Cliff Alexander is an incoming freshman in Kansas’ latest recruiting class. He’s from Chicago. He’s also a McDonald’s All-American.
His father, Clifton Terry, also was a talented prep player in Chicago more than a decade ago.
Terry is 40 now. He can also still dunk. How do we know? This is from an all-star game practice last weekend in California.
Onto the mailbag
“It’s pretty clear the point guard spot has been hurting Kansas for the last two seasons. Can Devonte Graham start at point guard as a freshman? What’s your first guess on a starting five for next season?” — Andrew, Dallas
In the days since Graham, a 6-foot-2 guard,officially signed
with Kansas, Bill Self has not been shy about suggesting that he could take the reins at point guard immediately.
“I think Devonte’ will be an immediate impact guy for us,” Self said, before adding: “That’s not to take away from the other guards we have, but this is a situation that we just got a lot better.”
Self later mentioned Aaron Miles and Tyshawn Taylor as two recent KU point guards that started immediately, and Sherron Collins played plenty of minutes as a freshman in 2006-07.
It’s a little early to speculate on starting lineups; the incoming freshmen won’t be on campus for another month, and Self has a history of favoring experience — especially early in the season. More than anything, though, history suggests Self will lean toward a point guard that can defend. For all the turnover issues during the last two seasons, the Jayhawks were uncharacteristically porous in guarding the perimeter. Graham is taller and longer than soon-to-be sophomore Frank Mason, and we’ll see whether that allows him to guard better, too.
But for a little May exercise, here’s what Miles, Taylor and Collins did during their freshmen seasons. (Pause to note that we’re looking at two of the best guards in school history and a third that guided a team to an NCAA title game. So perhaps this bar is a little high here.)
Aaron Miles, 2001-02:
27.5 mins, 7.1 points, 6.8 assists, 3.0 turnovers, 40.4 FG%,
Sherron Collins, 2006-07:
22.3 mins, 9.3 points, 2.9 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 47.8 FG%
Tyshawn Taylor, 2008-09:
26.5 mins, 9.7 points, 3.0 assists, 2.4 turnovers, 50.6 FG%
So if Graham can snag a starting spot as a freshman, what would the rest of the lineup look like? Again, it’s early. It’s hard to overlook players such as Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp — former top recruits who have been in the program for a year. Would Self be comfortable starting three freshman again?
The starting lineup in November could look different than the starting lineup in January. But here’s our first guess.
G Devonte Graham, 6-foot-2 freshman
G Wayne Selden, 6-foot-5 sophomore
G Kelly Oubre, 6-foot-7 freshman
F Perry Ellis, 6-foot-8 junior
F Cliff Alexander, 6-foot-9 freshman
“K-State just announced another renovation project for football what’s the status of the Memorial Stadium renovations?” Adam, Kansas City, Kan.
Other than the quarterback question, this may be the most pressing issue hovering over the football program — especially now that more renovation projects are taking placein Columbia and Manhattan
In recent weeks, Kansas officials have provided a (non-update) update on the progress, echoing what’s been said since last fall. KU is working with Kansas City architecture firm HNTB to draw up plans and renderings, but timetables are still largely open-ended.
There are a lot of factors at play here — fund-raising, on-field success and momentum to name a few — and KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger has continually said that winning a few games would certainly help speed up the process.
“The reality of it is, for people to really want to engage at a high level, you need to have some success on the field,” Zenger said last fall, before offering similar comments this spring.
“I do believe that the Jayhawk Nation understands the importance and the relevance of college football today, to any BCS institution, and it’s impact on all sports.”
For now, officials say, there is progress. Zenger has been consistent in saying the track at Memorial Stadium will be coming out sooner or later. But after the completion of a new track facility at Rock Chalk Park this spring, it looks more and more like the track will still be in place when the football season begins this fall.
“What Bill Self-era Kansas player has had the best NBA career thus far?” — Kevin, Shawnee
Easy answer, of course, is Mario Chalmers, who has started on two NBA title teams in Miami and averaged 8.6 points and 3.8 assists for his career. For his career, Chalmers has amassed 25.1 win shares. He may have title No. 3 pretty soon.
But you also might say that Chalmers has just been the most opportunistic. Out of all the Self-era KU players in the NBA, Brandon Rush has pocketed the most money ($16.75 million), while Markieff Morris might have just put together the best season: 13.8 points per game, 6.4 win shares, 18.4 PER.
Today the answer is probably Chalmers, but it could soon be Markieff. And if you’re Self, you probably hope it is soontwo players that have yet to enter the league.