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Friday, July 25, 2014

KU offseason includes draft determinations

The Wichita Eagle

Kansas senior Tyrel Reed has been a part of more wins than any player in school history, but the fact that this team couldn’t match the accomplishment of his first KU team wasn’t sitting very well on Sunday after the Jayhawks’ 71-61 loss to Virginia Commonwealth.

Reed, who suited up for 132 victories the last four years, wanted to give his 2008 national championship ring some company.

“This team means everything to me,” Reed said. “I couldn’t care less about that record. Not that it doesn’t mean a lot to me, but winning a national championship would have meant a lot more.”

KU senior Brady Morningstar redshirted in 2008, so he’s been around for 165 wins in five years. Now Reed, Morningstar and fellow senior Mario Little are on their way out, and there’s no telling what the Jayhawks will look like next season.

Five Kansas underclassmen — Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Thomas Robinson, Josh Selby and Tyshawn Taylor — have decisions to make about whether to return to KU or declare for the June NBA draft. None of the players gave any hint Sunday which way they are leaning.

Marcus Morris is projected by one online mock draft to be picked 19th in the first round. Markieff, projected to be picked 23rd, said “it’s a possibility” that the junior twin forwards will make the same decision — which of course means he thinks it’s a possibility they won’t.

“It’s gonna be a tough decision,” Markieff said. “I’m not sure about what I’m ready to do yet. I just need to talk to my coaches and figure out where we’re gonna go from there. Whatever decision we make is going to be the best decision for us and my family.”

Robinson, a sophomore forward, is projected to be picked 17th in the 2012 draft. Robinson indicated during the Big 12 Tournament that he was leaning toward coming back to KU. But he did not reaffirm that feeling on Sunday.

“I don’t know yet,” Robinson said. “I haven’t thought about that yet.”

Selby, a freshman guard, is projected to be picked 29th in the June draft after beginning the season as a sure-fire lottery pick. Selby, who missed nine games due to an NCAA suspension and four due to injury, would theoretically have plenty to gain by coming back to KU and showing what he can do during a full season.

“I’ll talk it over with my mom,” Selby said. “I’m trying to get this loss out of my head first. That’s what I’m concentrating on.”

Taylor, a junior guard, is projected to be picked 12th in the second round of the 2012 draft. He said Sunday was not the time to be considering his future.

“I’m not thinking about that, man,” Taylor said. “I’m thinking about this, what’s happening right now.”

Confidentially speaking — Kansas State fans might remember the CBS Sports documentary “K-State Confidential” from the Wildcats’ run to the Elite Eight last season. This year the same team from CBS, led again by cameraman Alexis Arguello, was back at it, this time with an entirely different monster: VCU.

“We weren’t with them in the first round when (VCU) beat USC in Dayton, but we’ve been with them ever since,” Arguello said. “And it’s been an amazing ride.”

The CBS cameras got access to the team, just like with K-State, beyond the parameters of scheduled media times, including in the players’ hotel rooms and in the locker rooms before games. The title of this year’s documentary, Arguello said, will be “VCU Confidential.”

“Why mess with a good thing?” Arguello said, laughing. “Our luck with picking great teams to follow has been incredible. We’ve got some great stuff.”

Arguello said the documentary would air in two-minute segments on, but didn’t have a date set yet.

All-regional team — VCU put four players on the All-Southwest Regional team: forward Jamie Skeen, who was named the region’s Most Outstanding Player; guards Bradford Burgess, Joey Rodriguez and Brandon Rozzell were the other selections. Marcus Morris was the only KU selection.

Shaka Watch — While VCU coach Shaka Smart’s name continues to be attached to some of the premiere job openings in the country — most notably at Missouri — Rams point guard Joey Rodriguez doesn’t think his coach would be leaving, no matter how much money gets thrown at Smart.

“(Smart) is a different guy, I don’t think that big payday is the thing that motivates him,” Rodriguez said. “I think VCU fans can rest easy. I don’t think he wants to leave. He’s got a good thing going, why would he?”

Three-point barrage — With 12 three-pointers Sunday against Kansas, VCU has now made 53 threes in five NCAA Tournament games, the fifth-most by a team in tournament history. The record was set by Arkansas in 1995 with 60 in six games as the Razorbacks lost to UCLA in the national title game.

Moving on up — Skeen outplayed every KU big man he faced Sunday, sending the 6-foot-9 senior forward’s NBA Draft stock from zero to a possible second-round pick within hours.

ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford reported Sunday that Skeen, along with 6-foot-6 VCU guard Burgess, were already having their names circulated among NBA scouts just hours after the Rams’ upset of Kansas.

“I’ve always wanted to make money playing basketball, and the NBA is a dream,” Skeen said. “All I want is to get picked. Second round, I don’t care. Just somebody give me a tryout and I’ll show them what I can do.”

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