Josh Jackson scored, Udoka Azubuike fouled, and Mitch Lightfoot and Dwight Coleby rebounded. Here are some quick takeaways from Jayhawks making their debuts in Tuesday’s exhibition win over Washburn.
Jackson made his much anticipated Kansas debut, exploding for 14 second-half points. Though he was held scoreless in the first half, the five-star recruit showed plenty of reasons to be excited about what he’ll bring to this Kansas team, scoring 14 points in just 19 minutes of play. Jackson did commit a team-worst five turnovers and missed four of five free throws, but his ability to create his own shot, and to do so in a variety of ways, is an element that a Kansas team has not had since Andrew Wiggins’ one and only season. He will be a joy for Kansas fans to watch this season.
What initially stands out about Azubuike is just how big the guy really is. Factor in that he just turned 17 years of age and his presence is almost hard to fathom. Azubuike was the first big man off of the bench in KU’s exhibition opener when Landen Lucas committed two fouls in the game’s first three minutes. However, he had trouble staying on the floor, fouling out in just eight minutes of action. Azubuike is absolutely a physical force of nature, and as he continues to mature as a basketball player, look for him to be a major contributor. It will be interesting to see if he’s given a longer leash (and more ultimate playing time) than freshmen KU big men in recent years.
As Kansas did collectively, Lightfoot struggled from the free throw line, making just three of nine attempts in a seven-point effort. The true freshman collected seven rebounds in nine minutes of action, with four being of the offensive variety. Lightfoot’s seven rebounds were three shy of Frank Mason’s team-high 10, but he did so in 23 fewer minutes. It’s unclear what Lightfoot’s role on this year’s squad will be going forward, but the former Arizona Gatorade High School Player of the Year definitely looks like he belongs.
The Ole Miss transfer made his Kansas debut on Tuesday after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. In 11 minutes, Coleby did not score, but he collected six rebounds and had a blocked shot. Coleby’s length, size, and activity figure to make him an effective defender, especially covering opposing fours. In his sophomore season at Ole Miss, Coleby was a highly efficient scorer, shooting 53% from the floor and 80% from the free throw line. Coleby’s offensive game will surely evolve as he gets back into game shape.
One game samples are by no means an indictment, nor are they predictive of future outcomes, but with the long-awaited arrival of the 2016-17 Jayhawks finally upon us, it is fun to look at new pieces and how they might fit. This squad’s mixture of veterans and newcomers makes for an interesting puzzle for Bill Self to solve as the season progresses.
Kansas wraps up its exhibition schedule on Sunday, taking on Emporia State at Allen Fieldhouse. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm (central time).