The number of collective stars sitting behind the Kansas bench Saturday afternoon would have been bright enough to light the Lawrence, Kan. sky – had they not been theoretical, recruiting service "stars," of course.
Head Coach Bill Self and his staff assembled an impressive list of prospects to take in the Border War with Missouri. Perry Ellis, Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene, Semi Ojeleye, Tony Parker and Jakarr Sampson were all on hand, and all four or five-star prospects in their respective classes.
And then there was Shabazz Muhammad. Long the top-ranked player in the Class of 2012 by Scout.com, only recently unseated by 2013-reclassification Nerlens Noel, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound small forward has been on the Kansas radar seemingly forever.
His father, Ron Holmes, has long maintained his son would take an official visit to Kansas. The only question was when?
Saturday's highly-anticipated tilt between the Jayhawks and the Missouri Tigers, two top-five teams, provided the perfect opportunity. The family arrived early Saturday afternoon, as Muhammad and his teammates with Las Vegas Bishop Gorman played Friday night, and the trip didn't disappoint.
In fact, Holmes said, it exceeded all of their expectations.
Not only was the atmosphere at the game "extremely good," and the fans both supportive of the team and Muhammad ("When we walked in to get in their seats, they were yelling out his name."), but afterward it continued to make an impression.
"Wherever we went they were wearing their KU colors, their shirts and things of that nature," Holmes said. "The love they have for the players and coaches, it really blew me away."
Sunday, they had the chance to meet with strength coach Andrea Hudy and associate athletics director Scott Ward of the Academic Support office.
Both impressed them with their past results and their plan for Muhammad, should he select Kansas.
"I understand why kids go there and commit after the visits," Holmes said. "Because they are very, very good and a very viable option for Shabazz."
Of course, they spent time with the coaching staff as well, including Self and assistant coach Kurtis Townsend - with whom they spent most of their time.
Prior to attending a meal with the staff Sunday, they met with the Kansas head coach privately.
"We met with him in his office before that, and he really talked candidly about his program," Holmes said. "What Shabazz could do for them and what they could do for Shabazz."
"The visit was excellent," he added.
"Then we'll have one more (visit) left," Holmes said. "We're not sure if he's going to use that one or not, so we'll see."