On June 28, the Kansas men’s basketball program will depart for Gwangju, South Korea, where it will represent the United States at the World University Games. It’s a rare circumstance for one college team to represent the U.S. at the international level, but it’s not unprecedented. (Northern Iowa represented the U.S. at the World University Games in 2007.)
The Jayhawks will field a roster of 12 players, which includes SMU guard Nic Moore, who has joined the team for the summer to bolster backcourt depth. (Sophomore guard Svi Mykhailiuk, a Ukraine native, is not eligible to play, while junior wing Brannen Greene is recovering from offseason hip surgery. In addition, KU big men Cheick Diallo of Mali and Dwight Coleby of the Bahamas are not eligible).
The tournament runs from July 3-13 at multiple sites in Gwangju.
This weekend, KU will play host to workouts with Team Canada in Lawrence before playing two exhibition games against Canada at the Sprint Center on June 23 and June 26. As the calendar pushes toward the tournament, here is everything you might need to know about Kansas’ appearance at the World University Games.
1. How did Kansas end up getting selected to represent the United States?
USA Basketball, the organization, is usually in charge of assembling teams for international events, with the teams culled from the high school, college and pro ranks. This summer, however, there is another international event — the Pan American Games — and USA Basketball is sending a team of college and pro players to that.
With the World University Games still on the schedule, an organization called Basketball Travelers stepped in to select a team to represent the United States at the event. After an application process, Kansas was picked to be that team.
“We are not the USA Basketball team, but we are representing the USA,” KU coach Bill Self said earlier this month. “I think they (the KU contingent) will get that vibe big time. It will be a situation (where) the world will do everything they can to try and knock us off.”
2. Who exactly will the United States (Kansas) be competing against?
The United States has been slotted into Pool D with Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Serbia and Switzerland. In total, there are 24 teams across four pools in the field.
The other pools:
▪ Pool A: Korea, Estonia, Germany, China, Angola, Mozambique
▪ Pool B: Russia, Canada, Mexico, Mongolia, Sweden, Montenegro
▪ Pool C: Australia, Lithuania, Finland, Japan, France, Chinese Taipei
So who’s going to be on these teams? To be eligible for the tournament, players have to have been born after Jan. 1, 1990, and before Dec. 31, 1997. They also have to have taken at least one three-credit course towards a degree or diploma in the year before the games. Incoming freshman and transfers are usually eligible, which means KU freshman Lagerald Vick and Carlton Bragg can play.
As you can see, though, there is no rule barring professionals from the tournament, so the other teams in the competition may be filled with professionals. That’s not always the case. The Canadian team, for instance, is made up of players from across the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) system, the Canadian version of the NCAA.
To qualify for the eight-team medal round, Kansas must finish in the top two of Pool D. If the Jayhawks fail to qualify, they will fall into one of two eight-team consolation brackets.
3. When is Kansas’ scheduled to play?
Brace yourself for some start times that may disrupt your sleeping patterns. Because of the time difference between Gwangju and the United States, most of the games will be played either late at night or very early in the morning here in the U.S.
Here is Kansas’ Pool D schedule in Central Time:
▪ Friday, July 3: USA vs. Turkey at Dongkang Gymnasium, 10 p.m. Central (noon July 4 in South Korea)
▪ Sunday, July 5: Brazil vs. USA at Dongkang Gymnasium, 6:30 a.m. Central (8:30 p.m. July 5 in South Korea)
▪ Tuesday, July 7: Chile vs. USA at Muan Indoor Gymnasium, 12:30 a.m. Central (2:30 p.m. July 7 in South Korea)
▪ Tuesday, July 7: USA vs. Serbia at Dongkang Gymnasium, 10 p.m. Central (noon July 8 in South Korea)
▪ Wednesday, July 8: USA vs. Switzerland at Dongkang Gymnasium, 8 p.m. Central (10 a.m. July 9 in South Korea)
▪ July 10-13: Three games TBA in medal and bracket play at Dongkang Gymnasium
4. Will the games be televised?
All games, according to officials, are slated to be broadcast either live or on tape delay on ESPNU. If a game is televised on tape delay, viewers should still be able to watch it live via Internet stream through ESPN3.
KU has yet to announce whether the two exhibition games against Canada will be televised. The decision, officials say, could come in the next few days.
5. What uniforms will the Jayhawks wear?
Good question. KU has yet to unveil the Adidas-designed jerseys for the tournament. But expect the uniforms to be red, white and blue and to feature both Kansas and USA somewhere on the uniforms. Earlier this month, there was a photo of Devonte’ Graham in a KU practice jersey with a USA patch that was posted to the KU program’s Instagram account. There was some mild confusion that KU would be wearing those jerseys in Korea. They will not — except, perhaps, at practice.