Kansas’ basketball players were told to share a fun fact about themselves during introductions at the eighth-annual Ladies Night Out benefit for cancer research Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
“I’m from Dallas, Texas (and) I like to sing,” freshman combo guard Marcus Garrett told 450 attendees while quickly trying to pass the microphone to fellow newcomer Charlie Moore.
“Wait, wait,” KU coach Bill Self said, asking Garrett to perform, “Just a couple bars of ‘This is Me,’ ” in an impromptu fieldhouse crooning session.
Garrett obliged (after some convincing from his teammates) to enthusiastic applause. Self, KU’s 15th-year coach, cracked: “That sounded more like talking than singing.”
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Self was both sarcastic and humorous at times, serious at others, while moderating a 20-minute question-and-answer session with the fans seated in the lower level, west-side fieldhouse stands.
“I see our rotation playing out the same way in the Big 12 as I do now — we don’t have but eight scholarship guys. Everybody is going to play,” Self said, responding to a question about the rotation during the upcoming 2017-18 nonconference season. “Sam (Cunliffe, transfer from Arizona State) will be our ninth when he’s eligible in December.
“Clay and Chris will also be contributors to our team,” Self added of walk-ons Clay Young and Chris Teahan, “but they aren’t going to play as many minutes obviously as what Devonté (Graham), Malik (Newman) or Svi (Mykhailiuk) will.
“The reality of it is, if you’ve got 10 or 12 (scholarship players) that would be a concern (in distributing minutes). If you have eight, there’s no concern. Everybody should be happy. Everybody will play. What you get down to now is, ‘Who will start?’ ” Self continued.
“Right now we don’t have five starters. We probably have six or seven. Somebody is probably not going to start that thinks they are going to start. We’ll start figuring that out as we move forward.”
The eight scholarship players available for Sunday’s exhibition game against Missouri at 3 p.m. at the Sprint Center are: seniors Graham and Myhkailiuk, junior Lagerald Vick, sophomores Newman, Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot and freshmen Billy Preston and Garrett.
Of course no Q and A this week would be newsworthy without a question about Sunday’s exhibition game against Mizzou to benefit hurricane relief.
“These guys (Jayhawks) don’t hate our cross-state-line rival like many do,” Self told the attendees. “They really don’t because we haven’t played them (since 2012). Once you play them you realize (the level of the rivalry). Right now the guys don’t understand that.
“Hopefully they’ll have a better feel for that as we get closer (to Sunday),” Self added.
Asked what the Jayhawks had planned for Saturday, senior point guard Graham told a fan who had the days of the week mixed up: “We’ve got a lot planned for Sunday. There’s going to be a lot of people there. I can’t say exactly what we’re going to do.
“You’re going to have to just show up,” he added, smiling.
Boot Camp revisited
Seniors Graham and Mykhailiuk held their own Q and A with fans, one moderated by assistants Kurtis Townsend and Norm Roberts.
“Just getting up early,” shooting guard Mykhailiuk said, when asked the most difficult aspect of the two-week conditioning known as Boot Camp.
Graham conceded: “I actually threw up this year, the first time ever.”
No stress for Graham
Graham was asked if he’ll feel stress this season now that guard Frank Mason has graduated, leaving Graham the leader of the team.
“I don’t get stressed out too often,” Graham said. “There will be ups and downs. I’ve been here a long time, seen a lot, been through a lot. My main focus is probably the younger guys, be a leader to them and talk through it if they have any problems. I don’t think I’ll be stressed.”
After hearing Graham’s answer, Self said: “If you are going to be a good leader, stress is about ‘us’ as opposed to ‘me.’ He’ll be more stressed if Billy (Preston) and Doke (Azubuike) don’t play hard than worrying about how many points I’m scoring, things like that. It’s amazing when you care about the right things you perform better individually.”
Doke is ‘ready’
Azubuike on his sophomore season: “I feel I’m ready. I’m excited for the season. Last year I didn’t play much (because of injury). I really think we have a chance to make it 14 straight (league titles).”
What is Ladies Night Out?
In conjunction with breast cancer awareness month, the event benefits “Jayhawks for a Cure,” with all proceeds donated to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the KU Cancer Center in an effort to fund cancer research. Some of the attendees are cancer survivors.
“This is a fun night for us, something we’ve done for eight years now,” Self told the crowd. “Even though it’s a fun night, it’s also a very serious night because there have been so many of you and us that have been affected in some way, shape or form, directly or indirectly, with this disease.”
Three of KU’s remaining targets in the recruiting class of 2018 — Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford and Quentin Grimes — will be making campus visits this weekend.
Williamson, a 6-6 senior forward from Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School, who is ranked No. 2 nationally, will travel to Duke for an official visit Friday through Sunday. Williamson attended KU’s Late Night in the Phog on Sept. 30 at Allen Fieldhouse as well as last Friday’s Big Blue Madness at Kentucky. He will visit UCLA on Oct. 27, and also has South Carolina and Clemson on his list.
No. 6-rated Romeo Langford, a 6-4 senior combo guard from New Albany (Ind.) High, who will visit KU on Oct. 27-29, will travel to Indiana for an unofficial visit. He has already made officials to North Carolina, UCLA and Vanderbilt.
Fresh off last weekend’s official visit to KU, No. 11 Quentin Grimes, a 6-5 senior combo guard from College Park High School in The Woodlands, Texas, will travel to Marquette for an official visit Friday through Sunday. Grimes also has made trips to Kentucky and Texas. Down to four schools, he may wait until spring to sign with a school.
Country’s No. 21 recruit arrested
Emmitt Williams, a 6-6 senior forward from Oak Park (Fla.) High School who is ranked No. 21 in the recruiting class of 2018, was arrested and charged with felony sexual battery and false imprisonment Wednesday morning, according to Rob Dauster of NBC Sports.
Williams was booked at 12:40 a.m. by the Orlando, Fla., police department and held on $3,500 bond according to NBCsports.com. He is scheduled to make an appearance in court Wednesday.
Williams has visited LSU and had scheduled a visit to Florida for this weekend. He also had KU, Duke, Miami, Oregon and USC on his list of schools.