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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Don’t bet against Kansas winning 14th consecutive Big 12 title

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike watches warmups on  Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike watches warmups on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

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Now that the new-car smell has faded from the UCLA-tying 13th-consecutive conference title, it’s time to examine what it will take for Kansas to own the outright record by securing a 14th Big 12 title in a row.

Let’s put it this way: If anybody offers taking the field and letting you have Kansas for even money, grab his or her hand as fast as you can and shake it firmly.

At the very least, Kansas loses its point guard, a likely first-team All-American, its center and its do-it-all potential All-American wing from a team that lacks depth. But that doesn’t mean next year’s talent pool will fall short.

Best-case scenario

Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk decide to return for their senior seasons and 6-foot-2 jumping jack Trevon Duval out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., the nation’s No. 3 recruit and top point guard, disappoints Duke and signs with Kansas.

If that happened, Kansas could send an even better scoring team onto the floor than this season with Duval, Graham and Malik Newman on the perimeter. Billy Preston, a 6-9 do-it-all forward and 7-foot wide-body Udoke Azubuike round out the staring lineup.

Lagerald Vick, Svi, 6-6 guard Sam Cunliffe (Arizona State transfer eligible as soon as the first semester ends), freshman Marcus Garrett, a 6-5 guard, Dwight Coleby and Mitch Lightfoot supply depth. So does Carlton Bragg, if he returns to Kansas.

That happens and Kansas opens the season projected as a No. 1 seed in the 2018 NCAA tournament.

Worst-case scenario

Graham and Svi decide to make themselves eligible for the NBA draft and Duval signs with Duke.

That happens and the door flies open for an intense competition.

Newman very well could lead Kansas in scoring next season and Garrett can play some point, but neither is ideally suited to be the team’s primary ballhandler. Such a scenario would leave Kansas scrambling for a point guard, either a high school player or graduate transfer or both.

Middling scenario

Kansas has either Graham or Duval on the roster, but not both. KU still would enter the season as the favorite to claim another title.

Kansas isn’t the only school sweating out possible early NBA entries. Baylor’s Johnathan Motley and Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans likely will enter the draft and Texas freshman Jarrett Allen also might. Either way, Baylor shapes up as a contender, as do West Virginia and maybe Oklahoma, which returns every player from Monday night’s game in Allen Fieldhouse. Also, the Texas recruiting class ranks 14th at this point.

Comments

Bill Pitcher 6 months, 3 weeks ago

More questions than answers. For today, BIFM and let's have some fun in March.

Nancy Clyde 6 months, 3 weeks ago

How about you let us finish this season first? I am ready to enjoy some March basketball and all the hope that comes with it. Would love to see Svi and Devonte' stay but pretty sure if we go far in March at least one of them will leave. Let's just enjoy the ride. Self will find a way to be in contention for the Big 12 title no matter what happens.

Andy Tweedy 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I took a look at two mock drafts last night and Graham isn't mentioned anywhere. Svi is in the mid second round of both. Why would either leave if they're not going higher than that?

Jonathan Allison 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I did the same thing yesterday. Was surprised not to see Graham listed. I know that some Mock Drafts won't consider an early entrant if they suspect that he isn't going to be coming out for the draft. But I would be shocked if Graham doesn't at least test the waters.

Joe Joseph 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Why would they leave?

If they feel like they have little to gain by returning for their senior seasons. NBA scouts are all aware of Graham and Svi. By now, their opinions on them are unlikely to change by much. Their skills and talents, while still able to be honed and improved upon, are unlikely to change drastically.

Everyone wants to believe that a college degree means the same thing to all of these young men. But it doesn't. Many of these athletes have dreamed of playing professional basketball and want to get there as soon as possible. In the case of Graham and Svi, maybe that means being okay/content/happy to play over seas or in the D-league.

Side note: I do really hope they both return!!

Andy Tweedy 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah, maybe so...I'm not saying they're staying. But it sure seems both of them could benefit, especially with how deep this draft is shaping up to be. I don't know about 2018, but I would be shocked if their value doesn't go higher.

Gerry Butler 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Not sure where you looked but, NBA draft net exress has SVI as the 38 pick going to Boston , another has him as the 30 pick going to Utah. - -Draft express has Devonte as the # 40 pick going to Philadelphia from Dallas. - -And another has ran Mason as the # 17 pick off their mock draft -- Howard Megdal, so ya they are listed

Andy Tweedy 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I looked at three others and Graham is nowhere to be found. But yeah, I'm not saying it's impossible he won't get drafted, but it doesn't look great for him. I did mention Svi is generally in the second round.

Jonathan Allison 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Don't sleep on Oklahoma State. Winners of 10 of their last 12 games. Only two losses during that span coming by a combined 6 points against then #6 ranked Baylor and a true road game at #24 ranked ISU. They likely lose three of their top 4 scorers including Seniors Forte and Hammonds as well as So. Juwan Evans, but Brad Underwood has accomplished more with less and should be able to point the history of OSU basketball as well as to the trajectory of his current team throughout the year when talking to 2018 recruits this spring and fall.

Benny Armstrong 6 months, 3 weeks ago

A lot of OSU's future depends on Evans sticking around for his junior year. If he leaves, that would probably set them back a year in the program's development if not more given how much he does for the team and the lack of suitable depth behind him currently. Underwood has proven he can coach up players, but it becomes really hard to be decent, especially in the Big 12, if you lack a point guard to run your team.

For reference, look no further than their in-state rivals Oklahoma to see what happens when a team loses its veteran point guard. While they have played well and scored some upsets, they lack a consistent guy that can control the offense and settle the team down. No where was this more apparent than when we started pressing on Monday night and they had no one to lean on to break the pressure.

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Agree Jonathan. Oklahoma will be better next year as well. Trey Young leads a solid recruiting class on what will be a still very young team.

Robert Brock 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Ambush in Stillwater - the Pokes win by a dozen. Self seems to always lay an egg versus his Alma Mater.

Joe Joseph 6 months, 3 weeks ago

It seems likely. I almost wish Self would forfeit and give guys some much needed time off.

Mike Riches 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'll take that bet. Frank deserves to win one in Stillwater during his career!

Kent Richardson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

You don't stop Okie State, you outscore them. It will take one of our games in the mid-eighties to have a chance. Calling Mr. Svi. No eight turnovers from Josh either. They get to the rim and garner a lot of foul calls so full team effort and bench scoring please.

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Great prediction Brock.What do you have for the BIG 12 Tournament?

Suzi Marshall 6 months, 3 weeks ago

With Azubuike missing this season developing, he will still need the full season to develop. Coleby will need to continue to get healthy and should be our biggest hope for the post. The Graham/Mykailiuk decisions will be key to our '14 hopes. Mykailiuk should stay in Lawrence all summer to work on his game, like Vick did last summer.

Marcus Garrett is going to surprise a lot of Kansas fans. Last night in the TX HS regional quarters he scored 27 points, including the game winning layup with 2 seconds left, in the 44-42 win over Lufkin.(http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/high-school/high-schools/2017/02/28/boys-basketball-playoffs-kansas-signee-hero-skyline-wins-thriller-reigning-4a-state-champ-lincoln-escapes-ot-win).

The Dallas Morning news also did a nice profile on Garrett, which Kansas fans will immediately see the Bill Self connections. (http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/high-school/high-schools/2017/02/22/defense-play-time-style-potentially-put-skyline-path-first-state-title).

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Not playing since December has certainly set him back but he's not coming in like a new fresh the next year. By the time conference play comes around, Azubuike will be ready to go.

Shannon Gustafson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Az was already better than Coleby before he was injured and is way younger, less experienced, and therefore has much more room to grow over the summer. Coleby is near his ceiling at this point so the prospect of Coleby being our biggest hope in the post is unrealistic.

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree but Coleby's knee has been an issue all year. Still, a healthy Azubuike beats a healthy Coleby.

Dale Stringer 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I haven't seen much of our 4-guard play in the last couple weeks. What I've watched is 3-guard dribble drive with 1 post and a guy corner swapping waiting for the ball (Svi/Vick). And I think this is hurting Svi's production.

Earlier in the year we played with more movement (dribble drive) of all four guards. Svi was moving more, getting more touches and seemed more in tune and had more energy. He drove to the basket and was (is) good at it too. But now, with him just in the corners, he seems a little slowed on offense. Get him moving again and his shot will start to fall again.

Noel Backwards 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't see a scenario where Graham and Svi both leave. Even after a championship, I don't think they will be valued enough to convince them to pass up history at KU. They both should test the waters, but I ultimately see both returning. If Devonte was leaving early it likely would have been after last year when his stock was very high and he was the player everyone was talking about on our team. Landing Duval is a long shot, but even without him we are in good shape with a starting 5 of Graham, Newman, Svi, Bragg (Preston), and Azubuike.

Prestons game reminds me a lot of Carlton's coming out of high school and I wouldn't see Self sacrificing the (relative) experience for the same skill set to start the year.

Ryan Zimmerman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Depending on the site, you get mixed results Graham here at 40 http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-mock-draft/2017/

Svi here at 38 http://www.nbadraft.net/2017mock_draft

Hopefully they take a look at Greene, Selden, etc and see that range isn't a good spot to even secure a team.

I don't think we have a prayer at Duval. I can't imagine a scenario we land him. Trae was our priority and Duval knew that, so focused on Duke and will stay that way.

We need Graham big time, and not just for his ability, but to lead the team. I don't see how Vick, Svi, Coleby could be the "senior" leaders vocally out there. Graham means a lot to this team

Tony Bandle 6 months, 3 weeks ago

There are iconic sports accomplishments that many people will consider unreachable:

1] DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak. 2] Wilt's 100 point game without a three point shot.[Curry may do it but it will almost all be three pointers, 3] Driving in 200 rbi's in one season. 4] UCONN women's 100+ game winning streak. 5] Jack's Majors total, plus dozens more.

But think about it. Fourteen straight conference titles UNDER THE SAME COACH!!!!

This one may rank up there rear the top of the list.

Mike Greer 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Devonte had a reall good end to last season, and although he's played well this year he hasn't been spectacular. My opinion is he has nothing to loose by coming back for his senior year and everything to gain. What were Frank's chances at making the NBA if he would have gone early, rather slim I would suspect. Svi could decide to play in Europe, but his best NBA chances seem to be to come back and have that spectacular senior year.

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I thought Graham would have had a better shot in making the draft last year then he does this year. With Mason gone next season, Graham, if he stays, will be the team's leader.

Andy Tweedy 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I mentioned this in a reply above, but this year's draft is supposed to be on of the deepest in years. That's also a possible reason to stick around for one more year.

Mike Schell 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't think Duval is as long of a shot as most people think and here's why. The kid first and foremost wants minutes promised to him without looking over his shoulder at someone taking his spot, kansas can offer that and duke can't! Notice Duval's comments about if young singed with kansas he wouldn't, and self has promised Duval Frank's minutes. ( one reason why I think young ultimately chose to stay home and play for OU) Duke at the very least has Frank Jackson returning and he has played point guard for them this season, and even tho Luke K for duke is projected late first round I can see him pulling a grayson allen and returning so there will definitely be some competition at the point. At very least he will compete with Frank Jackson and just going off of Duval's comments he seems to want that spot to himself without looking over his shoulder to get pulled if he messes up. Also with doka returning and us adding a big time talent with Preston Duval will have more then capable low post scoring to drive and dish to ( helps his stats ) Duke has their bigs that are leaving in Jefferson and Giles. And with Newman, Vick and cunliffe on the wing he would definitely have a lot of firepower around him! Idk where his mind is at, nobody except him and his family do. But it you look closely at the deciding factors kansas does seam to have the edge!

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Self promised Duval Frank's minutes? Do you have a source for that? Self isn't known for promising minutes to incoming freshmen so I'm really interested in your source.

Mike Schell 6 months, 3 weeks ago

It was more of an indirect quote from Duval, he said after his visit that coach self told him that he needed him to come in and fill Frank's spot and he would be getting Frank's minutes

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

That's a lot more believable. We have several combo guards but not another true point guard. Duval would undoubtably get minutes at the point but he will still need to earn them.

Barry Weiss 6 months, 3 weeks ago

To me, there is absolutely no way Svi or Graham leave this year to be picked very, very late in the second round. It makes no sense. Too much upside for both of them to come back and work themselves into a possible first round pick after next year. The only way either would go this year is if they think their minutes would be down next year along with their stats. Then you go now cause its as good as it gets.

David Morrison 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We don't need Duval next year. We are loaded at the guard position. Watch the highlight video on Malik Newman. He is a beast. With Garrett coming in, Vick, Cunliffe, and Graham/or Svi coming back.... we are set. Check the video on Billy Preston. He is a stud. The backcourt is gonna be strong with Dok, Preston, Coleby and Lightfoot. Hopefully, Bragg comes back to improve on his less that stellar season this year. We don't re-bulld.... we re-load. I wouldn't bet against us on "14" in a row. That being said..... we have more to do this year!!!

Mike Schell 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We will need Duval if Graham chooses to leave.. because even tho we are loaded with guards Graham is the only "point guard" Newman is a off the ball guard. So without Graham we wouldn't have a guard that has ran the point and can get the team in the right sets calling plays coming down the court.. and I agree I don't see Graham leaving his draft stock will improve tremendously if he returns next year and it will be his team. I've herd some chatter about svi possibly playing over seas next year, idk how much of that is true or if it holds any Merit. And as far as Bragg he should return he has been playing the 5 this year and he's a stretch 4.. well if he could improve his jumper he would be, but if self runs his high-low offense next year Bragg fits into that better then our current 4 guard lineup, and your right Preston is a absolute monster I have a hard time seeing Bragg starting over him with the way he's playing now and Preston is more explosive.

Shannon Gustafson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If you pay attention to how the point spot is played this year, in the rare instances that Frank is on the bench, if Vick is on the floor, he plays the point and Graham is the off the ball guard. This would seem to indicate the Vick is at least as much of a "point guard" as Graham is.

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

You're the one not paying attention. During the rare times when Mason is sitting, Graham moves over to point. I've seen Vick and others at times bring the ball up but then it is passed to Mason or Graham.

Greg Lux 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I hope whoever leave does it smartly and don't get agent disease early, With that said I still believe we need another 6-11 / 7 footer who can increase our in/out offense that has lacked the last couple of years.. Great going Jayhawks... now the work begins all over again... Go get em !!!

Joe Ross 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Devonte and Svi should ask Wayne Selden about his thoughts on leaving early for the draft, and Frank Mason about his thoughts on how staying might improve their stock.

...even if they don't ask, looks like the answers are all around them.

Tim Orel 6 months, 3 weeks ago

And Brannen Greene, and some of the one-and-dones (Selby, CJ Henry...)

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

What more would Wayne have gotten by staying another year? He wasn't going to get any better.

Joe Ross 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I dont know what youre basing that opinion on. He improved from his sophomore to junior year 4 points per game to 14. His field goal percentage increased almost 10% between so. and jr. years to the highest of his career and 3 pt percentage also increased to a season best. His rebounds, assists, and steals also improved. Its not like most players in Self's system fall off. I totally dont get the rationale for thinking Selden would have gone stagnant, especially when his final season witnessed a mini-breakout. I think his leaving was probably good for Kansas in that Frank Mason was featured more and has been delivering, but bad for Kansas in terms of depth. Whether or not it was good for him personally is something Ill leave to others to decide, but my opinion is he hurt himself greatly. What evidence do you suppose indicates he was headed for a downturn in his performance?

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

And now he is playing professionally in the D League averaging 5 more points per game against better competition and w/professional coaching. With Josh Jackson signing, Wayne wouldn't have had a larger role

Wayne is finding D League success:http://fansided.com/2017/01/18/5-impact-players-2017-nba-d-league-showcase/

Wayne made the right decision.

Joe Ross 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I dont think we're on the same wavelength. You're saying Selden wasn't going to get any better here. Whether you look at the trajectory of his career at KU, whether you project forward to his D-league succeses, what have you...every single indication is that Wayne Selden was and IS blossoming. To look at all this evidence and say that he would have inexplicably gone stagnant at Kansas is something which I cant fathom because there is no evidence to indicate it. I asked you for evidence to suggest that Selden's performance would have gotten worse. So far you havent given any.

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Joe, let's be clear. You and I are NEVER on the same wavelength. You cannot admit to being wrong ever. In this, there is room for reasonable debate and we obviously disagree but you put words in my mouth that I never stated. Where did I say he would have "inexorably gone stagnant". You can't fathom what I didn't say?

What I said is that he made the right decision for him and for Kansas. So misquote away Joe. It's what you do best.

Joe Ross 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I honestly dont know where this is coming from. You lament that we are never on the same wavelength, but you were the first to disagree with my opinion. I dont mind admitting wrong, but on a matter of OPINION as to whether or not Wayne Selden is going to get better or not, there IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG, necessarily, so I have to admit to no such thing. I stand on my right to hold the opinion I do just as you do. I certainly DO agree that there is room for debate, and debate is exactly what Im doing. You, on the other hand, seem to want to close the door on debate by declaring definitively that WS was not going to get any better:

"What more would Wayne have gotten by staying another year? He wasn't going to get any better."

You didnt just say that he made the right decision, you said he wasn't going to get any better by returning, and you STILL have not supported that opinion with a single shred of evidence. Nothing has been misquoted. Do you still believe WS would not have gotten any better as you said in your comment, and if so what do you base this on?

Barry Weiss 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I think the addition of Josh Jackson, in some ways, pointed to the possibility that Wayne might not have as many minutes this year with Jackson on the court.

Joe Ross 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I doubt that very seriously. For one, depth has been a problem, and Self has been forced to distribute minutes to players who are oftentimes not performing particularly well simply because he needs bodies. Had Selden stayed around he as by far the most experience player would have filled that hole and depth would not be so much of an issue. It probably still would have been 4 around 1 given the lack of post players, but consider Jackson, Mason, Graham and Selden as being your four starters, with Svi, Vick, being your reliable bench guys. No such thing as a depth problem really. Coleby and Bragg would have been relied upon to rest Lucas, but that is no different than what you have now. Point being, all your perimeter guys probably get more rest, dont have to play as much, etc. if Selden is around. Besides, if JJ was going to limit someone's minutes, it certainly would NOT have been Wayne Selden's! When you're playing four guards, you understand that JJ is going to be playing with other perimeter guys, and that doesnt interrupt the flow of what Self has been doing this year.

Marius Rowlanski 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Wrong. We have plenty of depth in the backcourt. It's the frontcourt that needs another player.

Coleby and Bragg ARE being relied upon apon to rest Lucas. If Azubuike wasn't injured, depth wouldn't be an issue. Self has rarely gone past an 8 man rotation. If Wayne came back, Vick would be somewhere else.

Joe Ross 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If by "depth" you mean we have plenty of bodies in the backcourt, then we dont have a disagreement. But Svi has disappeared for huge chunks of the season, and Devonte has literally been hit and miss. If you want to talk about depth of production and consistency, now we have an issue. Selden would certainly have given that, so Im not wrong. Non-producers get yanked and sit on the bench, and the players who light up the scoreboard see the floor.

As far as the point about Coleby and Bragg being relied upon to rest Lucas, I made that very point if you reread my comments. And as far as Azubuike is concerned, I think you're taking a little bit for granted. As you unquestionably saw, Udoka was foul prone, and that limited his minutes greatly. Would he have learned to limit fouls? You don't know that. I don't either. Neither of us do. So to say depth would not have been an issue is turning a question mark in your favor that I say youre taking for granted. Of course none of us knew Udoka would have gotten hurt and we all hoped the foul thing would work itself out, but you just cant take for granted that Az could have anchored the frontcourt behind Lucas due to his inexperience and foul trouble.

Bryan Mohr 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I won't bet against a 14th for KU. Really, it highlights how mediocre the rest of the Big12 is. Media does its best to hype up Big12 teams, but apart from KU they rarely produce. Since the Big12 was founded - like 22 years ago - only 5 non-KU Final Four appearances (OU 2, OSU 2, UT 1), and ZERO national championship appearances. Look at other conferences' Final Four (Appearances, Final2, Champ) in past 22 years:

ACC (17, 9, 6 ), BigTen ( 17, 7, 1), SEC ( 14, 9, 6), BigEast ( 13, 7, 6), Big12 (9, 3, 1) → KU (4, 3, 1), PAC ( 7, 4, 2)

The stats are misleading for BigEast because the BigEast isn't what it was. But my point is that the Big12 almost never has great teams apart from KU. Good, yes, but not great. It's still incredible to win 13 conference titles in a row, but odds are KU would not have done it in any other power conference. KU looks really good, but the rest of Big12 isn't great.

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