Posted on: November 5, 2009 4:01 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2009 4:33 pm

Barnes will commit next Friday

Shirley Barnes, the mother of top-ranked recruit Harrison Barnes, confirmed to CBSSports.com that her son will announce his college decision Nov. 13.

"H called the coaches," she wrote in an email. "They are aware that he's going to announce by signing his Letter of Intent on Nov. 13."

(That's next Friday, if you don't have a calendar handy.)

Barnes is a 6-foot-6 wing from Ames, Iowa.

He'll pick between Duke, Iowa State, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and UCLA.

His final visit will be to Iowa State this weekend.
Posted on: October 27, 2009 2:41 pm

Blue Devils/Bruins lead way in NBA players

It's Opening Night in the NBA, and there are a combined 28 former Duke Blue Devils and UCLA Bruins on NBA rosters, according to research done by Duke recruiting coordinator Dave Bradley.

Here's how it breaks down:

1. Duke (14)
1. UCLA (14)
3. Connecticut (13)
3. North Carolina (13)
5. Arizona (10)
5. Kansas (10)
Posted on: October 18, 2009 4:42 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2009 12:11 am

Thoughts on Madness events across the nation

I'm back home after a quick trip to Kansas , doing some reading and trying to catch up on what happened at some other Midnight Madness festivities. Seems a lot of places had record nights -- among them Michigan State.

The Breslin Center was filled to capacity with 14,759 fans.

That's the first sellout at MSU in Midnight Madness history.

Tom Izzo entered in an Indy car because the 2010 Final Four is in Indianapolis.

"I know what it's like to drive an Indy car," Izzo told the crowd. "I hope I know what it's like to play in Indianapolis."

Meantime, Clemson's Oliver Purnell rapelled from the top of Littlejohn Coliseum, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim drove a police car into the Carrier Dome (Was he looking for Eric Devendorf?), and Kentucky's John Calipari gave a 10-minute speech to 24,000 fans at Rupp Arena, and he delivered the following line: "Our history is rooted in our coaches: Rupp and Hall and Smith."

That's Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall and Tubby Smith.

Notably missing: Former UK coach Rick Pitino.

I'm certain it was not an oversight.

Anyway, a scan of the country showed there were many great events. But the neatest of all Madness ceremonies might've been at Memphis, where more than 18,000 fans filled FedExForum to celebrate a 32-year-old head coach and his eight healthy scholarship players who are unranked and enduring a period of NCAA probation. Understand, it is not normal for the Tigers to fill FedExForum for Memphis Madness. Even when Calipari was the coach, Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts were the stars, and the team was ranked No. 1 in CBSSports.com's preseason Top 25 (and one) , the building was not full for this event. But on Friday night the doors had to be closed and people were turned away, and I was enjoying a conversation with former Missouri State coach Barry Hinson -- now the director of external relations at Kansas -- when I got a text about the scene and shared the news.

"I'm so happy for Josh," Hinson said. "The fans were making a statement, weren't they?"

Absolutely, it was a statement.

It was a statement to Calipari and the nation, a statement from a city determined to convince itself (and the prospects in attendance) that it will move along fine despite a rough few months. Since the end of last season, the Tigers have lost their coach, recruiting class and 2008 Final Four banner. They also watched one recruit (Latavious Williams) not enroll to pursue a professional career overseas, and one player (Shawn Taggart) not return to pursue a professional career, well, who knows where?

Additionally, Angel Garcia tore his ACL in an offseason workout.

Memphis is not picked to win C-USA.

And yet more than 18,000 people still made the trip downtown to celebrate the past and the future, and it's worth noting that a five-minute montage shown on the video board featured pictures and clips of every relevant former player and coach ... except Calipari, who was omitted completely.

"It  was a great statement by the city," Pastner said by phone. "I was blown away. It was unreal. And that's what's great about Memphis Basketball, and it's what I've tried to tell people. Memphis Basketball was good way before I was even born, and it's going to be good long after I'm gone. Memphis basketball is not about one individual or two individuals. It has a rich tradition, and the fans are really proud of the program, and they showed it [Friday] night."
Posted on: October 17, 2009 9:56 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2009 10:03 pm

The Jayhawks looked 'sloppy' but talented

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- "How sloppy was that," Bill Self asked just moments after putting his top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks through their first official practice.

My answer: Pretty sloppy.

But the talent level was still hard to miss.

No, the Jayhawks didn't spend Saturday morning looking like a team ready to beat everybody by 20 points; they seemed more likely to turn it over 20 times. That bothered Self, and he made it clear. But in time that stuff will get worked out, I'm certain, and what will remain is an awesome roster that's as deep as it is talented.

Seriously, the biggest problem facing Self isn't going to be sloppiness.

It's going to be trying to figure out a way to keep all of his players happy.

Remember, Kansas returns seven guys who played at least 15 minutes per game last season and adds two freshmen (Xavier Henry and Thomas Robinson) who are expected to contribute immediately. That means there are at least nine players who think they're getting major minutes, and I'm not even counting senior Mario Little or freshmen Elijah Johnson or Jeff Withey. So clearly, something has to give. And that's why Brady Morningstar's first-semester suspension might actually be a good thing for the Jayhawks, because what it basically did was free minutes for somebody else, among them the aforementioned Henry who seems on track to endure a growing pain or two.

"You do the same thing every time you get the ball," Self yelled during one drill after Henry turned it over. Right then, I was reminded that though the 6-foot-6 guard has a chance to be a one-and-done player based on his physical gifts, he's far from a lock for the 2010 NBA Draft despite what you might've heard elsewhere. Honestly, Henry has a ways to go, and I'm not even sure he's one of KU's top five players, at the moment. But the good news for Kansas fans is that Henry appears to be in great shape and the proper frame of mind, and to a man the staff raves about his character and willingness to learn.

If you thought he might be a prima donna, think again.

There's no evidence that such is or will be a problem with Henry.

"He's so coachable," said Kansas assistant Joe Dooley. "He's a 10 [on a scale of one to 10]. Just a great kid."
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 16, 2009 9:09 pm

The mystery of "point plankn" is solved

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- I'm here at Allen Fieldhouse, less than an hour before Bill Self addresses the crowd and his top-ranked Jayhawks scrimmage. Looking forward to it. But my main goal today was to sit down with Tyshawn Taylor and ask him the question we've all been wanting to know: What the hell does "point plankn " mean?

So that's what I did.

"You mean point blank?" Taylor said.

No. I meant point plankn. That's what you wrote on Facebook. You wrote point plankn.

"It was supposed to be point blank," Taylor said sheepishly. "It's a lyric from a rap song."

Mystery solved!

"Point plankn" is just "point blank" with some badly missed keystrokes.

Nothing more, nothing less.

And if you'll now allow me to get serious for a moment, I'll tell you that I spent a good while sitting with Taylor this afternoon, and I left feeling less giddy about having so much fun at his expense over the past month. No question, turning himself into the Face of the Fights between the Kansas basketball and football teams with those nonsensical Facebook posts was stupid, and the fact that Taylor dislocated his thumb in a brawl just weeks before the start of practice made Bill Self want to put his head through a wall. It was wrong and opposing crowds will let Taylor hear about it for the rest of his college career.

He knows that.

But I think it's worth noting that Taylor offered no excuses for his behavior, and he didn't try to act like it was some storm created by the media. He didn't blame the local newspapers or the national websites. He blamed himself, and that's something I found refreshing.

"When [the Facebook posts] came out I couldn't really say anything because it really was all right there [on Facebook], and I understand why people took it the way they took it," Taylor said. "When I look back on it I see why people took it the way they took it. But all I can say is that I never meant any harm by it."

Taylor didn't say it exactly, but what I took from that "I never meant any harm by it" comment was that though his status updates made him look like a Lil Wayne protege, he was acting tough more than being tough, just caught up in the moment. He fell into the trap of pretending to be somebody straight out of a rap video. And it would've been fine if he was A) T.I., or B) a typical college student. But he's not; he's a starting guard for the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, and when you're that then your Facebook posts have the ability to turn into frontpage stories.

If nothing else, Taylor has learned that.

Sure, he learned it the hard way.

But unless I'm really gullible, I'm pretty sure he's learned it nonetheless.

"It's comes with the territory of being an athlete at this level, and I didn't realize it before," Taylor said. "I was doing my Facebook thing, but I never meant any harm. And now I know I can't do stuff like that because people are watching me and watching what I do, and I'm not going to let something like that ever happen again."
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 16, 2009 7:56 am
Edited on: October 16, 2009 7:58 am

I'm headed to Kansas

I'm about to catch a flight to Kansas for the opening of practice.

The plan is to see the team this afternoon, then attend Late Night in the Phog .

With any luck, I'll return with the answer to the offseason's biggest question: What does Point Plankn mean?

I promise you, I'm going to use my investigative skills on this one.

I'm on a mission this weekend.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kansas
Posted on: October 14, 2009 3:06 pm

KU predictably predicted to win Big 12

Kansas was the unanimous pick to win the Big 12 in a vote of the league's head coaches, the conference announced Wednesday. Because coaches cannot vote for their own teams, KU could only get 11 of the 12 first-place votes. The other went to Texas. Which means KU coach Bill Self is responsible for UT's first-place vote.

The entire poll is as follows:
  1. Kansas
  2. Texas
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Kansas State
  5. Texas A&M
  6. Oklahoma State
  7. Missouri
  8. Iowa State
  9. Texas Tech
  10. Baylor
  11. Nebraska
  12. Colorado
This marks the ninth time in 13 years that Kansas has been picked to win the Big 12.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kansas
Posted on: October 8, 2009 4:47 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2009 2:16 pm

Aldrich and Warren not consensus All-Big 12?

The Big 12 released its official preseason honors Thursday, and the first thing I noticed was that Texas' Avery Bradley won Freshman of the Year instead of Kansas' Xavier Henry. Truth be told, that's how I'd vote, too (as my All-America teams show). But I wasn't sure if the league's coaches would see things similarly. So I found that interesting.

Anyway, that's the first thing I noticed.

But the next thing I noticed was insane: Cole Aldrich and Willie Warren were not consensus All-Big 12.

Is it as silly as the Tim Tebow snub by Steve Spurrier?

Probably not.

But I'd love to hear somebody explain how Aldrich and Warren -- both of whom are CBSSports.com First Team All-Americans -- don't belong on the All-Big 12 team, because there is at least one coach who voted that way. Meantime, Sherron Collins and Craig Brackins were unanimous selections, and I'm OK with that. But not voting for Aldrich and Warren is inexplicable, I think.

Here's how the All-Big 12 team should look:
  • G: Sherron Collins (Kansas)
  • G: Avery Bradley (Texas)
  • G: Willie Warren (Oklahoma)
  • F: Craig Brackins (Iowa State)
  • F: Cole Aldrich (Kansas)
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com