Monday, April 17, 2017
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.