Friday night, Collins and Arthur will be taking the court for the first time as Jayhawks as they participate in the festivities instead of taking them in. It can’t be proven that Late Night was the ultimate deciding factor for either McDonald’s All-American, but it certainly played a part.
This year, Bill Self and his staff have lured a large group of recruits to the event featuring players from the classes of 2007, 2008 and even 2009. Given the amount of players expected or reported to be attending, it only makes sense to break down what each player potentially brings to the table.
CLASS OF 2007 VISITORS
Cole Aldrich - A veteran of Late Night activities, Aldrich is currently the Jayhawks lone commitment from the class of 2007. Affable and outgoing, the big man from Minnesota will likely be doing all he can to convince some of the other attendees to join him. A potentially bruising performer in the paint, Aldrich changes shots defensively, gets on the glass and is emerging as a powerful scoring threat around the hoop. After suffering through some rough spots during the late spring and early summer, it looks like Aldrich is back on track and he’s drawn excellent reviews for his play at recent events.
Tyrel Reed - For the second year in a row, Reed will make the hour and a half trip from Burlington to take in the festivities as an unofficial visitor. The top player in the state of Kansas, Reed is a 6-3 guard capable of running the show or knocking down jump shots from the wing. This fall he’s already visited Stanford, Oklahoma and Kansas State and he’ll likely trip to Missouri and Missouri State before the end of the month. Every school but Kansas has offered and the sound guard also drew early offers from schools like Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.
Kyle Singler - It’s hard to label somebody as the most important visitor, but it would be hard to argue that there will be another attendee getting more attention than the versatile 6-9 forward from Medford (OR) South. In town for his official visit, Singler is arguably the premier uncommitted player left in the class of 2007. Tough, smart and fundamentally sound, he’s capable of playing out on the perimeter or scoring in the paint. Few players in the high school ranks can match his combination of skill, versatility and overall intensity and it’s virtually impossible to watch him play and not love what he brings to the table. Arizona remains in the running, but most believe it to be more of a case of them and Kansas trying to catch the perceived favorite Duke. While Singler himself hasn’t really tipped his hand, the Jayhawks will more than likely need to score a 10 on his official visit and Late Night will obviously play a key factor in what he thinks about his time in Lawrence.
CLASS OF 2008 VISITORS
Anthony Crater - Nicknamed Noopy, Crater is one of the top point guards in his class. His school list is reflective of that status as he’s already drawn considerable early attention from the likes of Arizona, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State and others to go along with the interest being shown by Kansas. He needs to add weight but his ability to create off the dribble -- where he is an excellent passer on the move -- and the accuracy of his slightly awkward looking jumper make him an excellent college prospect. It’s always key for a point guard to have a good feel for the game and the slender six footer always seems to know where his teammates are.
Jordan Dumars - The only expected Late Night attendee that Phog.Net has never evaluated in person, he’s a bit of a mystery man. But, the junior power forward will be making the trip down from the Detroit area. It’s notable to point out that is father is former Pistons great, and current GM, Joe Dumars. It is unclear how seriously the Jayhawks are pursuing him as a recruiting target.
Malcolm Lee - Although he can be a bit on the wild side, few guards in the class of 2008 can match the 6-3 Lee’s overall arsenal of skills. Long and skinny, he handles the ball extremely well and uses those dribbling skills in combination with a lightning quick first step to embarrass defenders looking to stay in front of him. On top of his creativity with the ball, Lee is a dangerous outside shooter who elevates quickly for high arching and quick rotating jumpers that more often than not find the bottom of the net. Talent wise, he’s got the potential to be a McDonald’s All-American but he has to get stronger, slow things down a little, and make better decisions. Among the schools joining Kansas on his early list are UCLA, USC, Washington, Arizona State, Florida, Cal and others.
J’Mison Morgan - The visit for Late Night will be the second time that Morgan, nicknamed Bobo, has been in Lawrence. The 6-10 big man was last on campus during June of 2005 when he stopped by campus on his way to St. Louis for the Nike Hoop Jamboree. A big kid who has done some serious work transforming his body, he’s also a former high school teammate of Darrell Arthur. He’s got big soft hands, runs the court pretty well and isn’t afraid to use his big body to clear space.
Travis Releford - Because the Kansas City native has been such a regular visitor to Lawrence, the 6-4 guard is probably as well known to Kansas fans as any recruit. A versatile performer who plays under control, Releford has the jets to blow by defenders for jams, a developed post game and a knack for rebounding the ball. A much improved ball handler and shooter, he’s also established himself as one of the premier perimeter defenders in his class. A potential McDonald’s All-American, Releford received an offer from Bill Self over a year ago and the Jayhawks are currently running neck and neck with North Carolina for his services.
Jeff Withey - Standing nearly seven feet tall, the 16 year old from San Diego oozes potential. Identified early on as a potential high major target, Withey impressed by going toe to toe with Stanford’s McDonald All-American twin freshman big men Robin and Brook Lopez last spring and notching a double-double along with a game saving block in overtime to lead his team to a state semifinal victory. Now a junior, Withey runs the floor well, gets up quickly for slams and blocks, has a nice face up game to 12 feet and he plays with an edge despite a frame that needs more muscle. According to some close to the situation, Kansas leads and a commitment could be coming within a few weeks if all goes well on his visit.
Tyler Zeller - The younger brother of Notre Dame sophomore and former McDonald’s All-American Luke Zeller, the 6-10 junior is a player in his own right. A skilled and skinny kid, Zeller is a dangerous shooter out to the three point line and an excellent passer out of the post. He runs the court pretty well and isn’t afraid of contact despite a lack of bulk. His older brother was recruited by Kansas as well and he’s got family in the area. So far this fall, Zeller has already been to North Carolina, Iowa and Iowa State while Indiana and others are also involved.
CLASS OF 2009 VISITOR
Tyler Griffey - One of the premier young big men in the Midwest, Griffey had created buzz among recruiting junkies, scouts and coaches before he’d even played a game of high school basketball. As a freshman, the 6-8 forward scored over 13 points a game and snared just over seven rebounds adding to the hype. He’s a long and slender kid who moves well, has terrific footwork and a sweet stroke on his jumper. Still very young, he’s already attended the Adidas Superstar Camp and drawn legitimate recruiting interest from other schools like Missouri, Illinois, Saint Louis, Louisville, Purdue and others.