Each week, we bring you the most memorable, and inspirational quotes from athletes, coaches, and sports personalities who are making waves for KU.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self
Dec. 1, 2023
“For him to play for you guys the way he did tonight, knowing he’s getting on a plane to go say goodbye tomorrow morning… Wow. Stud. That is what winners do, and he’s a frickin’ winner.”
Context: After No. 5 Kansas took down the reigning national champion No. 4 UConn Huskies on Dec. 1, there was one player that stood out amongst the rest: junior forward KJ Adams.
Adams, who was playing for himself, his team and his late mother, Yvonne, laid it all on the line against UConn, finishing second on the team in scoring with 18 points, pulling down five boards, swatting away two shots and grabbing a steal in 38 minutes of play. The Austin, Texas native played nearly every minute of the game, just hours before hopping on a plane to attend his mother’s celebration of life the following morning.
With the help of graduate senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr.’s 21 points and five rebounds and senior center Hunter Dickinson’s 15 points and nine rebounds, the Jayhawks narrowly escaped the Huskies 69-65. Kansas took down its third opponent ranked inside the AP Top-25 in just its first eight games of the season, and Adams continued to show his importance to the Jayhawks.
As shown on a Kansas Athletics video from inside the locker room after the game, Self spoke highly of Adams' drive and commitment and his level of play in Kansas’ biggest game of the season thus far. Adams showed his winning mentality and how instrumental he is to the Jayhawks’ roster, showing up time and time again in big games.
Adams and KU will take on Missouri in the HyVee Hoops Border Showdown at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Graduate outside hitter Reagan Cooper
Dec. 1, 2023
“I’m really really proud of this team. I’m so happy I made the decision to come here, and really have no regrets. I feel like we laid it all out there tonight and being able to end on a high note feels really good and I’m so proud of this group.”
Context: Reagan Cooper has led the No. 4 Jayhawks all season long with her production at the net, and her latest performance against Penn State in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament was no exception. Cooper led the match with a career-high 29 kills on a .464 hitting percentage, but that wasn’t enough to take down the Nittany Lions, losing a 3-2 heartbreaker to end the Jayhawks’ postseason run.
Despite the disappointing result of the match, Cooper had nothing but positive things to say about the team and their effort in their final match of the season. Kansas ended its season with a 24-6 record while defending its home court all year long, with the lone home loss coming to Penn State on Dec. 1.
KU proved to be a formidable opponent to the rest of the Big 12 Conference, going 14-4 against in-conference rivals, with key wins against the Baylor Bears and the BYU Cougars in back-to-back matches in November.
Cooper came to KU from the Texas Tech Red Raiders and immediately made an impact on this roster. Cooper ended her season second on the team in kills and total hitting percentage with 363 kills and a .346 hitting percentage on the year, while her 3.86 kills per set led the Jayhawks.
Kansas finished with a 19-11 record last season and also went to the Sweet 16, losing 3-1 to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Cooper’s addition to the Jayhawks’ roster proved to be a huge lift to the team, and the record and stats showed exactly what she brought to the team all season long.
Super-senior center Taiyanna Jackson
Nov. 30, 2023
“I love playing with S’Mya. She plays with so much poise, she's so comfortable … body control. It's just like not your normal freshman that you see.”
Context: After dropping two close games to AP Top-25 opponents in Uconn and Virginia Tech, Kansas bounced back with a 67-56 victory over the Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions on Nov. 30. Taiyanna Jackson and freshman guard S’Mya Nichols had great performances against the Lady Lions and powered the Jayhawks to the win.
Jackson had her best performance of the season, finishing with a season-high 22 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, ending with a double-double. She added on two blocks and two steals in the game and shot more free throws than the entire Southeastern Louisiana squad, dominating the paint all game long.
But after the game, Jackson spoke highly on her teammate Nichols and how she brings a unique presence to the team. Nichols ended the game with 16 points and a steal, splashing four of her six three-point attempts, making half of KU’s eight shots from downtown.
Nichols has started the season fitting in nicely, scoring double-digit points in five-straight games dating back to Nov. 13. After a 20-point performance against the Houston Christian Huskies on Dec. 6, Nichols now leads the Jayhawks in scoring with 108 points, averaging 13.5 points per game.
The Overland Park, Kansas native is shooting 45% from the floor and 42.3% from behind the three-point line in eight games played this season. Nichols has consistently been a bright spot on the team despite KU’s 4-4 record, and her teammates are taking notice.
Next up for Kansas, Nichols and the Jayhawks go on the road to take on Wichita State on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. on ESPN+.
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