It’s only been a month, and he clearly still has a lot to learn about playing point guard at Kansas, in the Big 12 and for KU coach Bill Self.
But the early feedback from summer pickup games and team scrimmages thus far have pinpointed one area in which KU newcomer Devon Dotson already is well ahead of the curve for a true freshman — speed.
“He’s really fast,” KU junior Sam Cunliffe recently told the Journal-World after listing Dotson as one of the players who had stood out to him so far this summer. “He can push the ball up the court pretty quickly and get to his spots pretty well.”
Lightning fast point guard play is certainly nothing new for the Jayhawks. Whether talking about the past four years, with Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason III running the show, or players like Tyshawn Taylor, Sherron Collins and Russell Robinson before that, Self’s offenses for years have had a serious element of speed.
But just how fast are we talking here with the five-star freshman from Charlotte, who stands 6-foot-2, 185 pounds?
Fast like Mason and Graham?
“For sure,” Cunliffe said. “He’s definitely on that level of fast. He has stood out in that area.”
Although he was a few weeks late to the party because of his commitment with USA Basketball, fellow five-star freshman Quentin Grimes agreed with Cunliffe’s assessment of Dotson’s best skill. And it did not take Grimes long to figure out just how dangerous KU could be with both him and Dotson on the floor together during the 2018-19 season.
“I think it’s good, because we can both play on the ball and off the ball,” said Grimes, who has the ability to play the point but, because of his 6-5, 205-pound frame, often fits best at the 2 or the 3 like he did with Team USA. “Once coach kind of starts to figure us out, he’ll put us in really good positions on the court.”
Those two will hardly be alone in the KU backcourt this season. With Cunliffe potentially factoring into things for the first time and Marcus Garrett, Charlie Moore, Lagerald Vick and freshman Ochai Agbaji also fighting for reps, the KU backcourt, all of a sudden, is just as deep as the Jayhawks' big, talented and physical frontline.
And while the flash and flare of Dotson and Grimes have received plenty of attention, Grimes said Moore had been the most impressive KU guard during his first few weeks on campus.
Asked which of the guards had the best shooting touch thus far, Grimes said, “I think it’s Charlie for sure, that I’ve seen. He’s been the most consistent. And I feel like, as long as I get my reps in, I’ll be right behind there.”
Asked which of the KU guards was the quickest he had seen, Grimes repeated himself.
“I haven’t guarded Devon,” he said in late June. “But I have guarded Charlie, and he’s pretty quick out there on the court, so I’m going to have to go with Charlie again.”
Regardless of who actually comes out on top in the speed category, Dotson and company are clearly getting noticed. Many national pundits have already picked the Jayhawks as the top-ranked team in the country entering the 2018-19 season. And all of KU coach Bill Self’s different lineups, along with the motivational tactics at his disposal as a result, figure to create a roster that can endure the inevitable off nights and in-season slumps from a handful of different players.
“The thing about our team this year,” Cunliffe said, “is we’ve got a lot of guys that are really good and a lot of guys that have improved.”
And, in many ways, the progress is merely beginning.
“When coach finally gets us all together and is able to get it under control, I think we’re going to be really scary because we’re going to have guys everywhere,” Cunliffe added. “Guys starting. Guys coming in. It’s going to be a good team.”