Thanks to @aeroKU for tweeting me the list of guys who are coming to make sure I didn't miss anyone
Late Night is the unofficial kick off to practice, and is a time, like spring training in baseball, for every team to feel like they can accomplish the goals they have for this year, be it win their conference title, make the NCAA tournament, or win the national championship.
But this year in Lawrence there will be some looking ahead as well, as some prized recruits will be in the building taking in the festivities. Below, we have a look at the recruits, what they bring to the court, and how invested we should be in whether they commit.
Kelly Oubre, SG/SF
Rank: 12th (Rivals)
Crystal Ball projection: Kansas
How much do we want him? (1-10): 9
Oubre is a 6'7" shooting guard, and for someone who loves lengthy perimeter defenders as much as I do, that's enough to get me to want him to commit right there. Beyond that, he is an incredible rim attacker, and is a lefty, which (copyright Bill Simmons) should get him an extra couple baskets per game. Oubre struggles with his outside shot a bit, but he can get to the rim with ease and, at 6'7" he should be able to finish there even against good college bigs.
Cliff Alexander, C
Rank: 4th (Rivals)
Crystal Ball projection: Kansas
How much do we want him? 10
This is the guy. He's ranked 4th in his class, but, while I know the guys at Rivals are more familiar with recruits than me, he's the #1 guy in 2014 for me. He's going to be a bit short for a center at 6'9", but he makes up for it with a huge wingspan and he is a great big man for Bill Self's system. He runs the floor better than any big man in the class, he has a great vertical leap, and has the potential to be not just a go to scorer in the post but an elite rebounder as well. There are some minor questions about his defense but my feelings on that are Bill Self will get that sorted out in no time. He can shoot it at the high post a bit as well, but for me if you were building a complement to Perry Ellis, Alexander is that guy.
Malik Pope, SF
Rank: 17th (Rivals)
Crystal Ball projection: Gonzaga
How much do we want him? 8
Pope, like Oubre, is best at getting to the basket. He has a quick first step and uses his size to get to the rim. Like Oubre, his outside shot is still suspect at this point, and I think he's not quite as good of a defender at this point. He's a phenomenal prospect and the potential for him to be a star is quite high, but right now he's not quite as good as Oubre is and that's why we should only be hanging on Pope's every other word instead of his every word
Note: I don't know a ton about these kids yet, and I don't like to give 2nd hand information without having watched them on tape, but I'm going to have to here, so bear with me.
Charles Matthews, SG
Rank: 11th (Rivals)
Matthews' best trait right now is his pure athletic ability. He struggles scoring efficiently and isn't a great ball handler yet. He can shoot from outside with his feet set, but he'll have to get better at scoring in traffic and off the dribble (via Draft Express)
King McClure, SG
Rank: 14th (Rivals)
McClure isn't a great defender, and might not have the speed to stay in front of the quicker guards that he'll face in college, but he's a potentially elite outside shooter and might end up playing point guard in college because that's where he will have to play in order to make it to the NBA. (via Future150)
WIlliam Jackson, PG
Rank: 39th (Rivals)
From Athens, Georgia, Georgia is the only school to have offered Jackson so far. He is a bigger guard who might function a bit more as a combo than a true point guard. He can get into the lane and is pretty explosive as well. Looks like he has pretty good vision. Here's some video of Jackson for more:
Jarvis Johnson, PG
Rank: 68th (Rivals)
With Naadir Tharpe and Frank Mason, Kansas has made a recent habit of grabbing some lower rated point guards who could develop into experienced starters (a strategy I really like, by the way). Johnson could be the latest in this group. He has great form on his shot that should enable him to be a consistent outside shooter assuming he can repeat it and he has a great vertical leap. From what little I've seen he doesn't look like the quickest guy in the gym but (again, from limited viewings) he looks like a guy who could be ranked 20-25 or so spots higher when the final class of 2014 rankings come out