Thursday, December 2, 2021

After pair of ‘poor’ games, Bill Self expecting sophomore Jalen Wilson to get back on track

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson, left, drives to the basket in front of North Texas forward Thomas Bell during the first half of a NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson, left, drives to the basket in front of North Texas forward Thomas Bell during the first half of a NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.


Three games into his redshirt sophomore season, Kansas wing Jalen Wilson’s production has lagged behind what he did for the Jayhawks a year ago. But head coach Bill Self isn’t expecting that trend to last long.

“I certainly anticipate him playing better and better as we continue moving forward,” Self said.

After Wilson’s DUI arrest got him suspended for KU’s exhibition against Emporia State and the first three games of the season, Wilson made his season debut for the Jayhawks at the ESPN Events Invitational this past week. But it was far from a magical experience for Wilson, a former starter, at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

As KU went 2-1 and finished third at the holiday weekend tournament near Orlando, Fla., Wilson averaged 4.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists, while coming off the bench. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound wing only hit 35.7% of his shots, and went 0-for-4 on 3-pointers and 3-for-10 at the free-throw line.

“I thought he was really good the first game,” Self said, referring to Wilson’s seven points and five rebounds versus North Texas on Thanksgiving.

“And I thought he was poor the next two games — and he did, too. So that's not saying anything negative. That's just being factual,” Self said.

During the 2020-21 season, Wilson was one of the team’s most important players. He averaged 11.8 points, started 26 of KU’s 29 games and proved to be the Jayhawks’ best rebounder, averaging 7.9 per game. Wilson shot 41.4% from the floor as a redshirt freshman, went 40-for-120 (33.3%) from beyond the arc and was a 63% free-throw shooter.

His readjustment process upon returning to the rotation early on this year, might be taking longer than the Jayhawks (5-1) expected, but Self projected Wilson will “be fine” before long.

“He's working hard to get his rhythm back, and those sorts of things,” Self said. “Obviously it didn't happen in a storybook fashion, that he comes back after being suspended and you’re automatic killing it, right off the bat.”

Wilson’s next opportunity to get back to making a greater impact comes Friday night, when the No. 8-ranked Jayhawks face St. John’s (5-1), in Elmont, N.Y.

Jalen Wilson’s first 3 games of 2021-22 season

vs. North Texas: 7 points, 3-for-4 FGs, 0-for-1 3-pointers, 1-for-3 FTs, 5 rebounds (2 offensive), 4 assists, 2 turnovers, in 18 minutes

vs. Dayton: 1 point, 0-for-4 FGs, 0-for-3 3-pointers, 1-for-4 FTs, 2 rebounds (1 offensive), 1 assist, 2 turnovers, in 23 minutes

vs. Iona: 5 points, 2-for-6 FGs, 1-for-3 FTs, 5 rebounds (1 offensive), 1 assist, 0 turnovers, in 12 minutes


Kay Jensen 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Sad to say it, but I just don’t think he has what it takes when it counts.

Brian Babcock 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm happy to say it and I will state for the record that I believe you wrong. Winner brings it up again in April?

Steve Zimmerman 8 months, 2 weeks ago

CB, Agbaji, even Lightfoot, first game this season, you can tell they've well prepared. You can tell they've been working hard during off season, they came out ready to play. Their stats have improved.

I hate to say it, too, but it's hard to say the same for Dave and JWil. Of course, coach BS will always say they will make the team better, but that doesn't mean they have improved, skill wise.

Chad Smith 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm going to give Wilson the benefit of the doubt, especially considering how good he was for KU from start to finish last year I'm not comparing him to McCormack in any fashion. McCormack is a senior and has had three years to jump up and make a bigger impact. Both will probably improve as the year goes along, but Wilson's ceiling feels much higher in my opinion.

Andy Godwin 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Both Wilson and McCormack need to elevate their games for KU to have a special season (which for Self includes championships). I will agree at this point in their college careers, Wilson's ceiling is higher. KU has already lost one chance for a championship. They lost to Dayton for many reasons, but both Wilson (only 1 point in 23 minutes and bricks at the free throw line) and McCormack (ugh) contributed in negative ways at times. They will both be needed, because Self will not bench McCormack in favor of Lightfoot or Clemence and Wilson has a nose for rebounding which is essential. Hopefully they will be locked in tonight or it could be a close game against St. Johns.

Dirk Medema 8 months, 2 weeks ago

It’s always humorous some see the team as a static, undeveloping. Coach doesn’t always say every player will make the team better, but he has learned over the years what players have the commitment to themselves and the team to get better. He does give extra latitude to the the ones with greater potential. TTaylor was so slammed by fans for much of his career but Coach stuck with him all the way to the NCG. Coach’s history makes his comments reassuring to me.

Rodney Crain 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Undeveloping isn't in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. This is not reassuring to me, although it is humorous.

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