Thursday, November 10, 2011


Looking ahead to ’12-13


Now that Wichita recruit Perry Ellis officially is on board, it’s worth looking to the 2012-2013 season for a guess at what the Kansas University basketball rotation might look like.

But first, a quick look at how this season’s rotation could shape up as Kansas heads into March. The starting five: Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey. The reserves in the rotation, listed in order of projected March minutes: Naadir Tharpe, Conner Teahan, Justin Wesley and in games a ninth man is needed, Kevin Young.

This early, it’s impossible to do anything but guess at a March rotation, but it’s difficult to foresee one that doesn’t feature two walk-ons, Teahan and Wesley. So far, both have shown why they earned scholarships, especially the hot-shooting Teahan.

Looking at how far Wesley appears ahead of Young shows, for one thing, what a year of practice and strength and conditioning can do for a raw athlete.

At Lamar two seasons ago, Wesley averaged 1.2 points and 9.9 minutes. Now, 20 pounds heavier, armed with Danny Manning’s lessons, and more accustomed to facing excellent competition after battling the Morris twins, Robinson and Withey all season, Wesley figures to be a more productive player in the Big 12 than he was in the Southland Conference.

Watching Wesley, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound pogo stick, ought to serve as encouragement for 6-8, 215-pound freshman forward Jamari Traylor from Chicago. Traylor, an athletic player with raw basketball skills, won’t get to start practicing with the team until second semester. Even that will give him a nice head-start on his first college basketball season a year from now.

Ben McLemore, also declared ineligible to practice first semester and compete in games all season, will benefit from a jump start as well, competing against Releford, Johnson, Taylor and Teahan daily.

Put Ellis, who signed Wednesday, and 6-9, 235-pound center Zach Peters, set to sign Monday, into the mix, and next season’s roster is beginning to take shape, although coach Bill Self has made it clear he’s not done recruiting.

Assuming Thomas Robinson declares for the draft after this season — he’s looking smarter by the day for not doing that as a sophomore, and he looked smart the day he made the decision — and assuming Merv Lindsay isn’t yet a rotation player, battles for playing time a year from now project as intense.

Tharpe, Johnson, McLemore and Releford all bring quickness. Self said Ellis projects as a small forward, which gives the coach five strong options for the 120 perimeter minutes.

Peters will join Withey, Traylor, Wesley and Young up front, which means if the right recruit is landed with one of the two available scholarships in the spring, he could become an instant starter.

Failing that, Ellis and/or Releford could spend some time in the post.

The Ellis signing ought to have a soothing effect on those not used to seeing Self finish second on as many blue chips as he has in the past two years, but it might take landing another big fish in the spring to bring some fanatics in from the ledge.


johnnyhrdwd 10 years, 6 months ago

Ellis is a stud and has a good head on his shoulders.

johnnyhrdwd 10 years, 6 months ago

Ellis is a stud and has a good head on his shoulders.

Chris Bruning 10 years, 6 months ago

I hope we land chris walker simply because i think if we get him here we get several other five stars here as well.

Ron Franklin 10 years, 6 months ago

my curiosity is captured--do you mind eaborating?

Dillon Davis 10 years, 6 months ago

Chris Walker is a stud SF from the 13' class. And he is good friends with fellows studs Brannen Greene, Isaiah Lewis, and Allerik Freeman. It's been talked about how these three or 4 could potentially go to the same school. Florida and Kentucky are our major threats here and Walker is from Florida

Chris Bruning 10 years, 6 months ago

Correct dmoneyball, but lately walker has been showin KU lots of love. KU hat on his facebook or twitter photo, and just saying very nice things. I like him, hope we get him....

blackhawkjayhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

TK's advance look as gotten me off the ledge, I must admit. It looks like a strong team next year. Land one more big-time recruit and we'll probably have a top-10 class.

I believe that the early exits are starting to hurt Self's recruiting. Seven straight conference championships don't mean as much to recruits as all of the mid-major losses - which are starting to pile up. If Self wants to improve his recruiting, he needs to start winning those games.

longhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Don't be fooled by Bill's comments about Ellis being a three. Every player that fits the 3-4 tweener mold in Bill's system has started at the four. Galindo, Wright, Arthur, Marcus. Bill like athletic mismatches at the four better than having big three men.

Robert Brock 10 years, 6 months ago

Signing Ellis is not enough for a top program. The pendulum has shifted; Texas will control the Big Whatever starting next season. I don't like it.

JayDocMD 10 years, 6 months ago

Texas won't be winning anything as long as Rick Barnes is there.

KuKain 10 years, 6 months ago

Agreed, major talent + terrible coaching will only get you so far. See Calimari and Scott Drew for further examples.

KGphoto 10 years, 6 months ago

Are you saying that we will control it this season, with an even less heralded group? That pendulum has been on Self's side for 7 straight years, He's obviously a better coach than Rick Barnes.

Self is capable of doing so much more with less. Hasn't he proven that to you yet? Rick Barnes has been recruiting top 10 classes forever. What's it earned him? Nada.

I like being out of the spotlight for a little while. I can exhale during games this season. The pressure is off, to some degree, and the kids can just play basketball without the championship expectations, without facing freakish efforts of opponents hell-bent on slaying goliath.

Besides I think it's always been more about the coaching and less about the recruiting in college basketball. (We beat Cal's elite class right?) Even more so in the last 5 years as teams like Butler, VCU, and George Mason have reached Final Fours and Championship games without Texas-sized recruits.

We have the better coach. Bill Self is more than enough for a top program. Enjoy him while you have him.

Ethan Berger 10 years, 6 months ago

He has one of our 5 national titles. No one remember who goes to the final fours. But you do remember who wins titles.

DallasJayhawk1 10 years, 6 months ago

One ? So, we weren't in the '03 championship game vs. Syracuse ?

KGphoto 10 years, 6 months ago

Who IS good enough for you? Roy with all his Final Fours and no titles?

RockChalkWoody 10 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. Until somebody knocks off the school that has won 7 straight conference titles I'm pretty sure the pendulum is still located in Lawrence, KS.

chriz 10 years, 6 months ago

You're depends on how you define a top program. Kids want to go to the NBA and make a lot of money, and they're gonna go to wherever gives them the best chance to do that as soon as possible. Bill Self, for the most part, has proven that if you want to come to KU, you have to earn your stripes. You'll make plenty of just won't necessarily be after one year.

Barnes and Calipari are a couple of guys who have gone on record to say that they want to prepare these kids to go to the league MORE than they want to win games. And they've done so very well. They have a good track record here. Calipari has the advantage of also being able to win games simultaneously, where Barnes has struggled with that.

Self would prefer to err on the side of winning. That's why he plays guys like Reed and Morningstar over Selby. Reed and Morningstar would NEVER go the NBA, but Self doesn't care. They give him the best chance to win the game at hand.

So if a top program is one that can consistently win games, then that's one thing, but if it's one that can consistently grab highly-ranked recruits, that's another.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 6 months ago

ButCoach Self didn't play Brady over Josh until he got hurt, and even then he tried working Josh back into the lineup, b/c he was convinced that his potential could come through in the end like it had in the middle of the season when he did start him.

Wasn't it also a year before that Coach Self made a decision late in the season to start athletic potential over his safe, reliable comfort?

Very true that in general Coach Self has more interest in building programs that win championships, but he does have an eye for what wins THE championship. 1 in 7 with us is fairly good odds.

dinglesmith 10 years, 6 months ago

I really like the current model of bringing in guys that will be ready for the NBA after three years, plus a solid supporting cast. The Morris twins were not five star recruits, but I'd happily take them again. The same can be said for a ton of KU players.

Can Barnes and Calipari really say they are more interested in developing NBA talent than winning if they constantly sign players who are already NBA talent? Honestly, I love having a coach who really is developing players. Watching a kid who wasn't ready when he arrived and worked his butt off for a few years succeed come draft day is fantastic. It's what education should be about.

chriz 10 years, 6 months ago

You bring up a good point about getting the kids ready, although I would think that Barnes and Calipari are both pretty safe choices for the one-and-done-ers as far as getting drafted highly. (Daniel Orton is a possible exception.) If anything, they've developed a reputation of allowing these one-and-done-ers to play through their mistakes at the expense of victories. And Calipari has managed to still get victories, probably because his recruits are often more talented than those of Barnes.

I agree, though, with preference of how Self does it, with the exception of the constant losses to the mid-majors in the tournament. My only guess is that the kids play too "tight" because they know that if they goof, there's a whole bench behind them--that most Big 12 teams would love to have as starters--that's ready to take their place. On the other hand, it's also hard to argue with a national championship.

And it is great to be able to watch these kids come in raw and to see them play to their potential. We get a chance to see the results of great coaching, and we get a chance to bond with the kids while they're here. We in the Midwest are probably a bit more patient than those on the coasts, and we probably enjoy spending 3-4 years with our recruits versus just 1 or 2. (I know that's a gross generalization, but I'd also bet most of you would agree.)

86finalfour 10 years, 6 months ago

"ASSUMING THOMAS ROBINSON DECLARES for the draft AFTER this season — he’s looking smarter by the day......"

Don't mean to be a downer here and I know it's been going on for awhile. But is any one else out there getting tired of the revolving players/class? It sometimes feels like AAA bball.

rock chalk, always.

Steve Gantz 10 years, 6 months ago

I am too. In 03 even Carmelo doesn't stop a KU team with Gooden. In 09 we win back to back NC's if most of those guys stick around. This year is most egregious. 3 players leave, to play in a league that even back in April when they declared for the draft looked like there may not be a season. Some sensible kids stuck around in places like Kentucky, UNC, and Ohio St. There you have your three favorites for this season. Our team would be one of the favorites too had the Morii twins and Selby stuck around.

Sean O'Daniel 10 years, 6 months ago

Can you blame them for getting paid? By coming out this year they get drafted higher, which means a bigger guaranteed paycheck. That adds up when the avg NBA career is only like 4 years.

Jason Brinker 10 years, 6 months ago

Except they're not getting paid during a lockout. During the last NBA lockout, Paul Pierce said he wished he would have stayed for his senior season because at least he'd be able to play basketball and help his alma mater.

The Morris twins knew a lockout was likely. They rolled the dice hoping it would end quickly. It didn't. And it doesn't sound like a deal is close. I guarantee you as the college season gets into swing and the lockout continues, they will be thinking about what might have been had they stayed at KU.

I still wish those guys the best, Selby included. I don't blame them for leaving. I just think they should have maybe put a little more thought into the decision-making process knowing a lockout was looming. They were partying it up a week after the VCU loss with their future agent. That tells me they made their minds up pretty quickly.

There's no guarantee they'd have been drafted higher in 2011 over 2012. If they return to KU and put up similar numbers as last year, their stock might go up even higher. And they might even get to enter the NBA with a national title ring on their finger...but we'll never know...

Steve Gantz 10 years, 6 months ago

No, I don't mean to criticize someone for doing something that will set them for life.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 6 months ago

2012-2013 Point - Naadir, Nino? Off guard - Elijah, BenMac 3 spot - Travis, Kevin Shooting forward - Perry, Justin or power forward - Perry, Jamari Center - Jeff, Zach + another recruit?

That would be an interesting rotation of 4 seniors, 1 junior, 1 soph. and 6 frosh......

Youth and experience, blended together in balance...we're gonna be damn young in 2012-2013!!!

Tony Bandle 10 years, 6 months ago

OOPS...I meant damn young in 2013-2014!!

Scott Smetana 10 years, 6 months ago

I say we bring back the twins. They're not doing anything right now. If not, maybe they could join a circuit with Xavier and Selby telling young players to never listen to scouts. It's a crime they're not playing for KU this year.

hawksfan08 10 years, 6 months ago

we're high on the list of about 6 of the top 10 for next year. If we don't land at least 2 of those, then I might start walking towards the ledge.

easyfive 10 years, 6 months ago

Naadir is the best player I've seen at KU in a long long time at point.
Maybe since JoJo White... Naadir needs to be a starter now.
Self has been on Dannys shirt tail for years now and needs to get his head out. and quit looking the guys butts, DJ and BM.
TT looks like chopped liver against Naadir. Turn over Taylor needs to keep it under 6 a game this year.

Steve Gantz 10 years, 6 months ago

He was good against Pittsburgh and Ft. Hays (I'll take your word for it, I didn't see the games). Before anointing him the best guard since JoJo, let's see him play for a couple of years please.

You're other point about Self riding Danny's shirt tails is about as crazy a think I've read on here in a while (from someone other than manginohol and aperson..)

texashawk10 10 years, 6 months ago

How about doing 2 seconds of research first. Tyshawn averaged 2.7 turnovers last year which isn't bad for someone who has the ball in his hands as much as Tyshawn did last year.

Jory Collins 10 years, 6 months ago

Rediculous, Naadir, the same guy who had 9 turnovers against Pittsburg State? He's played two D2 schools and he gets compared to Jojo White? hahahahaha

I hope he is half as good as JoJo. How many practices have you seen Naadir and TT go at it?

bad_dog 10 years, 6 months ago

"Assuming Thomas Robinson declares for the draft after this season..."

Sounds to me like Keegan is operating under the presumption TRob will N O T be here next season, therefore he would N O T be passing up "top 5 draft status". Of course you know what happens when you assume something...


Steve Kubler 10 years, 6 months ago

Of course that is ass-uming the NBA actually gets their head out and is in existence next year. I would not put money down one either at this point.

JayDocMD 10 years, 6 months ago

Naadir is in the perfect position as first ball-handler off the bench this year. He'll still get 20 min per game in that role. That said, I think there is a reasonable chance that Tyshawn will tyshawn* before the end of the year and Naadir starts for a chunk of games.

  • tyshawn: (verb) a. to act without thinking or behave immaturely, usually resulting in disciplinary action b. to not perform up to one's potential.
  • Origin of TYSHAWN: Middle America (Lawrence, KS)
  • First Known Use: 2008

Michael Leiker 10 years, 6 months ago

If Wesley is a productive player for this team this year I will be shocked.

texashawk10 10 years, 6 months ago

Why?, he's going to be the first big man off the bench and play close to 20 minutes a game this season. He's not going to put up numbers comparable to T-Rob last season, but he's not going to be bad either.

John Boyle 10 years, 6 months ago

Don't stand in water because you're about to get shocked!

Kevin Huffman 10 years, 6 months ago

No, the thing that would "shock" me is if we actually land Shabazz Muhammad. From all of his quotes about wanting a school that fits his style and all of the pro referecnes.....sounds like he's Kentucky-bound to me.

texashawk10 10 years, 6 months ago

Everything I've read sounds like he's a strong UCLA lean right now.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 6 months ago

khuff...I think it has been obvious that Shabazz is a long, long, long shot for Kansas to land for awhile now.

The combination of the "failed" Selby experience, HCBS style basketball and the alure of the quick, cheap fix that Kentucky provides will probably be too much to overcome.

His vowing to make a Kansas visit is almost a victory in itself.[no pun intended].

The one thing that could work in our favor is immediate playing time versus the five star competition at UK. But as Lloyd Bridges used to say on the old television series "Sea Hunt"...."don't hold your breath!!".

Curtis Stutz 10 years, 6 months ago

When was the last time KU didn't have a future NBA player in the post? I can think back to Ostertag's frosh year in 1993 anyway, after him came Pollard, LaFrentz, Chenowith, Gooden, Collison, Simien, Jackson, Arthur, Aldrich, the Morris Twins, I'm sure I'm missing some in there, but the point is for as long as I've really been old enough to follow the game closely I can look at KU as having an NBA caliber big man, that practiced with a younger NBA caliber big man and so on down the line all the way to Thomas Robinson. That's some serious continuity. Puts a lot on Withey's shoulders really if you think about it, as he'll have played with some great players and be passing on that torch to the freshmen next year. At least Traylor gets to practice with TRob second semester. How great is that though, and if you look at guards I'd guess you can do the same thing. KU is blessed recruiting wise and coaching wise to continue to have NBA caliber players passing on their knowledge to more NBA talented players every single year. Terrence Jones is a beast and any team would be lucky to have him, but I'd much rather have TRob on the floor and know that he's part of the family of players that is KU basketball. I enjoyed watching Xavier Henry in a Kansas jersey, but I enjoy it even more watching Releford and Teahan that I've seen work hard for years to be a part of the team.

We're just lucky fans and by the looks of it we're going to continue to be lucky with some of the guys coming in next year.

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