University of Kansas

KU hoops notes: Freshman Josh Jackson proficient at saxophone as well as basketball

KU freshman Josh Jackson’s talents extend beyond the basketball court. He also plays the saxophone.
KU freshman Josh Jackson’s talents extend beyond the basketball court. He also plays the saxophone.

Last October, Carlton Bragg showed 16,000 Kansas basketball fans he not only could play basketball effectively, but also the baby grand piano. The 6-foot-10 forward from Cleveland stole the show at the 2015 Late Night in the Phog by performing a medley of songs in the John Legend genre.

At Thursday’s KU basketball Media Day, Bragg didn’t boast about his own musical ability — the sophomore elected to not play at Late Night this year — but that of a current Jayhawk newcomer.

“Josh plays the saxophone. He’s pretty good actually,” Bragg said of Josh Jackson, KU’s 6-foot-8 freshman guard from Detroit.

“You should ask him about that,” Bragg added, smiling.

Jackson, the No. 1-ranked high school basketball player in the recruiting Class of 2016 by, admitted to reporters he indeed can handle the wind instrument.

“I’ve been doing that since since I was in sixth grade,” Jackson said.

He plays the sax enough to maintain his proficiency.

“Once or twice a year maybe. When I go home for Christmas, my mom will make me break it out,” Jackson stated.

Jackson, who said in KU’s 2016-17 Media guide he also “can kind of play the trumpet,” wasn’t tempted to perform at the Oct. 1 Late Night in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Carlton asked me to do it and I told him no,” Jackson said. “There was no way I was playing a saxophone in front of 16,000 people. I would have been too nervous, way too nervous.”

As a freshman he was jittery enough fulfilling his duties dancing and competing in a short scrimmage.

“I think I was more nervous to dance than I was to actually play, but I had a really good time out there. Seeing coach Bechard hit the shot for $10,000, that was crazy,” Jackson said of director of operations Brennan Bechard sinking a halfcourt shot for the second straight year — this time to win $10,000 of Bill Self’s money for sophomore Jordan Stiers of Independence.

Here are some additional fun facts about Jackson, as reported in KU’s Media Guide:

▪ Nickname: J-Jack, J.J.

▪ Why he chose his jersey No. 11: John Wall was my favorite high school player.

▪ Hobbies other than basketball and playing the sax: Video games, movies, chess.

▪ Favorite food: Steak.

▪ Specialty in the kitchen: Cereal.

▪ Job after basketball career is over: Sports broadcasting.

▪ Favorite NBA team: LA Clippers.

▪ Favorite NBA player past or present: Jamal Crawford, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady.

▪ Favorite TV shows: Animal Kingdom, Walking Dead, Power.

Newman happy at KU

Malik Newman, a 6-3 sophomore from Jackson, Miss., was as highly recruited as Jackson — back in 2015, when he was the No. 8-rated player nationally in his high school class.

The McDonald’s All-American, who was the leading scorer on the USA Basketball Under-17 team that won a gold medal in the 2014 FIBA World Championships, initially chose Mississippi State over KU, Kentucky, LSU, North Carolina State and Ole Miss.

He transferred to KU this past offseason.

“I love it, love it,” Newman said of KU. “I mean it’s been a great one (semester) — on the court, off the court, in the community, in the classroom. I’m enjoying myself right now.”

His Callaway High team (located in Jackson, Miss.) claimed four straight state Class 5A state titles. Newman finished his high school career with 3,108 points.

Newman can practice but not play in games this season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules. He will be eligible to play in games in 2017-18.

Oubre represents KU in Kentucky

Former Kansas guard Kelly Oubre of the Washington Wizards, who played an NBA exhibition game in Kentucky’s Rupp Arena on Saturday night in Lexington, showed up for shootaround wearing all KU gear. It drew a lot of positive response from KU fans on Twitter. The picture is available at

Kentucky held its annual Big Blue Madness on Friday in Rupp. Several top recruits were in attendance, including Trae Young, a 6-2 senior from Norman (Okla.) North High, who will visit KU next weekend. He’s ranked No. 14 in the Class of 2017 according to Young is also considering Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Washington.

Gary Bedore: 816-234-4068, @garybedore