The summer is usually a brutal time for fans of Kansas Jayhawks basketball.
After the final horn sounds in late March or, ideally, early April, the long wait until October and 'Late Night in the Phog' begins, and time seems to expand. This year, thanks to the unexpected success and incredible run put together by the 2011-2012 Jayhawks, the wait seems even more pronounced.
So let us provide a small oasis in the desert that is Kansas basketball news right now. It's not as if the hoops world has totally stopped spinning, after all, and we've got a dose of post-season (or is it pre-season?) news and notes.
New faces headline Bill Self Basketball Camp alumni scrimmages
The pair of alumni scrimmages held during the two sessions of Head Coach Bill Self's basketball camp have become a highlight of the summer, drawing larger and larger crowds of fans to the Horesji Center.
* This summer's games were more interesting than most, if only because of the sheer number of new faces on campus for the games. Incoming freshmen Perry Ellis, Andrew White, Zach Peters, Landen Lucas and Milton Doyle all had the chance to experience their first competition in the Crimson and Blue - even if they were just practice jerseys - and each had their moments to shine. Doyle and Ellis looked particularly impressive, handling themselves well against alumni groups that included the likes of Aaron Miles, Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins and Keith Langford.
* Ellis is about as much of a known commodity as one can be with Jayhawk Nation, as many have tracked the recruitment of the in-state phenom since he was a freshman. Probably the best way to describe his game is "smooth." He's extremely versatile, conjuring up images of a younger, more athletic Marcus Morris - if one were looking for a comparison - though he doesn't shoot quite as well from the outside. Still, his post game is so advanced and refined for someone his age. He scored on the low block versus Jeff Withey on a handful of occasions during the scrimmages - something players like Jared Sullinger and Anthony Davis found difficult to do last season.
* Doyle was probably the biggest enigma of the bunch. A star out of Chicago's Marshall High, he was committed to Florida International and stayed committed through an outstanding senior season, but decided to open things back up when Isaiah Thomas was let go as the program's head coach. The Jayhawks swooped in and landed him, and though it's difficult to extrapolate anything truly solid from what is, essentially, a glorified pickup game, he sure looked the part of a hidden gem. Doyle buried a couple of deep threes, looked good handling the ball against pressure, made some nifty passes and in general had those in attendance understanding why the staff pursued him so late.
* Though they aren't incoming freshmen, redshirts Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor are still - for all intents and purposes - newcomers all the same. Traylor played to his scouting report - an ultra-athletic big man who fights relentlessly on the glass - but it was McLemore who stole the show with his highlight-reel dunks.
Former Jayhawks guard Brady Morningstar, in a recent interview with the Lawrence Journal-World, said he sees McLemore as the spitting image of a young Brandon Rush. With all due respect to one of the greatest man-to-man defenders in Kansas history - and one of the winningest Jayhawks ever - we disagree a bit. It's easy to make the comparison because of their similar height, length and explosive leaping ability, but there are differences. McLemore was a capable three-point threat during his prep days but Rush was one of the most prolific three-point shooters of the Self Era. Additionally, the newcomer from St. Louis is probably a little bit better of a ball handler and has much more of that killer instinct that fans always wanted to see from Rush. He appears to enjoy using his athleticism to attack the basket and cram on unprepared defenders.
He's going to be exciting to watch.
* The returners all played about as one might expect - the exception being Elijah Johnson who was held out, as he's still recovering from post-season knee surgery. Perhaps the one surprise might be Naadir Tharpe. The most likely candidate to back up Johnson at the point this year, after a somewhat rocky freshman season during which he didn't play many minutes, he looked much more confident in himself and in his shot - canning jumpers, driving to the lane, taking care of the ball and making some nifty assists. His growth will mean a lot on a Kansas squad looking for leadership with the departure of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor.
Speaking of Robinson and Taylor…
* The two were selected in the 2012 NBA Draft, held in New York on June 28. Robinson, as most suspected he would, went as a top five pick - the No. 5 pick overall, actually - to the Sacramento Kings. Taylor was selected with the 41st pick by the Portland Trail Blazers, who were picking for the Brooklyn Nets, meaning the New Jersey native is headed home. Both have signed their contracts.
* The dynamic Kansas duo from the 2011-2012 season has looked strong in NBA summer league play as well. In four games, Taylor averaged 29.8 minutes, shot 44-percent from the floor and and impressive 36.4-percent from three-point range, averaged 15.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. His final game was his finest, as in an 86-87 loss to Oklahoma City he played 31 minutes, shot 50-percent from the floor, scored 23 points and dished out 5 assists to three turnovers.
As of this writing, Robinson is currently in the midst of his summer league stretch in Vegas. Through three games he's averaging 29 minutes, 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Adams arrives on campus
One of the recruitments Kansas fans have followed the closest for the past several months has been that of Seattle Rainier Beach guard Anrio Adams. Committed to the Jayhawks since late 2011, the question of whether or not he would make it to campus had no clear answer - until July 4.
The talented and ultra-athletic point guard got his grades in order and officially made the move to Lawrence, Kan., is attending classes and working out with the team. His presence potentially gives the Jayhawks another surprise weapon this season. Adams led Rainier Beach in scoring as a senior, and was a key cog in their march to another Washington Class 3A state championship.
Frankamp brings home another gold medal
* It would be difficult to have a better summer than Wichita (KS) North star and Kansas commitment Conner Frankamp has had to date. After giving the national media and recruiting gurus a glimpse at what in-state fans have known for years - that he's really, really good - at the prestigious Pangos All-American Camp, Frankamp continued his run of success by earning a spot on the Team USA Under-17 squad.
The team included some of the best prospects in the country - including the best prospect in the country by most services in Jabari Parker - and yet it was Frankamp who led Team USA in scoring, and ultimately to a gold medal, at the FIBA U17 Championship in July in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Frankamp has been his usual deadly self from beyond the arc, but its his other talents that have stepped to the forefront to catch the attention of observers. Not only is he more athletic than he is frequently given credit for, but he's a complete point guard. He's got the handles, the court vision and the understanding of the game to go with that scoring ability.
He is, in short, one of the best guards in America, and a huge pickup for the Jayhawks.
Unfortunately, it also looks like he's going to be on the mend for a stretch. While playing with his AAU squad - KC Run GMC - during a mid-summer event shortly after the FIBA games, Frankamp went up for a dunk and was on the wrong end of a hard foul. He landed awkwardly and broke a bone in his foot. As of now, it looks as if he'll be out 4-8 weeks, and if a second opinion doesn't provide a more positive diagnosis he'll use the time to catch up on some much-deserved rest and relaxation while still working to get better however he can - even if it means simply working on his upper body strength.
Two new offers go out
Rathan-Mayes has been one of the more exciting prospects of the summer, leading one of the Nike EYBL's top teams - CIA Bounce - in scoring, and Jackson staked his claim to a spot among the top guards in the country with his play at last weekend's Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. Reports indicate both are high on the Jayhawks, so we'll definitely be keeping an eye on 'em.
That's it for now, Kansas fans, but the Jayhawks' trip to Europe - featuring contests with the Swiss national team and a pair of French professional teams - is just around the corner in August. Then it's football, the start of the Charlie Weis Era, tailgating at Memorial Stadium and, dare we say it, Late Night in the Phog just around the corner.