Three Jayhawks have declared for the NBA Draft as of this writing: freshman Cheick Diallo, junior Wayne Selden and junior Brannen Greene.
Cheick Diallo (3.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.9 blocks in 7.5 minutes) is the best pro prospect on the Jayhawks, as his high-energy play and long wingspan make him enticing as a late-first or early-second round pick.
Diallo can return to the Jayhawks because he hasn’t yet hired an agent. Of the three Jayhawks that have declared this week, Diallo is the only one who has not either already hired or plans to hire representation. However, this doesn’t mean he is particularly likely to return to Lawrence. If he did return for his sophomore year, chances are he would once again be coming off the bench for Landen Lucas. If Diallo comes back, Kansas would benefit greatly from a more polished center, but with freshman anchor Udoka Azubuike coming in, the loss of Diallo isn’t going to be hard for the Jayhawks to handle.
Last season, Wayne Selden Jr. (13.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 39% three-point shooter) was an enigma. He could be the best Kansas player on the court one night, and then all but disappear the next. Selden’s entry into the draft creates a couple of interesting scenarios for Kansas. This gives them a solid chance of landing a commitment from Josh Jackson, the 3rd ranked prospect in ESPN’s 2016 class.
The other option to replace Selden is junior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. “Svi” showed his skill in many games this year, including the first NCAA tournament game against Austin Peay, where he scored a career-high 23 points. Svi became the first guard off the bench towards the end of the year, showing both his potential and displaying Self’s growing confidence in him.
The final entry so far (and the most shocking) is junior Brannen Greene (5.4 points, 49% three-point shooter). Greene is an interesting case because he was one of the best shooters in college basketball. While his shooting will be hard to replace, the rest of Greene’s game wasn’t as advanced. Watching him try to dribble out of a double team or play defense was always an adventure. Whoever steps in to his old role will be a downgrade in shooting, but they’ll be an upgrade in just about everything else.
The biggest concern I have with Kansas replacing a player is Greene. His shot was as close to automatic as you can will find in college basketball. Replacing that will be impossible, and it’ll be interesting to see how Kansas will cope.
The Jayhawks have lost big pieces from a team that went 33-5 and earned the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Even so, Jayhawk fans have to feel great about this team coming back. Head coach Bill Self has shown his ability to reload the team with talent every year and this season will be no different. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham will return to quarterback the best returning roster in the Big 12, and with multiple blue-chip recruiting prizes still on the table, there’s no reason to think that Kansas shouldn’t be able to win the league for the 13th straight time next season.