KU notebook: High-flying Kenny Gregory still holds NBA Combine vertical jump record
By Gary Bedore firstname.lastname@example.org
Kentucky freshman Hamidou Diallo, an ultra-athletic 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard from New York, dazzled scouts at the recent NBA Combine by skying 44.5 inches in the vertical jump.
Diallo’s leap — with run-up approach — was the second-best in Combine history. Former Kansas guard Kenny Gregory recorded a remarkable mark of 45.5 inches in 2001.
“As far as the vertical I can’t believe no one has broken the record 16 years later. I was telling a friend today that the only thing I remember is I didn’t think I jumped very well that day until I saw the results the next day. Go figure,” Gregory wrote in a Facebook message to The Star from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
Gregory — he stands 6-5 3⁄4 and weighs 210 pounds — was known for his acrobatic dunks from 1998-2001. He’s KU’s 18th-leading scorer at 1,555 points.
Gregory was not selected in the 2001 NBA Draft. He played one year in the NBA Development League, then played for professional teams in Spain, Greece, Turkey, France, Italy and England. He retired a couple seasons ago and has been coaching youths back in Ohio.
Gregory, 38, says he will return to Lawrence to play in the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic cancer benefit KU all-star game, set for 7 p.m., June 8, at Lawrence’s Free State High.
Gregory at KU played for one Big 12 title team and two runner-up squads, but did not advance past the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
“I was part of not rebuilding — because we don’t do that at KU — but a transitional period,” Gregory said a few years ago. His KU teammates included Paul Pierce, Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison and Raef LaFrentz. “We didn’t make deep runs in the tournament in my four years. I know we made it right after I left (two straight Final Fours), so hopefully we had something to do with that. At least I hope so.”
Former KU point guard Frank Mason had an impressive vertical jump of 41.0 inches at this year’s Combine in Chicago. Former KU guard Andrew Wiggins had a 44.0 inch vertical in a private workout that was attended by ESPN in May of 2014.
Free agent Withey to play in benefit game
Former KU center Jeff Withey of the Utah Jazz, who also says he will return for the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The 27-year-old Withey has completed four seasons in the NBA, two with New Orleans and two with Utah. According to hoopshype.com, he made $1,015,696 last season and has career earnings of $2,779,454.
“I hope I’m here. I really like Utah. I like the fans. The organization is great. The city is great. I feel everybody supports the Jazz,” Withey said in a May 9 season-ending exit interview with Utah media. “I’d love to be here. It’s definitely where I want to be, so we’ll see what happens. Obviously there are a lot of things that take place in free agency, so we’ll see.”
Withey averaged 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 51 games this past season. He hit 53.4 percent of his shots and 75 percent of his free throws while logging 8.5 minutes per contest.
“I’ve learned a lot from the coaches here, from everybody in the organization,” Withey said. “This is definitely a class act organization. I’m definitely blessed to be a part of it.”
Frederick to be promoted soon
Brad Frederick, son of late former KU athletic director Bob Frederick, is slated to become an assistant basketball coach at North Carolina, the News & Observer reported.
Frederick, UNC’s director of basketball operations the past four seasons, is ticketed to take over for former KU guard C.B. McGrath, the new head coach at UNC Wilmington. Frederick worked as assistant at Vanderbilt for 14 seasons on the staff of former KU assistant Kevin Stallings before heading to UNC.
“It’s pretty clear that Brad’s already been on the road recruiting,” UNC coach Roy Williams told the paper. “If you’ve got eyes, you can see that.”
The News & Observer said the move may not be announced until July 1, the start of the school’s fiscal year.
The paper said former Carolina forward Sean May, who has served as UNC director of player personnel/assistant to the head coach since 2015, is likely to become director of basketball operations.
Frederick played for both Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge in a Carolina career that ended after the 1998-99 season. He played in 70 games and was part of UNC teams that won the 1997 and 1998 ACC Tournament titles and reached two Final Fours. He was one of three seniors in 1999 along with Ademola Okulaja and Scott Williams, son of Roy Williams. Both Frederick and Scott Williams are graduates of Lawrence High.