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Productive summer: Svi Mykhailiuk leads FIBA U20 European Championship in scoring

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Kansas senior wing Svi Mykhailiuk led all scorers at FIBA's 2017 U20 European Championships in Crete, Greece, this month. Mykhailiuk averaged 20.4 points per game for his native Ukraine.

Kansas senior wing Svi Mykhailiuk led all scorers at FIBA's 2017 U20 European Championships in Crete, Greece, this month. Mykhailiuk averaged 20.4 points per game for his native Ukraine. by Courtesy photo

While his Kansas basketball teammates trained in Lawrence the past couple of months for the program’s upcoming trip to Italy, senior wing Svi Mykyailiuk prepared in his own distinct way, by practicing with and playing for Ukraine’s U20 national team.

Mykhailiuk might have missed out on the continuity that comes with sticking around campus with his fellow Jayhawks, but it didn’t stop him from having a constructive summer. Among the 180 athletes competing at the FIBA 2017 U20 European Championships, none scored more points than Mykhailiuk.

Although Ukraine went 3-4 at the international event and finished 10th out of 16 teams, Mykhailiuk showcased his individual talent in Crete, Greece, over the last week-plus, averaging 20.4 points per game in seven outings. The KU senior didn’t look one-dimensional, though. He also averaged 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

In fact, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz reported Mykhailiuk dabbled as a point guard in his team’s Sunday finale versus Turkey, and racked up six assists in the first quarter alone, often pitching the ball ahead in transition for easy baskets. He finished the 85-82 loss against Philadelphia 2016 first-round pick Furkan Korkmaz and Turkey with a near-triple-double: 24 points, nine rebounds, nine assists.

“I’m a leader, so I have to do a little bit of everything,” Mykhailiuk said in an interview with Schmitz. “Every time I get the ball, I’m trying to score, trying to be aggressive, trying to involve my teammates in our offense. Just trying to create all the time, but just kill. Every possession just trying to kill with a pass or with a shot or with a rebound.”

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The only player at the event to achieve a 20 points per game average, the 6-foot-8 Mykhailiuk told ESPN he is capable of contributing as a scorer, passer and rebounder, like he has this summer for Ukraine, at the college level and beyond.

“I think so, because here I’ve shown what I can do and I’m trying to do it next year at Kansas, because I’m going to be a senior,” Mykhailiuk said. “I’ve been in the program for three years, and I think coach trusts me. I trust him. And showing what I can do here is letting him know what I can do at Kansas, too.”

Back in Lawrence, KU coach Bill Self tracked Mykhailiuk’s progress, and shared with reporters the 20-year-old Ukraine star actually played in Greece with an injured wrist.

“It wasn’t bad. He didn’t miss any time,” Self said. “But he nicked his wrist up. But he’s scoring the ball.”

Mykhailiuk, who will join his coach and KU teammates next week in Italy for exhibitions in Rome and Milan, shot 49-for-124 (39.5 percent) from the floor for Ukraine. He connected on 16 of 49 (32.7 percent) 3-pointers and shot 80.6 percent (29-for-36) on free throws.

Self, though, admitted there could be one drawback to Mykhailiuk’s lengthy offseason European excursion.

“I’m a little nervous that when he comes back, maybe he’s played a lot of ball, but he’s gonna have to really commit in the weight room,” Self said. “I guarantee whatever they’ve done (with Ukraine team), he hasn’t done nearly what he’d be doing with Andrea (Hudy, KU’s strength coach) here. That put him behind last year, too.”

As Mykhailiuk’s KU coach referenced, he also played for Ukraine in summer of 2016, averaging 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists. During his ensuing junior year with the Jayhawks, Mykhailiuk produced 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists, while shooting 44.3 percent overall and 39.8 percent on 3-pointers. Mykhailiuk initially entered his name in the 2017 NBA Draft, but decided to withdraw and finish his four-year college basketball career at Kansas.

“I’m happy he’s playing,” Self said of his pupil’s FIBA experience with Ukraine. “He needs to play, and he needs to see the ball go in the hole.”

Comments

John Fitzgerald 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Lookin' good Svi! Let's hope it carries over into this season. Also, just checked Crystal Ball predictions for Marvin Bagley and it's 85% Duke and 15% USC. No mention of Kansas. And another article mentions his top schools are Duke, USC, and Arizona. So, if he does reclassify, it doesn't look like he'll be an option for us.

Scott Proch 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Great of you to share Svi's game here. Nice shoes Svi!

Len Shaffer 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I'm glad he's getting the experience, and his rebounding and assist numbers look pretty good. But I can never understand how people can emphasize scoring numbers over percentage numbers. I'm sure that if Svi shot 100 times a game he could average even MORE than 20 points. The fact is that his percentages are not very good, so that minimizes the impressiveness of his 20-point-per-game average.

Humpy Helsel 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I agree, Len. I love Svi but his shooting percentage is and always has been an issue. I think Coach's comment about "he needs to see the ball go into the hole" reflects the issue as a confidence factor. And the only way to overcome that is to shoot it and see it go in. Overall, I look for Svi to have a great year.

Shannon Gustafson 3 weeks, 3 days ago

While Svi's percentages have always been poor when he plays overseas, a large part of that is that it's a lot harder to get good looks when you're "the man" on the team so the opposing defense puts extra effort into shutting you down. You're also forced to take shots even when they aren't great looks because the guys around you aren't skilled enough to make it a higher probability that they will score if you dish it to them.

At KU he's never been the one expected to carry the scoring load and therefore is able to take higher quality shots via kickouts, skip passes, etc.

Brad Avery 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Considering KU's lack of depth up front, Svi may have to "dabble" at stretch four. He actually has discernible football arms. Looks a lot bigger.

David Lara 3 weeks, 3 days ago

My goodness. I know this is U20 and not kids from US, but the difference in skill level is crazy. I thought the gap had been closed considerably since the turn of the century, but I don't anymore. Fundamentals like dribbling, defense... wow. I certainly expect Svi to own this event. I even consider his numbers to be disappointing given what I saw here.

Jonathan Allison 3 weeks, 3 days ago

If you remember watching the World University Games two years ago in South Korea, the style of play of the Euro teams is different from here in USA, the game looks more messy, but the competition level was pretty high against teams like Germany, Serbia, and Turkey. Their talent and athleticism didn't match ours, but they were effective for long stretches of the game at destroying the rhythm and keep the game very close.

Barry Weiss 3 weeks, 3 days ago

cautiously optimistic that Svi will start hot this season.

Harlan Hobbs 3 weeks, 3 days ago

If Svi's expanded versatility carries through to his senior season at KU, he will be a very valuable component. He's no Josh Jackson of course, but he has multi-dimensional skills which KU will need. Consistency will be the key.

Harlan Hobbs 3 weeks, 3 days ago

As for Bagley, I thought I read the other day that he is already 18 or will be before the start of this next season. If that is correct, he will be NBA-eligible under the current rules a year from now. Therefore, if he doesn't reclassify, he probably won't ever be seen in any college uniform. He will turn pro the first chance he gets.

I doubt seriously that he is an option for KU, as most others have said.

Mike Greer 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Even if he meets the age requirement, doesn't he still have to be one year removed from High School to be NBA eligible? I thought it was something along the lines of 19 and one year after HS, otherwise most of these guys including Josh (he was 20 in February) could have gone straight into the NBA.

Titus Canby 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I agree with Len and Humpy. Those shooting percentages from the field are below average. I've never understood why he's been touted as a great shooter since day one.

Lawrence McGlinn 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I'm not sure playing in Europe helps him that much. The athleticism in the Big 12 or the tournament means less time to get a shot off. He can be a great shooter in HORSE, but that split second less in a game can lead to a low percentage. Even with wide-open looks courtesy of Frank over the past couple of years he missed a lot of shots.

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