When he was 8 several years old, Lane Stanberry did not present up early more than enough among the hundreds of KU supporters in Wichita hoping to safe an autograph from the seniors on the 2008 nationwide championship staff.
The Wichita indigenous didn’t make the exact miscalculation yet again. Stanberry was initial in line at Wichita East Substantial University on Saturday for the initial function to kick off KU’s 2022 national championship barnstorming tour, exhibiting up at 7:30 a.m. when the doorways didn’t open right until 1:30 p.m. for VIP ticket holders.
“I’ve been a KU supporter because I was a minimal child and I enjoy these barnstorming events mainly because of the accessibility and currently being ready to meet the persons you root for and enjoy the complete 12 months,” Stanberry reported. “When they declared that all but one of the gamers have been likely to be in this article, I was shocked. I acquired tickets quickly. I was not going to pass up a little something like this. How several prospects are there going to be like this to have just about the overall team here?”
Stanberry was one particular of an estimated 3,000 fans who waited in line for hours in the 80-diploma warmth, hoping to get a tiny piece of memorabilia signed by their beloved Jayhawks. The line of general admission ticket-holders was so prolonged that it wrapped all all over the facet of East High College and extended apparent back again to the intersection of Douglas and Grove.
Not like that 2008 team wherever only the seniors whose NCAA eligibility had expired could take part, all but a single (David McCormack was the only player lacking) of the 18 players on KU’s 2021-22 roster have been in attendance in Wichita on Saturday, thanks to the NIL procedures.
Whilst it was the initial cease on the barnstorming tour, which is expected to finalize dates and stops all around the state early upcoming 7 days, it was significantly from the to start with time the Jayhawks have felt like a traveling rock star demonstrate because defeating North Carolina, 72-69, to earn the nationwide title.
“It was crazy actually seeing the line exterior,” KU senior Mitch Lightfoot mentioned. “It was quite crazy when we pulled up. Jayhawk supporters are incredible. Remaining equipped to see our fans and interact with them and have that encounter, I assume is one thing these fellas benefit and I worth myself.”
The earlier three months have been a whirlwind for the players, but they don’t thoughts currently being whisked from metropolis to city to celebrate the accomplishment. They acknowledge the great importance of the victory.
“This workforce is like the pinnacle of Kansas basketball,” mentioned Ochai Agbaji, the Last Four’s Most Outstanding Player. “We have a bunch of challenging-functioning guys who worked really hard for this. It was hardly ever presented to us. We earned anything this period.”
“All the challenging operate all over the whole year compensated off,” KU starter Jalen Wilson said. “It feels great to acquire, so most people else receives a piece of it. The admirers get to share it. This is bigger than us. Not only did we gain, everyone wins. I’m just happy absolutely everyone will get to celebrate.”
The most pressing question for players these kinds of as Agbaji, Wilson and Christian Braun was if they would be joining teammate David McCormack as an early entrant to the 2022 NBA Draft. When decisions to declare are envisioned by the trio, they weren’t ready to give an formal announcement on Saturday ahead of Monday’s deadline.
“I’ve considered about it a great deal, all through the period and all the things that goes into it,” Wilson claimed. “It’s a decision I’ll make with my family and imagine about every thing that performs into it. Truthfully, I’m however coming off the superior of successful. There’s been so considerably heading on these previous two months. It’s a great deal.”
The dilemma came up once again in the short dilemma-and-solution session from the followers, as a single questioned if Braun and Wilson would be returning to KU upcoming year.
“If we get Ochai again, 100%,” Wilson joked, laughing.
The brief media session was mostly light-hearted, as Lightfoot joked about his standing as the all-time winningest player in KU basketball history immediately after finishing his 6-year career with 171 online games.
“Shoot, you keep about for 6 years just about anything is probable,” Lightfoot claimed, laughing. “All jokes apart, it’s been unbelievable. I came to this college seeking to be a small piece of it and keep on the tradition and I experienced the prospect to do that. I’m super grateful and tremendous grateful to the men I performed with, the coaches, the lovers. It’s been a everyday living-transforming experience. I wouldn’t change it for nearly anything.”
“I’m stunned he has not figured out a way to get a different calendar year,” Wilson cracked. “He’s 1 of the Kansas OG’s. That is what we phone him. He’s been in this article for a prolonged time and labored really hard and for him to win his past yr was nuts.”
Immediately after 6 many years in Lawrence, Lightfoot reported he was completely ready for lifetime after KU basketball.
“I want to go participate in professionally and enjoy ball, irrespective of whether that’s overseas or wherever,” Lightfoot mentioned. “I’m nevertheless trying to figure that out. I want to preserve participating in ball. I’ve continue to got a enthusiasm for it, nevertheless received the legs for it. Most people retains telling me to go chase that dream. Really don’t have any regrets about it. You can not go back again when you’re done, so just maintain chasing it.”
Soon after two-in addition several hours of signing autographs, the players did a quick concern-and-reply session with the enthusiasts in the stands followed by a swift visual appeal from 2008 hero Mario Chalmers on the microphone.
The players also played a fifty percent-speed sport of comprehensive-courtroom basketball for the lovers, with Remy Martin and Bobby Pettiford serving as the coaches and Chris Teahan ending the recreation on a banked-in shot from halfcourt.
A handful of the gamers even stayed on the court next the sport to sign autographs for a team of more youthful enthusiasts who experienced not been equipped to get everything signed previously in the day. Previously in the day, the gamers reported they cherished the conversation with admirers and the additional time the barnstorming tour afforded them with their teammates.
“It’s enjoyment, heading to all these tours and staying around these fellas and nonetheless getting ready to engage in with this same group,” Agbaji explained. “Even at the end (of the time), we nevertheless needed to participate in much more because we really like just about every other so much.”