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Kansas Basketball Record Watch 2018-19: Charlie Moore

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Blue Team guard Charlie Moore  brings the ball up the court during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Blue Team guard Charlie Moore brings the ball up the court during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. by Nick Krug

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: Charlie Moore

We’re starting to reach the point of having to stretch a little for some of these “records” — unless you think I’ve already gone down that path — and it’s time to start looking at accomplishments that merely show up in KU’s record book instead of predicting season or career records for the rest of KU’s players.

That takes us to the defensive end of the floor for sophomore transfer Charlie Moore, who will open the semester next week competing with freshman Devon Dotson for a starting job.

I can’t see Moore cracking any of the major KU records for steals — most steals in a season, most steals in a game, etc. — but it would not surprise me at all if Moore winds up as the 2019 entry under the section in the record book that reads “Year-By-Year Leaders.”

Devonte’ Graham, who dotted his name all over the KU record book during the past couple of seasons, was the 2018 entry, with 62, and Josh Jackson (59) and Graham again (55) were the leaders in 2017 and 2016.

Before that it was Frank Mason III in 2015 (50), Andrew Wiggins in 2014 (41) and Travis Releford in 2013 (47).

Regardless of whether he starts or even how much he plays, I think Moore can get to those types of numbers during the 2018-19 season.

Here’s why.

During the 2015-16 season at Cal, Moore started 34 games, played nearly 30 minutes a game (28.8 mpg) and had an important role in running the team, scoring and leading the Golden Bears’ defense.

And Moore has improved a heck of a lot since then.

Not only is he bigger and stronger, but he also is more experienced as a student of the game and learned a lot from some talented and experienced Jayhawks who were out there in the battles while he sat out during his transfer season.

Moore recorded 34 steals during his lone season with the Cal program and that was as a true freshman while he was still figuring out how to adjust to the college game and play it at a high level.

The advancements in his game surely will help him defensively this season and his lightning-fast hands — they might be the quickest on the team — figure to give him a chance to lead this year’s Jayhawks in steals.

Add to that the fact that KU’s depth in the backcourt will give head coach Bill Self the opportunity to sub as often as he likes and you’re looking at a group of guards who figure to play with a heightened sense of urgency when they are on the floor.

The easiest way to stay there while playing for Self? Play terrific defense.

Moore has the ability to do that. And if his teammates join him, that could mean even more steals for Moore, who will have the luxury of pressuring and hounding his man as high on the court as he wants knowing that neither fatigue nor a thin front court will be issues for this Kansas team.

Moore’s KU teammates Lagerald Vick (34 steals last year) and Marcus Garrett (35) figure to be the Cal transfer’s stiffest competition in the steals department this season and it’s not crazy to think that all three players could top 40, maybe even 50, steals during the 2018-19 season.

If they do, that’s a great sign for the Kansas defense and yet another horrible sign for the rest of the Big 12 Conference.

• Kansas Basketball Record Watch 2018-19 •

- Senior guard Lagerald Vick

- Junior center Udoka Azubuike

- Junior forward Mitch Lightfoot

- Junior forward Dedric Lawson

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