Kansas Jayhawks Quentin Grimes plays for Bill Self USA U18 national team trials

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Quentin Grimes was in a unique position at the USA men’s basketball U-18 training camp last weekend. Not only was the five-star recruit hoping to impress Bill Self enough to make the U-18 national team, he was also hoping to impress his future college head coach.

Grimes, who signed with Kansas last fall, is expected to step in immediately for Self, whose Jayhawks lost four starters from last season’s Final Four team.

“It’s great to just get a head start, just see how he implements offense, see how he’s going to be running stuff,” Grimes told ESPN. “When we’re going to go back to Kansas together, I’m just going to have a head start.”

Self agreed, and was on the committee that chose Grimes as one of the 18 finalists to make the 12-man team that will represent the United States at the FIBA Americas Championship in Canada later this month.

“I think it could be a big advantage,” Self said. “One thing all these kids struggle with is knowing how to play with four other good players. I think that’s an advantage, knowing how to play with four other good players and knowing everything won’t be catered toward you, it will be catered toward us. … And for Quentin, who I see as a guy — he’s just a player. He’s a 1, he’s a 2, he’s a 3. To be able to see how we do it now, should give him a head start.”

Kansas is being touted as a preseason No. 1 team despite the graduations of Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk and the early departures of Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick (more on that later). Because of Grimes’ versatility, he will be expected to play multiple spots on the perimeter, but he will also be one of three players — along with fellow freshman Devon Dotson and California transfer Charlie Moore — needed to replace Graham.

Self has had elite point guard play the past few years, with All-American Frank Mason preceding All-American Graham. Not only were Mason and Graham both supremely productive, they were both older and had leadership capabilities. Next season, Self will be counting on three players with a combined one year of college experience.

“It’ll be different; there will be a lot more teaching,” Self said. “The goal is the end result, the goal is not where you start. By December, these guys should figure it out and know what to expect and what we’re expecting of them. … I’ve always had the approach that [the] faces change, expectations do not. We’ll be very demanding of these guys, especially early.”

“The goal is the end result, the goal is not where you start. By December, these guys should figure it out and know what to expect and what we’re expecting of them. … I’ve always had the approach that [the] faces change, expectations do not. We’ll be very demanding of these guys, especially early.”

Bill Self

Grimes will shoulder plenty of responsibility from Day 1. He’s ranked as the second-best guard entering college basketball next season, and is a projected lottery pick in the 2019 NBA draft. Moore and Dotson will be solid point guards, but Grimes brings a different dimension and will need to establish himself as the go-to guy on the perimeter if Kansas is going to live up to its lofty preseason expectations.

It will be a different story than Grimes’ high school career, during which he steadily rose in the rankings until he was in the mix for the top backcourt player in the country.

“I think just my work ethic over the years, just seeing I improved every day, working out two, three times a day, see how much that pays off,” he said. “Just going out there and not worrying about what other people are doing, just worrying about myself and getting better. It put me up there for No. 1 in my class.”

Grimes knows there will be pressure on him as soon as he arrives on campus, but fortunately for him, he’s getting a crash course this week in Colorado in what Self will ask of him.

It could be good enough for another Final Four appearance, too.

Could Lagerald Vick play at Kansas in 2018-19?

In a surprising move, Vick announced last week that he was removing his name from the NBA draft. When Vick announced his intentions to go pro shortly after the Final Four, all indications were that he planned to sign with an agent and forgo his eligibility.

Self said that when he discussed Vick’s future with him after the season, the conversation centered around either going pro or transferring.

“Lagerald and I talked at the end of the season, and it was a situation where he was going to do his best to prepare himself and put himself in position to stay in the draft,” Self said Saturday. “And if he didn’t stay in the draft, there was certainly the option for him to transfer.

“I haven’t made a final decision on the situation, but the talk we had at the end of the season would be that he would go somewhere else if he decided to stay in school. That was something we talked about; we kind of agreed on that.”

Self will be away from Lawrence until mid-June while he coaches the U-18 national team. When he returns to campus, he said he will sit down with Vick and figure out what’s next.

“He should look into whatever he wants to do, or look into other schools or whatnot,” Self said. “But there will be a point in time when I get back that I’m sure we’ll sit and down and we’ll visit and talk about the situation.

“But I have not planned on having him back since the season was over.”

Vick’s mother told the Kansas City Star that the G League was the most likely option for her son.

After reclassifying, Joey Baker considers a redshirt at Duke

Baker, formerly a five-star prospect in the 2019 class, announced last month he planned to reclassify into 2018 and enroll at Duke a year earlier than expected. Baker had pledged to the Blue Devils last fall, but given Duke’s potential depth woes after losing all five starters, he decided to move up a year.

However, Baker told ESPN he could redshirt as a freshman.

“It’s a possibility,” he said. “If it’s in my best interest — there’s no point in sitting the bench the entire year. I feel like I’ll be able to help the team and I think they feel the same way as well. But it’s definitely an option, it’s not out of the question. Either way, I’m going to be practicing, traveling, learning, in the weight room, getting better. Redshirt or not, it’s a win-win for me and the team.”

Baker was the last piece to the Blue Devils’ No. 1-ranked recruiting class, which includes the top three players — R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish — and five-star point guard Tre Jones.

“If it’s in my best interest — there’s no point in sitting the bench the entire year. I feel like I’ll be able to help the team and I think they feel the same way as well. But it’s definitely an option, it’s not out of the question.”

Joey Baker

“Me and the coaching staff talked about it,” Baker said about his reclassification decision. “We thought my development, it helped with that. Playing with and against them, in practice and stuff like that, it would help me grow as a player, as opposed to staying in high school. I can get better, but not at the rate I would be in college. I think I can help them in a couple ways, so we’ll see.”

Baker has one more high school class to finish up before he can enroll at Duke, but expects to start July 1.

Five-star guard Jalen Lecque weighs pros and cons of reclassifying

We’ve already seen several 2019 prospects decide to move up into 2018, but one who seems likely to remain in 2019 is Lecque. The No. 2 point guard in the class has plenty of suitors, but is only leaving the door slightly ajar for a reclassification.

“I’m most likely, as of right now, probably 90 percent more into 2019,” Lecque said. “Just because I believe I have been put into the position on how to be a point guard. The transition is going to take time for me to learn everything I have to know to be dominant at the college level.”

Lecque, a 6-foot-4 Christ School (New York) product, listed NC State, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Kansas, Kentucky and Duke among the schools in pursuit.

“[The] 2018 pros: get better mentally and physically at the college level, play against older people, be in that light to do better and just get stronger, facility-wise and everything,” Lecque said. “Cons: Am I in the right position at the right moment? I don’t want to waste a year at a college I would go to where I wouldn’t play as much. I want to go a college where I come out and I’m gonna play, and I’m going to be able to fight through the mistakes and be able to grow as a player.”

There’s also another potential option on Lecque’s plate: skipping college entirely and going straight to the NBA, as Thon Maker and Anfernee Simons have done. If Lecque is able to graduate high school this spring and enroll somewhere as a post-grad prospect in the fall, he would likely satisfy the requirements to enter the NBA draft.

“It’s a good idea to do,” he said, adding he has no interest in taking the G League route like former Syracuse signee Darius Bazley. “I just have to talk to my parents, just get bigger physically and fill out.

“It’s just whatever falls. If I feel like I’m good enough next year, and my body gets bigger and stronger and I get way better at the point guard position, you just never know.”

UNC signee Coby White prepares to fill Joel Berry‘s shoes

Roy Williams has had it pretty good at the point guard position the last decade or so. He has had Ty Lawson, Kendall Marshall, four-year starter Marcus Paige and Berry as the starter for the last three years.

With Berry now gone, what’s next?

Williams will turn to incoming freshman White, a McDonald’s All American and five-star prospect from Greenfield High School (North Carolina). And based on White’s stellar performance over the weekend at USA Basketball, he’s ready for the task.

“I love the pressure. I love the challenge,” White told ESPN. “I want to accept the challenge. I know I’ve gotta come in and do my job. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning. Whatever Coach Williams wants me to do for us to win, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

Berry was White’s host during his official visit to Chapel Hill, and the two have maintained a relationship. White has picked Berry’s brain on a few things, and has also studied his game while preparing for his time at North Carolina.

“One thing [Berry] said … ‘Just come in and be coachable. Don’t always blame everybody else; you can blame yourself.’ I took those words seriously,” White said. “He’s relentless, at both ends of the court. He can score the ball at will, he has a smooth jump shot. But the most important point that stands out: Everybody says he’s a pit bull. He gets it done at both ends of the court. That’s what I have to get to. That both-ends-of-the-court mentality.”

After just a few days in Colorado Springs, White got a taste of what college ball will be like.

“I never thought I could play this hard,” he said. “This ain’t no joke. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. At North Carolina, it’s definitely going to be like this. I’m glad I got this experience already.”





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