The Jayhawker Podcast

Episode 17: Mark Turgeon | April 30, 2020
Sometimes, dreams change. For Mark Turgeon, the goal of making it to the NBA wasn’t going to become a reality. So, how did his coach at Kansas, Hall of Famer Larry Brown, help him develop a new dream? Turgeon was a solid player at KU, a team captain, and he became the first Jayhawk to play in four straight NCAA Tournaments. But his future in basketball wasn’t going to be playing at the next level. He would take his coach’s advice, joining the Kansas staff immediately after graduating. And he would stay on as an assistant to Roy Williams. Along the way, he’d spend time learning from guys like Bill Self, John Calipari and Gregg Popovich. Turgeon would eventually land a few assistant and head coaching jobs before settling in at Maryland, where’s he’s found success. So how did a kid from Topeka re-route his dream to end up becoming one of the nation’s top coaches? And how did Kansas play a starring role in shaping Mark Turgeon’s life and career?

Episode 16: Hakeem Adeniji | April 23, 2020
This week a lifelong dream will be realized for Hakeem Adeniji, but his road to the NFL certainly took an unanticipated route. Sometimes, though, the unexpected can work out even better than our original plans.

Adeniji had it all planned out. The Garland, TX native was going to play college football at Air Force, following in his brother’s footsteps. It had long been his dream. And then, a harsh dose of reality: A food allergy popped up on his medical report, and that discovery meant Hakeem was no longer eligible to attend the military academy. His scholarship offer was rescinded and all of a sudden, he had nowhere to go.

So what led to him landing at Kansas and emerging as an indispensable part of the team—someone who started every single game of his Jayhawk career? This is the story of how a young man who never planned to be in Lawrence would end up becoming an All-Big 12 offensive lineman and now has a chance of fulfilling a new dream: Playing in the NFL.

His dream is about to become a reality, and that starts tonight as the NFL Draft kicks-off at 7 pm CT.

Episode 15: Udoka Azubuike | April 16, 2020
The road to college basketball stardom wasn’t always an easy one for Udoka Azubuike – and that might be an understatement for a 20-year-old who has already been through more than some deal with in an entire lifetime.

After losing a parent at the age of 10 and then moving half-way around the world to pursue basketball at 13, Azubuike was forced to grow up in a hurry. Leaving behind a mother and four siblings to chase his dream took a lot of courage, but Azubuike saw basketball as a chance to make his family proud and give back to a mother who had become a tremendous source of strength throughout his childhood.

After honing his skills in Jacksonville and emerging as a 5-star recruit, Azubuike wound up committing to Kansas, but even then, he endured great adversity, as injuries wrecked havoc on his early career. And with injuries, of course, come doubters—those who wondered if he’d ever live up to his potential. A determined Udoka would use all of that as motivation to propel himself to one of the best seasons a Kansas center has ever enjoyed – production that made him the premier big man in America in 2020. So how did he do it? This is the story of how Azubuike overcame every obstacle to become the Big 12 Player of the Year, a 1st-team All-American and the NCAA career record holder in field goal percentage, all while silencing his critics along the way.

Episode 14: Mario Chalmers | April 9, 2020
This week marks the 12th anniversary of the 2008 National Championship and “Mario’s Miracle.” The latest edition of The Jayhawker podcast tells Mario Chalmers’ life story including his ascension from high school hoops sensation in Alaska to author of the biggest shot in Kansas basketball history. But what went into preparing for that fateful night in San Antonio and which KU veteran helped keep a young Chalmers at Kansas when things didn’t click early in his freshman season?

Thanks to Chalmers’ heroics that brought a 5th national title to KU, Mario was instantly immortalized in Jayhawk hoops lore, but his story doesn’t end there. Despite being the Most Outstanding Player of the 2008 Final Four, Chalmers was overlooked by NBA teams, falling into the second round of the draft before eventually ending up with the Miami Heat. He would go on to win back-to-back world championships with Miami, playing a key role on both teams. So, how did he do it? How did he go from Anchorage to Lawrence to Miami—winning titles at every stop—and showing up in a big way when it mattered most? This is one clutch story.

Episode 13: Jeff Long | April 2, 2020
These are unprecedented times. Dealing with mass cancellations and a sports world on hiatus isn’t exactly something you can anticipate. Yet college and university leaders—like Kansas athletic director Jeff Long—have been tasked with figuring it out. So where do you even start? There are a lot of details to work through, and everything is on the table. So how do you plan for the unpredictable? What goes into guiding an entire athletic department through a historic shutdown? In this special episode of The Jayhawker, Long answers those questions and more, as we sit down with the KU AD.

Episode 12: Bill Self | March 26, 2020
Nobody wanted the season to end like this. The unprecedented decision to cancel the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments stung Kansas players, coaches and fans as much as any program in the country. After all, the Jayhawks were the unanimous #1 team in the AP poll at the end of the regular season and boasted two ESPN 1st Team All-Americans as well as ESPN’s National Defensive Player of the Year. Kansas had all kinds of momentum entering the postseason including a 16-game winning streak, which was the 2nd best in the Bill Self era, and to quote the head coach, “This team was built to win in March.” Yet that chance to finish what they had started in a 28-3 regular season never came to pass.

But as disappointing as the end was for all involved, this was still one of the best Jayhawk teams in recent memory and that is certainly something worth celebrating. But what made them great? With the help of Bill Self, we’re bringing you the story of the 2019-2020 Kansas Jayhawks basketball team.

Episode 11: Wayne Simien | March 20, 2020
Athletes can impact lives. They have a platform, and legions of fans—young and old alike—who they influence. But what happens when an athlete decides he wants to have a bigger impact, a larger purpose? In the case of Wayne Simien, he simply walked away. Simien was a Big 12 Player of the Year at Kansas who went to two Final Fours. But it wasn’t enough. Later, he got drafted and won an NBA title. And yet, after two seasons in the league and one overseas, he abruptly retired. So why’d he do it? And how is he having a bigger impact now than ever before?

Episode 10: Ochai Agbaji | March 16, 2020
Everything about where Ochai Agbaji is now is surprising. He grew up the son of two former college basketball players, but did you know he was a great soccer player growing up? He didn’t have a D1 basketball offer until his senior year of high school. And he was redshirting his freshman year…until some injuries and other circumstances called for his redshirt to be pulled two-thirds of the way into the season. That’s something that rarely happens, especially at this level. We cover it all with Ochai, from his beginnings in basketball to making an impact with the Jayhawks.

Episode 9: Perry Ellis | March 5, 2020
Everybody deals with pressure at some point. It’s part of life. But for some, that pressure comes when you’re not necessarily ready for it. That’s what Perry Ellis had to learn how to deal with. How’d he do it? And how did that lead to him heading to Lawrence, where he’d have an All-Big 12 career? We sat down with the former KU standout to talk about that, as well as rehabbing from a knee injury and trying to resume his professional career. He made a unique choice about where to rehab and how to stay busy: In Lawrence while working with the KU basketball support staff. It’s a move with one eye toward the future. But Perry Ellis isn’t ready to close the chapter on his playing career quite yet.

Episode 8: How Allen Fieldhouse Was Built | Feb. 28, 2020
This week on The Jayhawker Podcast we celebrate the 65th anniversary of college basketball’s greatest venue: Allen Fieldhouse. Hear how this iconic sports venue came together, from the initial blueprints to the building’s name, all told from the perspective of the last living original architect, Warren Corman.

Corman was one of 8 men – 6 architects and 2 engineers – that originally designed “The Phog” in the early 1950’s. He takes listeners inside the minds of that initial Allen Fieldhouse brain trust, what their goals for the building were and how it all came together. Listeners might be surprised to learn what the inside of this American sports treasure first looked like 65 years ago and how the seating capacity has evolved over the years, as well as what it would take to ever expand it. Corman also shares his favorite Fieldhouse moments, how Bill Self reminds him of the building’s namesake, and what the popularity of this historic venue means to his own, personal legacy.

Episode 7: Gary Woodland | Feb. 20, 2020
One game at Allen Fieldhouse changed Gary Woodland’s life forever, and set him on the path that would lead to a US Open title. We cover that tale and more in this week’s edition of “The Jayhawker” podcast.

When it comes to cheering on Jayhawks in the pros, Woodland’s rise to stardom in golf has given Kansas fans a PGA star to follow with pride in the same way they cheer on perennial NBA All-Star Joel Embiid and Pro Bowl corners like Chris Harris and Aqib Talib in the NFL. This week’s podcast covers Woodland’s ascent all the way to 2019 US Open Champion, but traces it back to his early days as a multi-sport standout in Topeka who initially chose basketball over golf.

Woodland recaps his sports childhood and what it was like growing up watching KU hoops and dreaming of one day playing for the Jayhawks. He shares how he initially chose Washburn basketball over KU golf and the humbling trip inside Allen Fieldhouse – as an opposing player – that ultimately caused him to rethink his college sports ambitions and reset the entire trajectory of his pro career.

Woodland also opens up about personal tragedy, a special connection with another young golfer that’s inspired him, and walks us through his epic run at Pebble Beach in June of 2019. Finally, Woodland shares how life has changed since winning the biggest tournament of his career and the sports heroes from all sports he now counts as friends. He closes by telling us who would play in his dream golf foursome as well as who would start alongside him in a fantasy all-time KU Basketball starting five.

Episode 6: Devon Dotson | Feb. 13, 2020
In this week’s episode of “The Jayhawker,” Dotson discusses his early hoops influences – both in his own family (2:20) and in the NBA (4:00). He describes his breakthrough freshman season and what it took to make an immediate impact at Kansas (6:30). Dotson also shares the feedback he received while going through the NBA pre-draft process last spring and what he set out to improve upon heading into this year (9:15).

Known for his baseline-to-baseline speed and explosiveness in the half-court as well, Dotson describes what it’s like to be the fastest player on the floor (15:00). Dotson is a man of many talents though, both in other sports (17:30) and other genres (18:15). Finally, we give you a “bonus-track” of sorts, with a closing “Devon Dotson Fastbreak” breaking down he and his teammates in rapid-fire fashion (23:40).

Episode 5: Marian Washington | Feb. 6, 2020
Marian E. Washington is not only a Hall of Fame coach, she’s a pioneer for women and African Americans in college athletics.

In this week’s edition of The Jayhawker, Washington tells her story of small town Pennsylvania girl turned Olympic gold medalist, and all the milestones and trails blazed in between. Her career is truly one of many remarkable firsts, including being one of the first two African American women to play for the U.S. National Team and one of the first African American women coach in a major conference (19:19).

She also shares her story of how another KU legend put her on a path to landing at Kansas (8:08), and what it was like recruiting and coaching arguably the greatest college women’s basketball player ever, Lynette Woodard (24:50).

We also talk about another one of her milestones — becoming the first African American woman to coach in the Olympics (31:21) and a key part of her legacy she accomplished while serving as President of the Black Coaches Association. Finally, Washington tells us what her time at KU meant to her (43:23).

Episode 4: Jeff Boschee | Jan. 30, 2020
Jeff Boschee made North Dakota history in 1998 when he became the state’s first ever McDonald’s All-American. What followed in his four years at Kansas was also historic, including the most prolific 3-point shooting career the school and Big 12 Conference had ever seen (20:08).

In this week’s edition of The Jayhawker, Boschee chronicles his rise from small-town kid to KU legend and being told he wasn’t good enough to play at Kansas (11:50). Boschee talks about his early influences, countless hours spent in the gym and the instruction from Roy Williams that helped shaped him into the player he was then and the coach he is today.

His school record 338 career threes may never be touched, but what if a hypothetical all-time 3-point contest was held with Billy Thomas, Terry Brown, Kirk Hinrich, Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk all challenging Boschee? The sharp shooter from Valley City explains how that would go down (35:05).

Boschee also sheds light on KU’s perfect 16-0 run through Big 12 Conference play in 2002 (29:40) as well as some candid moments with Coach Williams along the way. Finally, he reflects on his time as a Jayhawk and what it meant to him (37:02).

Episode 3: Scot Pollard | Jan. 23, 2020
Scot Pollard is nothing if not colorful. We sit down with the former Jayhawk and 11-year NBA veteran to tell his story, starting with growing up in a tall family (2:50). We get into the impact his father’s death had on him (5:50) and how a 1997 NCAA Tournament loss still haunts him (19:34). We get into his style (27:03), his time on “Survivor” (31:22) and finally, what his legacy as a Jayhawk means to him (36:14).

Episode 2: Tyshawn Taylor | Jan. 16, 2020
Tyshawn Taylor is a guy who used hard work and determination to help lead Kansas to the 2012 national championship game. We start with his high school career playing for legendary coach Bob Hurley, and how he ended up at Kansas (3:50). Tyshawn tells us why his sophomore year was tough for him and how he benefited from it (18:10). We talk about how close the 2012 team came to winning the national title (28:17), and finally, making it to the NBA and playing for Jason Kidd (35:24).

Episode 1: Drew Gooden | Jan. 9, 2019
Drew Gooden is a Jayhawk legend, helping lead Kansas to the only undefeated record in Big 12 play and the 2002 Final Four. We sit down with Drew to tell his story going back to the beginning of his basketball playing career and his journey to ending up at KU (7:55). We get into how he met and meshed with Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison (18:16), and what he’s most proud of from his time as a Jayhawk (28:39). Drew gives his thoughts on how the ’02 team would match up against other great KU teams (34:04), and finally, he tells a great Roy Williams story (44:00).

The Jayhawker Trailer | Dec. 20, 2019
There are a lot of great stories that go untold. The Jayhawker Podcast changes that by featuring the best KU stories from past and present, packaged and told in a way fans haven’t heard before. We take you inside the stories of current and former student-athletes, coaches, staff members and fans in a way that’s equal parts entertaining and interesting.