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Even lacking a Top 40 prospect, KU's 2019 recruiting class not all that different from a few past classes

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Kansas freshman Tristan Enaruna pushes the ball up the court as fellow freshman Isaac McBride defends during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman Tristan Enaruna pushes the ball up the court as fellow freshman Isaac McBride defends during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

All of the recent talk about the Kansas basketball program not landing a Top 40 recruit in the 2019 recruiting class made me curious about which past class the current one most favorably compares to.

The classes in 2008 and 2011 immediately came to mind.

While both of those classes included a Top 40 prospect — 29th-ranked Marcus Morris in 2008 and 34th-ranked Ben McLemore in 2011 — they also included a nice mixture of guys in the middle of the pack and others closer to the 100 spot in the Rivals.com rankings.

The 2019 class, which currently has five players and could (but probably won’t) add one more, is built in that same mold.

Per the Rivals rankings, 4-star forward Tristan Enaruna, at No. 44, is the highest-ranked Jayhawk, followed closely by fellow-4-star prospect Jalen Wilson, who just signed this week, at No. 47.

After that, it’s 4-star guard Christian Braun at No. 90, 4-star point guard Issac McBride at No. 103 and former 3-star Iowa grad transfer Isaiah Moss, who, back in his day, was not even ranked in the Rivals 150 in the 2015 class.

That group puts KU in the No. 17 spot in the Rivals team rankings for 2019, 11 spots behind where the Jayhawks ended up in the 2018 team rankings and one of the rare times when a Self haul wound up outside of the Top 10.

Here’s the thing, though. While the five players the Jayhawks are bringing in this summer might not be Top 20 type talents today, all of them stand to make a serious impact on the Kansas program over the long haul, for two, three, four or even five years, which is a drastic change from what the one-and-done prospects have been able to bring to the table in recent years.

That’s not to knock the one-and-done approach. Say what you will about those types of players and their impact on the college game, but Kansas has both benefited from them and been severely underwhelmed by them, something I think you’d find to be true in the grand scheme of things at most places that routinely land them.

KU went after a few projected one-and-done players again this recruiting cycle and will go after more until the NBA changes that rule and eliminates the phrase “one-and-done” from our vocabularies.

And at a place like KU, where attracting those types of talents is a natural fit, it makes sense for them to do so.

But that does not mean that classes that feature quality 4-star prospects can’t be just as effective and occasionally even more so. KU’s history under Bill Self has proven that to be true, with players like Frank Mason III (76), Tyshawn Taylor (77), Travis Releford (70), Darnell Jackson (54), Devonte’ Graham (36), Thomas Robinson (31) Cole Aldrich (30) and countless others residing outside of the Top 20 but making a monster impact on the KU program and the college game during their time at Kansas.

There’s no telling if this class has a player or two who one day will be added to that list. But I certainly wouldn’t bet against it just because of the number that’s next to their name.

Here's a quick look back at the 15 other recruiting classes brought to Kansas by Bill Self:

2018

Highest rated prospect: Quentin Grimes 8

Others: Devon Dotson 20, David McCormack 35, Ochai Agbaji 145

2017

Highest rated prospect: Billy Preston 11

Others: Silvio De Sousa 18, Garrett 41

2016

Highest rated prospect: Josh Jackson 1

Others: Udoka Azubuike 31, Mitch Lightfoot 107

2015

Highest rated prospect: Cheick Diallo 5

Others: Carlton Bragg 21, Lagerald Vick 81

2014

Highest rated prospect: Cliff Alexander 4

Others: Kelly Oubre 6, Devonte’ Graham 36, Svi Mykhailiuk Outside of Rivals150

2013

Highest rated prospect: Andrew Wiggins 1

Others: Wayne Selden Jr. 12, Joel Embiid 25, Frank Mason III 76, Brannen Greene 29, Conner Frankamp 34

2012

Highest rated prospect: Perry Ellis 24

Others: Andrew White III 51, Zach Peters 137, Anrio Adams 98, Landen Lucas Outside of Rivals150

2011

Highest rated prospect: Ben McLemore 34

Others: Jamari Traylor 141, Naadir Tharpe 92, Merv Lindsay and Braeden Anderson Both Outside of Rivals150

2010

Highest rated prospect: Josh Selby 1

Others: Royce Woolridge 120

2009

Highest rated prospect: Xavier Henry 8

Others: Thomas Robinson 31, Elijah Johnson 24

2008

Highest rated prospect: Marcus Morris 29

Others: Markieff Morris 49, Tyshawn Taylor 77, Quintrell Thomas 149, Travis Releford 70, Mario Little and Tyrone Appleton Both Outside of Rivals150

2007

Highest rated prospect: Cole Aldrich 30

Others: Tyrel Reed 109

2006

Highest rated prospect: Darrell Arthur 16

Others: Sherron Collins 21, Brady Morningstar Outside Rivals150

2005

Highest rated prospect: Julian Wright 8

Others: Brandon Rush 13, Mario Chalmers 12, Micah Downs 28

2004

Highest rated prospect: Russell Robinson 27

Others: C.J. Giles 62, Alex Galindo 65, Darnell Jackson 54, Sasha Kaun 34

Comments

Michael Terry 3 months, 1 week ago

Matt, need to change change Isaiah Moss to class of 2015 in your article, not 2005.

Tony Bandle 3 months, 1 week ago

If I was ranking the top rated recruits of the last 15 classes, based on Hit or Miss, I would have a score of 10 hits and 5 misses. [HITS: Josh J., AW, Perry, BenMac, X, MM, Cole, Darrell, Julian and RusRob./ MISSES: Q, Billy, Cheick, Cliff and Josh S.]. 67% actually seems like a decent success rate.

Still, it's all about who else you got and when you have the "D" Squad [Dok, DeSousa, Dotson] coming back, you are looking at a very, very tough opponent.

Alan Dickey 3 months, 1 week ago

Good article.

One minor quibble is that the reference to Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk being "Outside of Rivals150" is a bit misleading. He was in the Ukraine and thus was not eligible for the final 2014 Rivals 150 until he was landed in Kansas in late May 2014. Rivals never put Svi on the list (I think the final version already had come out), but Rivals, at the time, designated him as a 5-Star prospect: https://kansas.rivals.com/commitments/basketball/2014

And Rivals only gives 5-Star status to those it perceives as top-25 recruits. See https://n.rivals.com/prospect_rankings/rivals150/2014

Dirk Medema 3 months, 1 week ago

going down he list, I see 14 that left after 1 year for less than stellar reasons, and 6 for the league. I'm okay with that. Self just reloads.

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