Filming is scheduled to start in mid-August of a film that will tell the story of two Kansas basketball legends - coach Forrest "Phog" Allen and Wilt Chamberlain.
"Jayhawkers" was written by KU Assistant Professor of Film Kevin Willmott and veteran Lawrence producer Scott Richardson. Willmott is directing the project.
The film tells the story of how Allen brought Chamberlain, a legendary 7-foot player from Philadelphia, to the small town of Kansas in the late 1950s. The story serves as a parallel for the Civil Rights movement that galvanized the United States in the 1960s.
Justin Wesley, a 6-9 junior for the Jayhawks, has been cast to play Chamberlain. He says his previous acting experience came during a Christmas play in sixth grade.
"Coach (Bill Self) came to me midway through (Big 12) conference (play last season) and said they were doing a movie portraying Wilt and asked if I would be interested and I didn't hesitate at all," Wesley said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal.
"They told me it (the shoot) should take four or five weeks and they told me it may take five or eight takes of the same scene," Wesley said who explained his only acting experience was a Christmas play in sixth grade. "It will be pretty time consuming but it should be a lot of fun."
KU graduate Kip Niven, a veteran actor whose screen credits include "In Cold Blood," "Magnum Force" and "Walker, Texas Ranger" has been cast to play Allen. Actor Blake Robbins ("Oz," "The Office") will play KU Coach Dick Harp, who coached Chamberlain and KU when the Jayhawks reached the national championship game in 1957. Nathan Peterson, a student at Kansas, will play Allen as a young man.
"I have watched a couple of interviews of Wilt and have seen some highlights of his game," Wesley said. "I've asked some people around about his mannerisms or what he did when he played. "It's an honor to be portraying one of the best players of all time, not only in Kansas history but in basketball history. This is going to be a great experience and a once-in-a-lifetime deal and I'm happy to be doing it."
KU's Self Praises McLemore
ESPN.com's Andy Katz, in his daily 3-Point Shot feature, writes that Kansas coach Bill Self has high hopes for sophomore Ben McLemore:
Kansas coach Bill Self said sophomore Ben McLemore is the top NBA-level talent on the roster, but the go-to guy when the Jayhawks need a bucket is likely going to be Elijah Johnson. McLemore had the most talented label even while sitting out last year while academically ineligible. Johnson is more apt to score than the other two key returnees: Jeff Withey and Travis Releford. So far forward Perry Ellis has been the most impressive among the six newcomers.
The Jayhawks have had the allowable summer workouts and will also get 10 practices in preparation for an Aug. 5-14 trip to Switzerland and France. Self is propping up Oklahoma State as having the most talented roster in the Big 12, but didn't pick against his team to win the Big 12. Neither will I after foolishly picking against KU last year. I would go KU, Baylor, Texas, Kansas State and then Oklahoma State at the top.
Kansas Freshman Likes To Practice
Jesse Newell of Lawrence Journal-World reports that Kansas freshman guard Andrew White is constantly honing his jump shot:
Andrew White, the native Virginian and product of Miller School in Charlottesville has developed his own shooting routine called "500 Drill." He has 10 locations marked on the court, five of them from 17 feet away and the other five from three-point range.
White starts by putting up 50 shots from one of the two-point range locations, then extends out to the three-point line to take 50 shots there.
After that, he rotates back inside to a different spot for 50 more two-pointers, following that with 50 threes. He stops when he gets to 500 makes.
The whole process takes just under an hour, and White's goal is to make 80 percent of his shots.
Just last week, he made 500 of 592 - good for 84.5 percent.
Links To More Basketball Stories
In this video from the Longhorn Network, Texas basketball strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright talks about the Longhorns' newcomers and offseason progress.
Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News points out that Kansas recruits from all over - as evidenced by the fact that the Jayhawks' starting five was the most diverse at last year's Final Four.
Iowa State guard Chris Babb rediscovered his shooting touch by taking a different approach - instead of more shots, he ignored the problem.
Oklahoma's inside game figures to be stronger with the addition of Amath M'Baye, who improved while practicing with the Sooners last season after transferring from Wyoming.