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Monday, May 2, 2016

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Kansas’ streak should hit 13

Fans in the student section salute the Jayhawks' 12th-straight Big 12 title following their 67-58 win over Texas Tech, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Fans in the student section salute the Jayhawks' 12th-straight Big 12 title following their 67-58 win over Texas Tech, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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On paper at least, barring a major, major upset, Kansas University will earn at least a share of the Big 12 basketball title for a remarkable 13th consecutive season.

Sure, basketball games are played on hardwood, not paper, and surprises do happen. For example, not many saw it coming when Kansas State managed to grab a share of the 2012-13 title.

It’s true that Kansas lost as much firepower as anyone, when Perry Ellis used up his eligibility and Wayne Selden Jr. and Brannen Greene declared for the NBA Draft and hired agents. (Cheick Diallo has not yet hired an agent, but Kansas coach Bill Self is on the record that he expects Diallo to stay in the draft.)

It’s also true that nobody has more experienced talent returning than Kansas, and nobody has a better recruiting class.

Next season’s Big 12 won’t feature nearly as many experienced players as this past season. All five first-team selections have moved on, and Iowa State’s Monte Morris and KU’s Frank Mason III are the lone returning second-team selections.

Unless he selects Houston, instead of his other finalists, Kansas and Texas, forward Jarrett Allen will give the Big 12 four freshmen who played in the McDonald’s All-American game. Kansas has two of them — No. 1 recruit Josh Jackson, a wing, and No. 27 (per rivals.com) center Udoka Azubuike. Shooting guard Andrew Jones, who signed with Texas, is the other and was ranked No. 38.

Kansas returns three starters in Mason, Devonté Graham and center Landen Lucas, plus likely sixth man Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Either Carlton Bragg Jr. or Allen, if KU lands him, likely would lock down the fifth starting spot.

A look at the five schools that appear to have the best shot at challenging Kansas for the Big 12 title next year:

1 . Baylor: The Bears get no love in the various early Top-25 projections because they don’t have an obvious superstar and lost first-team All-Big 12 forward Taurean Prince. What Baylor does have is depth, size, athleticism and experience. Johnathan Motley uses his length to do a little bit of everything. He averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in just 20.9 minutes per game last season. Jo Acuil, a 7-foot juco transfer who missed last season for medical reasons, gives Baylor another shot-blocker. Ishmail Wainright’s a tough all-around player, and Al Freeman has the potential to develop into a big scorer.

The Bears are underrated. Still, it’s difficult to picture them knocking Kansas off the throne.

2 . Texas: The Longhorns took a big hit when Isaiah Taylor decided to declare for the NBA Draft and hire an agent. Texas already had lost Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh, DeMarcus Holland, Javan Felix and Connor Lammert. Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach are terrific athletes, and Shaquille Cleare gives the Longhorns a big body, but they will rely too heavily on freshmen (three top-100 recruits so far), never ideal for a title contender.

3 . Oklahoma: Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler are gone from the Final Four team. Defender deluxe Khadeem Lattin on the inside and Jordan Woodard on the perimeter give the Sooners a nice 1-2 punch, but depth is a concern. Guard Kameron McGusty, the nation’s No. 43-ranked recruit, will get a chance to show what he can do right away.

4 . West Virginia: Jaysean Paige, the Mountaineers’ best perimeter player and scorer, and post player Devin Williams, who declared for the draft and hired an agent, are gone, but Bob Huggins’ team that plays an unconventional, in-your-face style will remain a tough out because of how relentlessly they compete. Guards Daxter Miles and Tarik Phillip will keep them in games.

5 . Iowa State: Morris has a shot at Big 12 Player of the Year honors. He’s a hard-to-guard scoring point guard and is joined by another potentially big scorer in forward Deonte Burton.

Comments

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 5 months ago

For the past few season's the strength of the Big 12 has been a significant factor keeping the streak alive. Every team gets up to play Kansas but were not able to put that effort out consistently enough to keep the other teams from beating up on each other. I wouldn't be surprised to see the second place team finish 16-2 with both loses coming from an undefeated Kansas.

My other prediction for next year's team is they will be the best defensive Bill Self team ever. We know that Mason, Graham, Mykailiuk, and Lucas will bring but the addition of Bragg, Vick and especially Jackson will provide the added strength over recent teams. The only significant concern I have is debt up front. Allen, with his mobility and 7'4" wingspan, would be an ideal fit for the team. With Lucas as a mentor, Allen could be our starter...or a 25 mpg player at the 5/4.

Azubuike's (KU's version of Cam Ridley) feet are so slow, there is no realistic way he will contribute anything to next year's team. He needs at-least a solid year of intensive re-working his body and doing agility drills to be able to be an elite competitor.

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

Anthony Perry and his other fake user names make $20k spamming for that dog crap hoops website...

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

Basketball savant Brett McCabe has declared that a league where half the teams have a losing record is awful and it's teams brain-trusts are all incompetent...

The Big12 failed to fit this description....;)

Steve Macy 6 years, 5 months ago

The off season, where anything and everything is possible. Yet, no one in the Big 12 thinks anything but KU in basketball. Love it. KU should win the conference, injuries would be the only thing that could stop them. I see that Allen has now taken KU off his list. For now. Like Midwestern spring weather it could change. He's a kid, indecision is part of that age group package. RCJH.

Alan Williams 6 years, 5 months ago

None by Jarrett Allen

Anthony Perry 6 years, 5 months ago

I think they will be the best team in the Big 12 next season thanks to the commitment from Josh Jackson. I truly believe that he pushes them over the edge into the upper echelon of teams in the entire country next season. Solid praise for Jackson all around, love that: http://www.straighthoops.com/game_changers.html

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

You forgot to have another one of your fake user ID's tell you how much they like your spam....

Tony Bandle 6 years, 5 months ago

Allen took us off his list..again? Maybe we should just move on and figure he is a Longhorn,

May 2nd and still three schollies to give. I'm not sure I can remember a time when KU had this many this late.

What I love most about Mr.Robinson is his fierceness on the court. They say he is a merciless assassin who takes no prisoners. YES!!!!!

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

Texas Tech brings back almost everyone. Don't sleep on them...

No way Allen would start over Bragg if he signed.

Gary McCullough 6 years, 5 months ago

The Red Raiders don't bring back their HC. I reserve judgement until I see if the new coach can pick up where Tubby left off.

Robert Brock 6 years, 5 months ago

Landen Lucas is a definite starter at the 5-spot no matter what happens with Jarrett Allen. Lucas understands the position and will play 35 minutes per game. Adding Jarrett Allen, a huge IF at the moment, would give a boost to the 4-spot; Bragg has his positives but he may have a hard time defending without fouling. Allen would be a good-quality backup and capable of becoming the starter as the season progresses.

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

No chance in hell Lucas averages 35 mins. Only three times has a Kansas big averaged more than 30 in the last decade. Perry was 30 last year and Withey and Robinson played 31 in seasons when there was no bench.

Lucas plays 25-30.

Chuck Holder 6 years, 5 months ago

So Greene do you sort of wish that you hadn't acted like a punk and just played basketball like you were serious. Your head was too big for the team.

David Wanamaker 6 years, 5 months ago

"Kansas returns three starters in Mason, Devonté Graham and center Landen Lucas, plus likely sixth man Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Either Carlton Bragg Jr. or Allen, if KU lands him, likely would lock down the fifth starting spot."

Whether KU lands Allen or not, I'd say there's about a 99% chance that Carlton is going to start ahead of him. A full year in the system (including last summer's practices and competition in South Korea), plus an off-season more in the S&C program under Andrea Hudy will give him a very big advantage over Allen.

But I suspect the chances that Allen is serious about considering KU are pretty slim anyway. If he signs here; great. He will have made a good choice. If not, fine too because KU will be just fine without him.

Bryce Landon 6 years, 5 months ago

It'd be awesome if the conference streak reached 13. It'd be even more awesome if our Final Four absence ended after four years, too.

Keith Gellar 6 years, 5 months ago

The conference streak reaches 13 without question. But Bryce you nailed it- the bigger streaks of concern are our final four absences (4) and our non-national championship year (8). But as long as we keep the conference streak alive, Bill Self will have no pressure to win championships and we all are fine with that i guess.

John Boyle 6 years, 5 months ago

A lot of other teams have much longer absence streaks.

RJ King 6 years, 5 months ago

I don't think the conference streak has any relevance to the pressure Bill Self does or does not have to win a national title. The two are on parallel tracks. He seems to value both, for the completely different inherent significance of each.

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

OMG!!! A staggering 12 teams have been to the Final Four since the last Kansas appearance! Fire everyone...

Are the Chicken Littles looking skyward already?

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 5 months ago

Scott Drew has more losses at AFH than Bill Self. If the home win streak continues, Lon Krueger will tie Bill for losses at AFH.

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