University of Kansas

Energy, intangibles provided by former KU forward Jamari Traylor were missing in exhibition opener, Self says

Jamari Traylor (left) played his final game with the Kansas Jayhawks in March, but Kansas coach Bill Self (right) says he is looking for the kind of energy Traylor brought to the team and to the floor out of his team this season.
Jamari Traylor (left) played his final game with the Kansas Jayhawks in March, but Kansas coach Bill Self (right) says he is looking for the kind of energy Traylor brought to the team and to the floor out of his team this season. rsugg@kcstar.com

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, who likes to stay in contact with his former players, communicated with Jamari Traylor earlier this week.

“I told ‘Mari’ I knew I’d miss him. I didn’t know I’d miss him this much,” Self said of the 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward, who averaged 2.9 points and 3.2 rebounds a game as a fifth-year senior rotation player last season.

Traylor is now starting for the Redwell Gunners in Oberwart, Austria.

“He was so mature, so good for the young guys, and he was such an energy guy,” Self stated. “We are not as quick at the big spots as when we had Perry (Ellis) and Jamari out there. Those are facts. It’s why we’ve got to get turned up. We are bigger and taller (now). That doesn’t mean more aggressive and athletic. He brought some intangibles you kind of take for granted until they are not there,” Self added.

Self and some KU fans — he was asked about Traylor by a caller on Wednesday’s Hawk Talk radio show — have been reminiscing about Traylor in the wake of Tuesday’s 92-74 exhibition opening win over Washburn in which the Jayhawks were outrebounded, 45-44.

“I don’t know if we have anybody who can do that,” Self said of the role of the active — albeit a bit undersized — power forward. Starter Carlton Bragg, who had six points and two boards against Washburn, is 6-10, 240. “I think Josh (Jackson, 6-8 freshman) can do a lot of things. Josh can go small. We can play Josh at the so-called power forward or biggest guard. I can see him doing a lot of things Jamari did.”

Jackson — he scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes versus Washburn — obviously is ticketed for a lot more minutes than Traylor, who averaged 13.6 minutes per game in 37 games a year ago for the 33-5 Jayhawks. Yet Jackson could alternate between the perimeter and the frontcourt. He played some power forward versus the Ichabods.

“Playing the four felt pretty good. We worked on it before. We go over it in practice all the time,” Jackson said. “Sometimes it can be a good thing. Sometimes it’s tough for me guarding a little bit bigger guys. I felt comfortable out there.”

Perhaps a more realistic candidate to fill the Traylor role in terms of total minutes played is 6-8 freshman forward Mitch Lightfoot, who grabbed seven rebounds and scored three points in 9 minutes versus the Ichabods.

“I loved how Jamari played,” said Lightfoot, a native of Gilbert, Ariz. “He does all the dirty work, gets all the rebounds, gets all the 50/50 balls. I really want to be like that. The hard worker is kind of what I like to be labeled as,” Lightfoot added.

The Jayhawks will next meet Emporia State at 7 p.m., Sunday in Allen Fieldhouse in KU’s final exhibition tune-up prior to the regular-season opener against Indiana in the Armed Forces Classic approximately 8:30 p.m., Central time, Friday, Nov. 11 in Honolulu.

Otoru offered by KU

Kansas has offered a scholarship to Daniel Otoru, a 6-8 junior forward from Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minn., Otoru said on Twitter. Otoru is ranked No. 101 in the recruiting Class of 2018 by Rivals.com. He’s also received offers from Baylor, Creighton, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Northern Iowa and Providence, Rivals.com reports.

Decisions to be announced soon

Troy Brown, a 6-6 senior shooting guard from Las Vegas Centennial High, who is ranked No. 12 nationally by Rivals.com, will announce his college choice on Monday, two days before the start of the week-long early-signing period. He has made official visits to KU, Oregon, Alabama, Ohio State and Georgetown and also has Cal, Arizona and UNLV on his list. Brown is the brother of KU women’s basketball player Jada Brown.

Also, Collin Sexton, a 6-foot-1 senior point guard from Pebblebrook High in Mableton, Ga., will announce his college choice on Thursday.

Sexton, who is ranked No. 7 nationally, has a list of KU, Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech and North Carolina State.

Gary Bedore: 816-234-4068, @garybedore

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