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Thursday / January 17.
  • Freshmen guards Grimes, Dotson lead No. 1 Kansas to win over No. 10 Michigan State

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    INDIANAPOLIS — On a night when the Duke and Kentucky freshmen were supposed to take center stage, the Kansas freshmen put on their own coming out party.

    Playing in front of a packed house that included former Kansas star Joel Embiid and some 70 NBA personnel at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson combined for 37 points as No. 1 Kansas fended off No. 10 Michigan State, 92-87, in the first game of the Champions Classic. It was the highest-scoring game in Champions Classic history.

    No. 2 Kentucky and No. 4 Duke was set to follow.

    “One of the best young back courts in a while,” one NBA scout said of Grimes and Dotson.

    “I thought our freshmen really stepped up and played well,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Quentin and Devon were both really good.”

    Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson went for 20 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists in his Kansas debut, and Udoka Azubuike scored 17 points. But Lawson credited Grimes for the freshman’s performance on the big stage.

    “Man, Q was terrific,” Lawson said of Grimes. “He came out with a free mind, letting it go and that’s something coach [Bill] Self told him before the game. Q went out there and displayed his talent. He was a great player tonight. He was the best player on the team.”

    Kansas (1-0) improved to 4-4 in the Champions Classic, and 1-2 against Michigan State (0-1).

    The 6-foot-5 Grimes is the projected No. 6 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, per, behind Duke’s heralded freshmen trio of R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish. But he was highly impressive in scoring 21 points while shooting 7-of-14 overall and 6-of-10 from beyond the arc to go with 4 assists. Dotson scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting (3-of-5 from deep) while adding 3 assists and 2 rebounds.

    “I had some good practice shots before the game,” Grimes said. “Just playing front of the 16,000 people, I’m not used to that.”

    “My teammates were finding me every time,” Grimes added. “My teammates did a great job of finding me tonight.”

    Dotson and Grimes made 2-of-4 free throws in the final 15.1 seconds left to extend the lead to 92-87 after the Spartans closed to within 90-87.

    Grimes slides right in and takes over for a Kansas program that has produced its share of gritty, tough guards in recent years like Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason.

    “Hopefully, I can lead the team to a Final Four and a championship,” Grimes told ZAGSBLOG last December after dropping 44 points in a game in California.

    “I’m a bigger guard that can play and guard the one, two or three positions,” he said. “I can handle the ball and I feel like I have pretty good vision out there on the court. I can shoot the ball, attack the ball, and make plays for my teammates.” 

    Self knows all about Grimes’ heroics.

    He coached him this past summer on the gold-medal winning USA team in the FIBA U18 Americas Championship in St. Catharines, Ontario.

    In the gold medal game in which the Americans thrashed Canada, 113-74, Grimes had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists to earn MVP honors. 

    Self said he talked with Grimes on Monday and jokingly said, “I’ve screwed up a lot of great players early on.”

    “Well, do they get out of it?” Grimes asked his coach.

    “Every one of them,” Self told him. “So I was glad he got out of it tonight.”

    On the big stage, Grimes delivered a big performance in his college debut.

    “Q was fabulous tonight,” Self said. “There was nothing tentative about him tonight.”


    Josh Langford went for 18 points and 4 rebounds for Michigan State, Kenny Goins had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Cassius Winston tallied 13 points and 11 assists …Kansas forward Silvio de Sousa sat on the bench in sweats after the team announced he would be withheld from competition pending the outcome of an eligibility review.

    Photo: Kansas Basketball

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.