Getting Inside: Jayhawks Insider Talks Illinois-Kansas

(Editor's Note: IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular co-host Mike Cagley interviewed Henry Greenstein of the Lawrence Journal-World on the I On The Illini podcast ahead of today's Illinois-Kansas exhibition basketball game)

 

Mike Cagley:  It's a friendship between coach (Brad) Underwood and coach (Bill) Self.  The two of them obviously enjoy each other's company, they seem to respect each other. And we know that they watched part of the Kansas-Illinois football game together. And the two are also the type of guys who, who really are pretty serious customers when it comes to winning games and wanting teams that compete hard on the basketball court.

Henry Greenstein: Absolutely, for sure. And, you know, there's plenty more ways in which this Kansas team is tied to Illinois, you know, the most obvious being, of course, Self coached there for three years and had a lot of success and didn't really, he said, he was reluctant to come back for a while, because there were so many emotions tied up in it, but they never really talked about scheduling games with Illinois, but now they're getting a chance to do that. And then of course, you got Hunter Dickinson returning to a Big 10 away environment. And then we got Kevin McCullar and Terrence Shannon used to be teammates at Texas Tech, both went to the draft at the same time and ended up transferring. So yeah, lots of interesting connections between these teams.

MC:  Yeah, Hunter Dickinson is one of my favorites. Now I know he arouses the ire of a lot of opposing Big 10 teams. What I like about him is that he gives his honest opinion and he gives you non-standard answers. And then people get mad at him for telling the truth. And then later on, they're mad at other players and coaches, for giving the one day one game at a time, standard tropes of you know, of athletes. And I really appreciate somebody who's going to tell you what he thinks. I wonder, will Coach Self put a stop to that?

HG:  I've talked about a little bit of Big 12 media days, You know, one thing about Hunter is if you put a microphone in for him and ask a question, unfortunately, he's going to answer it. That's the way he put it. But no, I think they're trying to maintain that personality. I do think Hunter has reined it in a little bit. I mean, if you if you hear his public comments these days or interview him, he's become a lot more mild and the terms of sentiments he shares but still confident. And that confidence is something that really shines through with the teammates and the coaching staff. Self has described it like, you know, when you go into a gym with Hunter, you feel so much better having him on their side. And that's something that I think will be super advantageous for KU, especially as he tries to incorporate so many other newcomers besides him this year.

MC:  So who does it look like? I mean, they're only ranked number one. So not a bad place to start the season. I know it's only an exhibition, but let's assume you're gonna start a team that would be similar to what they would start in the regular season. Who are the starters for this team?

HG:  Well, we know for sure Dylan Harris will be playing point guard, one of the best true point guards in the country. We know Kevin McCullar will be playing on the wing. We know (Dickinson) will be playing center and we know that we know that KJ Adams will be starting in kind of a newer position for him at the four he was planning as an undersized five for a lot of last season. So (it's) going to be interesting to see how goes with him and Hunter, especially as KJ is not someone who's been known for cultivating an outside shot, but that's been he's been working really hard on developing over the offseason. The final starting spot which we're thinking of it mostly as a shooting guard spot, although it's possible that if they choose a particular person maybe McCullar could be seen as more of a shooting guard but there's several candidates for it. I'm going to start with the person who's currently injured who was Johnny Furphy.  He was a partial unknown prior to July, but he broke out at the NBA Academy Games in Atlanta and just dazzled everyone. And he had reclassified to 2024, but started getting all these blueblood offers pouring in. He's a lanky athletic wing, he's listed as 6'9" and 202 (pounds). He can shoot on the outside, he can finish above the rim. There's so much excitement surrounding him. But, you know, he didn't come to campus until right around the time that semester started because they didn't sign him until while they were in Puerto Rico. And at the beginning of August, he didn't come to campus until the semester started. And now he's dealing with shin splints, which have caused him to miss 10 practices in a row. He had also dealt with shin splints back when he was in Australia. And so he will not be starting, but he's viewed as a potential candidate for that role down the line. The other two candidates for the last starting spot are Elmarko Jackson and Nick Timberlake, a sixth year senior transfer from Towson, he lit up the scoreboard there. He's best known for his outside shooting, but he's a pretty good athlete, too. And he's going to be under a lot of pressure in the outside shooting capacity. Because really, this team doesn't have anyone else who's super known for being a volume three point shooter.

MC:  Yeah, this looks like a team that's really, even by Kansas standards, a very athletic team.

HG: Absolutely, I mean, when you have a lineup that can potentially have, Elmarko Jackson, Kevin McCullar, or KJ Adams and Johnny Furphy, all at the same time. That's, I mean, that's unparalleled. So I'll be very excited to see all that. It'll be a high-flying room for sure.

 

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