Which Jayhawks the World University Games helped the most


Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) drives to the basket in a Team USA gold-medal game against Germany Monday, July 13, at the World University Games in South Korea.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) drives to the basket in a Team USA gold-medal game against Germany Monday, July 13, at the World University Games in South Korea. by Mike Yoder

Throughout each KU men's basketball season, our sports editor, Tom Keegan, does a thing after every game where he rates the players of the game in his Keegan Ratings.

This is not that.

It is, however, a ranking that illustrates which KU players the Jayhawks' 8-0 run to the World University Games gold medal helped the most in South Korea.

So let's get to it. As Keegan does in his ratings, we'll go with scholarship players only and not worry about the guys who play at other schools.

1. Wayne Selden – By far KU's best player throughout the touranment, Selden emerged as a go-to option and really showed well as a leader. He looks more determined than ever and his confidence should be sky high come October when the Jayhawks get going for real.

2. Hunter Mickelson – Throughout most of the second half of last season, KU fans everywhere wondered why Mickelson did not get more of an opportunity to play. I don't think anyone will have to worry about that any more. The transfer from Arkansas played quality minutes and put up surprising numbers throughout the tournament, even working his way into a starting role. That kind of lift to his confidence should only make him continue to work harder and harder throughout the rest of the season.

3. Carlton Bragg – Bragg's numbers were not exactly amazing but the thing the long freshman gained that should benefit him the most is his ability to play through adversity. After breaking his nose before things even got going, Bragg played tough and looked unfazed by the injury throughout the tournament. That kind of toughness and sacrifice goes a long way with KU coach Bill Self and you can bet Bragg will get plenty of positive feedback about it. That should only make him more comfortable when the season rolls around.

4. Frank Mason – Mason played exactly the way KU fans would have expected him to play heading into the tournament, so I'm not sure the bulldog point guard gained a whole lot in terms of learning anything new about his game. Still, he was fantastic in leading the offense, set up more plays and buckets than he even got credit for and played a ton of minutes while running the show the whole time.

5. Landen Lucas – There were up and down moments for Lucas, who still lacks some of the skills necessary to be a force down low. But the man can rebound. And he did that pretty well in Korea. With the addition of Bragg and Cheick Diallo and the emergence of Mickelson, Lucas might not get a ton of minutes this winter. But it now seems like a safe bet to say that when he's in there he can have a real impact on the glass.

6. Lagerald Vick – Vick's a long shot to play this season, but it won't be because he doesn't believe he can. The young guard was out there during some pretty crucial moments throughout the tournament and he looked pretty salty at times, especially as a scorer. A loaded roster ahead of him and his inexperience and limited defensive skills will likely keep him off the court this winter. But this experience will no doubt help his development and help him be in a better position to push the guys ahead of him in practices.

7. Perry Ellis – Ellis was good at times and average at others in South Korea but didn't really stand out. The good news for KU was that he didn't need to. He can save that for the college season and what figures to be a big senior year. That said, he looked healthy, moved well, shot the ball with confidence and, like Mason, performed pretty much exactly the way people expected him. That's by no means a knock on him, but I'm not sure the tournament helped him a whole lot.

8. Jamari Traylor – Traylor's minutes were down and Lucas and Mickelson played much bigger roles. For a guy who already is quick to get down on himself, that probably didn't help. Still, Traylor's a good teammate and I noticed him genuinely fired up on the bench late in the gold-medal game when it became clear that KU was going to win. That's a good sign that even though he didn't set the world on fire with his play, he stayed in it for his teammates.

9. Devonte Graham – Graham did not get to play because of injury, but you have to think that just being there helped him a little bit. He saw how his teammates competed in various settings. He was able to observe how Nic Moore and Frank Mason handled things on the floor. And he no doubt did all he could as a vocal leader from the bench. Plus, can a player ever be around too much winning? Even though he didn't play a minute, just feeling that feeling can be something that sticks with Graham, too.

Agree? Disagree?

Be sure to make your vote count in our poll about which player the trip to Korea helped the most.


Jay Scott 5 years, 7 months ago

Things got more complicated. Coach Self will have a tough time finding enough minutes for many deserving front court players.

Joe Joseph 5 years, 7 months ago

I like that Bill Self allowed this team to play to its strengths and that he adapted his style of play to the international game. KU rarely seemed to feed its front-court players in the post, but they seemingly had the green light to pick-and-pop and shoot 15-17' jumpers. And, of course, put the ball on the floor and get to the basket due to better spacing created largely due to the wide lane. None of KU's bigs are great with their back to the basket, but Perry, Carlton and, to a lesser degree Hunter, demonstrated at these games that they are capable of knocking down jumpers. (We already knew that about Perry.)

Right now it appears that the traditional Hi-Lo offense is not befitting of this team. Perhaps Diallo's presence in the lineup will change that, but I doubt it. Rebound, outlet, run, spread the floor, let Frank & Devonte draw fouls and kick it to their shooters, and let Diallo & co. clean up at the rim.

I'm been really impressed with how Bill Self coached in this tournament.

Mick Allen 5 years, 7 months ago

Matt, always enjoy your insight, but for you to say that Wayne was "by far our best player in the tournament" over states it a bit and doesn't give Frank enough credit for being the MVP in the biggest game, the championship game. It certainly is not a stretch to say Wayne was our best player in the tournament but"by far"? Frank was nipping at his heels. Both Wayne and Frank better make all tourney.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

I think that Selden will be tourney MOP, but if Mason isn't first team PG then he's been robbed. Of course he's been underrated and overlooked all along so it wouldn't be a big surprise. Just more motivation for a player never lacking in motivation.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

Agree Mick.

To me when you are saying who is the best player of the tournament those two are 1a and 1b, Wayne and Frank. By far is a reach.

I can say this with all confidence we are not Gold medal winners without Frank.

Dale Rogers 5 years, 7 months ago

I thought Perry Ellis showed a lot more aggressiveness than last year and some really great athleticism. I have to think if he continues to build on that then this time in Korea will prove to be very beneficial both to him and the team.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

I agree, I loved Perry's aggressiveness. Even if his FG %s weren't always great. He was in attack mode, especially from the tip against Russia. Loved seeing him attack the 7'-3" Desyatnikov. Compared to past years, he appeared unphased by missed shots and didn't lose confidence but rather stayed in attack mode much more consistently.

Eliott Reeder 5 years, 7 months ago

Indeed, in the Russia game, after starting 1-8 or something, Perry stayed with it and really played well to finish out.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

SMH - even when Perry plays poorly we applaud his aggressiveness? Mercy when will it stop?

He misses numerous dunks, can disappear on defense, and even though he is clearly off just keeps shooting early in the shot clock without even trying to see if there is a better option. How many times in Korea alone did he take on 1-2 taller players in the post get his shot rejected or even worse like in the Russia game get trapped and throws a perfect turnover pass that results in a 5 point swing and a couple of fouls on his fellow players? Too many, way too many for his experience. He does not play smart.

Matt at least is honest, Perry looked average. Our Senior leader, pre season All American looked average, again.

Where is the guy before his injury last year? Where did that guy go? You want to shower the guy with accolades at least do it when he plays well.

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 7 months ago

I won't say Perry looked average per se, but he didn't always play smart when defended against bigger guys. When he took to the outside and used his quickness he was very good. I would say Perry didn't play as tactful and smart as he should have. I hope he uses this as a learning tool of how he could be very good this year. Also, if we don't have a center that produces consistent offense (Lucas), then Ellis can be double teamed when he tries to play down on the blocks. That is a big reason I hope Diallo is as good as advertised.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 7 months ago

I agree Mark, I think Diallo is going to have a huge year. If he does this will only help Perry as he can attack the weak side of the defense, his strength.

Greg Lux 5 years, 7 months ago

Winning any medal under these circumstances is an awesome accomplishment, but to bring home the Gold is Outstanding. Selden's growth as a player is what most of us believed he was capable of since his arrival on campus his freshman year. This young man has a great future ahead of him after he finishes helping his teammates to a very possible NC. Mason is everything and more then expected. He is one of the keys to the final success of this team. Awesome to see Mickelson show he is more then a late game sub. If he can continue to improve through out the season, like he did over the 8 WU Games he will be a force to reckon with come conference time. How can I find anything not positive after a double overtime gold medal win? It's not that I am trying to be picky but: Perry Ellis for all his scoring ability. For all his effort. For all your God given talent. When are you going to learn how to hang on to the basketball. You lose more balls that are in your hands then any player on the team. For all your toughness you have far to light a grip on the basketball. This whole tournament I watched ball after ball slip out or off of your hands. You are far to talented a player to not focus on the one weak spot in your game. And that is "Getting a far better grip on the basketball" especially when you are taking it up for short shots or layups. You will never make it to the promised land unless you get a lot better at finishing around the rim. I say this because I truly want you to succeed now and down the road if you choose to continue playing basketball. That one point aside I send my heartiest congratulations to the USA/Kansas Mens Basketball Team for winning the 2015 WUG's Gold Metal. AWESOME !!!

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

posted this under the poll, but decided to copy it in below.

My vote goes to Hunter as far as who benefits most from the WUGs. I am sure that Selden will get a nice confidence boost. But he has always projected as a starter and team leader, and he's always been a confident player. Hunter needed the opportunity to shine, especially before Cheick Diallo steals the spotlight from the other bigs on the roster not named Perry Ellis.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 7 months ago

I would put Vick ahead of Landon.

For half the games, it seemed that Landon was doing serious damage to his role, but he really turned things around. For all the comments/stats about Hunter out performing Landon, and your assertion that he clearly has the favorable position for PT this coming season, it sure seemed like he was in the game a lot in the 2nd half.

Definitely agree that Vick is unlikely to play much this year once we get Greene, Svi, and Graham back, but the reality is that a couple months ago he was planning to be a HS Sr and not start college til 2016. He probably doesn't have nearly the same trajectory, but his situation reminds me a bit of Ben - except that he will get to play in at least some of the games. He could be ready to explode in 2016.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 7 months ago

Should Coach be added to the list, and the team in general?

It is quite a paradigm shift to not have a skilled big(s) with great post moves ("lacks some of the skills necessary to be a force down low"?) but do have bigs with the gritty work ethic to impact the game by facilitating the play of the others. It seemed that Hunter and Landon both were getting it, and sounds like Diallo already possesses a good bit of it as well, tho it seems that we as a fan base are slower on the uptake.

Will it also help for Coach to see just how exhausted the players were in the end? Not sure we had the depth at WUG to change the minute distribution for the big 3 in particular, but hoping that it will be there and utilized more during the season so that the guys are fresher in March and April.

Mike Riches 5 years, 7 months ago

I agree on most of these, but would maybe put Devonte ahead of others. He didn't gain a whole lot, thought I'm sure it was a fun experience. But others (specifically Traylor and Lucas) may have actually gone backwards, in terms of where they are at mentally and perhaps even in the coaches' perception. There's still a lot of time before the season starts though...things can always change.

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 7 months ago

My order would be: 1. Selden: Played amazing. 2. Mickelson: Gained confidence, and showed to be savvy. 3. Mason: Played great, showed leadership. 4. Vick: Was aggressive and confident. Really athletic and nice shot. Needs to be more consistent on defense. 5. Bragg: Hustled, and long. Great potential. 6. Ellis: Hustles, outside shot is developing. Needs to figure out when to shoot inside and out. Don't force it when you get double teamed. 7. Lucas: Good on defense, but needs to improve his offense, especially to take heat off of Ellis. 8. Traylor: Needs to get a jump shot, and drive to his left. Needs to be more of an offensive threat. 9. Graham: Too bad he couldn't play. Only able to watch, that will be one hungry kid this year.

Michael Sillman 5 years, 7 months ago

I actually think that the WUG's will have a big impact on Vick's playing time. It is clear that Selden will be moving to the 3 so that Mason and Graham can both be on the floor at the same time.

That is going to open up a lot of playing time backing up the 1 and 2 slots. Vick looks like the logical player to fill that role with his quickness and ball handling skills.

I now see Greene and Mikhaliuk fighting it out for the backup coverage of Selden resting minutes. Greene has the edge in shooting but Mikhaliuk has more overall athleticism.

Shannon Gustafson 5 years, 7 months ago

I agree that Mason and Graham will play together a lot with Selden at the 3. I also think Vick will play more than even Self expected after he showed he was a competent backup at the WUG's,

I do think we'll see plenty of time where we only have Mason or Graham on the floor (not both) and Selden at the two, and Greene or Svi at the 3. I don't think Greene/Svi will only get backup minutes behind Selden, they will play along with him as well (depending on matchups, foul trouble, etc.).

John Randall 5 years, 7 months ago

The reason Wayne is moving is to get to his natural position. He is a better #3 than the two since Wigs. Backing up other positions kept him from making bigger and better contributions, and from developing to his potential.

Michael Sillman 5 years, 7 months ago

To some extent, I disagree. Self has always wanted his teams to play with two ball handling guards. If Selden had shown that he could fill that role effectively, he would not be moving to the 3.

I agree that the 3 will better suit Selden and unlock his college potential. However it might hurt his NBA potential since I don't picture him as a 3 at the next level.

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