Going young at QB, a role for De Sousa and a percentage wheel for KU's NCAA case
As of today, KU and the Big 12 Conference still are doing everything they can to figure out a way to play football this fall.
And until they tell us they aren’t, we’ve got to keep covering things as if they are.
After all, even though we now know it will not be against New Hampshire, it’s possible — not necessarily probable but certainly still possible — that KU’s season opener is just 47 days away.
That’s what makes this week’s first “Ask Us Anything” question both timely and interesting.
The seven-week window until a potential opener also answers the question in my mind.
But let’s dive in anyway.
As always, we really appreciate all of the questions, and, remember, if we didn’t get to your question this week, we’ll try to get it answered next week.
Keep the questions coming, too. We can never have too many and you can submit them in a bunch of different ways.
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I’d love to know the number of programs that annually face this question with the QB position.
It might not be dozens, but it has to be a handful, and it’s always an interesting question. That becomes especially true at KU, which is still searching for a long-term answer at quarterback to help lead the offense, and the program, into the future.
Normally, I’m all for it. Let’s face it, whether you’re talking about all they lost from last season or the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic severely hurting KU’s chances to recover from that, the Jayhawks aren’t in line for a bunch of wins this season.
So why not go with the young gun at quarterback and get a couple of questions answered in the meantime?
The first and most important question is can he play?
There’s a lot to like about Daniels on film and, in talking with him, he seems like a terrific kid with a great head on his shoulders who understands how to lead and also how to lead as an underclassman.
Knowing it and doing it, however, are two different things. And with summer workouts cut short and Daniels not even arriving on campus until mid-June, it’s unclear whether there will be enough time before Game 1 — if there’s a Game 1 — for Daniels to show his coaches what he can do and build the kind of chemistry with the KU offense to become the guy.
That’s not to say it could not happen at some point. After all, if there is a full season, your suggestion could be the right move for the final six or seven weeks, which would still be enough time for a freshman QB to get a feel for the adjustment from high school to college. That, in theory, would give him a head start on Year 2 and could benefit the KU offense, too.
Sure it would burn his redshirt, but you'd find out how he looks in extended action, he'd get several games worth of experience and, if he's your guy, you'd still have him plugged in as a potential three-year starter.
I like the move — almost always. I think it would be a much harder sell if the Jayhawks were expected to compete for bowl eligibility this year. But with KU picked a distant 10th in the preseason Big 12 poll, it appears that most everybody out there believes wins will be tough to come by for Kansas again in 2020.
So if you can’t win a bunch of games, what’s the next best thing you can get out of a season? Experience for your young guys.
It would be great to see Daniels get that, but I’m having a hard time predicting it based simply on the strange offseason and the fact that guys like Miles Kendrick and Thomas MacVittie already have some college experience under their belts.
Still, if it were up to me, I think I'd throw him out there Week 1 and let the 2020 season be all about learning and developing for the future.
• Our second question came from via email, from Jeff Crees, who asked: The most exciting game in all of college basketball in 19-20 was by far KU vs Dayton in the Maui Invitational. There was a good chance there may have been a Part 2 matchup had the pandemic not happened. What will be KU’s most exciting matchup in 20-21?
Like the 2020 college football season, the 2020-21 college hoops season is also in question.
The thing that basketball has going for it is the later start date, but there already has been quite a lot of talk about moving it to a January start or having the 2020-21 college hoops season feature conference games only.
That makes it a little tougher to answer this question, which is too bad because I absolutely love it.
I’m not sure anyone would have got this one right if you asked it before last season. Most probably would've picked the potential KU-Michigan State matchup in Maui that never wound up happening. But there’s little doubt that the KU-Dayton game was the best of the year in my mind.
Part of that might have to do with it being played in Maui, but it was also just an incredibly competitive and high-level game. Only KU at Baylor later in the season comes close to matching it in my mind, but I’ll still take the Player of the Year against the sport’s best team any day.
Having said all of that, I’ll have to give you two answers here. One for a full season and one for a conference-only season.
I think KU-Creighton and KU-Missouri will both be a lot of fun. And KU-Kentucky to kickoff the season is always a blast.
That Creighton matchup has the potential to live up to the KU-Dayton standard, although the Blue Jays aren’t likely to have the player of the year on their roster this season.
But instead of picking any of those I’ll go with one of those could-happen games for my answer here — KU vs. Virginia in November in the Wooden Legacy in Anaheim, Calif.
If it happens, you’re talking about some exciting stuff. Bill Self vs. Tony Bennett. The defending national champs from 2019 vs. the 2020 NCAA title favorite entering the postseason. And talent up and down both rosters.
I’m guessing the two will be put on opposite sides of the four-team bracket if that event is played. So they both would either have to win or lose to meet up on Day 2 of the event. But if it happens, that will be a whole lot of fun.
If the nonconference schedule is scrapped and we’re limited to conference games only, I don’t know how you pick against KU-Baylor in Allen Fieldhouse.
For one, it would likely be a battle of two top-five or top-10 teams. Beyond that, the Bears beat KU in AFH last season and there’s not a KU fan in Lawrence who has forgotten that. Beyond that, it’s elite guards against elite guards and should be an entertaining brand of ball with a lot of athleticism, energy and explosiveness on display from start to finish.
So there you have it. KU’s schedule is as tough as always and is full of potential classics. But I’ll take KU-Virginia in a full-season format and KU-Baylor if the season is limited to conference games only.
• This week’s third question, from Parker Titus, also came via email and has two parts: This is mostly a recruiting question but, which recruits are most likely to commit to KU, in your opinion/research, in both the 2021 and the 2022 class. Aside from Zach Clemence, I know KU is in the running for Kendall Brown, Hunter Sallis, JD Davidson, Matthew Cleveland, Michael Foster, Jonathan Lawson, etc. in 2021. Then, where do you see Silvio De Sousa fitting into this upcoming year's team?
Part I: Since we kind of covered the first part in an earlier “Ask Us Anything,” I’ll rehash that briefly and then get to the question about Silvio.
KU appears to be the frontrunner to land Kendall Brown and there are a lot of reasons to think the match makes sense. Brown’s versatility and ability to play multiple styles make him an appealing prospect and his size and skills make him a pro prospect.
He’d be a terrific pick up for the Jayhawks and, as of now, Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi has Kansas as the leader in Brown’s recruitment. So I’d toss Brown in the “most likely to commit to KU” category you created.
Four-star shooting guard Matthew Cleveland is announcing his choice on Tuesday, but most pundits appear to believe he’s headed to Florida State.
After that, it gets a little tougher, but I do think the 2021 class will include a point guard. Right now, Hunter Sallis and JD Davidson are at the top of that list, but landing either of them will be a challenge. KU appears to be all-in on both, but there are some other quality schools on both lists that will make landing them tough.
With Mitch Lightfoot, Marcus Garrett and Silvio De Sousa all being seniors, KU figures to have at least three spots to fill in the 2021 class. If they can fill those three with Clemence, Brown and a high-level point guard, that’ll be a great class and they won’t need much more than that.
— Editor's Note: You win some, you lose some. Not long after this blog was posted, Kendall Brown orally committed to Baylor. Not only does that take KU out of the running for a talented prospect, but it also puts that prospect on the future roster of one of KU's biggest rivals of late. This is huge news in Big 12 basketball. —
Part II: If you haven’t seen any of De Sousa’s social media videos of his workouts from the past few months, do yourself a favor and go find those.
The senior-to-be from Angola is moving better than I ever remember him moving and appears to have developed a nice jump shot, as well.
Now, it’s important to remember that these are workout videos and pick-up games, so it’s not exactly the same as game night at Allen Fieldhouse. For example, as nice as the jumper looks, it’s still a pretty slow release and I can’t imagine very many situations where he’ll have that much time to get a shot off. But it’s clear that De Sousa has been putting in a ton of work to improve his game.
That can only help his status in the Jayhawks’ rotation. But where he fits remains a bit of a mystery.
He’s definitely ahead of freshman big man Gethro Muscadin and definitely behind Lightfoot and junior David McCormack. But Self told me earlier this summer that he’s still going to want to play two bigs from time to time and that could be where De Sousa fits in best, as he’d be able to play with either McCormack or Lightfoot much easier than any of KU’s two bigs last year because the other two can play on the perimeter while leaving De Sousa down low to do the dirty work.
Given the guard depth on this roster, I still don’t think we’ll see that a ton of the time so it’ll be important for De Sousa to stay patient and focus all of his efforts and energy on maximizing the minutes he does get rather than worrying about how much he plays.
I think there’s a spot for him in the rotation. But I can’t see him averaging more than 10-12 minutes a game and believe he’ll be a rock solid insurance policy should foul trouble or injury become a problem in KU’s front court.
The bottom line is this: The guy has been through a lot during his KU career and he’s got one season left. It’s time for him to let it fly and play with the kind of fire and hunger that many expected to see after his strong freshman debut.
Because the IARP path is still brand new and has yet to be completed by any school — Memphis and NC State will get to the finish line first — this is a tough question to answer.
While those other cases could serve as a good barometer for judging the timeline of KU’s case — for example, KU has been right about two months behind NC State throughout the process thus far — that’s not a guaranteed way to predict the timeline.
Each case is different and the IARP panel could need less time with NC State’s case or desire to do more of its own investigating in the Kansas case, both of which could change the timeline for both schools.
Having said all of that, I can’t see this thing being wrapped up before January. There was almost zero chance of that happening anyway and then COVID hit and we’re not quite sure how that is impacting things.
Because the IARP path is still new and features a bunch of unknowns, we don't yet know what the ruling will look like or how quickly any penalties would or could be assessed.
Remember when all of this started, it became pretty clear that KU's infractions case would not impact the 2020-21 season because of the timelines laid out by the notice of allegations. KU had 90 days to respond. The NCAA had 60 days to respond after that. And simple math told you that it would be March or later before any of that was in the past.
There is no known timeline with the IARP ruling nor do we know whether or not the penalties handed down — if there are any — would be effective immediately or would be delayed until the start of a new season.
There's just still so much that is unknown, not only by those of us covering it, but also by the lawyers and school officials involved in the process. It truly is brand new territory for everyone involved.
So instead of giving you exact dates or even a single month that the rulings might come out, I’ll hit you with a few ranges for my percentage wheel for this one.
1 – Ruling comes between January and March – 47%
2 – Ruling comes between April and June – 36%
3 – Ruling comes between July and September – 14%
4 – Ruling comes after start of the 2021-22 season – 3%