2017 Kansas Basketball Senior Speeches
The first senior who will take the microphone – I’ve had a lot of great, great players but he is without question my favorite Jayhawk of all-time. I remember when he was young – before it got uncool to be cool with your dad – every time I walked out of the tunnel, I had to find him so I could wink at him because that was good luck to make sure we were going to win that game. If I didn’t have a wink, we weren’t going to win the game. That’s how I felt.
He did not want us to come here (to KU in 2003). He liked the players at Illinois. He could not stand Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison. The reason why is because obviously, Kansas knocked us out of the Sweet Sixteen when we were at Illinois. He was nine and Lauren was 12 when Cindy and I came here. It was our first little get-together after we had taken the job and Nick is in the room. (Tyler) was like, ‘Dad, I can’t stand him. Don’t let him talk to me, I can’t stand him.’
So what did Nick do? Nick came and said, ‘Hey Tyler, man why don’t you come downstairs and shoot baskets with me?’ It didn’t take long before he was a big Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich fan after that.
He committed to us on an April evening at El Potro restaurant here in town and let everybody know that he was going to come here and play and be a walk-on.
I think sometimes when you don’t get a chance to play much, it can get lost on what your contribution is. Everybody has to find their niche and everybody has to find a way to put their handprint all over the program. Certainly, Tyler has done that as well as any walk-on we have ever had here at the University of Kansas.
He got his degree last year. He is working on his MBA right now – at least that’s what he is telling us. He has a bright future in whatever he chooses to do. I know that his mother and I could not be more proud, and his sister as well, about the young man he has become.
There are three words whenever they talk about my son – whenever my son’s name comes up. Whether I say it, or whether I just think it, it gives me great pride, and (those three words are): ‘That’s my son.’
I know it’s getting late. I’ll try to keep it quick. I was told I had a max of five minutes – we’ll see if we can make that happen.
I just want to start out by saying thanks to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I got a little nervous there (during the game), had to say a few prayers and he pulled through for us.
Next, the fans. You guys are unbelievable. This university is not what it is without you guys. You bring it night-in, and night-out. It feels like you have willed us to some wins. You guys are amazing. (There is) band love, too. You guys rock over there. You always bring it. Thank you, band.
Just the whole athletic department. I want to say thank you to all the different departments – Williams Fund, marketing, facilities, Rock Chalk Video – you guys are amazing. You guys put the work in to let us live the lives that we do.
The managers. You guys might work harder than we do. I know we are hard to deal with – probably most of the time, or all the time. But we appreciate what you guys do for us.
Scoot – Dr. Scott Ward. From the day we met, I knew how tough you were – how much of a fighter you were – but you really showed it this year. You defied all the odds. For you to be here right now is a blessing. Thank you for everything that you do for us. We owe you so much. You deserve all the recognition you get.
Cheddar. You’ve been diagnosing my injuries since sixth grade when I broke my foot, and (my injuries) never stopped. There were a lot of times when I didn’t know if I would be able to even get to this moment. I had doubt, but you were always there pushing me and keeping my body right. Thank you for that.
Coach Hudy. You took a 150-pound scrawny white kid and turned him into a 175-pound scrawny white kid. You are the best strength coach in the nation, but that’s not all you do. You teach us communication and leadership. We can tell how much you care about each and every person on this team, and how this team does. It doesn’t go unnoticed.
I have quite a few friends here spread out all over the place, who traveled from different states to make it here tonight.
My family. My mom – you’re the backbone of our family. I love you. I’m so thankful for what you have done for us.
My sister. You’re a great role model. You touch everybody that you talk to. You have such an enthusiasm about life. I say great role model – that is, unless we are playing at K-State in 2008. It’s kind of an inside joke.
My grandparents are here – both sides. I love you guys. I have cousins, my aunt, Hayden, Whitney, Matt and Alex. Love all you guys.
Coach Q. You live life to the fullest. You attack every day. Since the day that you got here, you changed this program with your enthusiasm for life and the way you attack the day. It’s something that we all hope we can do someday.
Coach Howard. Full of passion. Full of love. Always smiling. I remember hanging out with you in the back of the bus in Illinois about 15 years ago. Not much has changed for either of us. I got a little taller, you got a little –. Love you, man. You’re family. I love you.
Coach T. You’re one-of-a-kind. The smoothest talker I’ve ever met. You can make anybody feel – whether you know them or not – like they are the most special person on the earth. It’s unbelievable. That is, unless you’re Clay Young because he can never do anything right.
Coach Rob. You are the most intense coach on this team. It is kind of scary sometimes. I wish I had a dollar for each time somebody was going to, ‘come into our house and eat our food and sleep in our beds.’ There have been a few teams that have tried to do that to us. I’ve been so lucky that you have been coaching with my dad for so long. Being able to grow up with your family – Pascale is like a second mom, you’re like a second dad, Niko and Justin have been with us through it all. I really appreciate you.
Teammates. It’s been one hell of a ride. Current and former. A lot of ups-and-down. We’ve cried together. We’ve bled together. We’ve sweat together. I wouldn’t trade any of you guys for anyone else. We’ve made lifelong bonds and I love each and every one of you.
So I think that’s it – did I forget anybody?
Dad. You gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. I got to live out a dream, and I’m so grateful for it. You’ve taught me more about basketball than I thought there was to know, but that doesn’t come close to what you have taught me about what it means to be a man. I hope that someday, I can be the father that you are and provide for my kids the way that you have. Thank you.
You make each player better. You’re a great coach. But the main thing that I respect you for is that each player who comes here leaves a better person. Thank you.
I love this university. The last five years have been the best five years of my life. I used to sit in these seats and watch everybody play – watch the Senior Nights and think how special it was. I got the opportunity to live out that dream.
To everyone out there who is young or old – it doesn’t matter where you are in life – dream big. Pursue it. Chase it. Stay the path. Don’t care what other people think about you. Keep chasing it. Good things will come.
That’s my son. Good job, T.
Our next senior to come out here – I think that it is amazing how much he has grown. It’s amazing how much he has grown – how much he has accomplished. When we recruited Landen, we thought that we would, in time, get a good player. I remember talking with his father, Richard, and said, ‘Nah, we should redshirt him because we’ll substitute age 23 for age 18 – he is going to be such a better player at age 23.’
To think of all the good players we’ve had come through here – there have been a lot of bigs. It seems like each and every year, one guy kind of gets written off. That would be Landen. We got this big coming in, he will probably start at the five. We got that big coming in, he will probably start at the five. The bottom line is, that dude (Landen) wouldn’t let anybody beat him out.
Landen is going to leave here having started approximately two-and-a-half years at the University of Kansas. Been a part of a lot of really good teams, he has graduated, and he is working on his MBA right now as a grad student. I don’t think we have ever recruited anyone brighter. Although I have never told him this, I don’t think we have recruited anybody tougher.
I wouldn’t have thought that when we recruited him, to think, ‘If Landen gets two fouls in the first half, what are we going to do?’ He has become that important to us. He is an unbelievable teammate. He is an unbelievable role model. His future is bright as anybody we have had here.
Give it up for Portland native, Landen Lucas.
Coach gave us all five minutes to talk, but my mom said not to listen to him though, so I’m going to go with that. If she had her way, I’d be up here for 30 minutes and then give the whole thing back in Japanese.
I want to thank all my family who are here – friends. Without going into a lot of detail, you guys know how important you are. The people that aren’t here too – my best friend Alex, Coach Ward, you guys mean so much to me. Thank you, all of you guys. I love you, Mom, Dad, little brothers.
Next, I want to thank God. My faith has been a big part of my journey. I’ve been through a lot of ups and a lot of downs, and through the whole time I kept one verse and that is – Phil. 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ All things are possible.
When I first heard that, I’m thinking like, alright you can do anything, so maybe you can go on top of the fieldhouse, jump off and start flying. But that’s not the case. I found a deeper meaning to it. If something is supposed to happen, no matter how impossible it seems at certain times – somebody came up to me during my redshirt freshman year and told me I would accomplish what I have accomplished (now), I would have thought it was impossible. But that verse really helped me through it and got me to where I am now.
Even, for example, for you guys that are here today, against West Virginia a couple weeks ago we were down 14 with a couple minutes left. I don’t know how many of you guys thought that was possible, right? It’s not always going to go perfect, you are going to turn the ball over, miss some shots, miss some free throws – I’m sorry. But at the end of the day, you look back on it and realize that it really is possible. I just want to thank God for getting me to where I am now.
The staff. Everybody. All the managers. All the stuff you guys do behind the scenes means so much. Love you guys, thank you for all that you do.
Case and Bechard. They hung a banner up here. To have two guys who have done that on our staff means so much. Over these next couple months, we want to do the same thing so don’t hold back – let us know anything we can do, anything that we are not doing well enough. Because we want to hang a 2017 banner up there.
Coach Howard. Man, you came in and you were just like one of us. I remember we were just talking about it during boot camp when I was running 22s. Coach knows I don’t touch the lines all the time, but he wanted to be a hero and called it out that I wasn’t touching the lines and we got into it. But you know, I respect you so much. From that day on and each day, I have respected you more and more, and seen you grow. I’m excited to see what you do with your coaching career.
Coach T was the first guy to contact me. I know I wasn’t the biggest recruit or your biggest priority, but I appreciate you reaching out to me. It means a lot. Without you, I’m not here today, so thank you.
Coach Q. It would take me an hour to describe the energy he brings every single day. It is just unbelievable. If I could bring 50 percent of that each day, I would be proud of myself. Thank you, Coach Q, for being such a good leader and example for us.
Coach Rob. When I was recruited, I was recruited by Danny – yeah, I’ve been here that long. When Coach Rob arrived, I came in and saw him, and he was a little short to be coaching the big men. But his knowledge and his want – he just loves basketball and he loves the game. He has really helped me improve so much. I thank you so much for my improvement to this point, on and off the court. So thank you, Coach Rob. Love you.
Coach Self. Man, we have been to hell and back – as you would say – a couple times. When I first came here, I remember he was telling me this would be the only night that I started – Senior Night. If I started some other night, the program was going to be in bad shape. You all think that’s bad – he told me to swim back from Korea (at the World University Games). He really said, ‘Call Shelley, call your mom, and tell her that you’re swimming home, because we don’t want you here right now.’
In all seriousness, I have learned and grown so much from you. Thank you so much. The things I do aren’t very flashy – they are not the things that go on SportsCenter or get my jersey sold – all that stuff – but you make sure that I get recognized for the small things that I do, and I appreciate that so much. You’re such a great coach and I love playing for you. Thank you.
Hudy. I just thank you. She commands so much respect without even trying. It’s something I’ve never seen before. It’s incredible how much people respect you as soon as they meet you – as soon as they walk into the weight room. I doesn’t even take much for you. I respect you so much. You have done so much for myself and my teammates. Thank you, Hudy.
Bobby, Vince, Scoot. Thank you so much for getting me to where I am at now. I came to you guys with a plan to get an MBA, and you guys helped me accomplish that. Scooter, Frank and I were fortunate enough to come to the hospital and see you. At the time, it was a low point (in your recovery). You are so strong and we have so much respect for you that it was really hard for us to see you like that. To see you a couple weeks later back out here greeting us before the game meant so much to us. You have definitely made my life better. I’m leaving here with an MBA because of you. I thank you so much and I respect you so much. Love you, Scoot.
Wayne Simien. He has been such a big part of my time here and my faith. It is so cool to have somebody who has his number retired be the one who baptized me, actually. I thank you so much, I love you.
Ched. I can’t forget Ched over there. I’m with him every single day, it feels like. Always hurt – always something nagging me. I enjoy my time with you – talking fantasy football or whatever it is in the training room. Thank you, Ched, for keeping me out here (on the court) as much as possible.
I know I’m going a little bit over time, so I’m going to wrap it up.
Last but not least, I want to thank the fans – all of you guys, here and not here – thank you. You guys mean so much. You guys are so passionate. I know I can give you guys a headache sometimes, but you guys always embraced me. I love that. I love how passionate you guys are about this school – about the tradition. It makes it so fun for us to come out and play for you every night.
I can’t forget my teammates. I love you guys, man. Past and present – all you guys. It has been so fun playing with you guys. Going through this with Frank and Tyler – two Kansas legends – has been awesome for me. I respect you guys so much. I truly mean it when I say that this is a team that can hang up another banner up there. I love you guys.
I love you, fans. Thank you guys so much for everything you have done supporting us.
This is not really the last goodbye because we want to come back here with a national championship and celebrate with you guys.
Love you. Rock Chalk!
Good job, Lando. One thing he said that I think we can all appreciate is that if you don’t have a trained eye and know what you’re looking for, some of the things that Landen does goes unnoticed. I don’t think we have ever had a player here who gives our team a chance to be as good as it could be – as a team – more than what he did.
Trust me Landen, you are appreciated. Thank you very much.
Our last senior. I don’t know how you guys feel, but I think he is a pretty special guy, too.
When we were recruiting like three or four other point guards, and Kurtis called me and he said, ‘Hey, I saw this little kid from Virginia in the back gym in Vegas. Bill, I think he is better than any of the guys we are recruiting.’
He went and watched him two or three more times and was absolutely sold on him.
Frank came from Petersburg – second all-time leading scorer in his school behind some guy named Moses Malone. And Frank, no offense, but there is no way in hell that you could ever catch Moses. We got him here, and we knew he would be good. We knew he was competitive. We didn’t probably know that he would mean as much to this program as any kid that I’ve ever coached here.
Landen is the toughest big guy maybe that we’ve had – he’s just as tough as anybody. But I don’t think anybody would argue – I don’t think there has ever been a player tougher than Frank Mason to wear the crimson and blue.
Usually on Senior Night, guys wait to cry when they actually do their talking. Frank, you couldn’t even hold it until you checked out of the game.
He obviously loves this place. This place has helped change his life – not that it was bad before but he is leaving here a totally different man.
Ladies and gentlemen, the best guard I have ever coached and this year’s National Player of the Year, Frank Mason.
FRANK MASON III:
Wow. Wow. Wow. What an amazing four years for me. I couldn’t ask to play at a better university than here at Kansas.
First, I want to thank God for blessing me with this opportunity. I can’t thank Him enough for putting me in this position.
I would also like to recognize and thank my family – my mom and dad. Everything I do is for you. I just can’t thank you enough. I appreciate you guys so much. I love you.
Next, my son is here. This is his first game he has ever been to. I’m happy to have him here. He’s shy just like me. I’m happy to have him here. He means the world to me. Everything I do is for you. I want you to grow up having a better life than I had. You really helped me to become a better man and a better father every day. I love you.
Next, I would like to thank the rest of my family for traveling out here. I appreciate you guys so much for coming out here and supporting me and my team. I thank you guys.
Next, I would like to thank the managers. You guys work really hard every day and you help us get better. I can’t thank you guys enough for the things you do behind the scenes. We will really miss you guys – working with you guys.
Next, I would like to recognize Bill Cowgill – the best trainer in the world. Sometimes when I get injured or a little nicked-up, he tells me to come in for treatment but usually I just get in the cold tub or hot tub. He is always working with me and helping me to get my body to become better. I can’t thank you enough, Ched. Thanks.
Next, I would like to thank Hudy. She is the best strength and conditioning coach in the world and that we could ask for. I just want to thank you for helping me become the best athlete that I can be and helping me become stronger. Not only that, we go over definitions a lot. So she usually teaches me different words every day. Thank you, Hudy. You’re the best. I love you.
Next, the academic staff – Bobby and Vince. The things you did for me behind the scenes – they helped me become a better student. I can’t thank you guys enough for helping me. I appreciate you guys so much.
Next is Scoot. I can’t thank you enough for the things you did for me. You helped me become a better man. Not just on the court, but off the court. Teaching me life lessons. You have showed me that anything is possible – just keep fighting and believing, and anything good can happen. I appreciate you so much and I love you.
I’ll start with the coaches. Coach Q. You bring unbelievable energy every day. You are so great to be around because seeing how passionate you are helps me to get up when I’m not feeling good or, as coach would say, whenever I’m moody. I thank you for everything you do.
I would like to thank Coach Rob. Like Ty said, before every game no coach gets us hype as Coach Rob. He brings so much energy into the locker room and all the guys get excited and ready to play. We thank you for everything you do, Coach Rob.
Coach Self. I can’t believe that I got a chance to play with the best coach in the world. Not just on the court, but you teach us how to become a better man every day. We thank you for those things. You push us to become better players and better men. We can’t thank you enough for the things you do. I appreciate you.
Coach Townsend. Like Coach Self said, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here today. I’m thankful that you came out to Vegas and got a chance to watch me play. You really believe in my game and I believe in you, and everything you do. I love you and I appreciate you so much.
Case. It was great to have you on the staff. You got a chance to hang up a banner and be a part of something special and we are thankful to have you around. The only thing we don’t like as a team is when you tell Coach Self we don’t make curfew. Other than that, we love you man.
Bechard. It was great to be around you for four years. We are thankful to have you around. The things you do behind the scenes – we really appreciate it.
Coach Howard. Love you, man. I appreciate everything you do. You’re probably as close to the players as any coach because we feel like we can talk to you about anything. We just love that bond that we have with you. We are excited for the rest of your career and looking forward to see what you do with your career.
Next, I would like to recognize my teammates. I love you guys. The memories we have together are something I will never forget. I want you guys to know that I got your back for the rest of our lives. I love you guys.
I would also like to thank the fans. You guys bring so much energy night-in and night-out. We are so blessed to play in front of you guys. It’s crazy. Tonight was a perfect example – you guys were just jumping up and down, and making a ton of noise. It just made the game so much fun.
I’m really sad that I don’t have the chance to play here anymore but I will definitely be back in town a lot. So thank you, fans. Love you guys.
Last, but not least. If I had the chance to play four more years here, I swear I would.
Kansas has helped me become a better man – on and off the court, but more off the court. I have learned so much just from being in a different environment. The culture is different. It really helped me become a better man. I can’t thank you guys enough for the things you taught me. I really appreciate it.
Rock Chalk! Love you guys!
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