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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Column: Prep Jaylen Brown’s decision barely registers

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) gets a celebratory hug from teammate Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) during the Jayhawks' comeback run on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) gets a celebratory hug from teammate Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) during the Jayhawks' comeback run on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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One of the nation’s elite high school basketball seniors cut Kansas University from his list of possible suitors Thursday, and the news barely registered as noteworthy for those who frequent Allen Fieldhouse.

Five-star small forward Jaylen Brown, from Marietta, Georgia, would rather play at Cal, he announced Friday night. Yet in Lawrence, shoulders shrugged. Nobody gnashed their teeth, nor second-guessed their season-tickets purchase.

Now, no coach in his right mind, including Bill Self, would say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” if Brown chose his program. But the addition of Rivals.com’s No. 3-ranked player to the 2015-16 roster would have been a luxury for KU, not a necessity.

The reaction would’ve reached the opposite end of the spectrum, in the neighborhood of freak-out mode, had the Jayhawks not landed the talents of power forward Cheick Diallo two days earlier. Ranked No. 5 overall by Rivals, the 6-foot-9 native of Mali gave Kansas as complete a college basketball roster as one could hope for in this era of one-and-dones.

The presence of another one-year wonder, no matter how good, would only have added so much to next season’s Jayhawks.

Self will have abundant options at small forward as KU hunts its 12th consecutive regular-season Big 12 title.

First, the obvious choices. Sophomore Svi Mykhailiuk, at 6-8, gives the Jayhawks length and competitiveness on both ends of the floor, whether he turns out to be a role player or a breakout star. Junior Brannen Greene, scheduled to return to regular basketball activities before the start of preseason practices following hip surgery, can serve as a deadly three-point shooter.

When Self wants to go small and use point guards Frank Mason III and Devonté Graham simultaneously, he can slide 6-foot-5 junior Wayne Selden Jr. over and trust the third-year starter to slash, shoot, pass and defend.

Want to super-size your lineup? Put some combination of Diallo, 6-9 freshman Carlton Bragg, junior Landen Lucas and seniors Jamari Traylor and Hunter Mickelson inside. Then let senior leader Perry Ellis show off that perimeter game he spent the offseason developing.

No, KU doesn’t need Brown to reach the 2016 Final Four. Not with that versatile roster.

So why should anybody care whether a four-star Class of 2015 small forward by the name of Tevin Mack decides to join the Jayhawks?

There’s more to it than keeping the one-time VCU commit away from Shaka Smart and Texas. Even if the 6-6 wing from Columbia, South Carolina, were never to crack the KU rotation next season, he could turn into a reliable upperclassman down the road. And no program can have too many of those.

Comments

Rodney Crain 7 years, 4 months ago

Although everyone is breathing easier I would still like to get a SG and Big to develop over a couple years. Mack and Papagiannis or Riak would round out a really good class for us.

Let's keep it going.

RJ King 7 years, 4 months ago

I wasn't holding my breath. Even without Brown, this team will still achieve World Peace, total equality for all, and somehow feed the World. And hopefully collect a few players who will give senior night speeches over the next four years.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 4 months ago

Keeping it real I see... And thus you validate my point. LOL.

Thanks for repeating my words it is always nice to know I have people who actually get what I am saying on here! Thank you RJ.

Doug Longstaff 7 years, 4 months ago

I do feel like we might be a guard short for next year. Bill is likely to run with Graham, Mason and Selden primarily. Leaves you likely with Svi as a first option off the bench. I assume he'll make good strides over the summer. After that, there's only Greene--and you hope he's healthy after 5 months of rehab. If he is, you're probably OK.

But one more guard sure would be nice.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

You know what? Bill Self usually only plays an 8-man rotation. But he needs role players on the bench who can come in and contribute. Look at all the unexpected roster changes and injuries during the course of last season: Conner Frankamp bolts, Cliff Alexander forced to sit, and injuries to both Perry Ellis and Brannen Greene. We are so deep this year that we could lose 4 players (if two were bigs and two were perimeter players) and keep trucking.

JD Roth 7 years, 4 months ago

Last season never taught you how important the chemistry of a team is, I guess. Last seasons team never did come together in my opinion, yet somehow they won another conference title. This program must start performing in the post season, because its reputation is taking a hit nationwide. That reputation can be repaired with another conference title coupled with a 2015-2016 Final Four run.

Adam Tyler 7 years, 4 months ago

Interesting note about Tevin Mack (who I would love to sign)....

His brother played basketball at Nevada under Mark Fox (current Georgia HC), and has been singing his praises throughout this short recruitment.

We all know his prior connection to Shaka Smart, but will these prior relationships have an impact on his decision?

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 4 months ago

There's a reason why Texas and Georgia are the two favorites for Mack with KU running 3rd.

Robert Brock 7 years, 4 months ago

Wichita State had no problem smoking KU's perimeter. Plus, the Hawks lost eight of their last 14 games largely due to poor guard play on offense and defense. Will time heal those problems? More practice? More games? Or is the problem a lack of talent?

KU could have used Jaylen Brown.

Adam Tyler 7 years, 4 months ago

KU did not lose 8 of their last 14 games.

But yes, we could have used Jaylen Brown.

It also would be wise if we prepared for the future, signing a few studs who can have an impact for multiple seasons.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 4 months ago

KU actually went 8-6 over its final 14 games; but either way that's still mediocre basketball and just flat-out unacceptable.

David Lara 7 years, 4 months ago

Robert, we will have a huge opportunity, not just in having another veteran season under the belt of mason, graham, etc, but also in the WUG to improve our perimeter D. I think "time" WILL help those problems--against one of the best backcourts in the country btw--but more than that, having an inside game would have totally changed the look of that game, which was completely in our control for almost the whole first half. On offense we could have really exposed their frontcourt with a skilled tandem inside, and on defense we could have had another layer of backup ready to eliminate drives to the lane that became their go-to offense. Perry was not able to do enough offensively against a matchup that would favor him if healthy, and we had no answer for them once they got into the lane. This year we have the dual benefit of a much improved frontcourt to add to the improvement we can expect in perimeter D.

David Lara 7 years, 4 months ago

Here's why I didn't get the warm fuzzies about adding JB to this team. Anyone who thinks we don't need to fill those last 2 schollies w/ a big and a sg/sf is not looking past next year. We will potentially lose a bevy of players, especially if we play to our potential, which we all should expect. Having 2 more in the chamber to step up in 2016/17 will help lessen the blow from a possible mass exodus. "Anything else at this point is just gravy" is only applicable to next year, but with the modern OAD culture we want to stay away from becoming UK and overly reliant on freshmen. Adding a JB would most likely leave the cupboard bare for the following season. There are certainly some solid guys out there that can make a great impact after not seeing the floor next year. Time to find our security blanket.

Jay Hawk 7 years, 4 months ago

BINGO - the 2016/17 team should be a big concern right now. We know that Perry, Hunter, and Jamari will be gone. It's likely Cheick will stay for only one year and Bragg has been projected as OAD in some mock drafts. Even Self acknowledges that Svi's time in Lawrence will be short - maybe only 2 years. If Wayne went crazy, we could lose 6 or 7 guys next year. I even heard talk of Greene's NBA potential at times last year.

Yikes - imagine a returning team of Frank, Devonte, and Landen!

Ah, screw it! I'm going to rejoice in next year's team instead and let Self worry about it :)

Rodney Crain 7 years, 4 months ago

Excellent post David. If we are covered for next year ok, let's recruit for the year after. We got the warm ups let's put a player in them!

Vernon Riggs 7 years, 4 months ago

Kansas is trending very well for 2016 Recruits...The Jayhawks should have one of the top recruiting class in 2016. 2016 will work itself out.

Eric Dawson 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree with you up to your last sentence. As already noted, if Diallo and Bragg have great results next season, it is not inconceivable that KU's returning bigs for 2016-17 will be one Landen Lucas and that's it. If KU can still pick up a decent multiyear big to learn and develop this coming season (and I'll leave it to Self & Co to determine who and from what source -- HS, JUCO or even a transfer that would have to sit out next season -- such a player might come from), I'd feel a lot better about not having to rely almost totally on freshmen bigs for 2016-17.

David Lara 7 years, 4 months ago

I see where you are coming from, but it can be awfully difficult to avoid becoming UK. If we added a OAD, ala JB, that forces our hand to having to replace him with another OAD the next year. I love the fact that we can attract them, but at some point you have to say no and take someone that will produce longevity IMO. It can be a slippery slope.

Jay Hawk 7 years, 4 months ago

LOL - I type a World & Peace post commenting about our quality roster on another story and, little did I know, Benton already had this one loaded up. Oh, well.

I agree that Brown was a luxury not likely to have moved the needle considerably for this team next year.

Diallo was a necessity. Not because he WILL make a big impact but because he MIGHT. If he only provides quality minutes off the bench, we will still be good next year. If he becomes a solid starter somehow - LOOK OUT!

Tom Jones 7 years, 4 months ago

Oh, he'll start all right. May take him a few games but he's already an upgrade over our current "5"'s. Once he comfy in the system, look out.

Humpy Helsel 7 years, 4 months ago

Brannen Greene has to develop improved ball handling, defensive movement and overall decision making skills to become more than a role, offensive, spot up shooter. His current rehab is not going to help him in the development of those skills this summer. That is off season work. We need Svi to emerge. I think he will. He needs to just be put out there and let him play through his mistakes and get comfortable. He is a star waiting to happen.

Alan Dickey 7 years, 4 months ago

At the end of last season, our top four guards were:

Sophomore;

Freshman;

Sophomore; and

Sophomore.

WSU’s guards were:

Junior;

Senior;

Junior; and

Senior.

That’s the primary reason they beat us.

Our 2008 NC guards were (really only three):

Junior;

Senior; and

Sophomore.

Having a sophomore and junior run backcourt usually doesn’t work that well. Anything can happen, but it’s usually not a winning formula. Next year, we have two juniors and a sophomore, which is much better weighted in experience.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

Especially in light of all the recent decisions by recruits in the last couple of weeks, Ive been wondering how Kansas ranks among top schools in recruiting over the last several years, and over the last 10 years.

How would you rank the following schools over those two periods? Kentucky, Duke, Arizona, North Carolina, and Kansas.

Ron Prichard 7 years, 4 months ago

Just personal opinion, but for the last 5 years I would go Kentucky, Duke, KU, Arizona and then UNC.

Michael Sillman 7 years, 4 months ago

Hopefully this year shows that the 5 stars will naturally spread themselves around the country.

I would have hated to see Kentucky load up again with double digit NBA draft picks.

Brian Wilson 7 years, 4 months ago

Ideally we will take two more developing Bigs. But with concerns over Greene's recovery a potential HCBS will take 1 more guard and 1 big to develop. I don't think we will take any transfers at this point with so many Bigs graduating next year. So, if Ellis is really going to play the 3 this year along with Greene then Svi will be with Selden at guard and we could use a backup guard in case of injury. Maybe a PG! and not Mack. Here are the bigs still in play:

Undecided HS Centers - Rank, Name, Height and Weight
All these are worth having as a long term prospect.

10 Georgios Papagiannis 7-1 250
20 Mamadou Amare C 7-0 210 - this guy vanished and moved from Tulsa!?
28 Torrie Thomas C 6-10 220
29 Tanner Breazile C 6-8 210
31 Levi Cook C 6-10 305
34 Greyson Smallwood C 6-11 200
35 Jimbo Lull C 6-11 235

Undecided HS Power Forwards - Rank, Name, Height and Weight
Davis is still available, and IMO Adams, who plays big, scores, protects the rim, and is underrated, and Okongwu might be ok as well.
29 Shawntrez Davis PF 6-8 205
44 Eric Cobb PF 6-9 245
46 Andre Adams PF 6-9 220
49 Nnamdi Okongwu PF 6-9 215

If we get Mack or another guard, then it's because Self has concerns about Greene;s recovery. If HCBS holds a scholarship, then I wonder if he is thinking Thon Maker.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

Someone correct me if Im wrong but I think after '15-'16 we lose our entire front line almost: Mickelson, Ellis, and Traylor to graduation, and Diallo to the draft. Only Lucas will be left.

We need to grab a couple of big men to get them some experience in the system. Georgios Papagiannis works for me. But it sounds like GP is not sure about where he wants to play; whether in the US or at home in Greece:

04/13/2015 "Four-star center Georgios Papagiannis will make his decision on whether or not to return to the United States for college in the upcoming months."

Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/ucf/basketball/recruiting/player-Georgios-Papagiannis-155549

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 4 months ago

KU loses Ellis, Traylor, and Mickelson to graduation. Bragg isn't OAD, and I don't think Diallo is a guaranteed OAD. His offensive game is still raw enough that he could come back for that reason. I would put it at 75/25 that he goes versus staying. He's further along in his development at this point than Embiid was, but his ceiling and learning curve are not at Embiid's level though.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

How could I forget about Bragg? He should be here for the '16-'17 season for sure. That leaves two, which is still a small enough number of post men to be concerned about. Diallo is gone after this year. Being "raw" is not something NBA scouts are concerned about. Everything appears that he wishes to be gone after one year, including conversations with Embiid who almost certainly gave Diallo an indication that Self could coach him up in one year. He let it be known that Embiid's testimony was important to him. But why should it be so important unless Diallo were considering a similar path. Cheick has the talent, early mock drafts project him as a lottery pick, and he's proven--like Embiid--that he is a quick study. He's only been playing basketball 5 years (as opposed to many other blue chip players who have been playing all their lives) and he's top 5 in the nation already. Taking that learning trajectory and desire for the game to Kansas, he will develop very rapidly. 90/10 (go:stay).

Eric Dawson 7 years, 4 months ago

Brian Wilson, I don't know where you got your ranks from for these guys, but looking at Rivals Top 150 for 2015, there are just 7 guys who have yet to commit to a program, and you don't list any of them. They are: 1 center (#9 Thon Maker), 2 forwards (#61 Tevin Mack and #113 Jordan Murphy), 1 PG (#62 Marcus LoVett) and 3 SG (#89 Kenny Williams, #101 Kobie Eubanks and #103 K.J. Walton).

Checking Rivals and Scout for a few of the guys you listed, I'm seeing that all of them at are best * recruits and not nationally ranked by either service. Perhaps you are showing their rank for their position, and not against the entire 2015 HS class? If so, you should specify that so readers get a more accurate understanding of where the guys you are listing fall in the recruiting spectrum.

BTW, Tevin Mack is listed as a small forward, not a guard.

Joseph Bullock 7 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the updated list, Brian Wilson. It is great to have people who do their homework, so I really appreciate it. I would love to have #10 Georgios Papagiannis, if we don't get Thon Maker, this year. I know a lot of people don't want Maker, but I know what his defensive potential would mean to us, this coming season, which is also why Coach Self has not stopped recruiting him. For those who have a problem with OAD's, it would not be a problem if they got us to a Final Four, like has been the case with Kentucky, and this past season, with Duke! I also heard that Mack and his mother, want to visit Kansas, but that they don't have any Official Visits remaining. Does anyone know if that is actually true? If it is, I'm not sure we are running 3rd on his list. Especially if he can make an unofficial visit, because that just might seal the deal, for us, with him! Also, even if we lose a lot of players next year, there will be plenty of top tier recruits who will be seriously interested in playing for us, especially since they will know there will be a lot of playing time available for them.

Ron Sterling 7 years, 4 months ago

UF may still yield some dividends when their new HC is announced. I'd take Noah Dickerson and KeVaughn Allen to round out an already great class.

Ryan Zimmerman 7 years, 4 months ago

Maker is going to ASU... UK won't want him due to potential delay on getting him up and going. KU isn't attractive anymore with Diallo and Maker will guarantee start in ASU Mack shouldn't even be mentioned. It's all UT or Georgia (thinking GA). KU may be 3rd, but they're a distant third My thought is that we're done with signing anyone. Be great if we could bring more in, but we're too late with some of these transfers and others that opened their recruiting up like Mack due to coaching changes. You're looking at your team now, so enjoy it and can't wait till this fall!

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