Now that Wichita recruit Perry Ellis officially is on board, it’s worth looking to the 2012-2013 season for a guess at what the Kansas University basketball rotation might look like.
But first, a quick look at how this season’s rotation could shape up as Kansas heads into March. The starting five: Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey. The reserves in the rotation, listed in order of projected March minutes: Naadir Tharpe, Conner Teahan, Justin Wesley and in games a ninth man is needed, Kevin Young.
This early, it’s impossible to do anything but guess at a March rotation, but it’s difficult to foresee one that doesn’t feature two walk-ons, Teahan and Wesley. So far, both have shown why they earned scholarships, especially the hot-shooting Teahan.
Looking at how far Wesley appears ahead of Young shows, for one thing, what a year of practice and strength and conditioning can do for a raw athlete.
At Lamar two seasons ago, Wesley averaged 1.2 points and 9.9 minutes. Now, 20 pounds heavier, armed with Danny Manning’s lessons, and more accustomed to facing excellent competition after battling the Morris twins, Robinson and Withey all season, Wesley figures to be a more productive player in the Big 12 than he was in the Southland Conference.
Watching Wesley, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound pogo stick, ought to serve as encouragement for 6-8, 215-pound freshman forward Jamari Traylor from Chicago. Traylor, an athletic player with raw basketball skills, won’t get to start practicing with the team until second semester. Even that will give him a nice head-start on his first college basketball season a year from now.
Ben McLemore, also declared ineligible to practice first semester and compete in games all season, will benefit from a jump start as well, competing against Releford, Johnson, Taylor and Teahan daily.
Put Ellis, who signed Wednesday, and 6-9, 235-pound center Zach Peters, set to sign Monday, into the mix, and next season’s roster is beginning to take shape, although coach Bill Self has made it clear he’s not done recruiting.
Assuming Thomas Robinson declares for the draft after this season — he’s looking smarter by the day for not doing that as a sophomore, and he looked smart the day he made the decision — and assuming Merv Lindsay isn’t yet a rotation player, battles for playing time a year from now project as intense.
Tharpe, Johnson, McLemore and Releford all bring quickness. Self said Ellis projects as a small forward, which gives the coach five strong options for the 120 perimeter minutes.
Peters will join Withey, Traylor, Wesley and Young up front, which means if the right recruit is landed with one of the two available scholarships in the spring, he could become an instant starter.
Failing that, Ellis and/or Releford could spend some time in the post.
The Ellis signing ought to have a soothing effect on those not used to seeing Self finish second on as many blue chips as he has in the past two years, but it might take landing another big fish in the spring to bring some fanatics in from the ledge.