Kansas basketball coach Bill Self hit the road Tuesday morning — after the seventh and final Boot Camp session of the 2018-19 preseason — to visit R.J. Hampton, the No. 5-rated prospect in the high school recruiting class of 2020 according to Rivals.com.
Self, KU’s 16th-year coach, was definitely in a good mood as he ventured to Little Elm, Texas, home of 6-foot-5, 170-pound junior combo guard Hampton, who has visited Memphis and will attend Friday’s Late Night in the Phog and Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness on Oct. 12.
“All did very well,” Self, KU said of the Jayhawks’ performance at Boot Camp, which consisted of 6 to 7 a.m. conditioning workouts the past two weeks.
“(They were) consistent,” he added of his players in a text message to The Star. “Hard but good last day. Excellent camp.”
The Jayhawks — who posed for this picture after Tuesday’s Boot Camp finale — were to hold their first official practice of the 2018-19 preseason Wednesday and also practice Thursday heading into Friday’s Late Night, to begin at 6:30 p.m., at Allen Fieldhouse.
As far as Hampton, he also is being recruited by Duke, Texas, Michigan and others. He recently wrote in his own blog at USA Today that he had decided to remain a member of the recruiting class of 2020. He’d considered a move to the recruiting class of 2019.
“Ultimately, what led me to my decision was just wanting to stay with my friends and not rushing my process. I’ve had two great years of high school and I want to finish out strong over the next two years,” Hampton wrote.
NBCsports.com likes KU
KU enters the 2018-19 preseason as NBCsports.com’s No. 1 team in the country.
Kentucky checks in at No. 2 in a poll released this week, followed by Gonzaga, Duke, Villanova, Nevada, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Auburn, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Florida State, TCU, UCLA, West Virginia, Oregon, Syracuse, LSU, Mississippi State, Clemson, Michigan, North Carolina State and Marquette.
Three of the website’s four college basketball writers (Rob Dauster, Scott Phillips and Raphielle Johnson) name Kansas as the eventual national champion. Writer Travis Hines says Gonzaga will win the ’19 crown, though he did predict KU will advance to the Final Four.
All four analysts believe KU will win its 15th straight Big 12 regular-season title. Three of the four analysts tap KU’s Dedric Lawson as Big 12 player of the year. K-State’s Dean Wade was player of the year choice of one NBC writer.
“Losing (Devonté) Graham is a major, major blow for this program, but they had as much talent sitting out this season as any program in college basketball,” Dauster writes. “Cal transfer (Charlie) Moore should be able to step in and handle the point guard duties — if that role isn’t taken over by (Devon) Dotson — while Dedric Lawson and K.J. Lawson will give Self actual power forwards, something he has been yearning for the last two years. This team is talented, they are old, they are well coached and they have a functional point guard on their roster. There is a lot to like about the Jayhawks heading into the year.”
Jackson has new hair style
Former KU guard Josh Jackson showed up at Phoenix Suns media day Monday with a new, closely cropped hair style.
“It is 108, 110, 115 (degrees out) sometimes. That had a little bit to do with it,” second-year wing Jackson said of clipping hair that he said took four years to grow out.
“Sometimes when I’m in a grocery store I get seen from eight aisles over and it’s just this afro,” he added with a laugh, speaking to a pair of reporters on the Suns’ official website. “I’m blending in real well. I go out, get my groceries in a hat sometimes … smooth,” he added.
He said he took a vacation with his family during the summer.
“I went to Switzerland about a week. It was my first time in Europe,” Detroit native Jackson said. “It was beautiful, very green a lot of hills.”
Jackson — he averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 rebounds a game as a rookie last season — said he is ready for year two in the NBA.
“Having an extra few pounds, a little bit of strength will really help me coming in the year,” said Jackson, listed at 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds a year ago. “Countless times last year I felt my opponent got the best of me just because he was bigger, stronger. I’m going to do everything in my power that never happens again.”
Ayton responds to Embiid comment
The Suns’ Deandre Ayton was asked at media day about a controversial statement from former KU center Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Embiid, while on ESPN’s The Jump, said: “Oh my gosh. He’s about to get his (butt) kicked this year,” referring to Ayton.
“I can’t really say anything,” Ayton told azcentral.com. “I haven’t put the ball in the hoop (in an NBA game). The only thing I could is probably let my game talk and compete. As soon as I put the ball in the hoop, I can say what I want. So I’m waiting.”
Former KU guard Jackson is happy to have rookie forward Ayton as a teammate.
“I’ve been seeing Deandre since I was a freshman in high school. Our AAU teams, high school teams have played against each other for years and years … Seeing him over the years, I was always so excited to play against him. Any time my team was playing his, because I knew I was going to get a good game,” Jackson said. “I knew we were going to trash talk. I knew it was going to be tough. Every year that I’ve seen him play from my freshman year all the way to my senior year he added something to his game. He got better. His shot got better. He got stronger, became more aggressive. Just seeing that I think has me really excited for him. I know that he’s a guy who will work. He’s not going to get complacent.”
Svi hot from outside at scrimmage
Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson told reporters at media day that rookie Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas recently cashed six threes in a row during a scrimmage.
“They said, ‘Keep shooting the ball,’’’ Svi said of teammates. “I think everybody knows I can really shoot the ball. I played in a couple scrimmages. Me coming in, I had to get used to how everybody plays, what I can and cannot do. I think it went well for me. Getting adjusted to NBA competition is going well.”
Mykhailiuk recently scored 22 points (five threes) with five steals and three assists for Ukraine in a 76-65 FIBA World Cup qualifying victory over Spain in Ukraine. It was his first appearance for the Ukrainian National Team in four years.
“It was huge,” Svi said. “Especially for me and Alex Len (Atlanta Hawks) coming home. He hadn’t been back in seven years. I think it was the first time we ever beat them (Spain). Us beating Spain I think was a huge deal.”