Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tied to the end: Graham, Mykhailiuk officially leave Kansas 13 picks apart in 2018 NBA Draft

Fellow former Jayhawks Malik Newman, Billy Preston not selected

Kansas guards Devonte' Graham, left, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) take questions about their seeding following the NCAA tournament selection show on Sunday, March 11, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks will take on Penn in the first round, Thursday, in Wichita.

Kansas guards Devonte' Graham, left, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) take questions about their seeding following the NCAA tournament selection show on Sunday, March 11, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks will take on Penn in the first round, Thursday, in Wichita.


Forever linked during their KU careers thanks to their close friendship, sweet shooting strokes and ability to lead Kansas to a lot of victories during the past four seasons, Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk delivered one final act together as Jayhawks on Thursday night by becoming second round picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Fellow-draft hopefuls Malik Newman and Billy Preston went undrafted and will now have to begin their careers as free agents.

As predicted by most mock drafts throughout the past several weeks, Graham became the first KU player selected in the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night, when the Atlanta Hawks picked him with the fourth pick of the second round, No. 34 overall.


Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) celebrates a run by the Jayhawks during the first half, Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan.

Graham, who spent most of the 2017-18 season following in the footsteps of former KU point guard Frank Mason III, was picked No. 34 just like Mason was one year ago by the Sacramento Kings. Shortly after the pick was announced, Graham’s rights were traded to Charlotte, giving the 6-foot-2 point guard from Raleigh, N.C., the opportunity to begin his pro career in his home state for a team run by the man many believe is the greatest basketball player of all time in Michael Jordan.

“I don’t know that there’s more pressure playing in Charlotte than there would be playing in Chicago or playing in Dallas,” KU coach Bill Self said during a post-draft conference call. “I don’t think playing in his home state would do anything other than be a benefit to him. And what a thrill for a guy to be playing for a franchise that Michael Jordan is basically running. I think it’ll be great. I don’t see the extra pressure because Michael chose him. I don’t see that at all. I see that as extra motivation. And if you know Devonte’s make-up, I think he’ll see it that way, as well.”

Graham was selected right after West Virginia’s Jevon Carter went No. 32 and Villanova’s Jalen Brunson went No. 33, giving the draft a senior-heavy, big-time winners vibe right in the middle.

“These guys are not all just winners,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said during the broadcast. “They’re all champions.”

Throughout the past several weeks, after making a trip to the pre-draft combine in Chicago in mid-May, Graham participated in individual workouts with nearly half of the teams in the league, traveling every couple of days and getting an early taste of the intense demands of NBA life.

Projected by most as a candidate to compete for a backup point guard role on an NBA roster, Graham fully transitioned to the facilitator role during his senior season at KU, when he averaged 17.3 points, 7.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game in 37.8 minutes.

A career 41 percent 3-point shooter with the Jayhawks, Graham always was considered a strong shooter and, both throughout his career and during his workouts in preparation for the draft, he expanded his range and quickened his release, both traits that should help his chances of sticking in the NBA.

“He could care less where he’s going,” Self said of Graham. “Just the opportunity to be in it is terrific for him.”

That was not exactly the case for Mykhailiuk, who, according to reports during recent weeks, had one of the best individual workouts the Lakers had seen in recent years and hoped from that moment on that he would soon return to Los Angeles to begin his career.


Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) pulls up for a three in front of Oklahoma guard Christian James (0) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma.

“That’s where he wants to go,” Self said of the 20-year-old, 6-foot-8 sharp-shooter from Ukraine. “He wants to go to L.A.”

Self said he and his staff had been in contact with someone from nearly every NBA team during the past few weeks. So neither player landing where he did was a surprise.

“There was a little bit of communication with L.A.,” Self said. “And we knew Devonte’ was going to get picked right around there.”

What was a surprise, or at least a disappointment, was the fact that Newman and Preston went undrafted.

“People told us that Billy was all over the board,” Self said, again reiterating that most everyone had told him that Preston was a first-round talent. “But I’m really disappointed for Malik. This isn’t what we expected, but the fit is more important than the number, without question, and we talked about that with his dad today. The bottom line is you’d rather be in the right situation than you would going for the number. From a pride standpoint, everyone wants to hear their name called, but for actually making the team it’s more important to have the right fit and now he gets to choose where he goes to summer league and that kind of stuff.

“I don’t think it’s awful. I think it’s probably very disappointing for those two, particularly for Malik.”

According to a late Thursday report from Yahoo Sports insider Shams Charania, Newman after the draft agreed to a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, which will give him an opportunity to play in both the G League and the NBA while having a little bit more of a stable financial situation at the outset of his pro career.

Graham and Mykhailiuk becoming draft picks give Kansas 82 all-time draftees, including 24 in the 15-year Bill Self era. The 2018 draft marked the eighth time under Self that the Jayhawks have had multiple players selected in the same draft.


Alan Dickey 4 years ago

When Newman declared for the draft, I thought it was a big blow to the team. Still do, it I hope he ends up with a decent career somewhere. He likely should have returned for one year.

Danny Hernandez 4 years ago

I feel Malik was not only ready to leave but was and is a better scorer/defender than those kids taken in the first round. I'm completely baffled by this "upside" so many gm's seem to be infatuated with considering how many with so much "upside" continue to flame out year in and year out.

Craig Carson 4 years ago

I think for a lot of GM's, they figure it will take about 2-3 years before most players begin to really if they draft a 22 year old, they might get about 5 good years before they break down physically where as a 18 year old with upside would have more time in their prime..but I still hate a kid like Brunson and Graham being passed over because some Freshmen kid is seen as having more"upside"..its like every GM is looking for their Lebron

Chris DeWeese 4 years ago

Malik's ego has taken a few hits during the past couple of years. I would imagine not hearing his name called in the draft was frustrating for him, but I have a feeling it will just give him a big chip on his shoulder. I can see Malik taking this opportunity and running with it to show all the naysayers what he's really capable of.

Marcus Balzer 4 years ago

Take the Crimson and Blue glasses off. Malik wasn't going to get better with one more year. He was arguably the best player coming into the Final Four with the tear he was on. His stock was probably as high as it was ever going to be. I can't speak on his private workouts but it is surprising that he did not get drafted as I viewed him as the most "instant" ready NBA player with his ability to score. Swallow your pride and go show the rest of the league the mistake they made by not drafting you. It isn't about the first contract you sign it is about your second.

Billy. What a shame. This should be a lesson for young athletes about what family greed can do to your career.

Jay Scott 4 years ago

"Family greed"? It was Billy driving the car. Billy. Not a family member. Billy is a moron.

Marcus Balzer 4 years ago

Due your research on that family. When he signed I had numerous people tell me that he would never play for KU because of his family. Particularly his mother.

Jay Scott 4 years ago

Was she driving the car? No she wasn't. The NCAA and Coach Self don't care what some random person told you. They care who was driving the car.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

Not only was Billy a moron but a pretty poor driver as well. Billy Preston was the #8 ranked recruit and most likely would have been a first-round/lottery pick.

And it's "Do your research".

Tom Jones 4 years ago

"Take the Crimson and Blue glasses off. Malik wasn't going to get better with one more year."

I stopped there. Wasn't going to get better? LOL

Yes, his stock was high after the tourney, but he knew it was iffy if he'd even get drafted. That's when you don't go. 6'3" is on the short end of NBA SG's, but they are out there. He was likely never going to be a star or even a starter.

It was clearly an ego thing with Malik. I wish him well, but that was a dumb decision based on a couple tourney games...I guess?

Marcus Balzer 4 years ago

So he comes back for another year. Is he going to grow anymore? Sure he could develop but he would also be a full time student. If he wants to be a professional basketball player for the rest of his life he might as well start now. Work out, take care of your body, repeat. Difference of opinion but I just believe his stock was never going to be higher. He gambled and lost. Now you go prove you belong.

Sam Constance 4 years ago

An ego thing?

He was a highly touted recruit with 1-and-done potential coming out of high school. After struggling to deliver on his promise at Mississippi St, he came to KU and finally showed why he had a reputation coming out of high school at one of the highest pressure places to play in all of college basketball.

Not only that, but he went on to be the primary reason that KU won another Big 12 tourney and reached the Final Four, with his 22 ppg on 54% shooting (54% from three).

He would have improved as a player with another year, but the idea that his draft stock would have been higher next year is pure fantasy. He did exactly what a SG is supposed to do on the biggest stage.

Even though he didn't get drafted, you better believe his tourney performance was a huge factor in him being one of the first signed players, post-draft. Faster than many of the second round draftees.

Tom Jones 4 years ago

Yeah, he came in believing (and talking about) only being here one year, so...even though he still has a lot to learn and could have played himself into the first round next year, it would have been a blow to his ego.

Oh well, live and learn. Hopefully it works out for him.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

IF Malik had came to Kansas originally and played his first year like this year and he would have been a first-round draft pick. Mississippi State and then sitting out on a red shirt, Malik probably should have returned.

I don't understand the thinking "Malik wasn't going to get any better". That's ridiculous and has been proven wrong time and again at KU. Thomas Robinson, the Morri, Jeff Withey etc. etc. Hell, players grow throughout their careers.

Bryce Landon 4 years ago

So happy for Devonte that he will be able to start his NBA career back in his home state! I'm glad His Airness was able to snag him from Atlanta.

Also happy that Svi got drafted, though I have mixed feelings about him going to the Lakers. The Lakers have been pretty bad the past four seasons. Maybe he can help turn their fortunes around, or maybe the Lakers will continue to suck in spite of Svi's efforts.

As for Malik and Billy...Malik should have stayed at KU another year. And Billy is still paying the price of bad decision-making - either his own or his parents'.

Shannon Gustafson 4 years ago

The Lakers have cap space for two max contracts this year, they will be significantly better if they are able to land the superstars who have voiced interest in playing in LA (Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Paul George).

RJ King 4 years ago

Spurs unlikely to let Leonard go to LA, but LeBron possible.

At any rate, Svi in LA for even a short while will be blessed to play for Luke Walton. Through his experience with the Warriors, he could help bring Svi's game a little closer to that of Klay Thompson's.

Bryan Eck 4 years ago

No surprise that Newman wasn't called. The only surprise was that Svi went after Graham.

Jay Scott 4 years ago

Newman wasn't going to grow 3-4 inches in another year. He's a SG that's too small.

Preston wasn't going to get another year because he cheated away college ball.

That's all.

Craig Carson 4 years ago

Im not too surprised about Newman going undrafted..even though I didnt think he would..but he is 6'3 playing can get away with that in HS and college but not the NBA..Preston going undrafted is a shock to 6'10, agile with an outside shot, he seemed like the prototypical PF is todays NBA

RJ King 4 years ago

Makes you wonder about the workouts and what all went on behind the curtain.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

I find it fitting that both Devante and Malik were drafted with the fourth pick in the second round.

Tracey Graham 4 years ago

Malik is small for a SG and can't play PG. He's also not a pure shooter or a lockdown defender. And lastly, although he went off in the NCAA Tournament, he had a very inconsistent season overall. So I wasn't surprised he went undrafted.

But it looks like he ended up in a good spot. He got a 2-way deal from the Lakers, which means if he performs well in the G-League, he will likely play in some NBA games next season. Which is more than can be said of a lot of players who went in the 2nd round. The Lakers need depth. They need scoring. Especially if they strike ot with the top FAs they are chasing. Right now the rumor is that PG13 is staying in OKC and the Spurs won't evn talk to L.A. about trading Kawhi. Those two things lessen the chances of LeBron signing with them. If none of those guys are on the roster come training camp, that gives both Svi and Malik a better chance at playing time.

I'm happy for Devonte' that he gets a chance to play in his home state. He could end up being the primary backup PG. Monk is there, but to me, Monk is a shooting guard, not a PG.

As for Svi, the Lakers need shooting. So if he can show he won't be a liability on defense, he could find himself in the main rotation.

Billy Preston and/or his family screwed up his chances. The NBA execs never got to see him play against top competition. So why would they draft him? I'm expecting him to get an invite to play for someone in the Summer League, but he's probably going to have to play overseas or in the G-League next season.

Andrew Dunlap 4 years ago

Malik made the right move even though he wasn't drafted. He will end up on someone's roster. Preston will make it as well. Sometimes the winding road is good for us.

Barry Weiss 4 years ago

Word to all high school recruits...don't take cars. or the 90K that was alleged to have to have gone to "them". What a loss for everyone.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years ago

Marcus, I agree with you 100% despite the personal attacks on your opinion.

My prediction is that not being picked could end up being a blessing for Malik. While a number of those selected in the second round likely won't be on an NBA roster when the season starts, Malik as a free agent has the opportunity to find his niche.

As for Billy, I hope that things will work out. While the auto accident was the first thing that kept him from playing, I suspect that, as more things unfolded about his mother's alleged receipt of money from Adidas, the ultimate "red flag" was raised. As I recall, it was his mother who pulled him out of school and sent him on his short-lived stint in Europe.

Tom Jones 4 years ago

Where did you see "personal attacks" on his opinion?

I mean...I laughed at the "not going to get any better" (especially after the whole "take your crimson and blue glasses off" line) and Jay and I both disagreed with parts of his post, but that's light years from a personal attack.

RJ King 4 years ago

Personal attacks??? You mean, "take off the crimson and blue glasses???"

So often our Jayhawk bias is showing. Honestly, sometimes we need to be a little more analytical, and with greater overall perspective.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years ago

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to mention. Congratulations to Devonte and Svi. Their hard work has paid off, and I hope to see both in the NBA.

No guaranteed contract being selected in the second round, but it worked out "ok" for Mario Chalmers and Frank Mason, so hopefully it will do the same for both of you.

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