KU head coach Bill Self continues to prove he can never be counted out of a recruiting race. Thanks to a late rally, the Jayhawks have again assembled a top 10 class and it may not be complete yet. This wasn’t a Houdini act of Julian Wright proportions but Self and his staff were still able to get five early commitments and it’s possible a couple more will happen before the recruiting year is over.
Over the summer Self, knowing he needed to sign a monster class for 2008, only garnered one commitment (Travis Releford). While top prospects went by the wayside, there’s no doubt the fifth year Jayhawk coach felt like his recruiting was lagging a bit behind. Self explained to Phog.net why the top talents are tough to pull in during the summer.
“We’re working on it but the guys we are recruiting, it’s a little bit different at Kansas because you don’t have the access to get guys here whenever they want to,” Self told Phog.net back in the latter part of June. “So when you look at recruiting really the only time these guys can get to campus in large part is, unless your local, is in the fall. We’re just hoping everyone hangs on for recruiting until the fall and so we can get them here on campus.”
Of course, all KU targets didn’t hang on. But Self was able to bring an impressive cast of recruits to campus for fall visits. Self, seemingly always able to pull a rabbit out of the hat, missed out on players like Greg Monroe, J’Mison Morgan, Terrance Henry, Romero Osby, Deandre Liggins, just to name a few, and then pulled off some late heroics.
There’s no time to hang your head in the cutthroat world of recruiting. Self and his staff were able to accrue the services of junior college star Mario Little first. Little made his trip to Lawrence early in September and committed less than a month later. The 6-5 wing comes from a winning program and has improved by leaps and bounds since arriving on campus in Marianna, FL. Little can get to the rim for a flashy finish but also has the midrange game missing from so many young players in this day and age.
Just over two weeks later, KU proved its east coast ties are still alive and well by getting the pledge from St. Patrick High School’s Quintrell Thomas. The 6-8 power forward is the class of 2008’s 28th best power forward according to Scout.com. The top 100 prospect benefited from his trip to Lawrence and dispelled any preconceived notions he might’ve had about life in Jayhawkland. Thomas rebounds, blocks shots, and is a tough competitor around the rim but needs work on the face up game and still would like to add more choices to his offensive repertoire.
Then of course Memphis’ loss became KU’s gain….times two! On October 31, certainly the question of trick OR treat did not apply. It was quite a treat for Self to earn the word of the Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus. The Philly pair, was attracted to the academics at KU and the playing time available next season. Marcus and Markieff are both ranked among the top five graduate players and will play their ball at Apex Academy in Pennsauken, NJ. They’ll both be aiming to get their bodies D-I college-ready and hone their skills. Marcus stands 6-8 and is the higher ranked of the two, while 6-9 Markieff is not far behind. Marcus can play either forward spot; Markieff is capable of playing power forward or center. With both on the roster, Self has two players that together can play the 3, 4, or 5 positions at KU.
So far it equals a class of five who provide quite a mix – a top 40 recruit (Releford), a top 100 recruit (Thomas), two prep schoolers (Morris twins), and a junior college transfer (Little).
It would certainly be the icing on the cake if Kansas could sign top 25 recruit Willie Warren before the season ends. The 6-4 guard continues to be high on the KU priority list and he is expected to make his official visit during the season and then decide during the late signing period.
The moral of the story is the next time you’re feeling a bit nervous about recruiting at KU, remember, it’s never over until it’s over.