Mac Stevenson
KU’s basketball team improved their record to 7-0 with the 86-70 win over Syracuse last Saturday. Point guard Devonté Graham saved the Jayhawks with one of his best games, scoring 35 points and hitting seven of 13 three-point shots. Lagerald Vick played very well, scoring 20 points with eight rebounds and seven assists. The rest of the Jayhawks were average at best.
Kansas has the potential to be one of the four or five best teams in the nation, but that’s dependent on whether or not forward Billy Preston becomes eligible. And having recruit Silvio De Sosa (6-9, 245) join the team at the semester break would be icing on the cake. Without Preston, KU will be limited as to how far they can go.
That brings us to a number of questions: What in the world is going on with the basketball eligibility issue of KU’s freshman forward Billy Preston (6-10, 240)? Is the NCAA involved? Is it KU’s administration that is doing the investigating or whatever it is that’s being done? Is this just something that Preston did or are others outside the university involved? Is it the car that Preston has been driving that’s causing concern, or are there other issues?
This is similar to the Cheick Diallo situation two years ago when the NCAA wouldn’t make a decision on his eligibility within a reasonable length of time. Coach Bill Self and KU’s administration became involved nationally with that one and it didn’t reflect favorably on the NCAA. It serves no useful purpose to make members of the NCAA look stupid—as they so often are—and that might be why the university and Self have been so secretive about what is going on with Preston.
No matter what, it’s become another major frustration with KU fans; the resemblance with the Diallo episode is clear. The main difference is that Self and KU’s administration have decided to stay silent publicly and that is undoubtedly a wise decision. Taking an adversarial position against the NCAA is like talking back to your commanding officer in the army—those are ill-advised actions.
If Kansas is able to add Preston and De Sousa to their roster at the semester break, the sky’s the limit for the Jayhawks. Without those two, KU will have another excellent season, but there will be plenty of bumps in the road.
Wichita State enhanced their national ranking with an impressive road win (69-62) at Baylor. The Shockers were led by guards Conner Frankamp and Landry Shamet; Frankamp hit five of eight three-pointers on his way to 17 points and Shamet scored 11 points and hit three of four three-pointers.
Coach Gregg Marshall’s team had a 6-1 record after the Baylor game and Wichita will become even more formidable when small-forward Markis McDuffie (6-8, 215) returns to the lineup. McDuffie is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot; he was the Shockers’ leading scorer and rebounder last season.
Oklahoma’s convincing 41-17 win against TCU in the Big 12 championship football game guaranteed the Sooners a slot in the Final Four playoffs. And it fortifies the Big 12’s national prestige. In addition, OU QB Baker Mayfield appears to be a cinch to win the Heisman Trophy.
The Sooners have a good chance to win the national championship behind their awesome offense and improving defense; that would indeed solidify the standing of the Big 12. It would also make the league’s decision to have just 10 teams look a whole lot better. Some of the major conferences have so many teams that it’s difficult to keep track of their format. If the Big 12 leaders are smart enough to leave the conference as is, it will prove an advantageous decision over time.
Kansas State’s annual participation in a bowl game produces many rewards and this season will be no different. Among the most important, the bowl game will be a great aid in recruiting for the 2018 class. And the overall national prestige of the Wildcats’ program will continue to grow. But the most valuable asset to the football team will be the extra three weeks plus of practice before the game.
The extra practice time is invaluable for young players who haven’t played much during the regular season; that includes redshirts and youngsters who don’t have the necessary experience.
QB Skylar Thompson will benefit more than most; he’s played enough now that he and the coaching staff know what he needs to improve on and Thompson will receive intensive coaching while preparing for the bowl game. And this extra practice will carry over to next fall.
It’s another step forward for Kansas State football.