Chiseled David McCormack brings powerful presence to Kansas basketball team

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

David McCormack weighed more than 300 pounds when he transferred from Norfolk (Va.) Academy to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., prior to his junior year of high school.

The 6-foot-10 power forward arrived at Kansas last weekend a well-sculpted “260,” the KU freshman reported emphatically and without hesitation Tuesday after scoring 18 points in the Bill Self campers game at Horejsi Center.

“I feel it is,” McCormack said with a smile, asked if his dramatic body transformation — which made possible his becoming a top college basketball prospect — classifies as a significant achievement.

“Just being true to yourself. Knowing what you put in your body is what gets you results,” McCormack added, asked the keys to getting in shape and staying in shape. "Nutrition, constantly working out. At that weight I am still strong, still powerful, still can get up to the rim.”

He showed that power during Tuesday’s campers game by finishing several hard dunks to go with several buckets from 10-to-15 feet.

“As far as my diet, I eat no fast foods. It’s all carbs and things like that. That’s what really sets me apart from other kids my age,” McCormack had told The Star on Sept. 24 after committing to KU over Duke, North Carolina State, UCLA, Oklahoma State and Xavier. “I feel much lighter. I feel I can move quicker.”

Oak Hill coach Steve Smith watched McCormack’s transformation up close and personal.

“He has a great body now,” Smith told Zagsblog.com in September. “That has helped him tremendously. He’s more mobile now. He plays above the rim instead of below the rim. His shot has improved to 17 feet. He’s an inside presence on both sides of the floor. He’s going to be a really, really good college player. I’ve got to give him credit because he lost weight but he’s the guy who changed his diet and lost the weight and it changed him into a much better player.”

Since arriving at KU last weekend, McCormack has mainly been matched against sophomore Silvio De Sousa in pick-up games. McCormack guarded the 6-9, 245-pound De Sousa some in Tuesday’s campers contest.

“It’s a common matchup,” McCormack said, indicating he had fun participating in Tuesday’s game in front of several hundred youngsters. “I enjoyed my first action (at KU). Playing against other athletes constantly — Doke (Azubuike), Silvio, Mitch (Lightfoot) pushes you to be better."

As far as his two years at prep school Oak Hill, McCormack noted: “It prepares you for the next level. At a regular high school you might not play as many talented athletes.”

KU’s big-man group, which includes Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson — he scored 20 points playing on the same team as McCormack on Tuesday — figures to be a team strength in 2018-19.

“We’re all skilled, all powerful. We all know how to play the game, play to our strengths. I feel we have the best frontcourt in the nation,” McCormack said. “I can honestly say I haven’t (been around bigs this talented). It’s definitely a different experience with this many well-trained and developed bigs.”

McCormack played aggressively Tuesday in making his unofficial KU debut.

“Wherever I go, whenever I play, I play whole-heartedly, with 100 percent effort,” McCormack said. “I guess I’m just confident. I’m here to show who I am, what type of player I am and I’m a hard worker.”

He’ll be in Lawrence for two sessions of summer school.

“Just improving my body, adjusting to the college court, getting my shot much better,” he said of immediate goals.

Mannion has KU in top 10

Nico Mannion, a 6-2 junior point guard from Pinnacle High in Phoenix, has cut his list of prospective colleges to 10, he reported on Twitter. Mannion, the No. 26-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2020 according to Rivals.com, posted a list of KU, Duke, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Villanova, Marquette, USC, UCLA and Vanderbilt earlier this week. He’s considering reclassifying to the Class of 2019. Mannion has visited Arizona and tells Zagsblog.com he will visit Duke, Oregon, and Villanova this summer.

Tyshawn Taylor to play in Venezuela

Former KU guard Tyshawn Taylor will reportedly join ex-KU guard Mario Little as a member of Guaros de Lara, a team in Venezuela, Taylor's friend and former teammate, Elijah Johnson, reported Wednesday on Facebook. Thus Taylor must drop out the former KU guard duo’s “Too Strong Tour” that will visit six schools in Kansas for one-day events.

The summer tour will go on, however.

Johnson reported Wednesday he will be assisted by former KU players Tyrone Appleton, Sherron Collins, Perry Ellis, Conner Frankamp (who transferred to Wichita State), Tyrel Reed, Travis Releford, Conner Teahan and Jamari Traylor.

The one-day tour stops (to include three-point contest, trivia games, 5-on-5 basketball, autographs) for both adults as well as children will start with a 6-8 p.m. session on June 18 at Shawnee Mission South High School followed by stops at Parsons High on June 20; Arkansas City High on June 21; Maize South High on June 22; Concordia High on June 24 and Hutchinson Middle School on June 25. Information is available at Johnson’s Facebook page.

KU to meet Aggies

KU will play New Mexico State this December at the Sprint Center, the Las Cruces Sun News has reported. KU officials will not at this time confirm the matchup, which will not require a return trip to New Mexico. Jon Rothstein of CBSsports.com says the game will be Dec. 8.

Self not concerned about De Sousa's eligibility

KU coach Bill Self was asked in a Q and A with The Athletic’s Seth Davis at USA under-18 Basketball training camp in Colorado if he had “any concern that Silvio De Sousa might not be eligible this season. Or that he is going to have to sit out some games at least?”

It was alleged by the FBI in April that a guardian of one of KU’s players (the timeline made it clear the player was De Sousa) received money from an Adidas representative to help steer De Sousa to KU. The guardian denied receiving any money in an interview with The Star.

“I can’t speak specifically about that situation, but at this time we feel very confident that everybody that is eligible to participate for next year will be participating. There’s been nothing at this point in time to lead us to believe anything other than that,” Self told Davis.

He added of the FBI case against college basketball: “When this first came out, the NCAA recommended to all the member institutions that potentially were dealing with high-level prospects to do their own internal investigation to look into things, and that’s something we obviously jumped on and did immediately. I feel very good about where we are, where we were with that stuff,” Self added.


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