With several new faces and championship expectations, Kansas will need to address key areas to put together another Final Four caliber squad.
Who emerges as a leader this season?
Bill Self will be leading a team that is 73 percent underclassmen. With just one senior on the roster, the Jayhawks will need some of their younger players to step into leadership roles alongside Lagerald Vick. While Vick improved in his junior year, averaging 8.7 more minutes, 4.7 more points, 1.2 more assists and 1.3 more rebounds in 2017, he has never been a center piece in his collegiate career. Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson, who has been included as a candidate for the Karl Malone power forward of the year award, could be a front runner to become a more vocal player for Kansas.
How will they perform from three?
As evident in Villanova’s championship run last season, strong three-point shooting is essential for success. KU lost its leading three-point shooters in Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (29 percent of production), Devonte’ Graham (28 percent) and Malik Newman (22 percent) to the NBA draft. Self will look to freshmen guards Quentin Grimes (8th in the ESPN 100) and Devon Dotson (24th in the ESPN 100) to step up immediately as highly touted five-star prospects.
Can Bill Self find balance?
Last season, despite the success of Udoka Azubuike, the Jayhawks were notably imbalanced in depth between the back and front court. This year, the roster has shifted more to the big man. Even if Silvio De Sousa finds himself ineligible, Self will still have to find the optimal rotation to utilize Dedric Lawson, Mitch Lightfoot, Azubuike and newcomer David McCormack.
How will the Jayhawks deal with distractions?
In Lawrence, pressure is a given and national attention omnipresent. Whether it is lingering questions regarding the program’s connection to the Adidas FBI trial or the narrative surrounding the Big 12 title streak, the Jayhawks have little room for error and face one of the toughest non-conference schedules in college basketball. How will a young squad gel together early and acclimate to the intense environment?