Sunday, October 2, 2016

The search is on for KU basketball’s leading scorer in 2016-17

The Kansas Jayhawks come together for the Alma Mater during Late Night in the Phog on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Kansas Jayhawks come together for the Alma Mater during Late Night in the Phog on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.


When Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self sat down to meet with the media following Saturday night’s Late Night scrimmage, the KU coach joked that the box score sitting in front of him could be “the most studied box score” he had ever read.

With good reason.

Self, like many Kansas fans, enters the official start of the 2016-17 season with at least a little curiosity about who will lead his team in scoring this season.

Saturday’s scrimmage, which ended in a 48-all tie and did not provide any real insight regarding KU’s likely leading scorer, featured four Jayhawks (Carlton Bragg, Frank Mason, Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman) in double figures and three more (Josh Jackson, Devonte’ Graham and Mitch Lightfoot) who came within a basket of reaching double digits, all during the span of a single half played with a 20-minute running clock.

“We haven’t defined roles yet,” said Self, who, like all good coaches, acknowledged that his team still had a long way to go before it could be dubbed an elite team. “I don’t know who’ll lead us in scoring. I asked our guys the other day who they thought would lead us in scoring. I think Frank had five votes, Devonte’ had four, Josh had three, Carlton had three, I think Landen (Lucas) had two. The bottom line is, I think we could have six or seven guys that could lead us in scoring at different times throughout the season.”

So what about Jackson, the one-and-done freshman phenom who is projected to be a Top 3 pick in next summer’s NBA Draft and did not even score Saturday until 14 minutes into the scrimmage? Self liked just about everything he saw from the smooth, athletic and wise-beyond-his-years forward.

So did just about everybody else in the building. Fans oohed, ahhed and cheered every time he was introduced or touched the ball. Cameras clicked and followed the 6-foot-8 freshman’s every move. Teammates smiled and ribbed the rookie, with junior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk going as far as to stop, mid-dribble, during the pre-scrimmage lay-up line to watch what Jackson would do on the other end.

They all saw the same thing.

“Josh can do pretty much everything,” said Bragg after pouring in a team-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting. “He can help us a lot.”

Added Self, sounding eerily similar: “You watch Josh, he can do a little bit of everything. He’s good with the ball in his hands and he can drive it, pass it. He’s gonna be outstanding.... He knows how to play with others, too.”

With the season now officially under way, the Jayhawks are off today and Tuesday and will practice again Wednesday.

The NCAA requires that teams take 12 days off during the 42-day stretch before the season opener and Self said earlier this summer that he wanted to get a good chunk of them out of the way early so KU was not taking a day off every couple of days in October. By the time the Jayhawks practice again, KU will have taken four days off and will need to find just eight more before the Nov. 11 opener against Indiana in Honolulu.


Scott MacWilliams 5 years, 11 months ago

This looks like a great team in the works, folks. I wonder if Jackson will be able to strike that balance between being the fireball freshman expected to light the place up and keeping the team elders in his corner, so to speak. Seems like with Wiggins, we saw a lot of Wiggs deferring to the older players to the detriment of his game. Josh seems to have already made the right connections with the team to get us to the promised land.

As always, I trust the coaches to make all the parts work together, and lets see how far we can go this time, a Final Four & NC???

Rock Chalk!!!

Joe Ross 5 years, 11 months ago

Always dicey guessing at the performance of a kid who hasn't recorded a single stat in the books yet (Josh Jackson), but I think Graham may lead the scoring early in the season, while Jackson will lead late, as he becomes familiar with the game. I dont know if Jackson becomes the overall scoring leader though, and may end up like Xavier Henry as the second leading scorer on the team by seasons end.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 11 months ago

There are so many capable players around Josh that I can easily see Josh generally deferring to them, but also suspect there is enough alpha-dog that he will be willing to takeover games when needed - thinking 2nd half of the Duke game for Wiggins. I can easily see the leading scorer be Carlton.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm guessing that there will be several games all having a different leading scorer. Trying to pick the one player who will be the overall leading scorer isn't an easy task. For my $.02, I'd have to go with Jackson followed closely by Graham.

Would not really be surprised to see Vick as the leading scorer in a game or two and even less surprised to see Bragg lead the team in a few games. Ultimately, I think it will come down to how Self sets up his offense.

Joe Ross 5 years, 11 months ago

Looking at this photo makes me wonder if any of the guys know the words to the alma mater.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 11 months ago

It also makes me wonder just how big Carlton is. He looks a couple inches bigger than all the others, tho I'm guessing it is a fish-eye lens with a bit of distortion at the limits of the photo.

Robert Brock 5 years, 11 months ago

I expect this squad will be a GREAT team on defense; pretty good on offense, too.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 11 months ago

This has the potential to be one of the all time greatest KU teams if they have the formidable inside game to go with the outside game. We are loaded with experienced perimeter players, and while we have some impressive possibilities down low, there isn't as much experience.

I am confident that Landon and Carlton will have big years, but time will tell about Udoka and Mitch. If they become significant contributors, then look out! Also, if Josh and Svi can use their height to full advantage, they may be able to share some of the inside load.

Can't wait.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 11 months ago

Oh, I forgot Dwight. He could be extremely valuable if he is fully healed.

Joe Wolf 5 years, 11 months ago

I think it's going to be Jackson. He's more physically mature than Wiggins was as a freshman, and I think increased activity on the glass will provide him with more opportunities on put backs as well.

I also wouldn't be shocked to see bit of an uptick from Frank this year in the scoring column. He was a killer last summer in the World University Games, but I think the extra games took a physical toll due to his small frame and fearless playing style.

I could see Jackson being around 16-18 ppg, with Frank, Devonte, and Bragg all chipping in between 10-13 ppg.

Joseph Bullock 5 years, 11 months ago

Frank will be much better this season, because he won't have to play nearly as many minutes as he did last season! That should also keep him much healthier! And I have two other words: LaGerald Vick!

Joe Ross 5 years, 11 months ago

Its fair to ask because he's grown in both his play and (reportedly) in stature. Which did you mean?

David Robinett 5 years, 11 months ago

I hope it's Bragg because if he can become dominant we will go far in the tourney this year.

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