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KC-area natives in the 2024 NCAA Men’s Tournament

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City always has hoopers in the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments and 2024 continues that trend.

As Kansas men look to go on a run in this year’s tournament, they have role player and Blue Valley Northwest alum Parker Braun, the little brother of Denver Nuggets guard Christian Braun who went to the same schools. Kansas and Kansas State women both have local products that start for their squads.

The men’s tournament is littered with local products that KC natives should pay attention to.

Tyon Grant-Foster, Grand Canyon, senior

The Kansas City, Kansas native and Schlagle alum started his college career as a junior college All-American honorable mention at Indian Hills.

After a year at Kansas where he played sparingly in 21 games, he transferred to DePaul where he missed all but the season opener after collapsing in the locker room at halftime of the game.

NCAA wrestling, NAIA basketball means another busy KC weekend

Grant-Foster was rushed to the hospital and had two heart surgeries before entering the transfer portal and being cleared to play basketball in March 2023.

The 6’7 guard signed with the Lopers in April and lived with his cousin, former Raytown South star and Phoenix Sun Ish Wainwright, before Wainwright signed with the Portland Trail Blazers in Oct. 2023.

After spending 16 months not playing basketball, TGF has led Grand Canyon to the tournament and was named the WAC Player of the Year with 19.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game this season. Grant-Foster is also shooting 45% from the field, 33% from 3-point range, and 77% from the free-throw line.

TGF is gaining national attention and NBA scout attention as he was also named a finalist for the Lute Olson National Player of the Year.

12-seed Grand Canyon plays 5-seed St. Mary’s on Friday at 9:05 p.m. with the winner facing the winner of 4-seed Alabama and 13-seed Charleston in the East region.

Braden Appelhans, New Mexico, redshirt freshman

Appelhans began his high school career at Blue Springs where he shot 51.4% from 3-point range, the sixth-best percentage in Missouri high school history.

He spent his senior season at Western Reserve Academy in Ohio.

The 6’7 three-point specialist has only played 90 minutes this season for the Lobos after only playing in 10 games in his true freshman year due to a thumb injury. Appelhans has become known for being open about his battle with depression.

11-seed New Mexico faces 6-seed Clemson on Friday at 2:10 p.m. The winner plays the winner of 3-seed Baylor and 14-seed Colgate in the West Region.

Jordan Lathon, Morehead State, graduate

This Grandview alum and his team have been ousted from the tournament as a 14-seed at the hands of 3-seed Illinois but Lathon made his mark in the game.

The Ohio Valley Conference First Teamer, who also earned a spot on the All-Newcomer Team, dropped 23 points, seven rebounds, and four assists against the Illini on Thursday. He also hit three of his six three-point attempts.

Kansas City-area natives in the 2024 NCAA Women’s Tournament

Lathon averaged 15.4 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 43.6% from the field and 38% from three.

He also made stops at UTEP and Milwaukee before settling at Morehead where he missed last season due to preseason injury.

Conrad Hawley and Kayden Fish, Iowa State

Ray-Pec alum Hawley led the Panthers to a football state championship as a quarterback in his senior year and spent his freshman year as a QB for KU in 2021-22.

Since transferring to Ames as a basketball player, Hawley has been designated the C.E.O. (Chief Energy Officer) and has his own seat on the bench to help bring the team energy 24/7. While the junior rarely sees the court, his energy makes him a top-tier teammate and a fan favorite.

6’6 freshman Fish led Staley to a basketball state championship in his senior season and saw time in four games as a freshman before missing the rest of the season with a left shoulder injury.

2-seed Iowa State faces 15-seed South Dakota State on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. The winner plays the winner of 7-seed Washington State and 10-seed Drake in the East Region.

Zeke Mayo and Nate Barnhart, South Dakota State

Lawrence High alum and Lawrence native Mayo has seen his star rise since he began his career at SDSU.

The 2021 DiRenna Award co-winner was named to the 2022 Summit League All-Newcomer Team his freshman season, a First Teamer in his sophomore year while going from 9.6 points a game to 18.2 points a game and was the conference’s Player of the Year this season averaging 18.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 46.6% from the field and 38.4% from three.

The 6’3 junior is also a finalist for the Lou Henson Award, presented annually to the top mid-major player.

7-foot Barnhart spent his first two college years at Wyoming where he played in 20 games and started in three of them averaging 11.2 minutes a game.

The De Soto alum has started in 11 of the 32 games he’s played this year averaging 14.8 minutes a game while collecting 122 points, 26 blocks, and 14 steals. He also shot 47.5% from the field and 33.3% from three.

Parker Braun, Kansas, graduate

The 6’10 forward spent his first three years in college in Columbia at Missouri as his brother became a star for the Jayhawks and a first-round pick.

He played sparingly for the Tigers averaging single-digit minutes.

He spent the next two years as a starter at Santa Clara leading the team in field goal percentage in each season.

In his sixth season, Braun followed in the family’s footsteps and went to Lawrence where he has totaled 69 points and 50 rebounds in 238 minutes.

4-seed Kansas plays 13-seed Samford at 8:55 p.m. on Thursday. The winner faces the winner of 5-seed Gonzaga and 12-seed McNeese State in the Midwest Region.

Kyan Evans, Colorado State, freshman

Evans combined with Fish to make one of the most dynamic high school duos in Missouri during their time at Staley. The 6’2 guard was the 2023 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year and the 2022 Kansas City Metro Player of the Year once he exited his high school career.

In Fort Collins, the freshman has played single-digit minutes in conference play totaling 289 minutes this season. Evans has 60 total points, 28 assists, and 32 total rebounds so far this season.

The 10-seed Rams face the 7-seed Texas Longhorns at 5:50 p.m. on Thursday. The winner plays the winner of 2-seed Tennessee and 15-seed Saint Peters in the Midwest Region.

Mark Mitchell, Duke, sophomore

Before the Kansas City, Kansas native moved to the highly acclaimed Sunrise Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas for his senior season, he and Kansas State’s Manning led Bishop Miege to a state championship.

The 6’9 forward averaged 9.1 points and 4.5 rebounds as a freshman, starting in all but one game as his team fell to Tennessee in the second round of the tournament.

After murmurs of being a first-round pick last season, Mitchell returned to Durham where he averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 54.8% from the field and 27.5% from three.

Mitchell’s defensive prowess excites NBA teams the most.

4-seed Duke plays 13-seed Vermont at 6:10 p.m. on Friday. The winner faces the winner of 6-seed Texas Tech and 11-seed NC State in the South Region.

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