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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Despite offseason overhaul of KU hoops roster, point guard Dajuan Harris has a place

Kansas' Dajuan Harris talks with teammate David McCormack at Washburn head coach Brett Ballard's basketball camp on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at Lee Arena in Topeka.

Kansas' Dajuan Harris talks with teammate David McCormack at Washburn head coach Brett Ballard's basketball camp on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at Lee Arena in Topeka.

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If Kansas point guard Dajuan Harris had it to do over again, he would start his first season as a Jayhawk the way he finished it.

“I feel like I could play way better than I did last year,” the third-year sophomore recently said during a break at Brett Ballard’s Washburn Basketball camp earlier this summer in Topeka. “I should’ve been more aggressive (earlier) instead of waiting until later in the season.”

While that delayed aggression kept Harris from having a bigger role in the rotation earlier in the season, it also provided an easy blueprint for what the Columbia, Mo., native needed to work on in the offseason.

So far, things appear to be going well.

“Dajuan's just done fantastic,” KU coach Bill Self recently told the Journal-World. “He (looked) good in his spring drills, he's getting more aggressive, more confident and I thought he had a great finish, a great last month of the season, for us. He’s going to continue to grow and get better.”

The growth part of Harris’ development is both figurative and literal.

Harris recently made it clear that the KU coaching staff has pushed him hard to add bulk to his frame in the offseason. But the idea of getting physically bigger is only part of the equation.

The KU coaches also want Harris to grow mentally, using his skill set and quickness to be more consistent from game to game and week to week.

When the 2020-21 season ended, Harris was the only point guard on KU’s roster who was slated to return. Since then, Self added commitments from Arizona State transfer Remy Martin and Drake transfer Joseph Yesufu and also signed prep guards Bobby Pettiford and Kyle Cuffe Jr.

All four newcomers can play point guard, but Self said their presence would not impact the role he envisions for Harris in any way.

“No matter what, he’ll play the same minutes, I’d think,” Self told the Journal-World.

How many minutes that will be next season remains to be seen. Last season, Harris averaged 16 minutes per game while playing in all 30 of KU’s games.

That number ballooned to 29 minutes per game during KU’s final four games of the season — three of which came in the postseason — and Harris’ two most notable statistics from the 2020-21 season were his 64% 3-point clip (in just 14 attempts) and his 5.5 assists-per-40-minutes average, which speaks to his ability to make plays for others.

While no one is expecting Harris to replicate those numbers exactly, Self said the opportunity to do so should be there even with all of the new additions.

“He's a guy that if he starts, great, if he doesn't start, you know whatever,” said Self of Harris’ mentality about a starting role. “But he's a guy that is going to be a contributor as long as he’s here. The better the players we have out there the more effective Dajuan can be.”

Harris said he believes he has what it takes to be a starter at Kansas. But he’s far more concerned about helping the team win and improving than where and when his minutes come.

“If I just lead and be aggressive all the time, I’ll be good,” he said. “(Self’s) been telling me like every workout every day to be aggressive and that's what I've been doing. If we need some energy, I just bring the energy. I just want to win, you know. Win for my teammates. So, I play for them.”

Comments

Dale Rogers 9 months, 1 week ago

Last season, Dajuan quickly became one of my favorite players. I'm pulling for him to have a stellar season this coming season. He appears to be a very nice person as well as an outstanding point guard and a terrific ambassador for KU.

Rodney Crain 9 months, 1 week ago

Will there be assigned seating on the bench? Will Coach need to borrow a megaphone from one of the cheerleaders so they can all hear him? If they are seated with social distancing in place, will those sitting in the tunnel be given tablets to watch the game on? Will everyone dress every game? Places Everyone!

Looking forward to DH this year. Need to see how quickly all the new faces gel on defense. Lord knows we should have lot's of scorers up and down the tunnel. Somebody will be locked in.

Robert Brock 9 months, 1 week ago

It’s going to be interesting to see who redshirts this year. Harris will not be one of them; the kid can play.

Robin Smith 9 months, 1 week ago

The awareness, the vision, and the winning plays: kid's a gamer. So stoked for him to be a central player for the next three seasons. He raises his teammates.

Dirk Medema 9 months, 1 week ago

It was good to see DH start to take and make those open 3s at the end of last season. He had developed such a reputation as a non-shooter that everyone was sagging off him.

If he continues to consistently hit his shot, the D’s will start to play tighter. That would at least keep David, or whoever is in the post, from being doubled. What Coach seems to preach even more is for the perimeter players to be able to attack the basket themselves. That’s where the additional strength is needed. It is tough to finish in traffic at this level at his current size.

That also is the case for the D end of the game where teams will take advantage of weaknesses, be it a lack of quickness for a big or strength for a guard. Otherwise, Dajuan has great great tools.

Brian Skelly 9 months, 1 week ago

The greatest asset Harris has is the trust from Bill Self. It did seem like early on last year when we'd become a rudderless ship, Harris came in and sorta righted it. He's not a superstar, but it's clear what he does for the team, he does well.

I hope he's able to stay in the rotation.

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