University of Kansas

KU veteran Landen Lucas praises younger Jayhawks, including Udoka Azubuike

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (right) fought for a rebound with Maryland forward Michal Cekovsky in an NCAA Tournament game in March.
Kansas forward Landen Lucas (right) fought for a rebound with Maryland forward Michal Cekovsky in an NCAA Tournament game in March. Rich Sugg

Fifth-year senior power forward Landen Lucas likes what he’s seen out of Kansas’ freshman class the first month of the 2016-17 school year.

“Workouts have been great. New rules allow us to meet as a team every now and then, not frequently, but we get a chance to compete against each other, which is good for the new guys,” Portland, Ore., native Lucas said, speaking of two hours of basketball practice time per week in the offseason in accordance with NCAA rules.

“It gives them a chance to get adjusted to the pace of college before we start putting in plays, which is important,” he said. “The freshmen have picked up real fast what we expect of them. That’s the most important thing.”

KU center Landen Lucas says teammate Carlton Bragg is gaining additional weight that will help KU more once he starts using his size. Lucas spoke to reporters on Sept. 19, 2016.

Freshmen Udoka Azubuike, Josh Jackson and Mitch Lightfoot have done all that’s been asked, Lucas said, noting he’s spent the most time with fellow big man Azubuike.

“He’s such a gifted young man,” the 6-foot-10, 245-pound Lucas said of 7-foot, 275-pound Azubuike, who turned 17 on Saturday. He must play at least two seasons at KU because of NBA age requirements.

“I mean I wish I had some of the tools that he has. If he can just kind of learn some small things — how to use his body, how to get position and angles and stuff like that … teams will either have to foul him or it’s a bucket kinda thing. I’m looking forward to seeing him develop throughout this year. He’ll be a problem (for opposing big men),” Lucas said.

Lucas said he likes the attitude of the team shown so far during individual workouts, pick-up games and Boot Camp conditioning.

“With the core we have back and just the personality of the younger guys like Carlton (Bragg, sophomore forward), Lagerald (Vick, sophomore guard) and Svi (Mykhailiuk, junior guard), we’ve got some guys who don’t act as young as their age,” Lucas said.

“You add that with the guys who are coming back … it really has a vibe in the locker room,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve really been to this level (in his KU career) as far as the focus and understanding of what needs to be done. I think that the teams right before I came here kind of had that feeling to it, and I’m happy we’ve kind of got that culture back in the locker room and around the team.”

Lucas added: “I think experience and just advancing in the Tournament (NCAA Elite Eight last year) honestly helps a ton, too, just understanding what it takes and what your goals really are. Having three starters (Lucas, Devonté Graham, Frank Mason) and a lot of people who contributed to a team that was right there with a chance to go to a Final Four. I think we all have a lot of experience and confidence and we are able to bring that to the other guys.”

Recruiting notes

Moses Brown, a 6-11 junior center from Archbishop Molloy in Queens, N.Y., has been scouted recently by coaches from KU, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Duke and Georgia Tech, his dad told Zagsblog.com. The No. 17 player in the Class of 2018 (according to Rivals.com), has also heard from Louisville, Connecticut, Oklahoma State, Miami, Maryland, UCLA and others. … P.J. Washington, a 6-8 senior forward from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., who is ranked No. 17 in the Class of 2017, visited Kentucky last weekend. UK frosh Bam Adebayo was his campus host, Zagsblog.com reports. Another KU prospect, Tremont Waters (5-11 senior, Notre Dame High, West Haven, Conn.) also visited Kentucky last weekend. He’s ranked No. 36 in the Class of 2017.

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