Lagerald Vick’s return to Kansas was a thrilling surprise for Jayhawk fans over the weekend, pushing the team to full capacity with 13 scholarship players. The question remains: does this team have too many good players?
As we head into the 2018-19 basketball season, preseason No. 1 Kansas doesn’t have many holes. Two potential concerns were prominent: three-point shooting and experience. Both of those issues vanished when Lagerald Vick announced that he was coming back to Lawrence for his senior year, loading up the Jayhawks to full capacity.
Now with six bigs and five wings, the Jayhawks are absolutely stacked heading into Bill Self’s 16th year. Silvio De Sousa and Marcus Garrett, two of KU’s most prominent options from a year ago, are now the seventh and eighth rotation players because of an overwhelming plethora of talent. Some fans are worried that the Jayhawks are too loaded. Do they have too many mouths to feed?
Simply put: It depends on which players we’re talking about.
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De Sousa, Garrett, Charlie Moore, and KJ Lawson, presumably the first four players off the bench for the Jayhawks, are still going to play a high volume of minutes this year. The front nine players (Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Lagerald Vick, Dedric Lawson, Udoka Azubuike, De Sousa, Garrett, Moore, Lawson) are all going to play plenty. After that, it gets interesting for the back four scholarship players.
Being No. 10 and 11 in the 2019 rotation is probably not what Mitch Lightfoot and Sam Cunliffe imagined two seasons ago. David McCormack and Ochai Agbaji’s (potential redshirt candidate) times are coming, but Lightfoot and Cunliffe are both entering their junior seasons. Both men would certainly be much higher priorities in other power-five rotations.
Kansas fans should trust Bill Self to find a way to come up with optimal lineups and rotations. It all depends on if the players buy in to Self’s approach or not. We’ve seen teams like 2014-15 Kentucky, loaded to the brink with talented players, thrive because individuals are ok sacrificing playing time and statistics to help the team win. Bill Self will certainly preach a similar message to his Kansas team in 2018-19. If the players buy in and get on the same page, the Jayhawks will be college basketball’s most dangerous team.
Ultimately, I don’t expect a loaded roster to serve as any sort of distraction to the Jayhawks’ goals next year. This is college basketball’s deepest team from top-to-bottom, and they’ll win games behind contributions from everybody on the roster. Bill Self has turned in outstanding coaching jobs by getting more out of less in the past. This time, he’ll enter the season with sky-high expectations, and he’ll be tasked with pushing the right buttons on a panel filled with quality options. And if the last 14 years are any indication, Kansas fans should have full confidence that Self will indeed push those buttons in the correct order.