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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Tait

Matt Tait: What’s next for Kansas after Tyty Washington commitment to Kentucky?

Kansas head coach Bill Self lays into the Jayhawks after a stretch of sloppy play during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self lays into the Jayhawks after a stretch of sloppy play during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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While Tyty Washington’s commitment to Kentucky on Wednesday night no doubt dealt a blow to the KU fan base, the talented point guard’s decision does not spell doom for the Jayhawks.

Far from it.

What it comes down to now is proven talent versus development projects, and the Jayhawks are likely to land on the side of the experienced.

Don’t get me wrong, Washington would have fit nicely into the KU roster — or most any other roster in the country for that matter — because his blend of vision and scoring ability would provide any team with a plethora of options.

But even as hot as he has been in recent months, there’s no guarantee that his game will translate to the college level in an instant-impact sort of way.

It may. But we’ve seen plenty of times, both at KU and elsewhere, when that has not been the case with high school players.

Even some top-tier talents — former five-star prospect Bryce Thompson is the most recent who comes to mind — have struggled to make the jump and been different players in Year 1 or 2 of college than they were at the prep level.

In the past, that was the price of doing business and those players, whether they overachieved, underachieved or were what their coaches expected, were given time to get acclimated and find their footing.

Today, with the transfer game ruling the scene, neither the programs nor the players seem to have the desire to sit around and wait for things to materialize. Sometimes that produces a win-win scenario that works out for both sides. Other times, you watch once-highly-hyped players quietly fade.

“It's just a little bit different way of doing business, which I think fans and coaches and players across America will need to get used to,” KU coach Bill Self recently told the Journal-World. “Because there could be many years, maybe not where you bring in seven newcomers, but there'll be a lot of five- or six-newcomer years in the near future.”

The smart money is on Washington delivering and living up to the hype. But the fact that he’s not doing it at Kansas is not devastating for Self and company.

KU remains in the mix for several quality guard options who are still looking for a place to play next season. And Self, like coaches across the country, continues to tinker with his recruiting plans as he navigates the new era of college basketball, one headlined by the transfer portal and immediate eligibility.

What the Jayhawks lost out on in watching Washington commit somewhere else, they may gain in the way of experience via an older player who already has proven himself at the college level.

“You want to be in a hurry and get your work done,” Self told the Journal-World. “But you don’t even know who could potentially be available to you next month. It's just a different deal.”

That has proven true over and over since the 2020-21 season ended in early April, with talented players and big names electing to look to play elsewhere next season.

Georgia point guard Sahvir Wheeler and Arizona State guard Remy Martin are two of the most recent examples of that, and there are reports tying Kansas to both players.

Wheeler, who led the SEC in assists last season (193 total and 7.4 per game), named KU in his final four, and his decision date could be next.

Martin was heavily recruited by KU out of high school, and his status as a two-time all-Pac-12 performer qualifies as something that would pique any program's interest.

Even if neither of those players pick KU, there are, and will still be, other options out there. They might not have the star power or big time buzz as players like Martin and Wheeler, or a player like Washington, but that does not automatically mean that the Jayhawks would be any worse off.

No one knew Martin would be available even at this time last week. And several other big-name talents have popped into the portal during recent weeks. It’s certainly possible that more could follow.

With the NBA’s pre-draft combine not taking place until the final week of June, there are other proven and talented players currently exploring their NBA draft stock who still could elect to come back to school.

Some of those players — perhaps several — could pull their names from the draft pool in late June and decide to return to school, perhaps with the goal being to find a high-profile program like Kansas to help them elevate their draft stock.

The point is, you just never know what could happen. And Self’s talk about being patient and keeping the options open doesn't seem like a bad strategy in this new era.

Even if the Jayhawks don’t land another player — an unlikely outcome — the roster in its current form is still viewed as a top-10 team by most college basketball analysts.

Self agrees.

“I like I like where we're at,” he said. “I do.”

Comments

Barry Weiss 4 months, 1 week ago

Good points, the game has changed in many regards. One thing though, you still need bigs that can control the paint. Once Dok left we have been very weak in that area. I'd take a real Morris twin type stud in the paint over a Ty Ty.

Robert Brock 4 months, 1 week ago

The transfer portal doesn’t provide many good-quality bigs. There are none available at this time.

Jeff Coffman 4 months, 1 week ago

We could have 4 or 5 more roster transactions before the start of the season.

I think the key though for the blue bloods and those that are recruiting freshman and incoming personnel is the ability to coach them before they start playing games. Although last year there was some play, with the pandemic the amount of coaching prior to games was limited and once the season started you even saw some limited practice and interaction between teams. This I think was very helpful for the teams with a lot of returning players or supplemental players. I may be wrong, but I think Kentucky struggled, because they missed on a player or two, but also because the jump to college ball is not easy and needs coaching, you saw it with Duke and UNC, and one could argue with the amount of turnover in our team we saw lack of consistency.

Here is to hoping that a little more return to normal occurs and everyone benefits players, schools, and coaches...and why not...the fans too.

Rodney Crain 4 months ago

Prayers answered, crisis averted. This is great news.

Robert Brock 4 months ago

Wheeler would make the team worse.

Chad Durbin 4 months ago

Great article Matt, always insightful!

Kit Duncan 4 months ago

Wheeler would NOT make things worse. The kid is Mason/Graham rolled into one body. No fear, takes the ball straight to the hoop, pulls up and shoots, or dishes dimes, or draws fouls. Gets steals with his quick hands, rebounds like a big. Definitely a guard that KU could use.

Steve Zimmerman 4 months ago

We've got so many ex-alumni and future prospects that are worth, much much more to read about but you chose to write 5-8 articles on this guy.

RJ King 4 months ago

Wow Steve ... it amazes me that you cannot simply stop reading the article if it doesn't appeal to you. More so that you take the time to chastise the staff of a small local newspaper. Perhaps there are articles on bitterness and anger that you might find interesting.

Steve Zimmerman 4 months ago

My apology. But you read it wrong, my intention was actually to steer too much attention to Ty. I always enjoy Mr. Tait's columns, I just got too tired of reading about some guy that's not even interested in KU. I watch Mr. Tait's talk show, too. He knows.

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