When the Charlotte Hornets announced a meet-and-greet for their newly drafted player Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte Jayhawks were there to welcome him to their city.
“I’m a native Charlottean and was six when the Hornets started. I’ve been waiting a long time for my hometown team to pick one of our guys,” said Rebecca Ferry, d’05. Ferry leads the local alumni network.
The meet-and-greet was extra special for Kelly Hunter and her son Luke. When the Hornets heard Luke was celebrating his 11th birthday, they pulled a few strings and sold him the store’s first Devonte’ Graham jersey.
The story gets even better: This wasn’t the first time Luke had met Devonte’. Luke and his mother ran into Graham two years ago while they were on campus.
On Luke’s 9th birthday.
“Devonte’ said he remembered meeting him,” said Kelly. “Luke thinks the Hornets drafting Devonte’ is the best birthday present ever.”
Read more about the 2018 NBA Draft, which saw former KU basketball players Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk drafted in the second round.
Alumni in Nashville, Tampa and Omaha also got together at their local watch sites to see where the Jayhawks would begin their NBA careers.
Going home again
The Big 12 Player of the Year didn’t have to wait long into the second round to know his destination, as the Charlotte Hornets traded two future second round picks to secure the first-team All-American at pick #34. Graham continues to be linked to his former backcourt teammate Frank Mason III, who was drafted with the same pick last year by the Sacramento Kings.
While Malik Newman and Billy Preston were not selected, their professional basketball careers are just beginning. Former Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., who went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, shared his advice:
Not hearing your name called tonight doesn’t mean a damn thing, its all about what you do now. Yeah be mad, but use that frustration as fuel to the fire to prove you belong. Take it day by day & work your ass off because the cream will always rise to the top. Thats just facts.
It won’t register in either team’s standings or record books, but the Oct. 22 KU-Missouri men’s basketball exhibition game at Kansas City’s Sprint Center counted in a way that mattered much more than sports: The made-for-charity game between two schools that haven’t played each other in men’s basketball since 2012 generated $1.75 million (and rising) for hurricane relief.
“Kudos to both administrations and fan bases for doing something so special,” said KU coach Bill Self. “I admit, I had butterflies. I was excited to be out there.”
After a few pregame chants of the unpleasant, old-school variety—the sort of enmity that made many fans relieved the rivalry was halted by Missouri’s departure for the Southeastern Conference—reverberated inside Sprint Center, the great majority of Jayhawks and Tigers appeared eager to instead root hard for their team while also applauding the afternoon’s real purpose.
During timeouts, the scoreboard played video clips with KU and Mizzou athletes from hurricane-ravaged regions describing the devastation and challenges faced by their families, and thanking fans for supporting the game. Those short video clips generated loud applause by fans from both schools, evidence that the big picture remained clearly in focus, even as a hard-fought game was unfolding on the court.
“You can tell how much juice there was in the building,” said KU senior guard Devonte’ Graham, who led all scorers with 25 points, along with 10 rebounds and five assists. “It was a great atmosphere to play in.”
After KU’s 93-87 victory, both Self and first-year Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin noted the value in the rare opportunity to play an exhibition game against a Div. 1 opponent—normally not allowed, with exceptions made this year only to support relief causes. Not only did young players get to experience a big-game atmosphere, but the contest also generated game tape that will provide countless teaching moments for the coaches as they continue their season preparations.
“The things we’ve been telling them they’re deficient at,” Self said, “now they’ll believe.”
KU’s next exhibition game is against Pittsburg State, Oct. 31 in Allen Field House.
Update: According to Kansas Athletics, the charity exhibition basketball game generated $2.011 million for victims of recent natural disasters in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The donations are a combination of ticket sales ($1.15 million), the Pay-per-View stream ($768,000) and text-to-give contributions ($68,000). Donations from other entities totaled approximately $25,000, bringing the total donation to some $2.011 million.
Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our biweekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes.If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Derby native Casey Combs walked across the stage at KU earlier this month, as she earned her Doctorate in Audiology. Casey is profoundly, or totally for a more practical term, deaf. Read full article and watch video
The Summer Venture in Business program is open to high-achieving 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade minority students or those who would be the first in their families to attend college. Former KU student body president Stephonn Alcorn and his Student Senate coalition had proposed such a camp last year as one way to help increase campus diversity. Read full article.
Tom Eblen, who mentored a generation of journalists as general manager and news adviser for the University Daily Kansan, died Saturday at age 80 in Prairie Village. As general manager and adviser of the Daily Kansan, Eblen oversaw the newspaper’s business affairs and provided lasting advice to students on writing and editing. Read full article.
Perry Ellis was one of the many fan favorites participating in an exhibition game that featured more than 40 former KU players and coaches including 12 members of Kansas’ 2008 national title squad. Read full article.
Robert Cobb, a University faculty member and administrator for over 30 years, passed away last week at the age of 91. In his time at the University, Cobb was an English professor, department head, dean, executive vice chancellor, professor emeritus and more. Read full article.
The Sacramento Kings hosted a second pre-draft workout on Wednesday with last season’s National College Player of the Year – Kansas’ point guard Frank Mason III. Upon arriving in Sacramento on Tuesday, Mason caught the attention of social media for inviting a Jayhawks fan to meet him at his downtown hotel. Read full article and watch video.
Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at email@example.com, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.