Kansas Basketball Record Watch 2018-19: Mitch Lightfoot
A couple of months ago, when KU junior Udoka Azubuike announced he would return for his junior season at Kansas instead of trying to make it in the NBA, the first thing that popped into my head was where Azubuike stood in KU’s record books in a few key areas.
Granted, because he missed all but 11 games of his freshman season and also missed time during his sophomore season, Azubuike has not exactly played the kind of games or logged the amount of minutes to make a real push for any of KU’s biggest records.
But surely there are some that, after a monster junior season, could be a factor for Azubuike, right?
And if that’s the case, couldn’t that be true for just about every scholarship player on KU’s roster?
I mean, we all can agree that Quentin Grimes isn’t going to finish his first year at Kansas — and possibly his only year here — as the school’s all-time leading scorer, but could he make a push for KU’s freshman scoring record?
Last year’s KU media guide featured 19 full pages of school records. So over the next several days, we’re going to take a look at (a) what records some of these guys might be closing in on, if any, and (b) which record(s) each KU player could realistically make a run at during the 2018-19 season.
Some of it might be a stretch. But, hey, it’s August, and even if some of what you’ll read in the next few days isn’t likely, it’s still kind of fun to think about the best case scenarios in a sort of what-if mentality.
Next up: Mitch Lightfoot
Let’s be honest, because of his status as a reserve big man and his potential to redshirt the 2018-19 season to begin with, there aren’t a lot of records out there for Lightfoot to go after.
Despite having played in 64 career games during his first two seasons as a Jayhawk — including seven starts a year ago — Lightfoot has not had enough of a role, consistently, to amass a bunch of significant stats that put him on pace for any career records.
Add to that the fact that his minutes, should he get some this season, figure to be limited because of the depth and talent of KU’s front line and it’s hard to envision Lightfoot achieving any single season or even single game records in the immediate future.
But there is one out there — though a long shot it may be — that Lightfoot could go after if he encounters one of those nights where everything clicks and he finds himself in the right place at the right time — all the time — with the ability to deliver at his finger tips.
If there’s one thing Lightfoot has shown with pretty impressive consistency during his first two years in the program — other than his willingness to answer every challenge and flash toughness whenever possible — it’s that he can be a pretty effective shot blocker.
Lightfoot is equally skilled at blocking shots taken by the man he is guarding and in help D, and opponents have shown a tendency to underestimate his length and athleticism while challenging him near the rim.
Lightfoot was second on the team with 54 blocks a season ago, just six fewer than team leader Udoka Azubuike, who playegd 317 more minutes than Lightfoot, roughly 10 games.
He finished with three blocks or more in seven of the 38 games he played in, including a six-block performance in a Big 12 road win at TCU.
Six is the key number here because that’s also the KU record for most blocks in a single half of a conference game. Obscure, I know. And I know that six blocks in a 20-minute half is a whole different story than six blocks in a 40-minute game, but six blocks is six blocks and Lightfoot has proven he can get to that number if given the chance.
For what it’s worth, he played 26 minutes in that TCU win.
The odds are stacked against Lightfoot getting many 26-minute nights during the 2018-19 season, but if there’s a record out there for him to get it’s got to be this one.
• Kansas Basketball Record Watch 2018-19 •