Bill Self recently learned that he’ll be without one of his backcourt starters from last year’s team, but the Jayhawks have a plethora of potential young talent that could fill the roster’s new holes.
On Wednesday, Kansas wing Kelly Oubre Jr. announced that he will enter the NBA Draft. Oubre came on strong in the second half of his freshman campaign, and his high upside sky-rocketed him back to a being a projected lottery pick. Now that we officially know that KU will be without Oubre, it is time to look at possible replacements for that wing position.
Jaylen Brown – Alpharetta, Georgia
Jaylen Brown is arguably the best athlete in the class of 2015. The 6’7″ small forward from Alpharetta, Georgia has athleticism that reminds me a little bit of Andrew Wiggins. Much like Wiggins, Brown excels in transition. With a powerful first step and ability to play above the rim with ease, Brown has been labeled as one of the best finishers in the 2015 class. He even reminds me of Wiggins in the areas that he needs to improve as he transitions to college. Brown is an incredible finisher at the rim, but his jump shot can be a little bit streaky. Also, his ball-handling skills need a bit of work. However, if he can tighten those things up, he will become an elite player.
Brown’s recruitment thus far has been interesting. With the signing period just around the corner, he is still listing eight different schools as a potential landing spot. However, recent reports have suggested that Brown seems likely to choose an Adidas school, and only three remain on his list: Kansas, Michigan, and UCLA. Currently, I see KU being second on Brown’s list after UCLA. Brown’s mother loves Self and the Jayhawks, but I feel like they have some catching up to do. If I was to pick today, I would say that Brown is bound for UCLA.
Chance that KU lands Jaylen Brown: 40%
Malik Newman – Jackson, Mississippi
Malik Newman is arguably the best point guard and the top shooting guard in the entire 2015 class. He can do everything that a guard is supposed to do. People have labeled him as the best scorer in this year’s class. Newman can break defenders down off the dribble and drive by them to the lane, or he can step back and drain a perimeter jump shot. Malik Newman has drawn comparisons to Monta Ellis of the the Dallas Mavericks. However, Newman must continue to become a better defensive player if he wants to be a top player at the college level and beyond. Also, he has a tendency to become a one-man show, which can lead to questionable decision-making.
Newman’s recruitment is coming down to four schools: Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, and Mississippi State. Kentucky was long considered to be the favorite, but with its current log jam of guards, another school could slide in and take him away. LSU has been coming on strong lately, as has Mississippi State. MSU is Newman’s home school, and it’s also where his father played. New coach Ben Howland could make some noise by landing one of the nation’s top prospects. Kansas is a contender, but needs to get Newman to Lawrence for an official visit. If KU can get him on campus, I think they have just as good of a chance as any of the other three to land him.
Chances KU lands Malik Newman: 30%
Brandon Ingram – Kingston, North Carolina
Now we move onto the prospect that I think Kansas has the best chance of landing. Brandon Ingram is a silky-smooth small forward with incredible length. He might have the longest arms of any wing prospect I’ve seen in a long time. Ingram also has one of the best jump shots in the entire class; he can flat-out score the basketball. He can play above the rim, but can also be a nightmare on the perimeter. Being 6’8″ with extremely long arms, his shot is almost impossible to block. His long frame also gives him an advantage on the defensive end, where he can create havoc in passing lanes and go up to block shots better than any wing in the class. Ingram needs to get stronger to be effective in college and needs to continue to work on his ball-handling to become an elite wing at the next level.
Ingram’s future became uncertain early in the recruitment process. Being from North Carolina, UNC and Duke sat at the top of his list. He was considered to be leaning towards UNC until the NCAA started looking into the program, and Ingram has now said that the investigation did impact his recruitment. Kansas had Ingram on campus for Late Night and has been recruiting him hard since. He could come right in and start at Kansas from day one. Ultimately, I think KU could surprise the NC schools and steal this kid right from their backyard.
Chance KU lands Ingram: 45%
I’m not giving Kansas more than a 50% chance for any one of these prospects, but I don’t think that they strike out and go 0-for-3. I think ultimately Kansas will land one of these wings, and I am going to go with Brandon Ingram. He could come right in with his good friend Carlton Bragg and start right away at KU. Nothing would shock me with these three, but gun to my head, Ingram will be wearing crimson and blue next season.