KU guard Marcus Garrett the big winner now that Romeo Langford is Indiana-bound


Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) moves to the bucket between Texas Tech forward Tommy Hamilton IV (0) and Texas Tech guard Niem Stevenson (10) during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) moves to the bucket between Texas Tech forward Tommy Hamilton IV (0) and Texas Tech guard Niem Stevenson (10) during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

So now that we know that Kansas is not adding Romeo Langford to its deep and talented roster for the 2018-19 season, we have a little clearer picture of what next season might look like.

Yeah, we still don't know for sure whether center Udoka Azubuike will be back — although I'd give good odds that he will be — and KU does still have one scholarship to hand out, which means anything is possible with that final spot.

One quick note on that, though: I wouldn't get your hopes too high that the Jayhawks' 13th scholarship player for next season, whoever he is, will be a high-impact guy. For one, there just aren't that many guys like that out there right now. For two, I think the Jayhawks have a real sleeper in Ochai Agbaji and he could be tough to beat out for anyone KU could add at this point in the game.

But the majority of the players who will play the majority of the minutes next season do appear to be in place. And even with there being some uncertainty surrounding Silvio De Sousa's status for next season, the Jayhawks have a pretty stacked lineup.

Here's a look at the first and second teams, at least in my eyes, heading into the summer.

Starting 5

PG – Devon Dotson
SG – Quentin Grimes
3G – Marcus Garrett
PF – Dedric Lawson
C – Udoka Azubuike

Second 5

PG – Charlie Moore
SG – Ochai Agbaji/Sam Cunliffe
3G – K.J. Lawson
PF – Mitch Lightfoot
C – David McCormack

Think about it for a second. That second five (six if you count the battle at the 2-guard spot, which could quickly become a three-man race if KU adds another guard with that 13th scholarship, perhaps someone like Joe Cremo) has four players on it who have started multiple games at the Division I level. And that group's experience and talent level grows immensely if De Sousa is eligible to play, which, at least as of today, would be the case.

While it's hard to say that that's a group that could win the Big 12 by itself, I won't call you crazy if you said you thought it could compete for the title.

While the Langford news solidifies most of the spots for the 2018-19 season — KU this weekend will be hosting Albany grad transfer Joe Cremo, a 6-4 guard who shot 46 percent from 3-point range and averaged 17.8 points per game last season — the one name that jumps out most to me, with respect to what Romeo's decision means for Kansas, is one of KU's few returning players on that list.

The bottom line is this: If Romeo Langford had chosen Kansas, the odds are incredibly high that he would have been a starter from Day 1. Because he didn't, that puts the ball in Marcus Garrett's court and it's equally as hard to see a scenario in which Garrett does not start next season.

For one, the versatile, 6-foot-5 combo guard from Dallas started seven games — while playing in all 39 — as a true freshman. That tells you what KU coach Bill Self thought of him right there. And when you add to that the fact that Garrett no doubt will spend the next few months working day and night on his game and his body, it's nearly impossible to envision a scenario in which he's not a starter heading into the 2018-19 season.

Yes, Garrett needs to put in some work to improve in a couple of key areas — most notably his jump shot — but the legit experience he got as freshman combined with the natural talent and ability he has to begin, along with his high IQ and appreciation of all of the little things, sure paint him as the type of player who could start for Self for a number of seasons.


Jesse Johnson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm curious as to your reasoning for why Garrett would beat out KJ Lawson for that 3 spot?

Matt Tait 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Garrett's a true guard and K.J. is more of a guard/forward. While I do think that Self will enjoy going back to playing 2 bigs, I can't see him doing it with just two ball-handlers on the floor, which would somewhat be the case if K.J. is out there at the 3. He can handle the ball a little, but he's not a true guard. Beyond that, I think all of those little things and intangibles that Garrett brings to the table put him ahead of K.J., too.

Craig Carson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I get what you're saying Matt. but KJ brings better size and better rebounding..seeing as how KU might have some issues with outside shooting next season, they might really need to make sure they can score in the paint..So unless Garrett walks onto campus next season with a knock down jumper/3 pt shot, he might still ride the bench and back up Grimes and Lawson..hell, depending on how this FBI fiasco turns out and who leaves after next season, Garrett and Cunliffe might be our starting back court for the 2019-2020 season

Jesse Johnson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I also think there's a possibility that Self will start Moore and Dotson alongside each other, like how Graham and Mason played together for a couple years. In that scenario, I think Grimes would start at the 3 and Garrett would still be the first player off the bench. I just think Garrett really needs to improve his shot before he can challenge for a starting spot.

Marius Rowlanski 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I disagree Matt. I see this as a big win for KJ Lawson.

KJ has started 33 games to Garrett's 7. I give KJ the advantage in just about every offensive category and is just shy of 70% at the free-throw line. KJ leads in scoring and rebounding by a significant amount although Garrett didn't play nearly as many minutes...

Garrett played Bill Self ball in key moments when some of the other players were struggling to find their game. This is an obvious advantage for Garrett.

Garrett had an excellent first season and no Romeo gives both JJ and Marcus more minutes next year.

Marcus Balzer 11 months, 3 weeks ago

For one, the versatile, 6-foot-5 combo guard from Dallas started seven games — while playing in all 39 — as a true freshman.

Self has a tendency, both good and bad to go with "his guys"

Craig Carson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I think Self likes guys he trust..even if their abilities might not be up to par

Brett McCabe 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I always have a soft spot for tough defensive players like Garrett. There will be a lot of minutes up for grabs, and I think that Garrett's competitive nature gets him the nod, and serves to bring about a significant leap forward next year.

Noel Backwards 11 months, 3 weeks ago

FWIW, I've thought Marcus Garrett would be in the starting lineup next year regardless of what happened with Langford. Through all of his offensive struggles this year, he played significant minutes every game and will only be better next year. I think there will be a legitimate competition between Devon Dotson and Charlie Moore for the 3rd guard spot, but I think Moore wins it to start the season at least. Already a year under his belt at KU and has played a year at Cal as well. Should give him the upper hand early.

Starters: Garrett, Moore, Grimes, D. Lawson, Azubuike

Bench: De Sousa (Considering...), Dotson, K. Lawson, Cunliffe, McCormack, Agbaji (Thought he would RS if we got Langford or Vick came back), Teahen, Luinstra

Redshirt: Lightfoot (Considering...)

Of course, there's a long time before the season so this could change dramatically. Especially if Azubuike leaves and/or De Sousa is ruled ineligible

Craig Carson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

baring some miracle, DeSousa played his last game for KU in the 2018 FF..I cant see how KU can even think of playing him with his name being involved in the FBI would take the NCAA clearing him AGAIN (which is unlikely)..for that reason, Lightfoot will actually play a big role next season (especially if Dok opts to leave) Agbaji would be better off if he played this season but with Cunliffe likely to get more playing time maybe he should RS

Marius Rowlanski 11 months, 3 weeks ago

And this is exactly why I would rather see the final scholarship go to a fifth-year big.

NC State just signed Wyatt Walker, a 6'9" center out of Samford. Michael Finke, a 6'10" forward from Illinois – New Mexico is in the lead.

There are still players available who can make a significant difference in next year's Final Four. I'm not really hoping to land another transfer who needs to sit a year unless the player has the right pedigree.

Noel Backwards 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree that Lightfoot will have a big role if De Sousa is done, but I am not so sure he will be. There is a long summer/fall between now and next season. More information will arise and, while it could further prove guilt, it could help clear Silvio's name. I'm not ruling it all the way out that he plays for KU again.

Pius Waldman 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Well ole smilin Matt has a logical starting lineup. I personally think that Garrett got more playing time than he deserved due to the Self connection to his high school coach. Cunliffe never got a chance to show his ability. Maybe he didn't deserve more playing time but he didn't have a chance. I'm hoping DeSousa doesn't get the hammer as he has much potential. Unfortunately the trials won't be finished for a long time. I do agree Udoka won't impress the pros. The trials are guard orientated and post players are ignored. As for the transfers one would think with a year of practice they will earn playing time. Hope they don't get the Cunliffe treatment.

Allin Herring 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Wow I was not thinking about what a big drop off it would be from Langford to Garrett! Sure hope the other four guys on the court can score as that is not a Garrett strong suit!

Marius Rowlanski 11 months, 3 weeks ago

A Red Herring? You must be sick of that :)

I expect to see Garrett making significant improvement from his freshman year which by all accounts was a successful one. Vick made his largest leap between his first and second year also but not so much from his sophomore to junior year.

Everyone is different, there are no timelines and no one can predict when or even if a player has reached his ceiling or still has room to grow. I think Self has proven over time that he is a master of getting what he needs out of his players while helping his players develop individually as well.

I don't think the drop off is nearly as large as your thinking but even so, you did notice that talent coming in plus the talent that had to sit out last year.

Barry Weiss 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Hopefully Garrett works all summer on his outside shot and FT's. Same with Dok, only his outside will be in the paint. I agree Silvio is likely gone for good.

Tracy Atherton 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I've always head the biggest jump in skill for a player usually occurs from freshman to sophomore year. Marcus does seem like a serious kid that will put in the time to make that jump. Looking forward to seeing him play on the defensive end and seemingly with an improved, polished jump shot.

Allin Herring 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Markus Glad to see you drank from the Garrett cool aide. I understand Self can develop players and each player develops at his own pace. Too bad Coach Self did not finish the deal on Langford because he would not have to wait on him to develop for two or three years like Garrett will need too. I am not saying Garrett is not good, I am just saying Langford is already ahead of him as he already has developed an outside jump shot which is something we really need right now. From your red herring

Marius Rowlanski 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Actually no. I was all in on getting RL IF we signed him. I think Langford may be #1 in the 2019 draft.

I see KJ not Garrett as who will gain the most if RL goes elsewhere. I like Garrett and he'll get his minutes but not as the starter.

and back to yours...

Steve Zimmerman 11 months, 3 weeks ago

It's a loooong shot. Until we see Garrett to take the ball all the way to the basket with ease like Mason, only then will he become big winner. Charlie or Dotson are more capable of wrecking havoc opponent's D. It's hard to tell how Garrett would deliver such play based on games he played this recent season. He can model his games from Ben Simmons. Garrett needs to utilize his length and athleticism, and a NO-FEAR attitude. He's one of those guards who play it safe, no risk taking mentality. He needs to develop toughness, alpha-dog first, then let's talk about him being a big winner. But I agree, if you meant big winner in terms of PT. Coach is about who he can trust in D.

Jonathan Allison 11 months, 3 weeks ago

the one thing that we DID see offensively from Garrett was his ability to beat his man 1 on 1 and he had a natural ability to finish among the trees.

Steve Zimmerman 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Hmm.. the dunk he did vs Tech was the only one I could find on the web. That was crazy! Let's hope he'll bring his A+ effort each game next season, then.

Doug Longstaff 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I think KJ's most likely road to starting is the scenario where Doke decides not to return. With KJ-like players (kind of a 3-4 tweener), Bill has never really spent much time with them at the 3--think Julian, Galindo, even Josh Jackson. As much as we talk about the "switch" to the 4- guard look the last couple of years, he's actually spent quite a bit of time playing with a 3-4 combo at the 4.

Bill's happy to play with a true 5, and McCormack will see the floor regardless of the personnel. But without the potential first-team All-Conference type of traditional 5 (Doke), I would expect him to go with what he's become comfortable with, and it is far more "modern" to have a pair of bigs that can stretch the floor and shoot. So I would expect a "Law Firm of Lawson and Lawson" 4-5 combination quite a bit if Doke were to bolt.

Helps that KJ is probably a better rebounder than any of the bigs we had last year, and probably at least as good as JJ was in that position.

Jonathan Allison 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I think that Bill Self prefers to play his players are their most natural position based on their skillset. Perry Ellis and Marcus Morris were both natural 4's who had some tools to play the perimeter. Bill Self played them almost exclusively as 4s but allowed them to play some on the perimeter.

Only out of necessity will he play a natural 3 at the 4 position. Mario Little for example. The shift to more of a 4 guard approach has also been out of necessity though it does reflect a lot on what's happening globally in basketball with smaller more perimeter oriented lineups.

I haven't seen KJ Lawson play, but my understanding is that he's more of a natural 3, though you are likely right if we don't return Udoka/De Sousa, then he will likely get some time playing as a 4 but in more of 4 guard role than a PF role.

We also can't be forgetting about Mitch. He will be in the mix for sure unless he can be convinced to redshirt. If we lose Udoka/De Sousa he will definitely be part of the big man rotation with Dedric and McCormack. It will be interesting to see if he develops more perimeter game over the summer. But he definitely fits the mold of a Bill Self PF more so than I imagine KJ Lawson does.

Marius Rowlanski 11 months, 3 weeks ago

If we were to somehow find ourselves down to Lawson, McCormack, and Lightfoot, it would be like hitting the trifecta in reverse. Self absolutely needs to make sure that we have enough ELIGIBLE players so we aren't one bad play away from total disaster...

We didn't sign Romeo but going forward, I would much rather see us sign one of the several fifth-year senior BIGS as a backup to the backup.

Doug Longstaff 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Jonathan, if you look how he played at Memphis, they played probably 60% of the time with a 4-guard set with two big guards (KJ and Rivers) at the 3/4, call whichever one the 3 and whichever one the 4 that you want. But KJ did the heavy lifting on the rebounding side of things, 8.1 per game.

He takes a quite low percentage of shots from 3-point range (18%). Probably takes too many mid-range jumpers, but under a better coach he can extend his range to include better shots, since he actually shoots 3s a little better than he does 2s.

Jason Venable 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I have to believe Charlie Moore would start over Garrett.

Harlan Hobbs 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Lots of good insight from everyone. Will be interesting to see how it plays out. Undoubtedly, Coach Self will be looking for the best combination of shooting with added emphasis on his traditional inside style of play.

I think that Grimes and Dotson certainly will be stars, but I really like the option of having Charlie Moore, K. J. Lawson, and Marcus Garrett around to bring some experience and stability.

Also, I totally agree that Ochai Agbagj will have an impact. Last year, there were some who questioned whether Marcus Garrett would be used much as a freshman, and look what happened. I wouldn't be surprised if the same happens with Ochai, especially if he shows some defensive skills.

If Udoka returns, the inside game will be much more potent, which should bring more balance to the table. KU will go back to being a younger team, but one with considerably more depth. In the end, it bodes well for a 14th straight conference championship.

Bryce Landon 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Uh, Harlan, we already have 14 straight. We won our 14th straight this past season. We can make it 15 straight this coming season.

Robert Brock 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I look forward to having the Jayhawks play tougher defense. Garrett is a key to that part of the game. Can Moore play defense? Quien sabe?

Bryce Landon 11 months, 3 weeks ago

We haven't had a consistently tough defense since the 2012-13 season. That's when we had four seniors in the lineup, all of whom had been tutored by Danny Manning before he left for Tulsa and Wake Forest. Since then our defense has been less than stellar for years.

Ryan Zimmerman 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Garrett is a good defender, but how much does it help the offense when he can't shoot from outside? That doesn't keep anyone honest on defense when he has the ball

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