Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Column: Intrigue abounds with new Ukrainian recruit

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.


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KU recruit

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Last season’s recruitment of an international man of mystery went so outrageously well until 7-foot center Joel Embiid of Cameroon suffered a season-ending back injury that basketball fans of Kansas University’s perennial powerhouse program can’t wait to see Ukrainian prodigy Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk take the court in Allen Fieldhouse for Late Night.

Not even Fran Fraschilla, ESPN analyst and former Div. I coach at multiple schools, professes to have a good guess as to how ready Mykhailiuk is for all that comes with competing in the Big 12, and Fraschilla knows the overseas basketball market better than anyone in the American media.

“If he were in the Class of 2015, he would be one of the top 10 or 15 players in the U.S.,” Fraschilla said by phone from his home in Dallas. “Would that translate to him being a star at Kansas right now? That’s a question that’s not easy to answer.”

Fraschilla is ESPN’s foremost expert on European prospects and is the go-to guy on NBA Draft night. He said he is “fascinated” by the Mykhailiuk signing for several reasons. For one, unlike most overseas recruits, Mykhailiuk did not ease his way into college basketball by first playing at least part of his high school career in the U.S. For another, he’s so young.

Embiid turned 20 on March 16, after watching KU in the Big 12 tournament and before watching the NCAA Tourney. Mykhailiuk won’t turn 20 until June 10, 2017, after his third season at KU, should he decide to stay in college basketball for that long.

“He’ll be the youngest player at the high-major level,” Fraschilla said. “As much as he’s a really talented player, given the fact Kansas added some depth in the backcourt, they don’t necessarily have to throw him to the wolves.”

Mykhailiuk played for the World team vs. USA in the Nike Hoops Summit on April 12, 2014 in Portland, Oregon. KU recruit Kelly Oubre totaled 15 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes, helping his team to an 84-73 victory. Future teammate Cliff Alexander had six points and two boards in 21 minutes. Mykhailiuk played 13 minutes, scored two points and had two turnovers. He made one of four shots from the field and misfired on all three three-pointers.

“The first time I saw him live was at four days of practice at the Hoop Summit,” Fraschilla said. “He’s the youngest player ever to play in it, and he played much better in practice than in the game.”

Mykhailiuk has been listed on various rosters as being as tall as 6-foot-8, as short as 6-5. Fraschilla called him a “6-6 guard. He’s put-together, pretty physically mature for his age. If he were walking on campus and someone said, ‘That guy plays quarterback for Kansas,’ you’d say, ‘Oh, OK.’ He’s pretty stout and stocky for his age.”

Mykhailiuk fared much better in the European championships for players 16 and under, where he averaged 25 points and eight rebounds per game, than at the Hoop Summit.

He also played for his town’s professional basketball team, the SK Cherkasy Monkeys, but did not draw a paycheck. Players under 18 can’t sign contracts in European leagues.

“He played in a league that is not necessarily at the highest level in Europe,” Fraschilla said. “He was competing against men, and it’s a physical league. He definitely played a physical brand of basketball there, and he held his own. I would say that league is probably like mid-major, close to high-major Div. I level.”

Fraschilla rattled off the names of the some of the former college players who were making a living in the league. He mentioned one noteworthy alumnus, guard Patrick Beverley, a big-name Chicago guard who played college ball for Arkansas who now plays for the Houston Rockets.

Mykhailiuk averaged 5.8 points for the Monkeys in the Ukrainian Superleague.

He shows on YouTube a soft touch from long range, excellent radar as a passer, an impressive vertical leap and a tight handle, all of which makes him an outstanding prospect. The question then becomes the same as one asked often about Embiid in advance of his one season at Kansas: How soon will those physical gifts come together well enough for him to stand out as a Big 12 player? His presence makes a never-dull program all the more interesting, of that there is no question.


Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

It's intriguing when you know virtually nothing about a player but Self gets really excited about signing the kid. With the success of Embiid (Olajuwon) it makes me wonder if Mykhailiuk compares favorably to Magic Johnson.

Note...the Magic comment is a tongue-in-cheek...

Tony Bandle 5 years, 7 months ago

Quit trying to make a "Monkey" out of the kid....wink. wink. Could be the worst nickname in the history of sports since I have never heard of any team named The Vomiteers, The Open Sores or the Fighting Lepers!!

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

Saint Damien of Molokaʻi HS may be known as "The Fighting Lepers."

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 7 months ago

If his outside shot is that good it will be like shooting monkeys in a barrel.

Tony Bandle 5 years, 7 months ago

Is it just me or does Svia bear a striking resemblance to a former highly-touted Jayhawk with the initials MD who left the program because he missed his girlfriend and never amounted to much afterwards????

Robin Smith 5 years, 7 months ago

Whoa, I see it...

but I'm thinking that's where the similarities will end ;-)

Rich Hetherington 5 years, 7 months ago

Downs played in the D-League all-star game... that's at least something. But yes, of course we are in the "the sky is the limit" phase with Svi at this point and I hope he's everything we're hearing about. I also hope, he's here for 3 years, which will be the minimum if the NBA changes their requirement to 20.

Greg Lux 5 years, 7 months ago

I am anxious to see this young man grow and develop under HCBS's program. From what little tape I have watched he seems to be a good ball handler with good instincts who will definately be an asset down the road if not earlier. It just exciting to have a quality players come into the program who is NOT a OAD. If Svi stays at KU he will be here at least 2 and possibility 3 years. Something I believe this program sorely needs ( experience ). We have had so many OAD's of late we don't get a chance to develop of seasoned team and it hurts us at crunch time. Thanks for coming to Kansas Svi I what to welcome you to Rock Chalk Jayhawk Land.... Go Big Blue...

Jeffrey Nelson 5 years, 7 months ago

This is a vapid editorial but nowhere near as bad as the one you wrote about Naadir Tharpe.

Brian Wilson 5 years, 7 months ago

As mentioned before. I don't think Svia is going to be a starter his first year. He is an impact player. His impact will be to add the depth needed in case of injury and to get some minutes as backup to the 2. His impact is he mostly moved Frankcamp from backup at the 2 back to PG and moved Mason to being 3rd in line by mid season. By Midseason I believe the starting lineup will be:

Graham, Frankamp, Mason
Selden, Mykhailuk
Oubre, Greene
Ellis, & Traylor & Lucas
Alexander, Mickelson, & Lucas

And barring injuries we will be 10 to 11 deep. Mason, Traylor and Lucas are the odd men out and will be looking for minutes. Mykhailuk and Greene and Lucas can see daylight getting their chance to start when Oubre, Selden and Alexander advance to the Pros. Alexander may be around two years and this year Mickleson may get more playing time than most of you think. Also to consider, Mason, Frankamp, and Greene are all eligible to redshirt.

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 7 months ago

Traylor will not be the odd man out. He keeps improving and is a vital part to the rotation. I completely agree with Lucas and if Graham plays as well as we hope then I agree with Mason.

Scott MacWilliams 5 years, 7 months ago

Just curious here, but I don't see anywhere Svi's weight listed. He's described as, and looks, reasonably well filled out for his age and size, but just can't help but wonder what his weight is.

From the pix, I'd guess about 200-210, if he is indeed 6'6". That's great for a 16-year-old, but another 10 or 20 pounds of muscle will be necessary to deal with D1 life and the Big12 schedule. But so talented for his age, and already has experience playing against bigger, faster, stronger players.

Looking forward to his debut on Late Night!!

Rock Chalk, Uke Hawk!!

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

The picture headlining the article is probably nearly a year old. He looks to have a decent base, but no upper body. I think in the more recent photos and videos from the hoops summit he looks to have filled out quite a bit more. I'd say he's probably still only in the 190 range, he's listed at 191 on on the hoops summit roster.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

Svi is listed at 6'6" and 191, and so I'm assuming that those measurements were made in Oregon last month.

But they list the "official measurements" for Cliff and Kelly. Cliff is 6'8" and 251 with a span of 7'3.5" and a reach of 9'0". Kelly is 6'6.5" and 204 with a span of 7'2" and a reach of 8'8". Both players have great measurements especially when you factor in their spans and a reaches. The NBA combine would also have listed their heights without shoes, which would be deceptively low considering that both have great length and reach.

Len Shaffer 5 years, 7 months ago

The real question, of course, is will he be able to write a good press release.

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