I’m baaaack! And I’m glad to be back. Ok, so it’s only been a couple months, but it feels like a lot longer. Now, let’s get to it.
Except for Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett, KU will have no other true freshman on the roster. Top targets Trae Young and Trevon Duval decided to go elsewhere (Oklahoma and Duke respectively), and Bill Self was able to fill the roster with a ton of transfers who I’ll get to in a minute. Not to worry though, because Kansas has really solid returning starters yet again. Well, that was short.
Yeah, this segment is going to be quite a bit longer. First off, the Jayhawks have lost two players via transfer. Carlton Bragg transferred to Arizona State, where he’ll have to sit out a year, but should be a starter when he becomes eligible. Dwight Coleby has announced he will also be transferring from KU but has not announced where he will be playing next season. He will be eligible immediately due to the graduate transfer rule. SMU, Mississippi State, Stephen F. Austin, Illinois, and Western Kentucky all seem to be in the mix to land Coleby.
Now, to transfers who Bill Self charmed on over to Lawrence. Grad transfer Jack Whitman from William & Mary will be eligible for the 2017-18 season and should be a contributor. Whitman is 6’ 9”, 235 lbs, and averaged 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds last season for W&M. He honestly reminds me of Perry Ellis without a jumper.
Brothers KJ and Dedric Lawson (who I’m sure you’ve heard quite a bit about at this point) won’t be eligible until 2018-19, but needless to say, I’m very excited about them. From California, PG Charlie Moore will be joining the Jayhawks for the ’17-18 year but, along with the Lawsons, won’t see game action until the ’18-19 season. Moore averaged 12.2 points per game for the Golden Bears in his freshman year. He will most likely be counted on to replace Devonte Graham. Then of course there’s Malik Newman and Sam Cunliffe (Is KU taking Iowa State’s spot in the Big 12 as “Transfer U.”?). Newman is eligible for the entirety of next season while Cunliffe will be good to go once conference play gets started.
Devonte Graham is back. I like this. Graham, even though he is a great shooter, is going to have to drive the basketball next season if the Jayhawks are going to have a fluid offense. KU has a lot of shooters on the team, and the Jayhawks are going to need somebody to facilitate. Graham is a great passer, but at the end of last season, I feel he really gave up trying to drive and kick and settled for a lot of unnecessary jumpers (in fairness Frank Mason was driving and kicking very well last season and took almost too much pressure of Graham). He could take the next step if he starts taking it to the cup.
Udoka Azubuike will be returning from a wrist injury next year. He’s so raw but has so much potential. Realistically, expect him to just be a shot blocker on defense and a dunker on offense. As soon as he can figure out some post moves, however, he’ll be a force to reckoned with. Svi Mykhailiuk announced his decision to return to school right before the deadline to do so. I’m so high on this guy. And, yeah, I know his defense can be terrible, but I truly believe Svi can average 20 a game. No joke. Dude can score. He just has never looked consistently comfortable at Kansas. As soon as he does though, look out college basketball.
The spring practice session is over so it’s time to way over analyze the team’s potential. They could easily go 4-8. That’s pretty respectable for KU. With the addition of Alabama WR transfer Daylon Charlot, the return of the leading receiver from last season Steven Sims, along with the return of the human bullet Laquvionte Gonzalez and solid role playing wideouts like Bobby Hartzog, Tyler Patrick, and Jeremiah Booker, KU is stacked at wide receiver. Stacked. I think as talented as anyone in the Big 12 at that position.
Everybody knows the weapons are good, but what about the quarterback? That’s where things get interesting. Carter Stanley (A guy I really really like) comes in as the incumbent starter, but coach Beaty was able to recruit former Washington State QB Peyton Bender, and he projects to compete for the starting job. Personally, I’m fully committed to Carter Stanley, but at the same time, if Bender is able to put more points on the board than Stanley, I’m all for Mr. Bender. The defense worries me a little, but I trust defensive coordinator Clint Bowen to make lemonade out of lemons. I can’t wait until football returns because baseball just ain’t cutting it for me (I mean, have you seen the Royals this season? It isn’t pretty).
Thanks for reading everybody. Hope everybody is having and will continue to have a great summer. You know what’s fun? Charity softball games. You know who’s having a charity softball game? Rock Chalk Blog. June 10th at 10 a.m. at MidAmerica Nazarene University’s softball field in Olathe, KS. Come join us for a fun time. ITP hosts Ryan Landreth and Daniel Cunningham will be playing, along with myself, and fellow RCB writers Nick Weippert and Sarah Davis. It’ll be a blast. I hope to see you there!