KU assistant coach says overseas trips helped these 2 Jayhawks this offseason

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Kansas assistant basketball coach Norm Roberts supported fellow KU staff members Kurtis Townsend, Jeremy Case and former Jayhawks guard Jeff Hawkins at Saturday’s “Over the Edge” rappelling event from the safety of ground level in downtown Lawrence.

“Slight grief, but not much,” Roberts said, smiling on Monday, asked if he took some good-natured teasing from his peers for passing on the exercise — a descent down the seven-story 888 Lofts apartment complex for charity.

“I’m scared of heights. I know I’m scared of heights, so there was no way I was getting up there,” Roberts added.

Roberts was more in his comfort zone Monday.

He played in the 2018 Bill Self Boy Scout Golf Classic with KU staff members Townsend, Case, Brennan Bechard and Fred Quartlebaum, as well as basketball radio color announcer Greg Gurley.

KU coach Self had to pass on the event as he continues his recovery from what what he’s called “minor hernia repair.”

“He (Self) has to take it easy. They (doctors) don’t want him to push it and go too fast and all that stuff,” Roberts said. “The beginning of September or the second week of September, we’ve got to start doing (recruiting) visits, home visits and traveling, so they want him to kind of take it easy.”

Roberts said the Jayhawks players had a productive first week of the 2018-19 school year. Players are allowed to work with coaches eight hours total (four hours on the actual court) until the official start of the preseason — the Sept. 28 Late Night in the Phog.

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“It’s good to have all the guys back (on campus),” said Roberts, who coaches KU’s frontcourt players.

Freshman power forward David McCormack last week returned to KU from Belgium, where he averaged 10.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in six games for Global Sports Academy, which went undefeated on an overseas tour, which also included stops in Germany and Netherlands.

“I think it helped David a lot, getting him into game experience, playing against men, not just playing against high school kids,” Roberts said of the 6-foot-10, 265-pound graduate of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. “David had a very productive time over there, rebounding the ball well, scoring in close. I think it really helped his confidence.”

Sophomore combo guard Charlie Moore also embarked on an overseas adventure this summer.

The 5-foot-11 transfer from California averaged 8.8 points and 4.4 assists for a USA East Coast all-star team that went 2-2 in the Tour of Venice event in Italy.

“Charlie got a chance to be out there. He sat out a whole year, not playing competitive basketball except in practice, so going out where there’s referees, game and score means something,” Roberts said. “I think it was good for him.”

Roberts said the extra work in the summer is important to KU’s players.

“You are playing with other college players, other really good players,” Roberts said. “They’ve got to learn a system pretty quick. They’ve got to be able to be effective. Now you may be coming off the bench, instead of playing so many minutes. You are not in a comfort zone like you probably would have been in, in high school,” Roberts added.

There’s been a lot of preseason talk about frontcourt newcomer Dedric Lawson, a 6-9, 235-pound junior transfer from Memphis, Tenn. Lawson, who is known as a big man with range that extends past the three-point line, is a leading candidate for Big 12 preseason newcomer of the year honors.

“He’s going to shoot the ball from the perimeter because he can do that,” Roberts said. “I think Perry (Ellis, former KU forward) shot the ball quite a bit from the perimeter. We’ve had guys very similar to Dedric. If it is a strength of his — which it is — you’ll see him playing on the perimeter, handling the ball and facing up. You’ll see him shoot it from there,” Roberts added, specifically answering a question about Lawson’s outside game.

Williamson sets visit dates

Samuell Williamson, a 6-7 senior small forward from Rockwell (Texas) High School, has set visit dates for his five finalists.

Williamson — he recently said he’d be visiting Kansas this upcoming weekend — will also make official visits to Texas A&M (Sept. 7-9), Louisville (Sept. 14-16), Oklahoma (Sept. 21-23) and Texas Tech (Oct. 5-7).

“All the tools to soften up defenses with long-range shooting as well as a diverse mid-range game make Williamson a potential instant impact player at any of his potential college landing spots,” writes Eric Bossi of Rivals.com. “It will be interesting to see if he takes all of his visits, since he’s seen all of his finalists unofficially and as the visit tour kicks off, the staff here at Rivals.com looks at Kansas as the favorite.”

Williamson is ranked No. 35 in the recruiting Class of 2019 according to Rivals.com.

Report: Hawks sign Thomas Robinson

Former KU forward Thomas Robinson has reached agreement on a non-guaranteed contract with the Atlanta Hawks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Robinson, 27, played for B.C. Khimki of Moscow last season. Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, last played in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016-17. He averaged 5.0 points and 4.6 boards a game.

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