Basketball Recruiting Analysis
Happy Signing Day to
you…Happy Signing Day to you...Let the celebration begin in Lawrence.
Or should it be "let the celebration continue"? Things are definitely
on the upswing in Jayhawkland. The 2004-2005 Kansas Jayhawks sit on
top of both preseason polls, and now, Head Coach Bill Self has
officially inked a recruiting class for next season second only to
Duke (according to Scout.com).
"Although it is
somewhat anti-climatic because we received the commitments some time
ago, this is a great day for the future of Kansas basketball," Self
said. "Never during my tenure as a coach have we had the opportunity
to sign three young men who are so highly ranked by various scouting
It doesn’t look like
those opportunities will cease anytime soon for Self. After he landed
5 top-notch recruits for the '04-'05 campaign, the KU head coach
continued his recruiting prowess and landed 3 more blue-chippers for
seniors will leave Lawrence at season’s end. Saying goodbye to the
likes of Aaron Miles, Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, and Michael Lee
would be cause for concern at most schools. But with a top-tier
program like Kansas, the prevailing thought is reloading, not
rebuilding. Though the successful quartet won’t be forgotten, Self has
certainly helped ease the pain with these 3 prospects.
Mario Chalmers - Point
Guard - 6-1 - Anchorage, Alaska
Explosive point guard
Mario Chalmers committed to KU back on May 21st, and is tabbed the
country's best at his position. As a junior, Chalmers averaged 23.2
ppg, 6.0 apg on his way to a state runner-up finish.
The floor leader for
the crimson and blue will take on a decidedly new look after Aaron
Miles' departure. While Miles' career was more about "pass-first",
Chalmers is a "much more accomplished scorer", that according to
Scout.com's National Recruiting Director, Dave Telep.
Telep believes that Jayhawk
fans can look forward to the point position being "a lot of Mario
mixed with some Russell (Robinson), until Chalmers gets his feet
wet." Not many people expect that to take long including Self.
"Mario is a very
explosive athlete that should be able to fit in here immediately and
play both on and off the ball."
Chalmers is likely to
take over the reigns for a highly-ranked Jayhawk team. Though he's a
talented-scorer, Mario’s main job may not be putting points on the
"The challenge for
Mario will be realizing he has a big responsibility keeping everyone
involved (on a top-5 team) and running this team," Telep said.
And when asked who
Mario’s game most closely resembles, Telep quickly answered John
Gilchrist of Maryland. By the way, Gilchrist was the ACC tournament
MVP last season for the Terrapins.
In my opinion, this kid
has all the tools. He will run the Jayhawks like a well-oiled machine.
Chalmers scored over 40 points against worthy competition this summer
in Vegas and gave fans a glimpse of the type of scorer he can be. He’s
on his way to stardom in Lawrence.
Micah Downs -
Small Forward/Shooting Guard - 6-8 - Kirkland, Washington
Downs was Self's
initial commit for next season and Micah did that back in May. As
a junior at Juanita High School, Micah averaged 19.7 points and 11.8
rebounds, and is the 4th ranked small forward in the country.
Though his offensive
skills are most often talked about, Downs is capable of impacting both
ends of the floor. With his long arms and a slender 6-8 frame, he's a
formidable shot-blocking presence on the defensive end.
"Micah is one of the
most fun players to watch because he does a lot of
everything," Self said. "He's tall. He's skilled. He can block shots,
can rebound the basketball and has a great feel for the game."
Telep is also quick to
point out Micah’s defensive effort. "Downs is an accomplished
perimeter player who will surprise you on the defensive end."
Like many players
coming out of high school, Down’s does need to gain strength. Prepare
to see him on campus early in the summer spending long hours in the
Like fellow recruit
Mario Chalmers, Downs also possesses a high basketball IQ and will
make a huge impact on this Jayhawk program.
Julian Wright - Small
Forward - 6-8 - Chicago Heights, Illinois
He’s labeled a small
forward but at 6-8 he played the point for Homewood-Flossmoor High
School last season. That's just a taste of the type of versatility
Julian Wright brings to the court. It's easy to understand why his
recruitment was such a hotly contested battle. What’s puzzling is how
he ended up a Jayhawk.
Back in July, Wright
was merely a blip on the radar screen for KU, yet he became Self’s
final commit immediately following a home-visit in September. That
must’ve been one heck of a sales pitch made by KU’s 2nd
year head coach. I’m sure a lot of coaches would like to have had that
one on tape.
"It's the recruiting
upset of the last 5-years," Telep said, "When Self went into his home
just to score a visit and came out with a commitment, no one was more
surprised then Bill Self."
It was a stunning
development that left Self with one of the most talented prospects in
the nation. It left Arizona, Illinois, and DePaul extremely
At 6-8, Wright can play
all 5 positions on the floor and is capable of guarding 1 through 5 on
the defensive end.
“With his size he can
handle the ball in transition, he has some point guard skills but is
still big enough to play anywhere on the floor”, said Self. “His
versatility will be a huge asset for us.”
The number two-rated
small forward has drawn comparisons to the NBA's Darius Miles, but
Telep thinks he's much more.
"He's a better prospect
then Darius Miles. He's the definition of a team guy and as
competitive of a player as you'll find”, stated Telep.
Telep, like many other
experts, constantly raves about what a competitor Julian is. His
numbers won’t wow you (10.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 4.9 apg) but his
potential will. This is a guy who simply does whatever it takes for
his team to win. Wright is a perfect fit for Self’s style and the
So what about adding
another player to an already stellar recruiting class? According to
Telep, it would take a special type of player for KU at this point.
Don’t expect any more high school seniors. The possibility still
exists for a transfer or even a foreign player. With or without
another this KU class will be ranked as one of the nation’s best.
“All those scouting
services do not guarantee success” said Self.
“I think it’s safe to say these three are well thought of and have a
very bright future in college basketball.”
rankings are from Scout.com. Dave Telep, Director of Basketball
Recruiting for Scout.com contributed to this article.