Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Season of Svi: Why 2017-18 might be different for KU’s Mykhailiuk

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) gives Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) a celebratory shove after a big three by Mykhailiuk late in the second half, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) gives Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) a celebratory shove after a big three by Mykhailiuk late in the second half, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.


Svi Mykhailiuk's experience testing the NBA Draft waters was a little different than that of a former teammate.

After the 2014-15 basketball season, former Jayhawk Perry Ellis had to make the same choice Mykhailiuk did this past summer. Armed with the information he could improve his stock by expanding his shooting range, Ellis opted to return to college for his senior year.

Mykhailiuk, known as a shooting specialist, was given the exact opposite advice.

"Just get better overall," Mykhailiuk was told. "When I was going (to the combine), that was like the goal to show them I can do more than just shooting.

"To play in the NBA ... you've got to do more things."

Mykhailiuk’s chances to do so at the combine weren’t as plentiful as he would’ve liked.

The senior injured his ankle, leaving his one day of scrimmages as the only real chance to impress the scouts and personnel in attendance.

He tried to show off his driving ability — arguably his most memorable play in Kansas uniform showcased that very thing — but even if things didn’t line up perfectly for him to make the jump, it wasn’t a total waste.

"The first time, you just need to go through it," Mykhailiuk said. "I'm happy I did it. it's just a great experience for me because I know what it's going to be next year."

The same could be said of his time in Kansas.

Mykhailiuk was just 16 years old when he first committed to KU. He was excited to get on the court, though reflecting on the experience, he acknowledged he was at a bit of a disadvantage.

"I would say I was pretty young. I probably wasn't ready mentally," Mykhailiuk said. "That was the main thing. Just growing up these past three years. I think I'm ready right now."

As a freshman, Mykhailiuk showed flashes of what he could become. He posted a pair of double-digit scoring performances in non-conference play, including in a win over Michigan State where he knocked down three 3-pointers.

But those flashes of brilliance were exactly that. Mykhailiuk played sparingly in conference play, finishing the year averaging just 2.8 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.

"I think everybody thinks that they're ready. When they get here they realize they're not," said KU coach Bill Self. "I think that's probably the way he was back then."

Since then, Mykhailiuk's growth year-to-year has been modest.

As a sophomore he nearly doubled his points production but didn't play too much more. As a junior, he averaged more than 27 minutes per game and set career-highs in just about every statistical category, but he was still no more than arguably the fifth or sixth most important player on the team.

Here’s why the "Season of Svi", senior edition, might be different.

The construct of this year‘s team is similar to last year‘s. KU has three scholarship big man eligible to play to start this season and will feature four-guard lineups a heavy percentage of the time — Self projects around 20 minutes per game — so the minutes will be there.

Mykhailiuk also spent much of the summer dropping weight he put on last season. Similar to Ellis, he returned for senior year with a body resembling that of an NBA player, at least more so than that of a teenager.

"He looks more athletic," Self agreed.

But that story has been told.

One that hasn’t, or at least wasn’t made too prevalent at Friday’s KU basketball media day, came from the head coach himself.

Lost in the shuffle of questions about Adidas, FBI investigations, Missouri and any number of other topics, was a comment about the swingman that Self slipped into a seemingly unrelated answer.

"(Devonte' Graham) won't defer to anybody this year," Self said. "This is his squad. This is his team. More so than anybody else. Svi has been terrific so far, but Devonte', to me from a vocal standpoint and by example, he's going to have a lot of fun this year."

That’s perhaps the best sign for those still waiting on that breakout year.

Mykhailiuk isn't a completely different person. Grilled by a reporter about his feelings of Missouri, The reserved, soft-spoken Ukrainian said exactly what you’d expect.

"It's a big rivalry, but we're just talking about basketball here," Mykhailiuk said. "It's going to be a great game."

"You'd prefer to keep it just basketball?" the reporter asked.

"Yeah," Mykhailiuk said. "I mean I'm not from here, so it's just basketball for me."

"But you do wear the Kansas uniform and therefore represent--"

"Yeah, definitely, definitely," Mykhailiuk agreed. "Yeah, like I said, it's just basketball."

But if his coach is to be believed, there is something different about the 6-foot-7, 207-pound, trying-to–prove–he-can-do-more-than-just-shoot senior.

After all, asked after the press conference to clarify what "terrific" meant, Self's first two words said it all:

"So confident."


Craig Carson 2 years, 1 month ago

Svi has an NBA jump shot, NBA handles and NBA SF size..what he has never had is NBA level defense..unless finally this year he can bring a level of toughness on D, I fear he might be passed over the in draft

Humpy Helsel 2 years, 1 month ago

Our football program finally gets a ton of posts, and all for the wrong reasons. Sad. Oh, well.

Back to what we love and are good at...and that would be basketball! Love me some Svi. Hope he has the year a senior who is still young in age years should have at Kansas which puts him in a great position to play in the NBA. If not, he will be set up to make a nice living playing closer to his home. I think the confidence thing for him is big deal as it is with any player. Coming into a school like Kansas at sixteen not speaking the predominant language had to be tough. I thought his defense, while still needing work, made huge strides last year. His tendency to get caught looking and getting beat back door must be addressed. Still can't get over the closeness of the relationship between he and Devonte. How did Coach Howard describe it last year? "They are brothers."

Bryce Landon 2 years, 1 month ago

One last chance to hear the phrase "SVI FOR 3!" or "SVIII" when he connects from downtown. #CantWait

Barry Weiss 2 years, 1 month ago

to me, it is absolutely imperative that Svi gets off to a super hot start this year, if he is to see the starting line-up. Based on last year, it appeared Vick had shown more to be the starter. Happy for both of them and the team that we have a situation where guys know they need to give 110% if they want to start.

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