• SWEDES SIGNING CAGERS — According to my sports writing colleague Paul Mogenson of Lindsborg— the Bethany College guru who knows anything and everything about the Swedes — basketball recruiting at Bethany is on fire.
Keith Ferguson, who will be in his second year as women’s head coach, has landed a pair of 6-2 post players. One is Alex Tyson, who played at Jayhawk Juco power Seward County and prepped at Highland Park. Sloan Johnson, a 6-2 freshman out of Texas, is another key signing. The towering tandem gives Ferguson an inside presence that he didn’t have this past season except for the graduated Kimi Lindshield.
I said it when the season concluded, I think Ferguson’s women will make the KCAC’s biggest turnaround next season. He won big at Barton County and Brown Mackie, and formerly coached at the NCAA Division I level. He was hired late last year and played with the holdovers from the previous regime, but when I talked with him recently he said he already had signed 17 new players.
New Bethany men’s coach Dan O’Dowd has hit the ground running. According to Mogie, O’Dowd has signed Abilene’s All-Stater Ryan Wilson, a player McPherson High fans have seen down through the years. He’s an outstanding shooter and can stretch a defense. Also, O’Dowd managed to sign Marlon Miller of Salina Central and kept him away from Kansas Wesleyan, which had signed two players from Central earlier.
• ROYALS’ DIVISION LAGGING – Even though the Royals were dominated 7-1 Tuesday by perennial thorn-in-the-side New York, they didn’t lose any ground.
That’s because the five teams in the American League Central all lost.
The AL Central is really scuffling. Upstart Minnesota, for now, is in the lead, but once we start getting deeper into the season look for them to fade. They’re leading the division despite a 19-16 record.
In fact, the five teams combined are 5 games under .500.
Cleveland is just 20-18, but there’s simply too much talent there for it to continue to slumber. Detroit is showing signs of age and Chicago is rebuilding.
The Royals are just 4 1/2 games out, which is remarkable considering they have the American League’s worst record at 16-22. The American League, however, is the stronger league at this point at it’s a combined 15 games over .500 compared to the minus-15 for the NL.
The Royals need for pitcher Jason Hammel to quit struggling as it’s almost been an automatic win for the opponents when it’s his turn in the rotation. He’s been a virtual no-show after winning 15 games last year. Much of that had to do with pitching for the Chicago Cubs, who gave him ample support on their way to winning the World Series.
• SHAWNEE HEIGHTS EXPLORING OPTIONS — According to a published report by The Topeka Capital-Journal, Shawnee Heights — which had some legendary basketball battles with McPherson High back in the days when the Bullpups were in Class 5A — is wanting to leave the Centennial League in order to join a new league that would include Basehor-Linwood, DeSoto, Lansing, Leavenworth and Kansas City Turner.
Shawnee Heights has been in the Centennial League for all but four years since the school opened in 1962.
The vote of the school board was close, 4-3 in favor of the new league should it come to fruition.
All seven Topeka high schools are Centennial League members, but it’s Washburn Rural and Manhattan — 6A schools – that have been dominating the league’s sports.
Heights has an enrollment of 1,123, which is seventh in the league.
• BALL TO LAKERS? — If it smells like fish, it’s probably fishy.
That’s what I thought when I heard Tuesday that the Los Angeles Lakers will be picking second in the NBA Draft next month.
The Boston Celtics, in a trade from New Jersey, will pick No. 1 and most likely go with Markelle Fultz of Washington, a shooting guard.
That would leave the Lakers to take Lonzo Ball of UCLA, whose father LeVar Ball has been lobbying for his son to play for the Lakers. Ball is the blowhard who basically has said that his son is Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant all rolled into one.
He also has rolled out his son’s own personal shoes, which go for nearly $400 a pair.
The younger Ball is an elite talent as he’s a great passer. But he has one ugly shot and is on the light side. There’s no guarantee he’ll be an All-Star.
This year’s draft is expected to be dominated by one-and-done players, perhaps as many as 8 of the top 10 picks.