Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bill Self wants to see a more aggressive Svi Mykhailiuk during senior season

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) is fouled on the shot by Kentucky forward Isaac Humphries (15) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) is fouled on the shot by Kentucky forward Isaac Humphries (15) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.


Less than 18 hours after learning that junior Svi Mykhailiuk would return to Kansas for his senior season, KU basketball coach Bill Self already was thinking about what more the Ukrainian wing could do to help the Jayhawks in 2017-18.

Sure, the major focus of the past couple of months was on Mykhailiuk’s individual needs. He elected to test the waters of the NBA Draft to find out where he might fit at that level. He attended the NBA combine to get feedback on his strengths and weaknesses. And he scheduled as many individual workouts with pro teams as he could in hopes of getting the extra attention that would help him make his decision.

But now that he has made up his mind, there’s also the element of Mykhailiuk’s return that impacts Kansas. His senior season will be a lot about him working on the deficiencies in his game that NBA teams shared with him during the past several weeks. But neither Mykhailiuk nor Self will allow that focus to come at the expense of what’s best for the Kansas basketball team.

So while Mykhailiuk’s NBA notes and nuggets figure to serve as fuel for what he and the program hope will be his biggest season to date, the KU coach has a few ideas of what he’d like to see from his senior-to-be that will aid KU’s push for a 14th straight Big 12 title and run at a national championship.

“Consistent aggressiveness would probably be it as much as anything,” Self told the Journal-World on Thursday morning when asked what area he’d like to see Mykhailiuk grow the most. “I think he took a big jump last year and he had some big moments for us. But then when things were not going as well, he had times when he didn’t impact the game as much as he could’ve and he needs to get better at that.... We all need to get better at that.”

Self, who said Wednesday’s news was a pure positive for the program, added that he was far from surprised by Mykhailiuk’s final decision.

“We would’ve been fine if Svi would’ve stayed in the draft,” Self said. “We told him all along that he should test the process and he told us all along, ‘Coach, if I’m not guaranteed to play in the NBA next year, I’m gonna come back to school. I just want to see where I’m at.’”

Self did not get specific on the feedback Mykhailiuk got from NBA teams. He said many teams viewed their read on Mykhailiuk’s draftability as “kind of incomplete” because of the ankle injury that kept him out of the second half of the combine and prevented him from being 100 percent during the individual workouts that followed it.

Self added that the overwhelming majority of teams the 19-year-old junior talked with told him that his best move was to return to school and continue to develop his game.

One area beyond consistency that Self said he would like to see Mykhailiuk improve was the way he leads. His personality and generally pleasant demeanor make him less fiery than most KU leaders of the past. But Self said his status as a senior, on a team with some young and inexperience talent, automatically identified him as an important leader for the 2017-18 team.

“I think he definitely can do it,” Self said of Mykhailiuk taking on a bigger leadership role. “I don’t think that’s as much of his make-up as a Devonte’ (Graham) or a Frank (Mason III), but I absolutely think he can make that a bigger part of his game.

“(Wednesday) was a good day for us but also a good day for Svi because now he knows what he needs to work on and can go into the season hungry, focused and ready to take another step.”


Barry Weiss 5 years, 1 month ago

foot work to stay in front of his man on defense, more aggressive putting it on the floor and taking it to the hoop, 3pt shooting over 40%. That's all I want.

Alan Dickey 5 years, 1 month ago

ESPN now has KU as #2 in its Way Too Early poll, up from #9.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 1 month ago

Hard to imagine Svi as a leader - remember he is still only 19. The best way for him to lead is what Self said: be consistently aggressive and set a tone. This will keep him on the court and should motivate others to do the same.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to see the aggressive version of Svi that showed up last summer in the FIBA games. He hit a bad percentage but they were playing with a funky ball but nevertheless, he was amazing.

I heard an interesting fact earlier today: UT recently signed some guy that is ranked 2 in Rivals. Avi is only 9 months or so older than that guy.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't think aggressiveness is as much a factor of age as it is of experience. Svi is a senior, so he has all the right to exert his leadership skills. If he does and steps up his game as Barry states, then he can be a huge element of the team.

Svi is probably capable of playing as many roles on the floor as any of the KU players. He needs to take a page out of Josh Jackson's book and do whatever it takes to win. Since he doesn't have Josh's level of skills, his aggressiveness will be the key, as Coach Self aptly points out.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 1 month ago

I should add that "Hall of Fame" coaches are generally pretty darn perceptive.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 1 month ago

I believe Svi came to campus as a 17 year old so 3 years later he would be 20 or at the very least would be by the time the season starts. A 20 yo in his 4th year with the program had better be able to lead newer players if he has any hope of going to the next level. He doesn't need to be as vocal as Graham undoubtedly will be but he doesn't need to be and can still be a leader.

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