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Monday, April 17, 2017

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Josh Jackson best of Bill Self one-and-done players

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) lunges to the bucket after drawing contact during the second half, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) lunges to the bucket after drawing contact during the second half, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 at Bramlage Coliseum.

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As is the case with so many one-and-done college basketball players, Josh Jackson's final game didn't go as well as his one and only season went. Such is the nature of the NCAA tournament, which sends all but the national champion home sad.

Jackson came on strong at the end of KU's 74-60 loss to Oregon in the Elite Eight, helping the Jayhawks draw within 66-60, but the comeback fell short and Jackson made it official Monday that his next game will take place in the NBA, as anyone with a brain knew would be the case.

Two quick fouls took Jackson’s aggressiveness away for the rest of the half and he didn’t score a point until 11:28 remained in the game.

Despite that, he became just the second of KU’s nine one-and-done players during Bill Self’s 14 seasons to score in double figures in the team’s final game.

Jackson clearly established himself as the best of the Kansas one-and-done players. Two-thirds of the one-and-dones were worth recruiting, another way of saying that 33 percent were net negatives.

Here’s how I rank them:

1 - Josh Jackson: The most telling indication of his value came when Kansas looked average-at-best in a loss to TCU in opening round of Big 12 tournament when Jackson was serving one-game suspension. Best Kansas freshman since Danny Manning averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks. Never complained about playing out of position at power forward and showed remarkable savvy for a freshman and earned third-team All-American honors.

Stats in final game: 10 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, five turnovers in 74-60 Elite Eight loss to Oregon in Elite Eight.

2 - Andrew Wiggins: A second-team All-American, Wiggins averaged 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocked shots. Averaged just 1.5 assists per game, compared to 2.3 turnovers. Was so quick and such a shaky ballhandler that he sometimes was rewarded with free throws after losing his dribble because refs assumed he was fouled when in fact he was not. No telling how much better a rebounder and defender he could have been if he took those aspects of the game as seriously as did Jackson.

Stats in final game: Four points, four rebounds, two assists, four turnovers in 60-57 loss to Stanford in round of 32.

3 - Ben McLemore: Led the team in scoring (15.9 points), shot .420 from 3-point range and produced 5.2 rebounds a game. A second-team All-American, he also was a good defender. Once he got hot against Michigan, teammates stopped feeding him. Otherwise, Kansas would have advanced to the Elite Eight.

Stats in final game: 20 points, two rebounds, one assist, one turnover in 87-85 overtime loss to Michigan in Sweet 16.

4 - Joel Embiid: Would rank second here if not for a back injury that limited him to 28 games. Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg was so impressed with his performance in Ames he called Embiid the best player in the country. He did once-in-a-generation things in flashes. Averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 23.1 minutes.

Stats in final game: DNP (back injury) in 60-57 round of 32 loss to Stanford.

5 - Xavier Henry: Terrific freshman season included 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and a .418 3-point shooting percentage. Clearly, he wanted to return for a sophomore year but was feeling pressured to call it a career. Too bad because in the long run he might have set himself up for more NBA dollars had he stayed.

Stats in final game: Eight points, eight rebounds, zero assists, one turnover in 69-67 round of 32 loss to Northern Iowa.

6 - Kelly Oubre: Looked great stepping off the bus, but seldom quite as good in games. Averaged 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. It wasn’t a terribly memorable career.

Stats in final game: Nine points, five rebounds, one assist and two turnovers in 78-65 loss to Wichita State in round of 32.

7 - Josh Selby: Suspended by the NCAA for the first semester, Selby made a huge splash in his debut against USC (five 3-pointers, 21 points, game-winning 3) and headed south from there, playing his poorest game in his finale. A balky ankle can’t be blamed for all of his failures. He averaged 7.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Made 6 of 20 field goals in four NCAA tournament games. Recruiting him hurt more than it helped.

Stats in final game: Two points, one rebound and one assist in 71-61 loss to VCU in Elite Eight.

8 - Cliff Alexander: Finished career on bench as NCAA looked into his mother’s and father’s interactions with agents. Even before that, Alexander fell short of the considerable hype and averaged 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots in 17.6 minutes a game.

Stats in final game: DNP (suspended by NCAA) in 78-65 loss to Wichita State in round of 32.

9 - Cheick Diallo: Didn’t gain eligibility from NCAA until Dec. 1 and never was able to find a way to become valuable. Seemed too eager to prove he could shoot from the outside, the last place he was needed. Averaged just 7.5 minutes in 27 games and averaged 3.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots. It would have been interesting to see how much improvement he could have made as a sophomore, but never entertained that possibility.

Stats in final game: DNP (coach’s decision) in 64-59 loss to Villanova in Elite Eight.

Comments

Suzi Marshall 1 week, 4 days ago

I loved watching Jackson all season and agree with you ranking him first. However, that last game, although he got a double double and came on strong the 8 of the last 11 minutes, left me extremely disappointed and tending to put him in the Wiggins, Oubre camp of bailing the last game.

I wish those last 4 guys on your list (Oubre, Selby, Alexander, Diallo) never showed up on the Kansas campus. Mentally they never did unpack their suitcase, as Self would put it. That's a bad deal when about 50% of the OAD under Self were flops. Nevertheless, I'll take guys like Jackson, Wiggins, Embiid and BMac all day long, every day of the week. We would not be heading to 14 straight without those guys.

Jonathan Allison 1 week, 4 days ago

I felt that Oubre really started to come on strong later in the season. He seemed like a team player and a willing defender, etc. Just took him a while to catch on with what Bill Self wanted him to do. He had talked early on about not necessarily being an OAD, and I think that he would have stayed, but couldn't pass up being a potential lottery pick. He's a pretty decent piece for the Wizards now and seems to be progressing nicely as a pro.

Armen Kurdian 1 week, 4 days ago

I don't agree at all, the whole team was out of rhythm, and him missing a good portion of the first half on the bench didn't help, by the time he was on the floor, so much of the team was panicking it made it harder for him too. I just don't believe that for a second.

Keith Gellar 1 week, 4 days ago

I would add Wiggins to the list. he clearly had one foot out the door the entire time at kansas.

Martin Rhodes 1 week, 4 days ago

I loved watching JJ this year and hope that his game is able to transition well into the pro level and he is drafted by a team that will allow his game to come up to his prodigious athletic ability and intense competitiveness. My thinking prior to the Elite Eight game was that the only way we could lose that game was if we shot 3's poorly (our downfall every year) and/or Jackson picked up early fouls, and of course, both happened. I think that the early fouls called on Jackson took him out of his game and significantly reduced his aggressiveness, and it didn't help that Oregon might have had a great antidote to Jackson, in Bell. He seemed to be a bigger, stronger, quicker, more aggressive, and more experienced Jackson and mostly neutralized Jackson's effectiveness in the paint, which we relied-on so much this year. I do not think that Jackson let us down in this game other than being so aggressive early that the fouls put him on the bench for most of the rest of the first half, and our poor shooting never allowed us to recover.

Robert Brock 1 week, 4 days ago

Ben McLemore can't be considered as a OAD; he benefitted from two years in the program. Two years of instruction from Self & Staff...

Jonathan Allison 1 week, 4 days ago

I agree. The year that he sat out due to being a partial qualifier was critical to his success in his RS Freshman year. I believe that he wasn't allowed to practice with the team during the first semester, but was able to participate in all team activities in the second semester, just not eligible to play.

Jesse Johnson 1 week, 4 days ago

I felt the opposite about Wiggins in getting fouls. I felt like he was so quick with that spin move that slower defenders would often just reach in and hand check him instead of trying to stay in front of him (because they couldn't). I felt like half the time nothing was called and it would just end up as a Wiggins TO. This to me was the biggest reason he wasn't able to make a bigger impact and fully match the hype he had coming in. He still had a great season and I would still put him where you have him. At first I was thinking Embiid had a better season but factoring in the missed time due to injury and the fact he was only really good for the middle part of the season probably gives Wiggins the edge.

Jesse Johnson 1 week, 4 days ago

Why have all of our highly rated front court recruits been busts lately? Diallo, Alexander, and Bragg were all total busts. We need more Perry Ellises, Jeff Witheys, Cole Aldriches, Darnell Jacksons, Thomas Robinsons, Morrii (as players, not personalities), etc. Those guys were studs. Here's to hoping Billy Preston and Azubuike will be different. Azubuike showed some promise this year before his injury, but then again, Bragg showed promise as a freshman too...

Benny Armstrong 1 week, 4 days ago

Two of the three you called busts had off the court issues that impacted their development and growth. Diallo wasn't able to practice at the start of the season so once he was cleared he was delayed in picking up the schemes and the team had already gelled to a certain extent. He definitely showed improvement as the season progressed, but you could tell he was negatively impacted by not being able to get minutes early in those easier games and so he wasn't trusted to play big minutes in important games. Alexander was to a similar extent the exact opposite situation. By all accounts he was progressing and playing well in practice, but was held out as a precautionary measure given his own eligibility issues.

Bragg wasn't so much a bust as he was asked to do what he wasn't capable of and either couldn't or wouldn't make the effort to do it. Had Dok not been injured, Bragg would have played the bulk of his minutes at the 4 and could have potentially thrived as a stretch post. Instead, he was too slight and lacked the physical presence and willingness to play the post in the 4 guard lineup, which made him a liability on both ends of the court. Throw in the off the court issues and Self lost trust in him and stopped playing him.

As for the guys you listed as excelling while at KU, there is a common theme that most Jayhawk fans have recognized is lacking in recent years... those guys were all coached at some point by Danny Manning. He was a master at teaching our post players and helped all of them improve and a lot be drafted, including a number that weren't even on NBA radars before college. I believe his loss has been one of the most difficult to replace from the staff. While our players have improved year to year, there hasn't been the extreme growth we were almost accustomed to seeing from season to season. I'm glad he was able to earn head coaching positions and hope he does well, but selfishly wished he had remained on the KU staff.

Next year will definitely be different. Hopefully Dok has been busy watching tape and learning technique even though he couldn't play. Replacing Landen, once a laughed at question, will be a major challenge considering everything he did for the program.

Jesse Johnson 1 week, 4 days ago

I too was really worried about the effect that Danny leaving would have on our frontcourt development. Then Joel Embiid came and was one of the most amazing freshman centers we've ever had, and I thought to myself that maybe I was giving too much credit to Manning and that Self himself has really good froncourt development chops. But yeah, since then they have just all been busts. I don't think Alexander was off-court issues, that didn't come until the very end of the season, but he had already come way short of living up to his rating as a recruit (he was rated higher than Karl Anthony-Towns in every single recruit ranking and Towns made Alexander look like a boy among men when we matched up against them). I agree with Diallo about the stupid NCAA suspension. I also think Self just didn't seem like he wanted to invest in Diallo once he got him because he was afraid he just wouldn't figure it out in time. Bragg is all is own doing.

Keith Gellar 1 week, 4 days ago

So far none of the OADs have been able to crack the all star teams. Lets see what Josh can do. Bill Self needs to get his guys in the all star games in nba. its becoming an embarrassment. look at Coach K, Calipari, Izzo...

Freddie Garza 1 week, 4 days ago

Embiid was on the cusp of making an allstar appearance this year, while playing limited minutes. I think that there's no question in anyone's mind that if he can stay healthy, he'll be a perennial allstar.

Wiggins can get there if he starts taking a bit more pride on the defensive end and his team starts winning.

I think Josh Jackson has every ability to become a perennial allstar himself.

But to say that the guys representing KU in the NBA are an embarrassment? Come on now man, that is far from the case.

Freddie Garza 1 week, 4 days ago

I think it was his fearless mentality that set him apart. Wiggins was perhaps slightly more gifted athletically, but had a much more passive mentality than Jackson does.

Jackson is a guy who takes everything personal. He's got a lot of pride as a player. That can get guys in trouble at times as it can lead to frustration, or jawing back and forth with another player...could lead to technical fouls and things of that nature. But I think it's an asset. To have a guy who fully believes at all times that he is the best player on the court and is willing to be in a dogfight with you to prove it...I take that guy on my team anyday.

Josh, you've got a bright future ahead of you. Hope you visit Lawrence often in the future.

Rick Kalebaugh 1 week, 4 days ago

I fear Josh is not mature enough. I think he needed to stay one more year. Too many problems off the court. I think they may be worse once he gets a contract worth millions. I hope I'm wrong. Only time will tell

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