard from Memphis. “What I saw from Frank Mason, Devonté Graham and Landen Lucas is what I expected, veterans who know the Kansas system, but Lagerald Vick’s improvement stood out to me during the two practices I saw,” Fraschilla added.
On Monday, Fraschilla wrote about KU freshman Udoka Azubuike on Twitter.
“Think about this. 7-0 280 lb. Udoka Azubuike just turned 17 years old. Scary. Still learning KU system but major upside. Raw but agile,” read the tweet.
Seth Greenberg, an ESPN announcer and former coach at Virginia Tech, South Florida and Long Beach State, also attended a KU practice this week.
“Was extremely impressed with the manner in which Josh Jackson carried himself. Poised willing learner. Has a little @MKG14 (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) in his game,” tweeted Greenberg.
“The great thing about Mason and Graham is they play with a chip but poised. Those are two great traits to combine,” Greenberg added in another tweet.
Owens has heart procedure Tuesday
Former KU coach Ted Owens, 87, had a stent placed in an artery during a heart procedure that took an hour on Tuesday in a Tulsa, Okla., hospital.
“As many of you know, last week dad went in to have a low-risk procedure done on his heart and to evaluate it. At that time they decided he would need to come back in a week and have a little tune-up done. The procedure went well for dad! He is being monitored overnight,” Owens’ son, Teddy, the director of basketball operations at Nebraska, wrote on Facebook.
“Hopefully the stent placement will prevent heart issues in the future. He is eager to get back to exercising and golf. Can’t tell you how much it meant to him and our family to receive all the encouragement and prayers!” Teddy Owens added.
Bechard praises Scott Ward in letter
KU volleyball coach Ray Bechard, whose Jayhawks meet Kansas State in a 6 p.m., contest Wednesday in sold-out Horejsi Center, released an open letter in tribute to KU associate athletic director Scott Ward on Tuesday.
Ward had surgery to repair a tear in his aorta on Friday at University of Kansas Hospital.
“It is seldom in life that you come across someone as inspirational as our academic counselor, Scott ‘Scooter’ Ward,” began Bechard’s open letter.
“He has faced so much adversity in his own life, but never do you hear him complain about his own circumstance (being paralyzed in 1986 following an accident). Rather than do that, he puts all of his energy into helping others and creating opportunities for the people around him to get better. He has done that for everyone involved in our volleyball program.
“As we all became aware of Scooter’s (emergency open-heart surgery) situation last Friday and we spent time together processing that, it was clear how every team member felt about him – how important it is to all of us that he gets a full recovery and what a joy it will be when he returns.
“Our team realizes how much he cares about them and how badly he wants them to succeed. He is there for them beyond the academic support level. He is willing to listen and impart words of wisdom. He cares about the individual. He has devoted his entire career to preparing young men and women for life.
“It is very difficult to come up with a way to thank a person like that, other than be the best we can be in his absence right now. On his return, hopefully we can continue to be that way. We look forward to that day when he is back with us full-time and supporting us at the level he always has.
‘Our team will continue to move forward and we will honor his absence by being the type of people and team he would be proud of.”
Ward has been making daily progress at the University of Kansas Hospital.
His wife, Robin, wrote Tuesday on Facebook: “Another fabulous morning! Scooter got about eight hours of sleep. Bright eyes! I walked in this morning and he called me by name and gave me a hug. I bet we even see an eye roll today. Docs are amazed with his fast progress, but now that they’re getting to know him they’re expecting it. #rootforscoot #heartsdontstop,” she wrote.
Romeo Langford to visit KU
Romeo Langford, a 6-4 junior shooting guard from New Albany (Ind.) High School, who is ranked No. 3 in the recruiting Class of 2018 according to Rivals.com, will visit KU on Oct. 28, according to JayhawkSlant.com. He has scholarship offers from KU, Duke, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, UCLA and others.