Kansas basketball veteran Devonté Graham and newcomer Malik Newman were mobbed by youngsters seeking autographs and pictures after the Jayhawk guards finished judging the Hardwood Classic slam dunk contest Friday night at Sports Pavilion Lawrence at Rock Chalk Park.
The two fan-friendly players gladly complied with the requests before finally being rescued by AAU tournament organizers who announced that the pavilion, which had hosted a plethora of games prior to the three-point and slam dunk contests, was closed for business until early Saturday morning.
“I was a judge last year, too. It was fun. I decided to come back and do it again,” Graham said, speaking witih The Star as he headed up the stairs and out the front exit of the pavilion.
Several KU players showed up for the proceedings, including sophomores Mitch Lightfoot and Sam Cunliffe, who also judged the slam dunk contest, as well as freshman Marcus Garrett and others.
Garrett, a 6-5 combo guard from Dallas, never seems to be far from Graham’s sight. Garrett has said one of the reasons he chose KU is to pick up pointers from Graham, a 6-2 senior from Raleigh, N.C.
“He’s a great kid,” Graham said of Garrett. “I mean I am definitely somebody he can look up to and try to play like. He’s going to be great. He plays defense, rebounds, can handle the ball, score.”
The Jayhawks, who were to practice Sunday, have completed six of 10 practices preceding their four-game exhibition tour of Italy. The squad will play games Aug. 2-3 in Rome and Aug. 5-6 in Milan.
“We’ve got to just go out there and play,” Graham said. “We don’t really have any plays. Basically the offense is 5 around 0 and 4 around 1. We’re just trying to build a little team.”
Graham is looking forward to playing the games and doing some sightseeing. In Rome, KU’s traveling party will visit the Colosseum, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. In Milan, the players will tour the Cathedral Duomo and take a boat tour of Lake Como.
“Of course. We get to go to Italy,” Graham said, asked if he was enthused for the trip. “I’m trying to learn a little Italian now. I don’t know much. I only know how to say ‘hey’ right now. That’s about it.”
Svi scores 24 on Sunday
KU senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk scored 24 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out nine assists, barely missing a triple double in Team Ukraine’s 85-82 loss to Turkey on Sunday at the FIBA Under 20 European Championships in Crete.
Mykhailiuk hit 8 of 17 shots and was 3 of 8 from three. He had six turnovers in 38 minutes. Ukraine (3-4) finished 10th in the 16-team event.
The 6-foot-8 Mykhailiuk led all players in the tournament in scoring at 20.4 points per game. He hit 39.5 percent of his shots and 32.7 percent of his threes. He averaged 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Mykhailiuk will meet the Jayhawks in Rome for the upcoming four exhibition games.
KU makes offer to Keyontae Johnson
KU has offered a scholarship to Keyontae Johnson, a 6-4 senior combo guard from IMG Academy in Brandenton, Fla., who is ranked No. 118 in the recruiting class of 2018, Johnson reported Sunday on Twitter.
Johnson received his offer after playing well for Boo Williams the last four days at the Hardwood Classic AAU tournament in Lawrence. He’s also considering Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Mississippi, Pittsburgh, Providence, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and others. He told Jayhawkslant.com he will visit KU sometime this fall.
KU recently offered another Boo Williams player — 6-6 senior wing Keldon Johnson of Huntington (W. Va.) Prep, who is ranked No. 24 in the recruiting class of 2018. Keldon Johnson’s brother, Kaleb, plays for Georgetown. Hoyas coach Patrick Ewing was on hand to watch Keldon all weekend.
Team Penny wins title
Team Penny of Memphis won the Hardwood Classic, upending Albany City Rocks 63-35 in Sunday’s final.
Chandler Lawson, brother of KU’s K.J. and Dedric Lawson, played for Team Penny. He is a 6-8 junior power forward from Memphis East High School, and is ranked No. 23 in the class of 2019 by Rivals.com.
KU has offered Chandler Lawson a scholarship.
Buddy Boeheim, son of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, played for Albany City.
Team FOE eliminated
Team FOE squandered a 25-point second-half lead and fell to Boeheim’s Army 72-67 in Sunday’s quarterfinals of The Basketball Tournament contested in Brooklyn.
Former KU forward Mario Little scored 16 points, while former KU guards Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor had eight and six points, respectively. Taylor dished out six assists.
In all, 64 teams are competing in the tournament, which has a winner-take-all first-place prize of $2 million.