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Saturday, August 27, 2016

KU big man Dwight Coleby still searching to carve out role

Standing from left, KU basketball players Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Carlton Bragg Jr., Landen Lucas and Dwight Coleby, wait for a team photograph Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, during the men's basketball media day.

Standing from left, KU basketball players Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Carlton Bragg Jr., Landen Lucas and Dwight Coleby, wait for a team photograph Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, during the men's basketball media day.

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With four of the eight forwards listed on the 2015-16 roster not returning for the upcoming season, the opportunity exists for a big man or two to fill a couple of important roles for the Kansas men’s basketball program.

Gone are regular contributors Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor. Absent from the pack is the potential and athleticism of one-and-done NBA draft pick Cheick Diallo. Even occasional off-the-bench spark Hunter Mickelson has graduated.

As usual, KU coach Bill Self anticipated the heavy hit to his frontcourt and newcomers Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot are in place to try to fill some of those shoes.

But arguably the most intriguing option in KU’s new big man rotation is former Ole Miss transfer Dwight Coleby, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound junior who sat out during his transfer season because of NCAA rules and rehabbed a knee injury in the process.

Coleby is one of just four players taller than 6-8 listed on this year’s roster, but his time away from the court makes his potential impact hard to gauge.

“He’s been cleared,” Self reiterated recently when asked about Coleby’s status. “So there shouldn’t be anything holding him back.”

There’s a difference, of course, between a coach saying nothing should be holding one of his players back and the mindset of the player who is battling to return.

“The one thing that’s been hard on him has been confidence,” Self said. “He didn’t have the confidence this summer to let it go, so that’s why we kind of held him back. But it’s been enough time and the doctors say he’s in good shape physically, so he’s gotta let it go.”

After landing Coleby 15 months ago, Self had high hopes and high praise for the Bahamas native.

“He reminds me a lot of Darnell Jackson,” Self said of Coleby before the injury hit. “I think he can be a Darnell Jackson-type player. He’s got a great motor. He can play on the block. He can play facing. He’s a premier athlete and should be a solid rebounder and defender right off the bat.”

Whether those expectations remain or have been slightly modified remains to be seen. Either way, it’s clear that, given the loss of so many frontcourt contributors from last season, Self and company could benefit from Coleby filling some kind of role in KU’s big man rotation.

Coleby will be joined by senior Landen Lucas (6-10, 240), sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr. (6-9, 230) and freshmen Udoka Azubuike (7-0, 280) and Mitch Lightfoot (6-8, 210) on KU’s guard-heavy roster heading into the 2016-17 season.

Samuels picks Nova

About a day after narrowing his list of suitors to a Final 5, Class of 2017 small forward Jermaine Samuels orally committed to Villanova.

Samuels, a four-star prospect ranked No. 49 in the class according to Rivals.com, chose the defending champs over Duke, Georgetown, Indiana and Kansas. The 6-foot-6 forward announced his commitment on Twitter, saying, “There’s no point in waiting when you know where you want to be.”

Jayhawks tapped 5th

Athlon Sports released its preseason Top 25 this weekend and Self’s Jayhawks landed in the No. 5 spot.

Duke, Kentucky, Villanova and Oregon filled the first four spots and Kansas rounded out the Top 5.

Of Kansas, Athlon’s David Fox wrote: “The Jayhawks will be aiming for 13 Big 12 titles in a row. The ageless Perry Ellis is gone. The core of Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham welcome the top freshman in the country in guard Josh Jackson.”

Comments

Humpy Helsel 1 year, 3 months ago

Hardly anyone ever talks about Landen. Good ole, steady, plays smart, Landen. Rapidly becoming a classic "lunch pail guy" who shows up every day and does his job. Arguably, the success we had last year might not have been possible without Landen's contribution of glue in the middle. Small ego, knows his role, all about the team. Always happy for success of his teammates. No sizzle. No hype. Happy to do the little things and rebound. Dwight seems he might be in the same mold. We could only be so lucky.

Joseph Bullock 1 year, 3 months ago

Very well said, and very true, Humpy! Landen is also a very intelligent, well grounded, and personable, young man!

Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

I would very much like his nickname to become "Landunk" this coming season. No more missed chippies, bunnies and put backs. Just ram that sucker down the hole every time.

Oh yes, and if he could sharpen that 10'-0" jumper, he would become a heck of an offensive presence!!

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 3 months ago

Playing time breeds confidence .....trust breeds playing time....Once Coach Self trusted Lucas the playing time followed.....Once a question mark he is now a main cog in the Jayhawk motor.....Rebounds are very important.....control the boards ....control the game....Lucas will build off last years success for sure....Guard play also is a key ....getting him in a position to score in the blocks.....or in a position to rebound........unfortunately the guards went away from the inside guys ..Lucas and Perry in the loss to Villanova......With Coleby cleared and AZ in the fold not to mention Lightfoot.......The known is Lucas is a solid player the unkown are Coleby AZ and Lightfoot....One thing for sure Coach Self will get them all ready

Dirk Medema 1 year, 3 months ago

"unfortunately the guards went away from the inside guys"

Also unfortunately Perry (in his own words) didn't assert himself as you would expect from your team leader in the most important game of the season. Love Perry, but his lack of assertiveness, aggressiveness always was an achilles for him. It's not that he never was assertive, just that it wasn't a given when the lights got brightest.

David Robinett 1 year, 3 months ago

Can Dwight become D-Block Two? DB2 for short.

Steve Macy 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm like a kid at Christmas, can't wait to open the presents. Some are large, Dwight and Udoka, some are flashy, Josh, and some for the future, Mitch.
Football and Volley ball will have to get me through until then.

Side note AW3 is going to Syracuse. Good luck to him.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 3 months ago

It would be great if Coleby could be a DB2 - solid back-up PF behind Carlton. It would a sort of ying-yang, O-D at the 4-5. Carlton (4) being more O than Lucas (5) to start, but AZ (5) maybe more O in reserve than Dwight (4). That is a nice solid, tho generally unspectacular front court. Unspectacular front court is okay with our back court. I mostly want to see at least 1 of the 4 get double digit boards. Mitch is the wildcard to push for PT and probably more O at the 4 than Dwight.

Harlan Hobbs 1 year, 3 months ago

Love the comments about Landen. I predicted a few months ago that he has a very good chance of being on the All-Conference team based upon his last half of last season. I hope that comes true because nobody is more deserving.

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 3 months ago

Interesting note out of Lexington today.....Coach Cal and Kentucky still say they are tempering their interest in Ayton because of eligibility concerns ....After the Diallo experience last year KU will exercise due diligence to make sure he is eligible .....and if he is.. full steam ahead. This kid is good,....Obvious OAD but I will take that 1 year. As it sits right now If we get Ayton

Azuibuke Ayton Garrett Vick Newman Lightfoot Maxwell Coleby That's a good start on the 2017-18 roster...........Now add the new recruits Maybe Troy Brown Billy Preston or a long shot like Trae Young Its hard to speculate on recruits but given the ones we know other than Ayton that can be a very very deep team

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