Jackson will hear name called early

By Steve Sell
June 22, 2017

Thursday's thoughts...

• JACKSON TO GO HIGH IN DRAFT — University of Kansas one-and-done basketball player Josh Jackson is expected to hear his name called within the first five picks of tonight’s NBA draft.

Jackson is arguably the best one-and-done player in KU history. What I liked about him was that he knew he was only going to be with the Jayhawks for one year, but he gave the effort and played with the tenacity of a senior.

While Andrew Wiggins was a more gifted offensive player and wound up being an overall No. 1 draft pick, Jackson is more of the total package because of his commitment to the defensive end.

Markelle Fultz of Washington and Lonzo Ball of UCLA are virtual locks to be the top two picks by Philadelphia and Los Angeles, respectively. Fultz is the shooting guard the 76ers desperately need and Ball is a point guard who comes with some baggage as his father has proven to be a royal pain since he reached college.

But then intrigue sets in at No. 3 where Jackson is among three players being considered by the Boston Celtics.

Jackson will probably never be a great scorer. He doesn’t shoot well from long range, as well as the free throw line, and has a funky release. But his ability to pass, rebound and defend makes him a player that will be hard for the Celtics to pass up. 

And if the Celtics do take Jackson, there's a chance they could package him in trade as there reportedly are several teams that are interested in him.

• KU PLANS TO RENOVATE STADIUM — KU’s Memorial Football Stadium was an eyesore when I was in school in Lawrence.

And that was 1977.

So you can imagine how run down the place must look now.

But on Wednesday, KU AD Sheahon Zenger announced that plans are being developed for renovations, which will come with a price tag of $300 million, which includes other upgrades along with the stadium improvements.

Wow.

No doubt the stadium needs improvement if it’s to keep pace in the Big 12. But the amount is staggering, considering that since KU played in the Orange Bowl nearly 10 years ago, the program easily has been among the bottom five in the country, at least in terms of the power conferences.

KU has spent $2 million on renovating the locker rooms, according to The Lawrence Journal-World. Then figure coaches salaries, which is a few more million a year.

Hopefully the product on the field will improve. As an alum, it was embarrassing to watch the Jayhawks play before crowds that took up about one-third of the stadium. It wasn’t that long ago when there were 48,000 filling the place. I’d say the last couple of games I watched, there weren’t 20,000 in the stands.

Seems like a lot of money to me. Hopefully the Jayhawk alums have deeper pockets than me.

• BIG WIN FOR ROYALS — Kansas City’s 6-4 comeback win over Boston on Wednesday on Salvador Perez’s grand slam brought back memories of 2014 and 2015 when the Royals made rousing comebacks the norm.

Since their 10-20 start, the Royals are 25-16. Had they just played .500 baseball their first 30 games, they would be leading the AL Central and playoff fever would be running rampant.

And they’ve been making this run without starting pitchers Danny Duffy and Nathan Karns. Jason Vargas has hoisted this rotation on his back, while the bullpen has made rapid improvement since a woeful start.

The Royals are just 3 1/2 games back in the AL Central and two games back in the wild-card. Royals fans, though, seem skeptical, since the trade deadline is about a month away and most of their top players are going to be free agents after this season, meaning they could be dealt.


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