Basketball, courtesy of the Big 12 Championship, is center stage downtown this week. Twenty-two games spread over five days, within a span of 100 hours.
Slack time will be scarce. But if you’re still looking for action between hoops in the arenas and Bricktown breaks at Chelino’s or Earl’s Rib Palace, try this. Crash a family reunion. Family assemblies will be in abundance around the league that is full of family ties. And not just the well-known Griffin brothers and Paris sisters of OU, or Texas’ Nash twins (Kathleen and Kristen) and Kansas’ Morris twins (Markieff and Marcus). But sons and daughters of former athletes at Big 12 schools, and cousins and uncles and sisters, crossing a variety of sports and a variety of schools. Some of the stories are like Kansas’ Brady Morningstar, the son of Roger Morningstar, who started on KU’s 1974 Final Four team. Brady grew up in Lawrence, Kan., hearing that he wouldn’t be good enough to follow in his dad’s tracks. But here is Brady, a redshirt sophomore who has started 30 games for the Big 12 champ Jayhawks. "I’m where I want to be,” Morningstar said. "Maybe some didn’t think I could play here. But I never doubted myself.I know if I worked hard enough and they gave me a chance, I could do something for them.” Not every story is that clearly defined. Coach Mike Anderson’s son, Mike Jr., and nephew, DeMarre Carroll, play for him at Missouri. But Anderson’s daughter, Yvonne, plays at Texas. Kelsey Nelson is the sister of former Kansas State football star Jordy Nelson, and Shalin Spani is the daughter of ex-KSU football star Gary Spani, and both are Wildcats. But Rodgrick Craig, the son of Nebraska football legend Roger Craig, plays at Texas Tech; Megan Byford, the daughter of Barry Switzer lineman Lyndle Byford, plays at Oklahoma State; Layne Reeves, the daughter of four-year starting Texas Tech quarterback Ron Reeves, plays at Nebraska; and Porscha Weddington, daughter of ex-OU defensive end Michael Weddington, plays for Kansas. Some families stretch across three Big 12 schools.