Self lauds Rush’s 46-point alumni outing vs. Mizzou, says Jayhawks had ‘good summer’

In this March 31, 2018, file photo, Kansas head coach Bill Self directs his team during the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Villanova in San Antonio. | David J. Phillip | AP

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Word of Brandon Rush’s 46-point performance in the “Rivalry Renewed” alumni basketball game between Kansas and Missouri reached KU basketball coach Bill Self on the recruiting trail over the weekend.

“I told Brandon, ‘I see Mario finally passed you the ball,’’’ Self said jokingly Sunday of Rush’s 2008 NCAA title squad teammate and good friend, Mario Chalmers. “Brandon said, ‘He had to (pass). I was so wide open.’

“Those guys combined for 67 of the 109 (points). That’s good,” Self added.

The 6-foot-6, 33-year-old Rush hit eight 3s and scored 46 points, and the 6-2, 32-year-old Chalmers drilled six 3s en route to 21 points in KU’s 109-101 victory over MU on Saturday night, before 2,500 fans at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence.

Self was speaking to The Star on Sunday from Drive5 Sports Center in Overland Park, site of the last AAU tournament of the spring/summer season — the Jayhawk Summer Finale.

“I think the Kansas team only had one sub (Saturday),” Self said, correctly. The KU team consisted of six players, while Missouri had eight. “I’m sure there were a lot of old-timers out there sucking air,” Self added.

Self was asked his reaction to his six former players (Chalmers, Rush, Jeff Graves, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Travis Releford) defeating a Tiger team led by Kareem Rush (14 points), Stefhon Hannah (26 points) and Leo Lyons (34 points).

“I think any time you compete against a rival in tiddlywinks, it’s important that you win. Of course I’m happy we won,” Self said. His simple response was, “I’m working,” when asked if he considered attending the exhibition. Indeed, he was busy on the last weekend of the open recruiting period. He was spotted at AAU events in Las Vegas, as well as the one in Overland Park.

Coincidentally, former KU standouts Rush and Chalmers, who both have had their jerseys hung in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters, are both NBA free agents hoping to continue their careers, which have spanned 10 seasons apiece.

Chalmers’ name has been mentioned in connection with some NBA teams in media reports. There haven’t yet been any rumors about teams possibly being interested in Rush, who had a 10-day contract with Portland last season.

Asked specifically about Rush and his future, Self said: “Brandon can shoot the ball. Whether you are open or whatnot, you’ve still got to be able to make the shot. Yes, I’d think Brandon will get another shot (at making a roster). I’m sure he’ll definitely be in someone’s camp (this fall).”

Self says it was productive summer

The second semester of summer school at KU has ended, meaning the Jayhawk players will scatter to their hometowns until the Aug. 20 start of the 2018-19 school year.

“I would say it was a good summer. I think our guys got better,” Self said Sunday. Players were able to practice four hours a week with coaches while two sessions of summer school were in session. The players also lifted weights and competed in unsupervised pickup games.

“I missed the first third of it because of being with USA Basketball (coaching gold-medal winning team at the FIBA Under-18 championship in Canada). “I like how our guys, especially our young guys, have developed over the last couple months.”

CBSsports.com’s Jon Rothstein wrote on Twitter over the weekend: “One interesting thought from many college coaches this month? Kansas freshman Quentin Grimes could wind up as nation’s best overall player in 18-19.”

Asked about that, Self said Sunday: “I’m not going to comment on what other people think of my guys. He (Grimes) has a chance to have a really impactful freshman year. He has to learn. He has a ways to go just like everybody else, but certainly we’re very happy he’s with us.”

Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson also has received positive press this summer.

“He’s a good player,” Self said. “He’s a terrific passer. Everybody looks pretty good in the summer because nobody plays any defense.”

KC Run GMC second in tourney

KU recruiting target Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s KC Run GMC team placed second at the Jayhawk Summer Finale, falling to the OSA Crusaders 86-74 in Sunday’s title game viewed by Self, Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger and coaches from many other schools. Robinson-Earl, a 6-9 senior forward (ranked No. 9 in the Class of 2019 by Rivals.com) who will play his senior year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., after three years at Bishop Miege, scored 19 points in the final.

It is possible Sunday’s event could be the last AAU tournament Self and other college coaches will ever attend. There have been reports that, starting next spring, all AAU events will be closed to college coaches in response to concerns expressed by Condoleezza Rice’s commission on college basketball.

The alternative to AAU ball would be a series of NCAA-sponsored regional camps run by USA Basketball. College coaches would be allowed to scout, maybe even work, those camps.

“No, I cannot go that far,” Self said, asked specifically if he thought the Summer Finale was the final evaluation event coaches will be allowed to attend.

“I know there’s a lot of discussion, and it’s obviously still yet to be finalized, although we’re in the closing days (before decision on summer model is announced). I don’t believe that what’s been reported thus far is necessarily accurate. I don’t know that anybody will know it (new model) for at least a few more days.”

Self believes AAU tournaments can be quite positive for young players.

“They can be, no question. Anytime guys are playing and have a chance to get exposure to colleges (that award scholarships) I think is very positive. I just hope something can be accomplished, which I believe it can, that certainly wouldn’t take away from the kids.”

Wiseman down to eight schools

James Wiseman, a 7-foot senior center from Memphis East High School, who is ranked No. 3 in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com, on Sunday announced his final eight schools. They are: KU, Memphis, Kentucky, Arizona, Florida State, North Carolina, Texas and Vanderbilt.

Of KU, he told prepcircuit.com: “Kansas is a great school and they have a winning tradition. Coach Self is a great coach and they play inside and out by doing a lot of pick and rolls and have great guard play. They have done a great job there and they play the way I like to, which is intriguing.”


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