Video by Nick Nelson
In all, 17 basketball players — ranging from 5-foot-5 to 6-foot-7 — flocked to Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night for Kansas University walk-on tryouts.
The hoops hopefuls ran through drills, scrimmaged and conditioned under the watchful eyes of KU assistant coach Danny Manning, who led the 1-hour, 40-minute session.
“The guys came out and tried extremely hard,” Manning said. “They put forth a great effort, paid attention and listened. They are not in particularly great shape, but they went out and they tried.”
They were told what they should expect as non-scholarship players during a pre-practice huddle.
“I wanted to be as real as possible with them and let them know, ‘You are not going to come out here and make our team through this walk-on process and all of a sudden start averaging 20 points a game and getting 15 shots a game, so get those visions out of your head,’” Manning said. “‘You are here to be a member of our scout team, a practice player to play defense, to play with effort and energy, to compete, have a great attitude and be ‘no maintenance.’’’
Some of the athletes — no names were available — were former high school players; others had competed at the junior-college level.
“I consider them all members of the University of Kansas student body. That’s the only requirement,” Manning said.
KU coach Bill Self watched most of the session.
“Our numbers are down a little this year in terms of depth (13 players first semester, with Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor to practice second semester). He wanted to come out and look at the possibility of adding someone to the walk-on process,” Manning said.
Self conceivably could invite one or more of the players to participate in practice in coming days to assess their skills and attitudes further. There will be no additional official tryout sessions.
Graduation rate high
KU’s men’s basketball team’s graduation success rate leads all hoops programs in the Big 12 Conference, according to statistics released Tuesday by the NCAA.
Men’s basketball’s latest four-year graduation success rate, which includes the incoming classes of 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, is 91 percent. The NCAA’s GSR takes into account transfers and others who leave their universities in good academic standing. Other Big 12 schools’ rates for the period measured: Oklahoma State 78 percent, Nebraska 75 percent, Texas Tech 70 percent, Texas A&M; 69 percent, Missouri 67 percent, Texas 67 percent, Baylor 56 percent, Oklahoma 55 percent, Kansas State 50 percent, Iowa State 45 percent, Colorado 43 percent. Colorado is now is a member of the Pac-12 Conference and Nebraska the Big 10.
Six KU teams earned 100 percent GSR grades for the same four-year time — women’s cross country and track, softball, tennis and volleyball, as well as men’s golf. Overall, KU Athletics’ GSR is 79 percent, its highest mark since the NCAA began releasing this information in 2004.
Last May the NCAA recognized KU’s men’s basketball team — plus the men’s and women’s cross country teams — for achieving perfect four-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores of 1,000, a score that places them among the country’s top 10 percent in their respective sports. It marked the second consecutive year those three teams have earned this distinction.
Other figures: baseball 67 percent, football 59 percent, women’s basketball 63 percent, rowing 85 percent, women’s golf 88 percent, soccer 90 percent, and swimming 92 percent.
The APR provides a look at a team’s academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation, providing a measure of each team’s academic performance.
Later this year, the NCAA will release APR rates. If teams score below 925, they may be denied admission to bowl games and the NCAA Tournament. KU associate athletic director Paul Buskirk said KU’s teams were in no danger of falling below that figure.
“I’m proud of the work of our student-athletes,” Buskirk said Tuesday.
Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-foot senior center from St. Mark’s High in Southborough, Mass., had a “great” visit to Arizona last weekend, New England Playaz AAU coach John Carroll told Zagsblog.com. Tarczewski had visited KU the previous weekend for Late Night in the Phog.
“He really likes Sean Miller’s recruits and Arizona,” Carroll, said. “It’s a really tough decision for him — two great programs and head coaches.”
There’s “no time frame,” on a decision, Carroll said. “When he is 100 percent comfortable then he will make the call (between KU and UA).”
KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said the number of tickets available for KU’s Nov. 1 basketball exhibition opener against Pittsburg State as well as selected games during the season number was “less than a couple hundred.” The e-mail sent by KU coach Self to fans informing them tickets are on sale had some wondering whether the Jayhawks had trouble filling the fieldhouse for the 2011-12 campaign.
“This is the same pattern we have seen the past few years. Each time the tickets are gone before the start of the season,” Marchiony said. “We have no doubt the same will happen this year.”