While the excitement of a Josh Jackson commitment is still lingering, the Jayhawks still have a few spots to fill on the roster. Three scholarships remain vacant for the 2016-17 season. We could slobber over the Jayhawks’ chances to cut down the nets next season, but talking about recruiting is so much more entertaining. Who can we expect to be the next name to commit to the University of Kansas, whether it’s via transfer or high school recruitment?
While some say that the Jayhawks have a weak class for 2016 outside of Jackson, it would be smart to think otherwise. Junior forward Dwight Coleby, the Ole Miss transfer who sat out last year as a redshirt, is expected to play significant minutes for a depleted frontcourt. Additionally, Kansas will add a trio of incoming freshmen, and it goes beyond Jackson, the No. 1 recruit in the class.
Mitch Lightfoot, a Kansas native power forward that grew up a Jayhawk fan, figures to be more of a “project” big, but fellow four-star big man Udoka Azubuike is expected to play impact minutes as a freshman. With Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas solidified as the team’s starting power forward and center, Coleby, Lightfoot, and Azubuike will all compete for reserve minutes.
But what about the backcourt?
You may have heard of Derryck Thornton, a formerly highly-touted freshman that will have to sit out his sophomore year because he is transferring. Thornton was a five-star wing that was ranked No. 17 by ESPN in the class of 2015, but he is choosing to transfer from Duke. The former Blue Devil has cut his list to four schools: Kansas, USC, Miami and Washington. Many experts believe that Thornton would be a perfect replacement for Frank Mason III in 2017-18. Additionally, it is still up in the air on whether Devonte’ Graham will return or not for his senior season, so Thornton would provide backcourt depth for the coming years that is critical for Bill Self.
Derryck Thornton averaged 7.1 PPG during his time in Durham. He also played 26 minutes per game, dishing out 2.6 assists and hauling in nearly two rebounds per contest. He comes in slightly taller than Frank Mason at 6’2″. I, personally, did not see him compete too many times (the ACC is not as fun as the Big 12), but I believe that he could help the Jayhawks at the point guard slot. Thornton is currently considered the be the staff’s top target for the 2017 season.
Oh, and do not forget about the 2017 high school class. Kansas has expressed interest in seven-footer DeAndre Ayton, the number one player of 2017.
Here is a list of potential future Jayhawks, compiled by myself and @KansasRecruit on Twitter.
High priority: DeAndre Ayton, Michael Porter Jr., Billy Preston, Trae Young
Medium priority: Kevin Knox, Troy Brown, Brandon McCoy, Hamidou Diallo (yes, another Diallo), Jarred Vanderbilt, Kris Wilkes, and Brian Bowen, just to name a few.
That is a lot of names, right? Kansas has gained interest from each of these individuals. All of these standouts would fit right in-to a Kansas uniform. While 2017 looks bright, most fans like to keep focus on the upcoming season. Although most of the athletes in 2016 have already signed or committed, there are still plenty of transfers that are currently being targeted. Hey, you already know the Jayhawks are going to be good. Recruiting is the difference between a winning team and a championship team. Got seniors? That’s nice. The freshmen diaper dandies can get things done, too.
Have you noticed that I have said nothing about Josh Jackson this whole post? He is obviously going to be the biggest factor out of all of the freshman. Think I can only go so far with recruiting? You are wrong. There is always going to be a transfer or a five star pick-up to be had. This is college basketball, and college basketball is where dreams become a reality.
Special thanks to @KansasRecruit for the recruiting list.