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Gradey Dick set Kansas’ freshman record for 3-point field goals, recorded the first double-double of his career in the Jayhawks’ opener of the NCAA Tournament and is on track to be a NBA lottery picks in June.

His self-fulfilling mother is proud of him, of course.

But Carmen Dick does not concede anything to him as a basketball player. That’s not how their ultra-competitive family works.

His son starred in a first-round win over Howard on Thursday and then he’ll lead the top-seeded and defending champion Jayhawks (28-7) in a Saturday game against No. 8 Arkansas. (21-13).

No. 2 UCLA (30-5) takes on No. 7 Northwestern (22-11) in Sacramento, Calif., in the West’s other game.

The Kansas tournament openers are held at Wells Fargo Arena, which is across from Veterans Auditorium. It’s where Carmen Dick – later Carmen Jaspers – built her legacy as one of Iowa’s greatest high school players before becoming a 1,000-point scorer at Iowa State.

Since the Jayhawks arrived in Des Moines, locals have regaled Gradey Dick with memories of his mother dominating the competition in the old six-girl game that Iowa high schools played until 30 years ago.

“Yeah, he knows what I did. He is well aware,” Carmen Dick said on Friday. “We have competitions, and he’s got me on a few and I’ve got him on a few.”

Gradey is the best 3-point shooter, but Carmen notes that there were no 3s in his day. For her part, she played in three consecutive state tournaments for Ackley-Geneva High at Veterans Auditorium (1983-85), averaged 40 points per game as a senior, and still ranks 10th all-time with 77.6% shooting in 1984.

As a college student, she was Iowa State’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1989 and still holds the school’s single-game free throw record when she went 15 of 15 against Kansas in 1988.

“I haven’t come close to that, so she’s got that over me,” said Gradey, who had 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals in his NCAA Tournament opener.

Gradey said he admired his mother’s accomplishments. Because she played under the basket in high school and college, she even taught him some inside moves.

“You never know when he might need to use them,” she said.

Carmen Dick is a personal trainer in Wichita, Kansas, where she and her husband, Bart, raised Gradey when she was the youngest of four children. She said age has tarnished her game a bit, but she doesn’t back down from a challenge on the pitch.

“We all played a lot of games in the garden,” she laughed, “and there was no mercy. No mercy.”

Gradey said she still had some play.

“Today is more HORSE,” he said. “Her mid-range game, she’s not lacking. Never.”

Kansas interim coach Norm Roberts said: “Gradey, he knows his mom is the best player in the house. We know all that. When you coach Gradey and talk to him about different things, his mom knows what’s going on.

Another No. 1 for Arkansas

This is the third straight year Arkansas will play a No. 1 seed. The Razorbacks beat Gonzaga 74-68 at San Francisco in the Sweet 16 last year and lost to Baylor 81-72 in the Elite Eight at Indianapolis in 2021.

“We talked about the mentality you need to have for this particular game,” coach Eric Musselman said. “Bad chance of playing three number ones in three years. I don’t know if it’s happened before. But if it’s happened before, it certainly hasn’t happened with many programs.

The Razorbacks have been ranked No. 4 and 3 for the past two years and are No. 8 this time. Arkansas is a 3½-point underdog against Kansas, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, after being a 2-point favorite against Illinois.

“I don’t think a lot of people believed in us yesterday before this game,” Musselman said. “Yeah, I think we have to play with a free spirit. We don’t have to feel pressured. Our guys are smart. They’re on Twitter. They’re on Instagram. They know. They know what we’re playing against.

Experience gap

UCLA’s NCAA Tournament awards are legendary with 11 national titles and 19 Final Four appearances.

The Bruins’ second-round opponent has a little less history at this point. Northwestern is only making its second appearance. The Wildcats never made it to the Sweet 16, losing in the second round in 2017 on their only other tournament trip.

“As a program it would be huge,” Northwestern forward Robbie Beran said. “I knew we had something special. Really just trying to make history. … This will be a huge milestone for the program. But we’re just trying to focus on the game. We’re not really trying to see how it affects the legacy of Northwest basketball.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin is focused less on that experience gap and more on an opponent with a tough defense who endured a tough schedule for the Big Ten.

“Experience always helps,” he said. “If you can have talent and experience, you have a better chance. But I will take talent.

AP’s Josh Dubow contributed from Sacramento, Calif.


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“I’m just trying to make history” – The Denver Post

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