Monday, June 15, 2009|
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LJW Video: KU freshman Elijah Johnson arrives
LJW Audio: Elijah Johnson talks about why he chose KU
Elijah Johnson doesn’t expect any good-natured ribbing or hazing from Kansas University’s basketball veterans in coming days.
“Nah, that’s not how the players are here. They try to make you feel as comfortable as they can,” said Johnson, Kansas University’s 6-foot-2 freshman guard from Las Vegas’ Cheyenne High who graduated Thursday and arrived to a warm welcome in Lawrence on Saturday afternoon.
...He grinned when asked to reveal his vertical leap in inches.
“I don’t know. The last time I checked it was 39, and that was my freshman year of high school,” he said. “Actually, that’s something I want to find out real soon. I’m thinking it’s 43, 44 or something.”
He’s hoping to put down some slams that impress his hero, KU senior guard Sherron Collins.
“He’s been here the longest. I’ve been wanting to play with him since his freshman year,” the longtime KU fan said. “We’ve got some trademarks. He did some crazy dunks at the end of some all-star games, and I have, too. He’s a big-dog senior that already has a lot of NBA teams looking at him. I will look at Sherron and learn how to get as much out of this experience as I can.”
He’ll immediately begin bonding with Jayhawker Towers roommate Thomas Robinson, a fellow freshman who arrived last week and has been waiting patiently for Johnson to arrive.
“He was my roommate at the Reebok game out in D.C.,” Johnson said. “It felt good to know he’s my roommate here. We’ve got a little chemistry already. We pretty much know about each other.”
A memorial service for former Kansas athletics director Bob Frederick will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Lied Center on the West Campus. Private interment will be at a later date.
LJW: It's time to think tribute for Dr. Frederick
Harrick had much the same impact at URI as he did at UCLA. And then later at Georgia, as well. He proved to be an excellent coach, but one with questionable ethics. Both URI and Georgia, like UCLA, were put on NCAA probation for rules violations after Harrick left.
“He’s a classic Jekyll-and-Hyde figure,” Carothers responded when asked about Harrick, who led URI to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1998 and then to the school’s only Atlantic 10 title in 1999 before leaving for Georgia.
...But the success came at a price.
“On the other hand, he was a great embarrassment,” Carothers said. “The same character flaws he had at UCLA ended up here, and he passed them on to another generation, too [at Georgia].”
“No question he’s an excellent coach,” the president said, “but not necessarily a great man.”
In hindsight, Carothers views the experience with mixed emotions, but feels there were more positives than negatives.
“We were out there flying with the big boys,” Carothers said. “When we beat Kansas that year , the president of Kansas was a classmate of mine in graduate school. He came over before the game and I was joking with him, telling him to take it easy on us.
“We were joking, but when we won he didn’t come back.”
Providence Journal series with outgoing URI president Robert L. Carothers
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