Sporting News moves Jayhawks to No. 1 spot in preseason Top 25


Kansas players Jamari Traylor, left, Devonte Graham, Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis surround Frank Mason before a pair of free throws by Mason during the second half on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Jamari Traylor, left, Devonte Graham, Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis surround Frank Mason before a pair of free throws by Mason during the second half on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The hype for Kansas University’s 2015-16 men’s basketball season received another early boost to accompany the just-announced January showdown versus Kentucky, at Allen Fieldhouse.

With actual games still almost six months away, The Sporting News rolled out an updated preseason Top 25 and placed the Jayhawks at No. 1.

KU, of course, hasn’t advanced past the Round of 32 in the previous two NCAA Tournaments, so the selection might come as a surprise to some.

“When the best answer to the question of ‘Why Kansas?’ is ‘Why not?’, you’ve got yourself a pretty strange college basketball season on the way,” Mike DeCourcy wrote.

Between reliable senior-to-be Perry Ellis, the addition of incoming freshman big man Cheick Diallo and a number of Jayhawks capable of making significant strides in their development, The Sporting News likes KU’s potential rotation.

Still, attempting to predict next season’s elite teams, DeCourcy said on, wasn’t as easy as it was in 2014-15, with Kentucky, Wisconsin and Duke leading the pack.

“What we have now are a lot of teams that have potential, but flaws,” he said, “and they’re gonna have to overcome those flaws in order to be champions.”

Settling on Bill Self’s Jayhawks, DeCourcy added, came with some trepidation.

“There’s just not any single player that says, ‘I’m your star,’ and usually you need someone to carry you to a title,” he indicated. “Nobody at Kansas at this point has emerged as that sort of player.”

DeCourcy questioned whether Ellis possesses headliner power and pointed to Wayne Selden Jr. as someone who hasn’t proven to look comfortable in that role. Diallo, he added, projects as “a great defensive weapon,” but might not be as reliable on offense.

“One of those guys has to be a star for us to be right,” he offered, “but we like them more than some of the other contenders.”

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) defends against a shot from Michigan State guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) during the first half on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. Also pictured are KU guard Frank Mason, left, and forward Cliff Alexander.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) defends against a shot from Michigan State guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) during the first half on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. Also pictured are KU guard Frank Mason, left, and forward Cliff Alexander. by Nick Krug

Ultimately, DeCourcy said The Sporting News staff believes in Self, and thinks the Jayhawks will play great defense in 2015-16.

The two teams immediately following the Jayhawks in the advance rankings have Kansas ties. Former KU guard Mark Turgeon’s Maryland Terrapins snagged the No. 2 spot and Self’s predecessor at Kansas, Roy Williams, leads No. 3 North Carolina.

Wichita State, which knocked the Jayhawks out of The Big Dance this past March and adds former KU guard Conner Frankamp to the roster this coming season, landed at No. 9.

The Big 12 earned four total spots in the rankings, with No. 7 Iowa State, No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 16 West Virginia joining KU.

None by Sporting News NCAAB

Sporting News College Hoops 2015-16 Preseason Top 10

1. Kansas

2. Maryland

3. North Carolina

4. Kentucky

5. Duke

6. Virginia

7. Iowa State

8. Arizona

9. Wichita State

10. Gonzaga

See the complete Top 25 at


Michael Wattai 7 years, 6 months ago

Interesting top 3: Self, Turgeon, Williams

Michael Leiker 7 years, 6 months ago

Pretty sad if next year's squad is the best team in college basketball. Going to be some ugly games next year

Humpy Helsel 7 years, 6 months ago

Is the Sporting News by chance headquartered in Colorado? Well, they are smoking something. We are in no way the top rated team. Maybe a Top 5. Maybe.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 6 months ago

Excellent. See I was going to say the voters must have been from this sites comment section.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 6 months ago

Another meaningless reference from Mr. Irrelevant Brent McCabe.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 6 months ago

Better Choice Brett? UNC, DUKE, AZ, KY....

How anyone can believe we should be ranked the #1 team right now needs to pump the brakes. Same team, swap out two freshman, a little better than last year and we go from 9 losses to ranked number one? A team who went 8-6 the last 14 games to #1?

I wish I had some of you people as customers, I could retire 5-10 years earlier. Easy, easy money.

Talk about gullible.

Ludwig Supraphonic 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm not buying it either but the headline did make me look. Optimism won't cost me anything.

Titus Canby 7 years, 6 months ago

We just got jinxed. Given that, I do expect us to have a good, experienced team.

Joe Ross 7 years, 6 months ago

I can handle Sporting News, but we should avoid SI like the plague. lol

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 6 months ago

There's a lot more diversity in the distribution of the elite recruits the the traditional blue blood are not as reloaded with quality as normal years. Mix in some schools that were pretty good last year that return most of their relevant players and you get a lot of good, but not great teams. I feel like there could be a valid argument made for anyone in the top 8 of this poll to be #1 and the top 8 could basically be interchangeable and it wouldn't look weird.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 6 months ago

If you look at Ellis, Traylor, Mickelson, Selden, Mason, Greene and Lucas as relative Greybeards on today's college scene [19 total seasons played between them] and the Newbies, Graham, Svi, Diallo, Bragg and whoever getting, what, 6 to 8 extra games because of the World's, this will be one of the most experienced squads in America.

I'm with Michael and Rodney, however, the OAD process culimnates in some pretty ugly bball this coming season. I mean we're talking coyote and two-bag ugly!!

By the way, guys, that rating system goes both ways. I shudder to think what the ladies really think of us guys since they have to put up with us!!

RJ King 7 years, 6 months ago

Most women aren't systematic. And their judgement includes a long look at the heart and mind as well. Given that, you're right. It would be quite deflating for a handful of posters on this site.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 6 months ago

I am waiting for the ESPN and SI polls to come out and that won't be until the fall. Right now, not concerned. Besides we are most likely a top 5 team with everyone coming back and the guys we brought in. As long as we show it on the court when the season starts then I don't care if we start ranked #25 because you have to prove where you are ranked by showing up every game and showing them you are the better team.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 6 months ago

Yea! Rock Chalk all day and all night!!

We are do for a big year. We have the horses to put down the '16 NC! Ellis is the man headed up to the rafters.

I haven't been as pumped over a Kansas team since the '08 NC guys. The excitement of this year's team will somewhat ease the anticipated pain from our football boys.

Page Butler 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm excited to see how Perry plays for us this year. I think if he gets help from Diallo and Bragg he could have the season we've been hoping for him to have.

Matt Woolley 7 years, 6 months ago

Two ways to look at it.

  1. Most of our players have reached their potential and we will be essentially the same team as last year.


  1. Most of our players will take a step forward and we will be hard to beat.

I obviously hope and think it'll be the latter, but you really don't know. I'm just assuming that Wayne and Svi realize they need to step up if they want to go pro and will put in work this summer. If Mason is our leading scorer at guard again we are in for a frustrating season.

Jim Pendleton 7 years, 6 months ago

Aaron, I think you hit it right on the head. Right now I see us as definitely Top 10 with a great opportunity to be Final Four caliber. Knock on wood, we need to stay away from injuries and everyone needs to step up their games.

One thing that cannot be overlooked, is the advantage of playing in the World Univ games this summer. The extra practice time and playing several games, including the two exhibitions, will give this team more time to gel and get used to each other. Only downside is because of the international rules of the event, we won't have our full roster (still haven't heard if those guys can at least practice with team or not during this period - Anyone know?). However, plus side of that will give some of the others an opportunity to play and improve their games.

Janet Olin 7 years, 6 months ago

I agree that the early practice and playing times should help the Hawks. Realistically, preseason polls are a waste and a bunch of hooey, based on last year's returning players and the hype of the incoming. I'm optimistic and excited about the new bunch, but they will have to learn Bill's defense, play their roles, and learn to work together, like every new team.

Brad Boline 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm just curious what everyone thinks the starting 5 should be? I like Graham and Mason on the court together. 1. Mason 2. Graham 3. Svi 4. Perry 5. Diallo.

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 6 months ago

I think that will be a good starting 5 during the tourney. Tourney time is when Selden disappears. Keep Selden in the starting 5 during the regular season.

Jeremy Bolinger 7 years, 6 months ago

No way Selden goes to the bench. 1. Mason. 2. Selden. 3. Greene/SVI. 4. Ellis. 5. Diallo.

Quality bench with Graham, Greene/SVI, Jamari, Landon, Mr Bragg,

Rich Hetherington 7 years, 6 months ago

I definitely agree with that lineup. Problem is we know how unlikely it is for Self to actually use a 10 man rotation. He sort of had one going last year, but you can assume if he is going 10 deep, it'll be either really good with 10 players contributing regularly, or bad, with no set rotation and the need for guys 9-10 or even 11 to come in. I also think red shirt senior Mickelson can play his way into the rotation, so Traylor and Lucas will need to step it up, or they could see their minutes diminish.

Rich Hetherington 7 years, 6 months ago

Plus we may still get 1 more recruit, which will only muddy the waters even more. Either way, the team will be deep, and more experienced this year, so I see no reason, with how other teams' recruiting went, for the Jayhawks to be at least a top 3 team heading into the season.

Brian Wilson 7 years, 6 months ago

Your lineup is good up until we don't get another SG. If we don't get anotehr guard, then IMO our lineup goes big and Ellis plays some 3.
Mason, Garham
Selden, Svi
Ellis, Greene
Bragg, Ellis, Traylor
Diallo, Lucas, Mickleson

Ludwig Supraphonic 7 years, 6 months ago

Love the coaching connection at the top of the list. Great season to see coaching at work with no one having a dominant hand to play.

David Black 7 years, 6 months ago

I have studied it and decided the list is just fine. Rock Chalk

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