Amie Just mug

One week, two NBA Draft announcements, two press releases, no press conferences.

When Kelly Oubre Jr. declared for the NBA Draft on April 1, there was a just a press release. Granted, it did say, “in lieu of a press conference, Oubre chose to keep his decision between himself, his dad (Kelly Oubre, Sr.) and head coach Bill Self …” Good luck dealing with the media every day for the rest of your life, Oubre. The NBA scrum is much worse and much more critical.

When Cliff Alexander declared for the NBA Draft on April 7, no such statement in regards to wanting to keep his decision private was made. On the other hand, it’s obvious that KU Athletics didn’t want Alexander addressing the media, due to the NCAA’s investigation into improper benefits.

Let’s take a trip to Tucson, Ariz., the city where the University of Arizona is located. On the same day Alexander declared for the draft, another college basketball player was doing the same, only 1,200 miles away.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a sophomore forward, sat down in front of the media with coach Sean Miller to make his announcement. 

At Murray State, located in Murray, Ky., Cameron Payne, a sophomore guard, made his announcement the day before Alexander — in a press conference.

How about at Nebraska? Terran Petteway, a junior forward, had his press conference scheduled for April 8, but it had to be postponed because his mother passed away the night before. 

What about at Kentucky? John Calipari himself said he expects five to seven of his players to declare for the NBA. And when that happens, you can bet Calipari will be right there in front of the media with his players. 

You can expect the same thing to happen at Duke. 

So why is Kansas one of the few blue blood schools remaining not scheduling press conferences? Declaring for the NBA should be an exciting time for the players, and they should want to share that excitement publicly. 

It’s not just basketball either. Nigel King declared for the NFL Draft back in January. Was there a press conference? No. Just a 138-word press release.

What does it say to the fans who spend thousands of dollars on tickets to watch them play? What about to the fans who spend entire paychecks at the KU Bookstore? What about the kids who idolize these athletes?

It’s definitely not answering any of their questions. 

Press releases don’t convey emotion, and they don’t answer the tough questions. Press releases are just curated words on a page, and curated words on a page don’t cut it.

— Edited by Andrew Collins