There is not a better place to be this weekend than Lawrence, Kan., where Bill Self’s overachieving Jayhawks take on Frank Haith’s Missouri Tigers. Phog Allen Fieldhouse is as good as it gets for any game, but this one has special moment tattooed all over it.
In addition to the Tigers, the Jayhawks invited a plethora of prospects to their party. The Kansas-Missouri game has ramifications for this season, but the recruits that will be in Lawrence hold the key to future seasons.
The nation’s best scorer, senior Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) will be in the house. Obviously, he’s a game-changing recruit for Self. Jakarr Sampson (Akron, Ohio/Brewster) is a forward who has the look and feel of a guy who is in Self’s wheelhouse; he’ll be there too. On Thursday, we heard big man Tony Parker (Lithonia, Ga./Miller Grove) wasn’t going to make the trip and then boom, we hear the visit is on. We’ll know for sure once he arrives in Lawrence, but the expectation as of Friday morning is for him to be one of three elite seniors in attendance.
However, the Jayhawks aren’t only catering to seniors, they’ve got themselves a diverse group of young bucks coming to town. Brannen Greene (Monroe, Ga./Mary Parsons) and Conner Frankamp (Wichita, Kan./North) are committed juniors with tickets to the game. Frankamp is fresh off a huge win over Perry Ellis (Wichita, Kan./Heights) and on Saturday, the future teammates will sit next to each other for the game.
The group of committed players will be tasked with making Shabazz, Tony and Jakarr see through the Phog. They’ll also go to work on junior wing Semi Ojeleye (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa). A list of best underclassmen from the state of Kansas wouldn’t be complete without sophomore Clay Custer (Overland Park, Kan./Overland Park), who will also likely be in attendance.
Tying the entire experience together will be former players. From the Morris Twins to Xavier Henry to Raef LaFrentz, the place is going to be packed, as it should be for one of the biggest conference games of the season.
Kansas has a job on its hands. As a recruiter, it’s a target-rich environment. The first priority is to win the game and then build on the momentum of a victory and use it to lock up at least one of the uncommitted members of 2012 in attendance. It’s a big job but Self is one of the game’s best and his team has playing time, atmosphere and future successes to offer these guys.
Saturday in Lawrence is huge on some many fronts.