Advertisement

Posts tagged with Cheick Diallo

New Pelicans big man Cheick Diallo gets his first ‘last laugh’

Kansas Jayhawks forward Carlton Bragg Jr. smells an antiperspirant stick left in forward Cheick Diallo's locker as the two goof around while performing a mock commercial on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kansas Jayhawks forward Carlton Bragg Jr. smells an antiperspirant stick left in forward Cheick Diallo's locker as the two goof around while performing a mock commercial on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. by Nick Krug

When freshman big men Cheick Diallo or Carlton Bragg Jr. barely played in a particular game this past season, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self liked to say after such an outing the two forwards would get the “last laugh.” Self knew both Diallo and Bragg would one day become NBA players, maybe even have long careers, but had his reasons for not giving the youngsters minutes in particular situations.

Diallo beat Bragg to the first “last laugh” Thursday night, when 6-foot-9 post player from Kayes, Mali, was taken 33rd overall in the NBA Draft, and the New Orleans Pelicans landed his draft rights. After playing all of 202 minutes and making 33 of his 58 field-goal attempts in college basketball during a one-and-done stop at KU, Diallo was off to the NBA.

The night, of course, didn’t go exactly as planned for Diallo, whose stock slipped enough for him to fall into the early second round. But he had to experience immeasurable satisfaction in proving to himself and his detractors that he was good enough to cash in on his dreams — despite his struggles to get on the court at Kansas.

Still, we’re still probably a couple of years away from Diallo doubling over, full belly laugh style, when thinking about how little he played for the Jayhawks.

He obviously has a long way to go as a player before earning enough respect from his Pelicans coaches and teammates to crack the rotation and execute his defensive intensity/high-energy role.

In the meantime, his position with New Orleans will look similar to the one he took with Kansas, often just cheering wildly from the bench during the most important stretches of games.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) and the Jayhawk bench celebrate a bucket and a foul by Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) and the Jayhawk bench celebrate a bucket and a foul by Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In fact, don’t be surprised if Diallo plays even less during his rookie NBA season than he did as a KU freshman (7.5 minutes a game). Next year in particular, Diallo’s weaknesses will be magnified as he adjusts to a massive upward leap in level of competition. You saw how the 19-year-old struggled in the Big 12, and it will only look worse against veteran professional post players. The DNP-CD’s (did not play, coach’s decision) are coming for him as he eases his way into The Association.

The Pelicans knew Diallo would be a few years away from helping the team win games when they traded up to draft him. General manger Dell Demps said Thursday night they targeted the raw prospect anyway, and had him rated higher on their draft board than No. 33, leaving them surprised he even was available at that juncture.

“He’s a young player who is inexperienced,” Demps said. “There is going to be a growing curve. But one thing I can assure you is you’ll never see a lack of effort there. His motor is amazing.”

None by New Orleans Pelicans

It’s that same motor — or desire, or push, or however you want to label it — that should work in Diallo’s favor during the most difficult stage of his pro career, the beginning.

“I’m an energy guy,” Diallo said on draft night. “I box out, rebound the ball and protect the rim. That’s what I do. I just want to do everything to make my team look good. I just want to run the floor, block shots and get rebounds.”

He’ll mostly get his chances to do those things he does best during practices, at the NBA Summer League and in some D-League games next season.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets a hand up in front of a shot by Loyola forward Jarred Jones (21) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets a hand up in front of a shot by Loyola forward Jarred Jones (21) during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Diallo clearly isn’t ready for the NBA yet. But he has the right attitude and thirst for basketball knowledge to get there. Though a second-round pick and a project, he doesn’t have the type of personality to take a half-hearted approach to anything.

As Diallo said before the draft about playing at the next level:

“It’s my dream. I’m trying to make this happen, so I don’t have a second option.”

In time, though, he might have a few laughs when thinking about how he used to play in garbage time at Allen Fieldhouse, with walk-ons Tyler Self and Evan Manning.

Reply 3 comments from Dennis Gaskill Humpy Helsel Barry Weiss

Stock watch: Finding the right NBA team for Cheick Diallo

None

Just a couple days ahead of the 2016 NBA Draft no one is certain exactly where Kansas forward Cheick Diallo will be selected — other than somewhere in the second half of the first round.

That’s a desirable outlook for a prospect who averaged 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 7.5 minutes a game during his one-and-done run at KU.

As of Tuesday, DraftExpress.com predicts Diallo, a 6-foot-9 post player from Kayes, Mali, will go 18th overall, to Detroit.

However, as Bill Self told reporters last week, getting drafted by the right team can be more important to a player’s professional development than when he is selected.

Before we dive into how Diallo might fit in with those franchises, here’s an interesting take on him from an anonymous scout, courtesy of Seth Davis at CampusRush.com.

"My question is, does he know what he is? If he understands he can make millions of dollars being a rebounder and shot blocker, he'll be terrific. If he thinks he needs to be a scorer, he'll hurt himself because he has no offensive game. I hear he's going top 20. Only a fool would take him there. He's an undersized four who can't shoot, and our league is about shooting right now."

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) pulls down an offensive rebound during the first half on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) pulls down an offensive rebound during the first half on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Anyone who followed Diallo’s season with KU quickly recognizes the scout’s point on the big’s offensive limitations. And whichever team invests its pick in Diallo will do so because of his 7-foot-4.5 wingspan and what type of defensive player he might become in a few years.

So one key question in this Diallo debate will be: Which teams can afford to wait for him to develop?

Here’s a look at which teams own draft picks in the range projected for Diallo:

  • No. 17. Memphis

  • No. 18. Detroit

  • No. 19. Denver

  • No. 20. Indiana

  • No. 21. Atlanta

  • No. 22. Charlotte

  • No. 23. Boston

  • No. 24. Philadelphia

  • No. 25. L.A. Clippers

  • No. 26. Philadelphia

  • No. 27. Toronto

  • No. 28. Phoenix

  • No. 29. San Antonio

  • No. 30. Golden State

MEMPHIS, 17th pick — No one has projected Diallo would go this high since before he played college basketball (boy, are NBA coaches and general managers glad they don’t have to deal with picking players straight out of high school anymore). But No. 17 is just ahead of where DraftExpress thinks Diallo will be selected, so it’s a good place to start.

If there’s one thing the Grizzlies have, it’s big men. Center Marc Gasol is under contract through 2020, and the Grizz have at least one more year of the man who puts the power in power forward, Zach Randolph. Plus, Brandan Wright is a reliable veteran post man off the bench, and JaMychal Green had a surprisingly productive finish to his season.

So Memphis definitely doesn’t need Diallo right now. But if there aren’t any available perimeter players that intrigue the Grizzlies, you could see them snagging Diallo and bringing him along slowly in the next couple of years.

DETROIT, 18th pick — Unless the Pistons want to get Diallo in order to turn him into an undersized backup center to play behind starting pivot Andre Drummond, I don’t think Stan Van Gundy would be especially interested.

Van Gundy’s teams tend to revolve around a dominant big man, and it appears unlikely Diallo ever will become that on offense. What’s more, Van Gundy prefers power forwards who stretch the floor with their shooting ability (see: Marcus Morris). Diallo just might not fit the Pistons’ style — now or in the future.

DENVER, 19th pick — The Nuggets, though currently existing as a middling Western Conference also-ran, have plenty of big men in their front-court rotation. While none of them are exactly household names, they are respected interior players nonetheless.

None by Nuggets Report

You never know what kind of trades could shake up any given roster between now and the start of the 2016-17 season, but if nothing happens with Denver on that front, the Nuggets would have bigs Kenneth Faried, Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic under contract for multiple seasons, as well as Danilo Galinari and Wilson Chandler (who mix their time as stretch-4’s, and on the perimeter).

I don’t think Denver would draft Diallo because of that depth, but if it did it would be a good place for the 19-year-old to learn about life in the NBA, as an observer for a couple of seasons.

INDIANA, 20th pick — Myles Turner and Lavoy Allen are the only traditional big men under contract for the Pacers entering next season, so adding Diallo as insurance and using him sparingly as a backup could be in play at No. 20.

None by Indiana Pacers

One would think given that need for post players — if Indiana doesn’t re-sign free agents Jordan Hill and Ian Mahinmi — the team would rather pick up a big man who can play and produce sooner. But if Larry Bird is confident he can bring back those two or add more big men via free agency, Diallo would be a great addition and they could teach him and mold him as they see fit before giving him meaningful playing time.

ATLANTA, 21st pick — This is the first case late in the first round where the team’s need may be too great for it to take a raw project such as Diallo.

There’s a very good chance the Hawks could lose Al Horford in free agency, and if that proves true it would leave them with just Paul Milsap and Tiago Splitter as veteran post players.

Atlanta needs someone who can help them immediately, and it is difficult to envision Diallo producing inside for an NBA team in the next 12 months. The Hawks, I’m guessing, would look elsewhere for a big man.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets up to reject a shot from TCU guard Chauncey Collins (1) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) and guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1).

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets up to reject a shot from TCU guard Chauncey Collins (1) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) and guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1). by Nick Krug

CHARLOTTE, 22nd pick — Unless the Hornets bring back free agents Al Jefferson and Marvin Williams, they’ll need some additions to their front-court rotation. You can’t just trot Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Spencer Hawes out there and think everything will be all right in the post.

Odds are, either via trade or free agency, Charlotte will add some veteran help down low this summer. If that’s the case, it would make a lot of sense for the Hornets to select Diallo and let him grow as a player, under the tutelage of assistant coach Patrick Ewing.

The Hornets recently spent four seasons successfully developing big man Bismack Biyombo only to let him sign with Toronto as a free agent a year ago, just before a breakout campaign. After seeing first-hand how far Biyombo came, you could see why Charlotte would want to do the same with Diallo.

BOSTON, 23rd pick — The Celtics have eight draft picks this season, so if Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens like Diallo as a project for the future, they probably wouldn’t hesitate taking someone they know is a few seasons away from playing a key role. There are plenty of more chances for Boston to take players more ready to transition to The Association.

With interior players Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, and Kelly Olynyk under contract, and Boston actively pursuing big-named free agents and trade possibilities, Diallo wouldn’t be asked to become part of the rotation for at least a couple of seasons. The Celtics, under Stevens, have become strong defensively, and investing in Diallo for the franchise’s seemingly bright future shouldn’t surprise anyone.

PHILADELPHIA, 24th and 26th picks — If Diallo is still around at this point of the draft, you almost have to like his odds of joining Joel Embiid as a Kansas big man on the Sixers.

Philly, which will reportedly take Ben Simmons No. 1 overall, could have two chances to take Diallo. And, believe it or not, the downtrodden franchise might finally be in position to select a big man in the first round and not immediately insert him into the lineup.

It looks like Embiid might finally play next season, joining fellow lottery picks Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor as options in the post (assuming neither of them gets traded), and yet another recent draft pick who has yet to suit up for the 76ers, Dario Saric, is likely to join the team next season, too.

None of this means the Sixers will suddenly be a playoff team, but it does mean the franchise could get away with taking a gamble on a big man with some upside for down the road.

L.A. CLIPPERS, 25th — Now that Chris Paul is 31 years old, the time for the Clippers to win is now, which means the last thing the team needs is a big man who can’t make L.A. better immediately.

It’s hard to come up with a reason for Doc Rivers adding someone who has little to no chance of contributing to a championship chase next season.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Toronto, 27th; San Antonio, 29th; or Golden State, 30th — While Diallo, as a competitor, surely would be disappointed if he didn’t get chosen until the final picks of the first round, waiting a little longer on draft night could set him up for a perfect start to his career.

The Raptors, one of the best teams in the East, and the Warriors and Spurs, two of the league’s model franchises, own three of the final four picks in Round 1 (Phoenix picks at No 28.)

If either Toronto, San Antonio or Golden State took Diallo, he could gradually come along as a player behind the scenes, working with some of the best staffs and rosters the NBA has to offer.

Odds are the high-energy forward will be valued enough by various teams to come off the board before this point. However, Diallo could easily turn into a force as a backup big man in a few seasons with the Raptors, Spurs or Warriors.

Reply 2 comments from The_muser Tim Gershon

Stock watch: Cheick Diallo intrigue growing leading up to draft

None

With the NBA Draft quickly approaching, it seems Cheick Diallo’s name might continue its steady climb up mock drafts and big boards.

Prior to the Draft Combine, the 6-foot-9 Diallo, who seldom played at Kansas in his one season, looked like a borderline first-round pick, with many prognosticators assuming he wouldn’t be selected until Round 2.

Fast-forward a month and the Kayes, Mali, native appears to be a mid-first-round pick at best, and a late-first-round pick at worst.

In DraftExpress.com’s latest offering, Diallo has broken out of the 20’s range, with Denver selecting him 19th.

Here’s a quick look at where other sites predict Diallo will go, with the draft just more than two weeks away:

As ESPN’s Jeff Goodman recently explained in a draft profile on Diallo for the Celtics’ website, the forward’s ability to get up and down the floor faster than his competition began to intrigue scouts, coaches and general managers, once he really put his skills on display at the combine, in May.

“That’s what Cheick Diallo does. He plays hard,” Goodman said. “He’s a power forward who always played with energy. He rebounds, he blocks shots. Not a big-time scorer, but at the combine he showed that he could make some shots, so I think that surprised some of the NBA guys in Chicago, that he was able to do a little bit more away from the basket, because really what they saw in limited time at Kansas was just kind of cleaning up garbage points around the basket, finishing down low, scoring on put-backs, blocking shots again and running the court hard all the time, which is what he does.”

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) pulls up for a jumper over TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky (10) and guard Michael Williams (2) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) pulls up for a jumper over TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky (10) and guard Michael Williams (2) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

As has been well documented, Diallo only averaged 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds while playing 7.5 minutes a game for the Jayhawks. Goodman thinks once the wiry-strong big stepped into the spotlight of the combine’s scrimmages he was better able to showcase his strengths.

“… He felt freedom that he wasn’t going to be pulled after a bad play like he was at Kansas with Bill Self, that he could go out there and just play the way he did back even in AAU basketball, where it was up and down,” Goodman said. “And that’s where he thrives, getting him up and down in a setting where they’re not running as many plays right now, and that’s where Cheick Diallo shows what he does well, which again, he’s kind of got some Ben Wallace to him from back in the day, where he’s just a ferocious rebounder who again plays with that high energy, that high motor.”

Detroit's Ben Wallace, right, grabs a first-quarter rebound from
Miami's Caron Butler. The Pistons beat the Heat, 93-62, Monday in
Auburn Hills, Mich.

Detroit's Ben Wallace, right, grabs a first-quarter rebound from Miami's Caron Butler. The Pistons beat the Heat, 93-62, Monday in Auburn Hills, Mich. by AP Photo

If Diallo ever does turn into a savage rebounder and defender such as Wallace or a high-energy rotation post player in the mold of Toronto’s Bismack Biyombo, the team that drafts him will be elated. Still, the wait-and-see process for Diallo, who remains a project, will take some time.

Goodman said Diallo would fit the toughness and defensive mentality of the Celtics, and the system of coach Brad Stevens. However, it’s not as if Boston or any other team would plug the 19-year-old right into its rotation.

“It’s gonna take probably three years to see the real Cheick Diallo and what he can do on both ends of the court,” Goodman said. “But right now you can put him out there and you know he’s gonna go hard. … The key again is the mental part of the game for him. He’s only been playing basketball for about five years. So it’s really still picking up the nuances of the game, rotations defensively, that’s gonna be the hardest part for him to adjust to the NBA game.”

Obviously, one easy way for Diallo to develop as a young pro will be trips to the D-League. Goodman doesn’t expect to see Diallo playing many NBA minutes during his rookie season.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets up to reject a shot during the second half, Thursday, March 17, 2016 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets up to reject a shot during the second half, Thursday, March 17, 2016 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. by Nick Krug

“You want to get him as many reps as possible. You do that in the D-League,” Goodman said. “He’s a guy that again in three years you hope can become a rotation guy, maybe even a starter.”

Just as Self often praised Diallo for his maturity and how he handled an unfavorable situation during his one year of college basketball, Goodman liked the way Diallo reflected on his short time with the Jayhawks.

“This is a kid that easily could’ve thrown Kansas under the bus for not playing him when he was a top-10 recruit,” Goodman said. “He never did that, where Cliff Alexander did it a year ago. Instead, he really put the onus on the NCAA and said, ‘Listen, I wasn’t cleared. I was fighting from behind, and that’s why I only played seven and a half minutes a game. It wasn’t Bill Self’s fault. It was really the NCAA not clearing me in time.’

“So he’s still got that mentality of wanting to prove people wrong,” Goodman added.

— Watch Goodman’s entire segment below:

None by Boston Celtics

Reply 4 comments from Surrealku John Randall Kyle Rohde The_muser

Stock watch: Will Celtics snag a Jayhawk with one of their 8 picks?

None

In just more than two weeks, Kansas basketball players Cheick Diallo, Wayne Selden Jr., Perry Ellis and Brannen Greene will all have much better ideas about what comes next in their respective basketball careers.

On June 23, the night of the 2016 NBA Draft, each will find out which organization thinks he can contribute at the next level — or, in the cases of Ellis and Greene, whether a team wants to use a pick on him at all.

Based on the number of Jayhawks on the board and the vast range of where they’re projected to be taken, it seems as if there is a good chance at least one of them could end up with Boston.

The Celtics have the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, and certainly won’t take anyone from KU at that slot. But the franchise also owns the 16th and 23rd picks in the first round, as well as the following second-round picks: 31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th.

Boston might end up trading away some — or, who knows, maybe all — of those picks. But if the storied franchise hangs on to those choices, one would have to assume the names and games of various Kansas players will come up in the Celtics’ draft war room throughout the night, with as many as seven opportunities to select one of them.

In DraftExpress.com’s latest predictions, Diallo comes off the board at No. 23, to Boston.

Selden, meanwhile, is projected to go 47th — right in the range of the Celtics’ mid-to-late second-round picks.

While Ellis isn’t listed at all, it is easy to envision some team snagging him in the final 10 picks or so, and Boston owns the third-to-last choice in the draft.

In fact, Ellis worked out for the team on Monday.

At this point, it seems unlikely Greene will hear his name called on draft night. But the Celtics are in the market for 3-point shooting after finishing 28th in the league in long-distance accuracy (33.5%) in 2015-16 while attempting 26.1 3-pointers a game (11th most). So a summer league deal for Greene wouldn’t appear to be out of the question.

If Diallo, Selden or Ellis ends up in green, It wouldn’t be the first time Boston looked to KU for some help in the draft. Paul Pierce, of course, became a franchise great after the Celtics took him 10th overall in 1998.

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce, center, dunks as Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and center Anderson Varejao of Brazil, right, watch during the second half of Game 4 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Sunday, May 9, 2010, in Boston. The Celtics won 97-87, tying the series at 2-2. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce, center, dunks as Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and center Anderson Varejao of Brazil, right, watch during the second half of Game 4 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Sunday, May 9, 2010, in Boston. The Celtics won 97-87, tying the series at 2-2. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Nearly two decades earlier, Boston selected Jo Jo White at No. 9, in 1969.

But not every KU-Boston connection has been Hall of Fame worthy. When boston.com put together a gallery of “Biggest draft busts in Celtics history” a pair of former Kansas players made the list.

In 1976, Boston selected Norm Cook 16th overall. As described in the boston.com feature, Cook “accumulated just 138 minutes on the floor as a rookie before the Celtics declined to pick up his second-year option.”

In 2008, the Celtics used the 30th overall pick on a wing out of New Mexico who began his career at KU: J.R. Giddens. “Despite the low expectations that come with being the last pick of the first round (30th overall), Giddens still disappointed to the tune of just 28 points in 27 games spanning one full season and part of the next.”

Boston hasn’t selected a player who suited up exclusively for Kansas since Pierce.

Courtesy of basketball-reference.com, here is a list of every KU player drafted by the Celtics:

  • Gil Reich, Round 11 (pick not listed) — 1953

  • Maury King, Round 6, Pick 48 — 1957

  • Jo Jo White, Round 1, Pick 9 — 1969

  • Dave Robisch, Round 3, Pick 44 — 1971

  • Roger Morningstar, Round 8, Pick 144 — 1975

  • Norm Cook, Round 1, Pick 16 — 1976

  • Tony Guy, Round 2, Pick 46 — 1982

  • Paul Pierce, Round 1, Pick 10 — 1998

Will 2016 be the year the Celtics add another Jayhawk? We’ll find out soon.

Reply 3 comments from Jayhawkmarshall Brett McCabe

Cheick Diallo proves at combine he belongs in NBA Draft

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) defends a shot by Kentucky guard Jamal Murray (23) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) defends a shot by Kentucky guard Jamal Murray (23) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Kansas basketball head coach Bill Self, who basically doubles as the general manger, president of basketball operations, CEO, guru, etc. of the program, has told the Lawrence Journal-World’s Gary Bedore on multiple occasions he didn’t expect KU big man Cheick Diallo to return and play for the Jayhawks next season.

It didn’t matter that the freshman who measured 6-foot-9 in shoes (because that’s the kind of thing you find out at the combine; Diallo is 6-7.5 without shoes) hadn’t signed with an agent, leaving open the possibility of testing the pre-draft process and returning to Kansas if he so desired.

Self figured all along Diallo would remain in the draft. The past couple of days in Chicago, the Mali native who only played 7.5 minutes a game at KU, producing 3.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.9 blocks, proved Self, as usual, knew what he was talking about.

In Thursday’s combine scrimmage, Diallo went for 18 points, made 7 of his 10 field goals, grabbed 4 rebounds and swatted 4 shots.

The undersized big man, who makes up for it with his 7-4.5 wingspan and willingness to play harder than his opponents, followed that up in Friday’s scrimmage by scoring 9 points, shooting 4-for-8, snagging 10 boards and blocking 2 shots.

None by Adam Zagoria

None by Jonathan Givony

None by Jonathan Givony

Although Diallo gave some KU fans hope by saying Friday in an on-air interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz he was still thinking about whether to hire an agent and turn pro, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman soon after reported Diallo told him he would stay in the draft.

None by Jeff Goodman

Again, Self never thought Diallo would return, so this didn’t come as a particularly earth-shattering development — even if the timing of ESPN’s reports came across as puzzling.

During ESPN’s coverage of the combine, analyst Jay Bilas made it clear he doesn’t think Diallo is ready to play in the NBA next season. But Bilas also thinks Diallo would be a “solid first-round draft pick.”

That’s the thing about Diallo. No NBA coach or scout watches him play and thinks, We can plug him right into our rotation. They like Diallo’s energy, wingspan and potential to improve in the years to come.

NBA decision-makers don’t care what Diallo did or didn’t do at Kansas. They only care about what kind of player they think he can become.

And that’s why Self wisely saw this coming from miles away.

Reply 4 comments from Surrealku The_muser Dannyboy4hawks

Stock watch: Cheick Diallo borderline first-round prospect entering combine

In his 27 games at Kansas, freshman Cheick Diallo never turned into the interior force most expected the highly-rated big man to become.

After a 13-point debut against Loyola (Md.) at Allen Fieldhouse, Diallo neither matched nor topped that total again, and only reached double-digit points on one other occasion — his third game, against Holy Cross (12).

Diallo only played more than 10 minutes five times all season, and outside of a 9-point, 9-rebound, 5-block effort against TCU never had a significant impact in a Big 12 game.

So why is it again that the 6-foot-9 19-year-old from Kayes, Mali, has entered the NBA Draft? It’s all about potential. And it only takes the decision-makers with one franchise to look at Diallo and see an improved, evolved version of what he is now for him to hear his name called in the first round of the draft on June 23.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) delivers a dunk during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) delivers a dunk during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Bill Self expects Diallo will intrigue enough scouts, general managers and coaches for the big man to hire an agent and stay in the draft — something he hasn’t done yet. Diallo might receive the feedback to bring on that decision next week, when he, Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden Jr., and 60 other prospects report to Chicago for the NBA Combine.

The weeks ahead — and Diallo’s ability to prove himself worthy of a team’s investment — will determine if he receives a guaranteed contract in the first round or really has to prove himself as a second-round draft choice.

At this moment, the likable youngster is straddling the border of the first and second rounds, according to most mock drafts.

DraftExpress.com, one of the few sites that projects both rounds, has Diallo falling to No. 33 (the third pick of Round 2), to the Los Angeles Clippers.

There are other sites that project Diallo as a late first-rounder:

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) brings down a dunk during the second half, Thursday, March 17, 2016 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) brings down a dunk during the second half, Thursday, March 17, 2016 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. by Nick Krug

However, there are also a few first-round-only mocks out there that don’t include Diallo’s name.

Anyone who watched Diallo play for Kansas understands his limitations at this point, and it might be difficult to overlook those when thinking about how he fits in with an NBA team. Just remember that no general manager in his right mind would add Diallo to his roster and expect him to play meaningful minutes in the 2016-17 season.

Whichever organization picks up Diallo, it will do so as a longterm investment, and then utilize its developmental resources — think countless hours of drills with assistant coaches and trips to the D-League — in the hopes of turning him into a valuable post presence a few seasons from now.

Believe it or not, Diallo does have attributes that make him a potentially valuable commodity. DraftExpress does a great job of highlighting his strengths in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI0SVvT3fRA

Specifically, the DraftExpress scouting report breaks Diallo’s best abilities into three categories: length/mobility, defensive potential and motor.

LENGTH AND MOBILITY

What is there to like about Diallo as an athlete? Plenty, according to Draft Express.

- 7-foot-4 wingspan; 9-foot-1 standing reach

- He’s mobile for his size and a “tremendous” rim-runner.

- Diallo plays hard, which shows up when he goes to set screens and dives to the rim off those actions.

DEFENSIVE POTENTIAL

The young big certainly has his flaws on defense, but those are fixable with coaching and hard work.

- Diallo has good instincts and mobility.

- He can block shots with either hand, and even recover to block shots when caught out of position.

- 6-9 might not be an ideal height for a potential center, but he is quick off the floor.

- He is athletic enough to step out and move well on the perimeter, and he’s also comfortable getting low and sliding his feet outside.

MOTOR

At this stage of his basketball career, Diallo’s energy and work ethic might be his most valuable characteristics.

- He plays hard on both ends of the floor.

- Diallo can rebound out of his area, meaning he will chase down long rebounds when they take unexpected bounces away from the paint.

- When taking an active approach, he keeps the ball alive on the offensive glass and comes up with tap-outs to extend possessions.

- Averaged 13.1 rebounds per 40 minutes.

- Can be physical, despite his slender frame.

- Diallo wasn’t a headache for the KU staff when Self kept him in limited role.

Because DraftExpress does such a great job with its prospect analysis, the site also provides a scouting video of Diallo’s weaknesses, viewable below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEWJBqeHNrs

LIMITED OFFENSIVELY

Again, KU fans are plenty aware that Diallo isn’t exactly Joel Embiid with the ball in his hands.

- For the NBA, he is probably undersized to play center.

- Amazing stat alert! — He only had 1 assist in 202 minutes for KU. One assist!

- The big man only makes occasional jumpers, and his shot selection wasn’t always ideal.

- Frankly, Diallo doesn’t score well on post-ups, partly because his touch around the rim isn’t great.

SIZE AND STRENGTH

Once Diallo gets to the NBA, his effort will only get him so far.

- He gives up position too easily inside.

- Despite his speed in the open floor, he lacks the “elite bounce” that would help him make up for his lack of size in the paint.

- Young Diallo will get knocked around inside at the next level.

DEFENSIVE FUNDAMENTALS

Mistakes on defense probably cost Diallo minutes at KU more than anything else.

- Not only does he bite on shot fakes, he is “very” prone to fouling — 7.8 per 40 minutes.

- Diallo reaches too much on the perimeter.

- He tries for blocks that he won’t be able to get, putting him and his teammates in bad spots.

EXPERIENCE

- As DraftExpress bluntly puts it, Diallo is “A long way from being able to help an NBA team”

We’ll continue to track the stock of Diallo, Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden Jr. and Brannen Greene in the weeks leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft here at KUsports.com.

Reply 1 comment from Pius Waldman

Kansas defense not living up to Bill Self’s standards

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) and Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) look to defend against a shot by UCLA forward Tony Parker (23) during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) and Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) look to defend against a shot by UCLA forward Tony Parker (23) during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii. by Nick Krug

Nine games into the season, Bill Self has a theory about his team’s defense.

So far, Kansas is allowing its opponents to make 40.9% of their shot attempts. Self wants that number to be in the mid- to high-30s. And the 13th-year KU coach thinks this team might be a little bit better defensively if it wasn’t so good on the other end of the floor.

Self’s hypothesis goes something like this: KU is doing so well offensively (see: 90.0 points per game, shooting 52.2% from the field, making 46.9% from 3-point range), it knows points are going to come. As a result, the Jayhawks don’t try as hard on defense as they could — or should.

“When you know that you labor to score, you're not a percentage-shooting team, then you really hunker down and do certain things,” Self elaborated, “because you know you have to to win. And our guys in the back of their mind, they're thinking, we're going to score enough points to win — which so far for the most part has been true — but it's not the right mentality.”

Kansas (8-1, ranked No. 2 in the nation) isn’t a “lockdown” defensive team at this point, according to Self. But the coach thinks that field-goal percentage defense number could improve, because his players are still figuring things out on “D.”

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) defends against a three from UCLA guard Bryce Alford (20) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) defends against a three from UCLA guard Bryce Alford (20) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii. by Nick Krug

Self said KU’s coaches are trying to change the Jayhawks’ mentality and get it to where they’d be upset if their opponent got a quality shot attempt — whether the ball fell through the net or not.

Since Self took over the program before the 2003-04 campaign, KU has finished the year holding opponents below 40% shooting in every season but one. In 2013-14, KU foes hit 41.6% of their shot attempts, and the Jayhawks lost to Stanford in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32, with injured big man Joel Embiid unavailable.

The 2008 national championship team limited opponents to 37.9% shooting. KU’s 2012 national runner-up nearly duplicated that mark, at 38%. And when Self theorizes about not-so-great offensive teams playing better defense, he likely has that 2012 team in mind. The Thomas Robinson-led Jayhawks only averaged 73.5 points per game that season and shot 47.2% from the field.

Self thinks the 2015-16 Jayhawks are better on defense than the stats show. Case in point: KU’s 40.9% FG% D ranks 110th nationally. But basketball math wizard Ken Pomeroy ranks KU’s adjusted defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent) 13th in the country.

Still, Self says KU isn’t good enough on defense yet to “compete at the highest level.” And if there’s one deficiency holding Kansas back, it’s the absence of a consistent interior shot-blocker/intimidator.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) blocks a shot by Loyola forward Chancellor Barnard (35) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) blocks a shot by Loyola forward Chancellor Barnard (35) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

“We've got to figure out a way to put up a little bit more resistance inside and have better shot blockers,” Self said.

KU is averaging 4.2 blocks per game. Of the team’s 38 total blocks, 13 have come from senior Hunter Mickelson and 6 have come from freshman Cheick Diallo (in just 4 appearances). The next best shot swatter is junior guard Wayne Selden Jr., with 5.

“Although we're blocking a decent number,” Self said, “you take Hunter and Cheick out of there, there's nobody blocking any shots.”

And Self isn’t even demanding every other front court player — Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Jamari Traylor and Carlton Bragg — start protecting the rim. He said they don’t have to block shots to make KU’s interior defense better.

“If you're not a shot-blocking team,” he said, “then you should at least be an activity team, and we've got some big guys that are really not doing either one.”

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) defends against a drive by Oregon State guard Malcolm Duvivier (11) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) defends against a drive by Oregon State guard Malcolm Duvivier (11) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

For KU, far more activity has generated on the perimeter. Sophomore point guard Devonté Graham leads the team with 20 steals and fellow PG Frank Mason III, a junior, has registered 18 swipes. KU’s 8.4 steals per game rank 32nd in the country.

But so far this season, only Mickelson, Diallo, Graham and Mason have shown consistent ability to create havoc defensively. Steals and blocks not only mean empty possessions for opponents, they also tend to get KU’s fast-paced attack out and running, fueling momentum for Kansas while demoralizing whomever just came up empty-handed.

Until more Jayhawks start taking on active defensive roles, too, Kansas won’t reach its defensive ceiling, and that field-goal percentage defense number won’t be as low as Self wants it.

Reply 8 comments from Bryce Landon Joe Ross Zabudda Kurt Eskilson Robert  Brock Brett McCabe Dale Rogers

The Day After: Outlasting Oregon State

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) cuts through the lane for a shot against Oregon State during first half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) cuts through the lane for a shot against Oregon State during first half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

As Bill Self said after Saturday night’s Kansas basketball win over Oregon State, those who witnessed the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks’ 82-67 win at Sprint Center saw the very best and the very worst of KU.

At least Self’s team, now 8-1, saved the entertaining portion for the final act. After scoring just 28 points in the first half and trailing by 11 at the break, the Jayhawks broke out of whatever funk they had contracted in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday and shot 21-for-32 in the final 20 minutes, when Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason III, Devonté Graham, Perry Ellis, Hunter Mickelson and Carlton Bragg played all of the meaningful minutes.

Quick takeaway

Self spoke in the days leading up to the Oregon State game about wanting to shorten his rotation, taking every opportunity he could to remind people how difficult (almost unreasonable) it is to play six big men. So we could’ve seen KU relying on eight or nine players instead of giving every player in the top 12 a shot when possible. After seeing Oregon State (6-2) easily handle the various lineups KU threw at the Beavers in the first half, however, Self took it to the extreme and stuck with his starting five and Bragg instead of mixing and matching. Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of that decision was the exclusion of KU’s typically trusted bench scorers, Brannen Greene and Svi Mykhailiuk, in the second half. Self made a point to show the players — and the fan base — that if certain guys are working better than others, he doesn’t mind keeping valuable players on the bench if that’s what it takes to get a win.

Now, will Self go to this extreme again? That will be something to watch in the weeks to come.

Three reasons to smile

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) elevates to stuff  a shot by Oregon State forward Jarmal Reid (32) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center. At left is Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34). Mickelson was called for a foul on the play.

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) elevates to stuff a shot by Oregon State forward Jarmal Reid (32) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center. At left is Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34). Mickelson was called for a foul on the play. by Nick Krug

1. Hunter Mickelson made the most of his on-the-court job interview. Self admitted he hadn’t given his senior big man much of an opportunity to prove himself this season but that changed against Oregon State. Self seemed back to his old ways of preferring just about any big man but Mickelson in the first half, playing him only 4 minutes despite giving him the start. But Mickelson was so active early Self had to play him more in the second half and Mickelson responded with a 7-point, 6-rebound effort in 14 total minutes. One of the things Kansas has lacked since the days of Jeff Withey is a rim protector, and Mickelson gave KU a little of that, too, with 2 swats.

2. Wayne Selden Jr. continued his ridiculous offensive tear through the non-conference. As he started showing this past summer at the World University Games and continued to do to begin his junior season, Selden proved he has more confidence as a scorer now than he ever did during his first two seasons. Selden knocked down 5 of his 8 3-pointers against the Beavers, bringing his running season total to 30-for-50 (60% from deep). His 22-point effort upped his scoring average to 16.6 points. Selden now seems as reliable a scorer as Ellis — which no one would’ve thought headed into this year.

3. The Jayhawks handled Oregon State’s defensive pressure. Led by Gary Payton II and his 23 steals entering the game, OSU averaged 7.8 swipes before facing Kansas. The Beavers only came up with 2 takeaways against the Jayhawks, who had 11 turnovers in the win, and Payton left with a goose egg in that category (though he played well enough to put up 13 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists). It’s difficult for opponents to take the ball away from KU when guys like Mason, Graham and Selden are handling the ball.

Three reasons to sigh

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) fouls Oregon State forward Tres Tinkle (3) on a shot during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) fouls Oregon State forward Tres Tinkle (3) on a shot during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

1. Likely the best NBA prospect on the Kansas roster, freshman big man Cheick Diallo didn’t play a single minute in the second half vs. Oregon State. Self considered using the 6-foot-9 freshman instead of Bragg, but thought Diallo couldn’t switch screens well enough on the perimeter to give KU the defensive look the coach wanted to implement. As a result, a big who many considered one of the most talented freshmen in the country coming into this season only played 7 minutes, scoring 2 points and pulling down a pair of rebounds. Diallo hasn’t yet reached his potential. A major reason for that is he’s just behind everybody else, due to the NCAA fiasco that kept him from playing early in the season. So when you sigh about Diallo, remember there are certainly better days ahead for the KU big man from Mali, Africa.

2. KU beat Oregon State in points in the paint, 34-28, but that number could have been much bigger. In the first half in particular, the Jayhawks struggled to finish inside. Drew Eubanks, a 6-foot-10 forward, just played active, smart defense around the rim and the Jayhawks, as they often have the past couple of years, failed to score over length. Kansas missed 9 layups in the first half — reminding everyone that Kansas can still run into scoring issues when its opponent has length inside.

3. Kansas still hasn’t become a great rebounding team, a characteristic that typically goes with winning basketball games. KU edged OSU 32-31 on the glass. To look at it another way — the way Self says he prefers — Oregon State missed 31 field goals and 6 free throws. That equals 37 opportunities for a defensive rebound. KU came away with 24 defensive rebounds — that’s a defensive rebounding percentage of 64.8%. For KU to continue to grow (and get more opportunities to push the pace with its three guards), the Jayhawks need to start controlling the glass.

One for the road

KU’s win over Oregon State…

  • Made Kansas 2-0 against the Pac-12 this season and 196-73 all-time vs. teams from the Pac-12

  • Made KU 28-6 at Sprint Center and 213-80 in games played in Kansas City

  • Improved Bill Self’s record at Kansas to 360-79.

Next up

It’s fall semester finals time, so the Jayhawks get a full week off from game action before returning to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday for a 1 p.m. meeting with Montana, which apparently will double as a gigantic ugly sweater party.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Oregon State


By the Numbers: Kansas 82, Oregon State 67

By the Numbers: Kansas 82, Oregon State 67

Reply 7 comments from Humpy Helsel Benton Smith Table_rock_jayhawk Surrealku Zabudda Brian_leslie

Jamari Traylor compares current Jayhawks with 2012 Final Four team

Kansas freshmen Jamari Traylor, left, and Ben McLemore  watch the Late Night in the Phog festivities from the bench on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshmen Jamari Traylor, left, and Ben McLemore watch the Late Night in the Phog festivities from the bench on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Kansas senior forward Jamari Traylor knows what a Final Four team looks like. He saw one up close his first year in Lawrence.

Traylor, a 6-foot-8 forward from Chicago, couldn’t play for the Jayhawks during the 2011-12 season. Like his classmate Ben McLemore at the time, Traylor entered KU’s basketball program as an NCAA partial qualifier. He could practice with the Jayhawks once the fall semester ended, but wasn’t allowed to suit up for games or travel with the team.

Four years later, Traylor and his current Kansas teammates want to become the first group of Jayhawks to reach college basketball’s hallowed stage since Traylor watched Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and company get all the way to the 2012 national title game.

Traylor spent enough time around that national runner-up team to feel like a small part of its success. He witnessed how the team functioned and the kinds of intangibles that made it special.

So are there any similarities he sees between the 2015-16 Jayhawks and that Final Four team that finished 32-7?

“That team was a group of guys that just wanted to win,” Traylor recalled, “and they would do anything to go out there and compete. And defensively, I feel like, was the reason that team got so far, because at the end of the game when things would get close they hunkered down, they locked up. And I think that’s what we want to do this year.”

That particular Kansas team’s defense could prove difficult to replicate. In 2011-12, the Jayhawks held opponents to 61.7 points and 38% shooting. KU blocked 5.7 shots a game and averaged 7.3 steals. Opponents only made 39.8% of their 2-point field-goal attempts and shot 34% from 3-point range.

FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% STL BLK PTS PTS/G
Team 1023 2169 .472 801 1526 .525 222 643 .345 285 222 2867 73.5
Rank 4th 7th 31st 5th 8th 24th 112th 105th 157th 19th 5th 5th 48th
Opponent 826 2176 .380 590 1482 .398 236 694 .340 253 137 2407 61.7
Rank 271st 339th 3rd 223rd 339th 2nd 306th 313th 159th 328th 308th 316th 44th
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 12/7/2015.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) tangles with Vanderbilt guard Nolan Cressler (24) and Vanderbilt forward Jeff Roberson (11) during the second half, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) tangles with Vanderbilt guard Nolan Cressler (24) and Vanderbilt forward Jeff Roberson (11) during the second half, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii. by Nick Krug

It’s obviously very early in the season, and Kansas (6-1) has yet to play with its full roster, due to the Cheick Diallo eligibility fiasco created by the NCAA and Brannen Greene now serving a suspension. But here is what KU’s numbers look like thus far. Kansas (playing at a faster pace than the ’11-12 team) is giving up 69.9 points, allowing opponents to make 40.9% of their shots and averaging 4.0 blocks and 7.7 steals. KU’s seven opponent have connected on 47.9% of their 2-point field goals, but have made just 29.3% from behind the 3-point arc.

G FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% STL BLK PTS PTS/G
Team 7 226 446 .507 161 303 .531 65 143 .455 54 28 636 90.9
Rank 66th 196th 14th 101st 149th 73rd 76th 231st 3rd 121st 147th 82nd 3rd
Opponent 7 171 418 .409 125 261 .479 46 157 .293 37 23 489 69.9
Rank 99th 109th 122nd 116th 107th 185th 100th 171st 47th 53rd 140th 90th 158th
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 12/7/2015.


Traylor said the hunger, focus and mental toughness of the 2012 Jayhawks made them a strong defensive unit.

“I feel like this team could be just as good,” he added.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) and forward Perry Ellis (34) get up to defend against a shot by Northern Colorado forward Tanner Morgan (20) during the first half, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) and forward Perry Ellis (34) get up to defend against a shot by Northern Colorado forward Tanner Morgan (20) during the first half, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

According to Traylor, there aren’t any obvious player comparisons to make between this year’s group and that Final Four roster.

“I feel like it’s a really different team. Guys are a lot different,” Traylor explained. “Frank (Mason III) and Tyshawn play different. We don’t have anybody like T-Rob, nobody like Jeff. We’re a completely different team, but we’re just as good. So we can go out there and do just as good.”

The Jayhawks, ranked No. 2 in the nation this week, entered the season projected as a Final Four and national title contender, according to a number of websites and publications.

Traylor sees some important characteristics that could help the Jayhawks make a long NCAA Tournament run come March — something the Jayhawks haven’t been able to accomplish the past two seasons, when their season ended before the Sweet 16, in both 2014 and 2015.

Kansas players Wayne Selden Jr., left, Jamari Traylor and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have a laugh on the bench during the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Wayne Selden Jr., left, Jamari Traylor and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have a laugh on the bench during the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

“We’re a deep team, top to bottom. We’ve got guys at every position,” Traylor said. “We’ve got seniors and juniors — we’re an old team. And we pretty much know what it takes to get there, and we’ve got a great group of young guys, too, so pretty much we’ve got everything we need. We’ve got all the tools necessary, great coaching.”

Of course, the development of Diallo, a 6-foot-9 freshman from Kayes, Mali, in Africa, might play into KU’s potential — especially on defense — more than any other factor in the months to come. Traylor said Diallo has a unique set of skills that should help the Jayhawks’ already deep front-court rotation as the freshman grows more comfortable.

“He’s just a freak of nature,” Traylor said of Diallo. “He gets up and down the court, he runs like a deer. He’s gonna help us a lot. He can go out there and block shots. He’s young, so he’s got a lot to learn and everything, but his upside is crazy.”

The Jayhawks have plenty of promise this season, too. If they reach their ceiling, Traylor might actually get to play in a Final Four in his final year with Kansas.

Reply 6 comments from Marius7782 Walter Serafin Surrealku Humpy Helsel Steve Jacob Brett McCabe

Bill Self lauds KU’s depth, flexibility at media day

Photographers gather around to take pictures while Kansas junior guard Brannen Greene shoots around during media day on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Photographers gather around to take pictures while Kansas junior guard Brannen Greene shoots around during media day on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by John Young

Bill Self kicked off his 13th season at Kansas Thursday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse with KU basketball media day.

After players posed for photos and answered questions from reporters, Self sat down for a Q&A. Here are some of the highlights:

• Self is impressed every time he goes over to the new dorm, McCarthy Hall, which players should move into next week. Every time he is in there it looks better.

• Perry Ellis should be as good as or better than any player in the Big 12. He played at an All-American level for a stretch last season and he could do that all season long as a senior.

• “We’ve kind of got a crowded house” in the backcourt. But NBA people think Svi Mykhailiuk is as good as anybody on the team from a prospect standpoint. Self expects Mykhailiuk to challenge for a starting position and be as good as any reserve in the country if he doesn’t start. The Ukraine native, now in his second season at KU and living in the U.S., has far more maturity and strength now.

• Now that former KU point guard Aaron Miles is a part of the program as the new assistant director of student-athlete development, it will be really good for Devonté Graham and Frank Mason III. Self knows players respect him and Miles will be nothing but a huge positive.

• Wayne Selden Jr. played really well in Korea by using his athletic ability and strength. He drove and didn’t rely on jump shots, and that will make him a more impactful player if he continues in that style his junior season.

None by Benton Smith

• Freshman big man Cheick Diallo (6-foot-9) has a wingspan of 7-foot-5, and has a motor, but he doesn’t know how to play yet. Diallo will keep balls alive and do important things, and he should be a good rim protector. Surprisingly, he’s a good shooter, too, which is exciting.

• KU struggled to score inside last year, and the coaches need to do a better job. But guards need to improve at feeding the post and playing angles. The Jayhawks should be a better passing team and better at scoring inside because of that.

• Freshmen Carlton Bragg and Lagerald Vick are a lot better off having traveled to Korea and being a part of KU winning gold at the World University Games. Bragg ia a “Marcus Morris type” offensively. He has a chance to be a “special” guy.

• This KU team is deeper than what they’ve had recently. “It’s gonna be hard this year figuring out who to play.” KU has 12 pretty good players and the 12th man isn’t going to play. The 10th-best player might not be in the rotation. Hopefully they’ll be much better defensively and tougher because of that depth and the flexibility it gives Self. There’s gonna be more competition at practices.

• Senior big man Hunter Mickelson has learned to compete more. He plays hard in a manner that uplifts his teammates and creates energy more than he used to.

• They haven’t even talked about red shirting right now in terms of what first-year guard Vick will mean for the team. He could be as good a defender as they have with his athleticism.

• Diallo’s situation isn’t complicated. He has been cleared to practice. It doesn’t mean that it’s permanent. KU is still waiting for a ruling on his eligibility. Self is excited he can practice, because that means he won’t fall behind in terms of conditioning and learning.

KU is still gathering information for the Diallo case to present to the NCAA. It’s frustrating for Diallo. He has goals and dreams based on playing this season. There’s a lot of stress involved for him because of that.

— Hear the complete press conference: Bill Self discusses upcoming season, Cheick Diallo’s situation

Reply 1 comment from Biek Jayhawkmarshall

Prev