KU commit Jacobs faring well on AAU scene; Jayhawks one of 8 options for Congo forward

Markese Jacobs, Class of 2019, verbally committed in October 2016 to play for the Kansas Jayhawks. | Alex Schiffer | aschiffer@kcstar.com

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Kansas point guard commit Markese Jacobs may have played better than his No. 92 national ranking — by Rivals.com — during the just-completed summer AAU season.

“Markese ‘TheShow’ Jacobs ... Had a Great July!! He won four games at the buzzer. He’s been unstoppable. He’s showed he can lock down anybody. He improved tremendously at the PG position. He’s the strongest PG in the 2019 class,” gushed a recent post from the Twitter account of Jacobs’ Chicago Mac Irvin Fire AAU team.

Jacobs, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior point guard from Chicago’s Uplift Community High School who verbally committed to KU in October 2016, cashed game-winning buckets in AAU victories over Seattle Rotary and YIS Team Speed at last weekend’s Las Vegas Classic.

At Mac Irvin’s previous tourney, the NY2LA Summer Jam in Milwaukee, he converted a driving layup and free throw in the final seconds to account for the winning points against REACH Legends. Next, he converted a game-winning layup at the buzzer to upend KC Run GMC.

“My goal is to at least get top 50. They’ve got me in the 90s and 100s and I feel disrespected,” Jacobs said of rankings to NBCSports.com early in the AAU season. “My whole thing is coming out strong and breaking the top 50.”

Jacobs told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I’ve matured a little bit,” since his return from a short stay at Hillcrest Prep in Arizona, where he was planning on playing his junior and senior years of high school. He instead returned to Chicago and averaged 18.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals a game his junior year at Chicago Uplift.

“All spring Jacobs showcased his much-talked-about athleticism, which includes both a burst with the ball in his hands and some crazy bounce off the floor. He’s displayed improved consistency with his jumper and relentless scoring ability,” wrote Joe Henrickson, of the Sun-Times. “His body language has improved and the motor is running better. Whether by coincidence or not, it’s led to Jacobs becoming a better playmaker with improved shot selection.”

Jacobs, who is planning to sign his national letter-of-intent with KU during the early-signing period in November, told prephoops.com: “My relationship with Kansas has grown because of communication. They came out earlier to watch me play. I want to say the relationship is getting stronger as it (time) goes on.

“The only thing they want me to improve on basically is being a leader. They say everything else has been looking good. Just try to hit as many open shots, work on my jump shot, work on my weaknesses.”

Demarius Jacobs, the 6-foot-2 older brother of Markese, will be a freshman guard at Saint Louis University this season.

Tshiebwe cuts list to eight

Oscar Tshiebwe, a 6-8, 230-pound forward from Kennedy Catholic High School in Hermitage, Pa., on Tuesday narrowed his list of schools to eight via a post on Twitter.

His eight finalists: KU, Baylor, West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgetown, Illinois and Virginia.

“Oscar Tshiebwe was a man among boys in California (at recent AAU tourney), looking to tear the rim down at any chance, providing stout defense as a rim protector and remaining a vacuum on the glass,” Corey Evans, of Rivals.com, wrote of the No. 45-rated player in the Class of 2019. “His offensive skill set is coming along nicely as Tshiebwe has begun to implement a face-up jumper into his arsenal, but his best will always remain in the paint. He sports a well-chiseled physique and an angry playing style that is reflected by his consistent double-double production. No one was more dominant than the big man from Congo. West Virginia and Kansas sit as the two programs to beat, though Kentucky has begun to express interest.”

Green a dominant player

Jalen Green, the No. 1 prospect in the recruiting Class of 2020 according to Rivals.com, played well last weekend in Las Vegas. Green, a 6-4 junior shooting guard from San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, Calif., has a long list of schools that includes KU. However, he’s expected to enter the 2020 NBA Draft if, as expected, the NBA changes its rules to allow high schoolers to head straight to the pros in 2020.

“Green makes things look as easy on the offensive end as any player I have ever seen in nearly 20 years in the business,” writes Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com. “ Don’t get me wrong, you can’t get to his level without putting in some serious work, but his fluidity, extreme athleticism and the way he seems to make things up on the fly make him a natural scoring machine. Nobody goes to their (off) left hand better than Green does and it’s absurd how easy he makes his sky-walking, spinning and high-scoring act look.”

Cunliffe to meet with UW coaches

Former KU shooting guard Sam Cunliffe, who hails from Seattle, has a meeting scheduled with University of Washington coaches this week about a possible transfer to UW, his dad, Mike, told The Star on Tuesday. He said his son, who recently announced plans to leave KU, was considering three or four schools, but would almost certainly stay on the West coast. Washington is a natural fit considering the Huskies do have scholarships available.

The 6-6 Cunliffe scored 28 points in 15 games for KU last season. He averaged 9.5 points in 10 games at Arizona State during the first semester of the 2016-17 season. He will have to sit out this season then have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Aldrich’s dad praised by fire department

Walt Aldrich, the dad of former Kansas center Cole Aldrich, who attended a majority of his son’s home games during Cole’s final season (2009-10) in Lawrence, was praised publicly by the Bloomington, Minn., fire department on Tuesday on Twitter.

“After 20 years of service at station 2, firefighter #278 Walt Aldrich will retire tonight. He worked many duty crew shifts, fire prevention/education activities and responded to numerous incidents over his 20 years. Congrats Walt and thank you for your service!,” read a message Tuesday night on the Twitter account, “Bloomington Fire.”

“So proud!!” was Cole’s response on Twitter.

Cole Aldrich, 29, who had his jersey hung in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters in a ceremony last winter, is an NBA free agent. He’s played eight years in the league, the last two with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Walt Aldrich was in Allen Fieldhouse last February for his son’s jersey retirement ceremony.

“Cool moment just after halftime yesterday. An older man stood in front of us in the media section in the southwest corner, facing the opposite direction of the game. It was Walt Aldrich. He wanted to get a better look at his son’s banner,” read a Twitter post of The Star’s Jesse Newell at halftime of that KU-West Virginia game on Feb. 17.

More from this section