This time of year the talk is about recruiting, recruiting, and recruiting. Meanwhile, behind the scenes and out of the spotlight head coach Bill Self’s returnees are hard at work.
There are at least ten returning players in the gym everyday. Individual workouts continue 2-3 times per week per NCAA regulations. The players gather for pick up games on the remaining days. Certainly this is the least glamorous, yet most important part of the season for the team. You have to have the will to work and the desire to get better. Something Self has certainly seen in some of his returnees thus far.
“We’ve had three great weeks. They’ve been good in the weight room. Individually they are getting better. They do have to do a lot of work on their own and some have taken that very seriously thus far,” stated Self, who was on his way to the airport to embark on another recruiting trip.
One returnee who has put his improvement as priority number one is Brandon Rush. Rush has enjoyed getting better and remember, he really only had about six weeks of individual work and five weeks before practice started. Brandon has already benefited from the postseason workouts.
“I’ve been impressed with his work,” said Self. “He’s certainly getting better and has enjoyed getting better.”
As for the draft, three days remain before Kansas fans can officially say Rush will return for a second season. Since the conclusion of the Bradley game, Rush has stated his intent was to return for a second year under head coach Bill Self, but you just never know. I tend to stay guarded until the deadline passes. It would not be a complete surprise for Rush to decide to again test the waters. Until the deadline passes nothing is certain and there could be reason to worry.
Self and his staff are well-connected on the NBA front and believe they have an accurate gauge on where their star freshman might end up should he enter the draft, especially now that the draft order has been determined. Self and his staff checked out each team and their current needs, plus they investigated whether or not certain teams would in fact look Brandon’s way. The general consensus on Brandon according to Self is, “they love his potential, but felt it was in his best interest to sharpen his skills.”
I spoke to two NBA scouts back in February about Brandon’s status and most love him as a prospect but they indicated he would be a late first to early second round choice. Of course as one person so eloquently put it – there are about 75 players right now who are listed as late first round or early second round picks.
There’s no relaxing in Lawrence and Kansas fans will be on the edge of their seats the next few days.
Once recruiting is said and done for 2006, LSU could end up the biggest beneficiaries. Rumors continue to circulate that Arthur is headed to LSU. It may be a double-dip for head coach John Brady if Oklahoma let’s Scottie Reynolds out of his letter of intent at Oklahoma. Reynolds and Arthur have expressed a desire to play on the same team. This duo would certainly help ease the pain of the loss of Tryus Thomas who declared for the draft. That might not be the end of LSU’s late season flourish. Rumors are starting to circulate that 6-8 Damion James might be headed for the Bayou too. Imagine if LSU could pull this late trifecta off.
So if Arthur won’t be wearing high tops in Lawrence, what will KU due with a remaining scholarship for the class of 2006? Carrying the scholie over to 2007 is certainly a viable option but not necessarily a likely one. Kansas will try to fill the scholarship for this upcoming season but it won’t likely be thru the JUCO ranks.
Future KU player Sherron Collins has certainly performed well in two postseason all-star game appearances. Self is not a coach who puts a ton of stock in all-star games.
Remember, last year at this time people were talking about Mario Chalmers’ performance in the McDonald’s All-American game and when he arrived at Kansas he struggled. Just keep in mind All-star success does not always equate to success right away in a KU uniform.
However, Self was impressed with what Sherron was able to do despite not being in “basketball shape”. Collins had to nurse a wrist injury and will be scary good once he does in fact get into hoop shape.
Self loves how Sherron’s natural tendency is to find a way to perform athletically at the highest level no matter what sport he takes up. Sherron has gone from the gridiron to the hardwood and now to the baseball diamond where he had a home run, a triple, a single and struck out eight in a recent performance.
Self loved Sherron’s ability to fit-in during his all-star stints, “He’s been breaking people down and getting others shots much like he will have to do at Kansas next season”.