So what happens if Svi leaves Kansas?


Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) pulls up for a three over Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe (13) late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) pulls up for a three over Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe (13) late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. by Nick Krug

Who would have thought a couple of weeks, or even a couple of days, ago that the Kansas men’s basketball program would be one decision away from having some flexibility?

With senior big man Dwight Coleby transferring out and junior guard Svi Mykhailiuk now a week away from having to decide whether to stay in the draft or return to school, Kansas is facing the very real possibility of actually having a scholarship to give.

For weeks, KU fans were wondering aloud just how head coach Bill Self was going to figure all of this out, with 14 players positioned to fill 13 scholarship slots. But then Coleby left and now, if Svi follows him out the door, Self actually will have something to work with.

If you’re surprised by this, you haven’t been paying attention.

For one, these things always seem to work themselves out, especially at Kansas. For two, Bill Self is a master at making sure of that. The reason? It’s not because he’s blessed with good fortune or catches every conceivable break. If that were the case, his record in Elite Eight games would be much better than it is and he’d probably have another national title or two.

Instead, it’s because he’s constantly working, always looking ahead, forever planning and preparing for any eventuality that might pop up.

In this case, those eventualities, should Svi elect to stay in the draft, would lead to Self having a scholarship to play with, which would give him the option of doing one of three things.

1. He could save it. Self’s not the kind of coach who is going to hand out scholarships just for the sake of handing out scholarships, particularly to a young player who then would be around for a few years. At this point in the game, just about all of the top talent in the 2017 class is signed, spoken for or looking elsewhere so don’t harbor any fantasies about Self pulling a Top 50 kid with that scholarship.

2. He could use it on a player to replace Svi. That’s if there’s someone out there. And, heck, with Lagerald Vick seemingly ready to slide into the starting lineup anyway, the biggest thing the Jayhawks would be needing out of a replacement for Svi is someone who can spot up and shoot the ball. Even this late in the recruiting season, that’s not that difficult to envision finding. Beyond that, there’s always the chance that Self could look to add another ball-handling guard, which he once planned to add regardless of what Devonte’ Graham decided to do. Graham and Newman appear more than capable of handling the role and Garrett could be a nice third option. So shooting probably would be the preferred skill if the Jayhawks looked to add to the backcourt.

3. He could use it on a player to replace Coleby. This one, for my money, is the most likely route. Remember, as soon as Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe is eligible second semester, the Jayhawks will have a five-deep backcourt of Graham, Garrett, Vick, Cunliffe and Malik Newman. That’s pretty salty. And more than enough to get by. At that point, you’d be looking at an opportunity to add another big man — perhaps even a project — who could add to the depth up front. If he pans out, he’s a luxury over what you would’ve had in Coleby. If not, he slides right into the role Coleby likely would’ve filled behind Udoka Azubuike, Mitch Lightfoot, Billy Preston and Jack Whitman. Either way, the right player would bring added depth, which no doubt would be welcomed given how thin the Jayhawks were up front throughout the 2016-17 season.

Regardless of which way the Jayhawks would go — and, remember, this is all if Svi decides to stay in the draft — Self and company have positioned themselves well to add the best available player regardless of position.

For a team that very recently appeared to be over the scholarship limit and scrambling to make the numbers work, that’s a nice spot to be in.


Suzi Marshall 4 years, 8 months ago

My firm hope is for Svi to come back for his senior year. I hopeful he can play the 4 and the combination of all the other bigs can fill the remaining probable, IMO, 20 minutes left open at the 5. I'm not overly optimistic Preston and Azubuike will be able to contribute all that much this next season.

Matt Stock 4 years, 8 months ago

Man I have been on this site forever and read the comments more than I probably should... So I have seen my fair share of off the wall Suzi Marshall comments. But this is right up there... Preston will start at the 4 next year, Azubuike will start at the 5. Svi is and will be a wing if he comes back and he potentially won't beat out Malik or Vick. We need a project big for next year if there is an extra scholarship bc Azuibuke and Preston could both leave, Whitman will be gone. we need a banger for practice a Jamari or Lucas type.

Eric Bernauer 4 years, 8 months ago

I pretty much agree with Suzi regarding Preston and Azubuike. I do disagree with Svi playing the 4 as I just haven't seen him ever really compete inside. I think he needs to stay at the 3. As far as Azuibuke, yes he will probably start. The question is whether he can stay on the floor. Remember Withey as a sophmore? Foul a minute. No, I don't think Azuibuke will be quite that bad, but I think asking for 25 minutes may be a bit much, especially after sprinting up and down the floor, becoming tired, and guarding smaller, quicker players. Preston is an unknown. Talented, yes. So far though, I've not been impressed with his effort. I will admit that I have seen limited video of him and never seen him in person. We have been treated to two freshman the last two years with very high motors. I hope I'm wrong, but I think Suzi is right.

Craig Carson 4 years, 8 months ago

@Eric..Withey barely played up until his sophmore season as of course he is gonna look lost. Azibuike seemed to get better the more playing time he got. I see him being much more productive and involved than JW was. as far as guarding quicker players, he is quit nimble on his feet and it isnt like the guy he would be guarding would be launching 3's, that wont be an issue. 25 minutes a game sounds about right, but if he produces early on and shows improved skill, dont be shocked to see Self ride him for more minutes.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 8 months ago

agree, no way Svi plays the 4, heck, I will be stunned if he comes back.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 8 months ago

wishful thinking on my part, on both accounts

Craig Carson 4 years, 8 months ago

you certainly dont have much confidence in Self do you Suzi? you predicted KU would lose 15-20 games in 2012 when KU lost the Morris twins. You need to have faith in Self. People didnt think Embiid would be able to contribute that much his freshmen year, with him still being new to the game. And well...he contributed himself into a top 5 pick in the NBA.

Eric Bernauer 4 years, 8 months ago

I hope you're right about Azibuike, but I'll remain concerned until I see him stay out of foul trouble. If I was an opposing coach I would go out of my way to draw fouls and at least early on, I expect it will work. I have no doubt he is a stud and can be a monster for Kansas, but I expect patience will be needed. As far as Embiid goes, he may be the single most anticipated player I personally have seen. I know it seemed like every media spotlight was on Wiggins the summer prior to their year at KU, but Self made some comments about Embiid that led me to watch a lot of videos of him that you could see made me think even back then that his ceiling was higher. The way he moved even during high school was unlike any Kansas center I had seen. He didn't have moves then, but the things he did were so quick and smooth. Even at that, I couldn't have imagined that he would develop so quickly. On top of his athletic talent, Embiid had a bit of bad boy in him ( I think from what I've seen Azibuike might have this too.) Nobody was going to push him around or cheap shot him without repercussions.

Scott Oswalt 4 years, 8 months ago

"I'm not overly optimistic Preston and Azubuike will be able to contribute all that much this next season."

This is the most ignorant comment I've read on this site in a while.

Phil Leister 4 years, 8 months ago

Svi's not on any mock drafts that I've seen, anywhere. Euroball is a guarantee for him next year if he wants it. Or he can come back for his senior year and make the NBA a guarantee for him in 2018.

Mike Greer 4 years, 8 months ago

Ok, option 3 has me confused, only because of the Coleby comment. Azubuike is a center (5), Coleby also is a (5), the rest of the list are really 4s more like Bragg and Ellis. So why would Coldby be behind Lightfoot, Preston, and Whitman when your talking about filling in time for Azubuike? I don't see the 4 guard lineup working like it did in 16/17 as there is no Josh Jackson on the team in 17/18. I see the lineup more like the 15/16 lineup with Azubuike on the floor with one of Lightfoot, Preston, or Whitman.

Robert Brock 4 years, 8 months ago

It is going to be interesting to see if Preston is "coachable." Self has his work cut out with this one particular player.

Craig Carson 4 years, 8 months ago

shouldnt be a problem. im sure Preston isnt any more difficult than any other kid he has recruited.

Michael Sillman 4 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Mike that the four guard lineup seems doubtful without a Josh Jackson but a two big lineup also appears problematic with only four bigs available to play and one of them rather undersized at that. I will be fascinated to see how Self plays it.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 8 months ago

I think Coach is already lining up another big for this scholarship.

Doug Cramer 4 years, 8 months ago

SVI is coming back for sure...which is exactly why Colby is all of a sudden out.

Jason Brinker 4 years, 8 months ago

I could see Preston playing on the perimeter enough like Jackson did last season. So while he's taller and they likely won't call it a 4 guard lineup, I could see the offense working similarly to the way it did in 16/17. That doesn't mean Preston will be the next Josh Jackson, but he could be versatile enough to play that role well enough for us to duplicate last year's success with limited post players. I also don't see Preston being able to match Josh's intensity, but I think Self will get him to play hard.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 8 months ago

Matt just confirms what I have said all along. Bill Self will figure it out!

Freddie Garza 4 years, 8 months ago

I'd rather have Svi come back for one more run. He's a quality player with experience who we know can make a bigger contribution to this team than just about any incoming freshman that HCBS would offer to.

I think it would be ideal for all involved if Svi came back for his senior season.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

If Svi leaves, we'll get a different player who can play defense and not be careless with the ball.

If he comes back, he can still be our three-point marksman and address the aforementioned deficiencies. And who knows, but he might just redeem himself for shooting us out of the Elite Eight this past season.

Either way, KU benefits, and its fans benefit.

Matt Stone 4 years, 8 months ago

Just go get Rooks the Center from Cal and he can step in immediately. Charlie Moore can help recruit him. With Texas getting Bamba we will need a quality big to help out. Svi would just be an extra wing that we are loaded with already. Need frontcourt depth bad.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 8 months ago

Matt, you, Bryce, and Suzi are correct in analyzing the role that Svi would need to play if he returns. He won't get considerable minutes absent better defense, rebounding and ball handling.

While it didn't end up being a major event, our loss to TCU at the Sprint Center in the Big 12 tournament was largely due to Svi's atrocious defensive play on the last TCU field goal attempt. He just barreled into the shooter on a 3-point shot, and acted like he couldn't understand the foul call when he got up.

Of course, no single play causes a defeat, but if Josh had been in the game, he likely would have had the shooter covered, as he did in numerous other games toward the end of the season without committing a foul.

Ironically, Josh started the season with foul difficulties, both in play and with his frequent subsequent technical, and he ended the season in foul trouble early against Oregon. Is that what they mean by "deja vu all over again?"

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