With Trae Young off the board, where do the Jayhawks go next?
Trae Young, Collin Sexton, Quade Green and Tremont Waters — all are point guards ranked in the Top 36 of the Rivals 150 for 2017 and all were players that the Kansas men’s basketball program recruited on one level or another during the past several months.
With Young’s announcement today that he is staying home in Norman, Oklahoma, to play for the Sooners, the Jayhawks now have missed out on several of the top point guard targets in a class loaded with talent at the position.
All four of those players chose colleges that allowed them to stay close to home. And sometimes there’s just no competing with location.
However, all of those misses would be forgotten in a millisecond if the Jayhawks can entice five-star point guard Trevon Duval to pick Kansas.
Duval, a 6-foot-3, 189-pound point guard from IMG Academy in Florida, is the highest ranked point guard in the 2017 class. Slotted at No. 3, four spots above Sexton in the overall rankings and 11 spots in front of Young, Duval picking Kansas would be a big time get for the Jayhawks and likely push KU’s 2017 Class, which already includes five-star forward Billy Preston (No. 8 overall) and four-star combo guard Marcus Garrett (No. 37), into the Top 3 in the country.
With that said, landing Duval won’t be easy. Along with Kansas, the fast and physical flier from New York City also lists Arizona, Baylor, Duke and Seton Hall as finalists, but it’s not as if the Jayhawks are a long shot here.
In fact, after what KU showed Duval and his family during his official visit earlier this month, there are plenty of people out there who believe that KU is alive and well in their pursuit of Duval.
Shay Wildeboor, of JayhawkSlant.com, told The Journal-World that KU is expected to visit Duval today.
Obviously, had Young chosen Kansas today, KU’s chances at landing Duval would’ve been diminished. But since he didn’t, a case could be made that the Duval-to-Kansas odds might now actually be slightly better.
With Young out of the mix and Kansas losing Frank Mason III — and potentially Devonte’ Graham — after the season, there is a clear opening for a lead guard in the Kansas program.
Even with transfers Malik Newman and Sam Cunliffe (2nd semester) in the mix alongside Svi Mykhailiuk (another candidate to leave early), Lagerald Vick and Garrett, it appears that KU still would need true point guard to run the show.
If Graham returns for his senior season, he could be that point guard, but he also has shown this season that he is just as effective playing off the ball with another player handling the point.
The idea of Duval playing point with Graham and Newman starting next to him brings visions of a Top 5 preseason ranking and yet another title-contending Kansas team.
Maybe that’s how all this will play out and the Jayhawks, who have been relentless in their pursuit of Duval to this point, will wind up singing the praises of the slogan, “Good things come to those who wait.”
"There is heavy competition (for Duval) and Duke has been seen as the team to beat of late," wrote Eric Bossi of Rivals.com on Thursday. "But there’s nothing to suggest Kansas isn’t a real player here and they’ll certainly be turning up the heat.... It is never easy to miss out on a top 15 prospect like Young, but given that the majority of highly rated prospects are off the board, the timing isn’t the best and the pool of available players to choose from is pretty shallow. That said, Kansas is still Kansas and Bill Self is Bill Self, meaning that there are still options out there."
Having said that, it’s entirely possible that they’ll miss on Duval too, an ending that would bring a fair amount of uncertainty to next year’s Kansas roster.
Don’t substitute uncertainty for fear, however. Whenever you’ve got Bill Self running your program, you’re going to be OK. After all, did anyone think that Self’s decision to take a couple of kids named Mason and Graham, who once appeared to be headed to Towson and Appalachian State, would wind up producing one of the best backcourts the school has ever seen?
Maybe missing out on the Class of 2017’s crop of talented point guards is just the college basketball gods’ way of evening things out.
Then again, maybe Kansas will land Duval and all will be well that ends well.
Time will tell. Stay tuned...