A look at returning Kansas basketball players
Kansas is still recruiting a point guard and for the moment has 11 players on scholarship. A look at the best-case scenario in terms of what the 11 players can do to help Kansas to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament in 2018:
1 - Malik Newman: Take into games the great scoring potential he showed in practice this past season, use his terrific athleticism and turn it into defensive ability. No reason the 6-foot-3 guard who transferred from Mississippi State can't be Big 12 player of the year.
2 - Devonte’ Graham: More of the same, but with more consistent drives to the hoop to make defenses collapse. Graham typically guarded the other team’s best perimeter scorer and in the first three games of the NCAA tournament made 13 of 22 3-pointers.
3 - Udoka Azubuike: Get into the best shape of his life. If he can build enough stamina to be able to get up and down the court well enough to keep up with the team’s rapid pace, the rest will take care of itself. His blend of quickness for a man his size, soft shooting touch, and feel for blocking shots all mean that with experience he’ll develop into a dominant college center.
4 - Billy Preston: Embrace Josh Jackson’s win-every-possession-at-both-ends mentality. He’s a big man who has guard skills, but he’s coming to a school where that’s not going to blow anybody away. Kansas has had plenty of big men who handled the ball and shot like guards, but only the ones willing to do the little things and get their noses dirty became productive, popular, winning forces. The sooner Preston realizes that, the sooner he’ll fit in.
5 - Svi Mykhailiuk: Increase on hard, late-season drives he took out of hiding, and when hot from the perimeter, demand the ball.
6 - Lagerald Vick: Steer clear of trouble off the court, and cure one strange recurring problem as a shooter. Does anybody remember a player who on 3-pointers from the corner hits the side of the backboard as frequently as Vick? Maybe he’s standing too close to the baseline. Anyway, he has a nice shooting touch and he’s such a quick leaper and has a chance to make a big leap forward as a junior. No reason he can’t get a ton of steals.
7 - Sam Cunliffe: In 10 games for Arizona State, he averaged 25.4 minutes, shot .405 from 3-point range and should be able to join the rotation as soon as he’s eligible at the end of the first semester.
8 - Marcus Garrett: He can earn playing time by becoming as strong a defender as possible as quickly as possible. It sounds as if he knows that, so it will be interesting to see him chase minutes.
9 - Dwight Coleby: His knee should be stronger, which is good because he’ll be needed to lend muscle off the bench.
10 - Mitch Lightfoot: He’ll find a way to contribute because he obviously cares and embraces physical approach to the game.
11 - Carlton Bragg: Transfer. That’s his best path to getting his career back on track.