JAY­HAWKS’ PROB­LEMS

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Dave Skretta

Kansas is mak­ing news on, and — un­for­tu­nately — off the court. As the team pre­pares for the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tour­na­ment, some play­ers will soon have to deal with their le­gal woes back in Lawrence.

lawrence, kan.» As the Kansas Jay­hawks pre­pare to play in nearby Kansas City on Thurs­day for a spot in the Elite Eight, not ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion deals with how the team has played.

Many have to do with the be­hav­ior of play­ers around cam­pus, par­tic­u­larly star fresh­man Josh Jackson, who is likely in his fi­nal games be­fore mak­ing NBA mil­lions. Not only is Jackson a cru­cial part of a team with na­tional ti­tle as­pi­ra­tions, he has also been part of three off-court is­sues that haunt the Jay­hawks — in­clud­ing one case where he threat­ened to beat a woman who tossed a drink at a team­mate, then caused more than $1,000 in dam­age to her car.

The le­gal woes have caused a di­vide among one of the most tightknit fan bases in col­lege sports, one side choos­ing un­equiv­o­cally to sup­port Jay­hawks coach Bill Self and his play­ers, the other strug­gling to rec­on­cile the un­sa­vory head­lines with the suc­cess.

“I love KU bas­ket­ball. I love the play­ers and the team,” said Matt Llewellyn, who owns and op­er­ates 23rd Street Brew­ery in Lawrence, Kansas. “I want to think pos­i­tive things. I don’t want to think neg­a­tively about them.”

Yet even Llewellyn ac­knowl­edges his dis­ap­point­ment in some of the re­cent news.

The flood be­gan in early De­cem­ber, when for­ward Carlton Bragg Jr. was charged with mis­de­meanor bat­tery, only to be ex­on­er­ated later by video ev­i­dence.

Things be­came much more se­ri­ous about eight days later, when lo­cal po­lice said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing a re­ported rape at McCarthy Hall — the $12 mil­lion dor­mi­tory next to Allen Field­house built pri­mar­ily to house mem­bers of the men’s bas­ket­ball team. No sus­pects have been iden­ti­fied and no charges filed, but five play­ers have been listed as wit­nesses, in­clud­ing Jackson and star guard Frank Ma­son III.

Dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, drug para­pher­na­lia was found be­long­ing to Bragg, and the sopho­more was briefly sus­pended. That case was set­tled when Bragg was granted di­ver­sion.

The case that’s been mak­ing the most head­lines, though, in­volves an al­ter­ca­tion out­side a Lawrence bar in early De­cem­ber. Women’s bas­ket­ball player McKen­zie Calvert is ac­cused of throw­ing a drink at sopho­more guard Lager­ald Vick, and their dis­pute con­tin­ued into the park­ing lot, where Jackson al­legedly kicked in her tail­light and caused other dam­age.

An af­fi­davit re­leased last week states Jackson threat­ened to “beat” the woman, prompt­ing many — par­tic­u­larly on so­cial me­dia — to cast judg­ment on both sides of the dis­pute.

Kansas fresh­man guard Josh Jackson shoots against UC Davis dur­ing the first round of the NCAA Tour­na­ment. Jackson is prob­a­bly in his only sea­son at KU. Sue Ogrocki, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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