Tom Keegan: Seniority brings out best in Svi
He’s been around so long it’s hard to believe Svi Mykhailiuk still isn’t old enough to walk into a bar and order a beer without a fake ID.
Mykhailiuk doesn’t turn 21 until June 10, but as a college basketball player, everything about him screams senior. He’s playing with senior urgency, senior consistency and senior smarts.
The days of wishing he would assert himself more, of which there used to be many, appear to be behind him.
In past years, he stepped aside for more prolific scorers — from Perry Ellis to Frank Mason to Devonte’ Graham — even on days he seemed to have the hottest hand in the building.
Svi’s not deferring to anyone anymore, which is one quality that makes him a smart player.
On a team that shoots 3-pointers so well (.414, tied for ninth in the nation) and has to rely on shooting more of them than in past seasons, Svi gives KU what any team would want because he is not only KU’s most high-volume 3-point shooter, but also its most accurate.
Svi has made 57 3-pointers, tied for 11th nationally. He has made one fewer 3-pointer in 30 fewer attempts than leading national player-of-the-year candidate Trae Young, of Oklahoma.
Svi’s .479 3-point shooting percentage is even higher than fellow starters Lagerald Vick (.439) and Graham (.432, one fewer 3-point attempt than Svi).
A 6-foot-8, 205-pound native of Cherkasy, Ukraine, Mykhailiuk has made noticeable gains in each of his four seasons at Kansas, evidence of how seriously he works at it. His scoring averages from freshman year to now: 2.8, 5.4, 9.8, 16.9. His 3-point percentages: 28.8, 40.2, 39.8, 47.9.
Svi drives more often than in past seasons, and with four more assists he’ll surpass last season’s total. He won’t ever become either a reliable rebounder or shut-down defender, but he’s as consistent a scorer as Kansas has.
Whereas Vick (15.3 points per game) has failed to reach double figures in five different games, including each of the last three, Svi had just one single-figure game (Washington, eight points), and is KU’s lone scorer who can make that claim.
Kansas State faces a much better player than the one who last season walked his way to a game-winning shot in Allen Fieldhouse and later had an eight-point night in Bramlage Coliseum, triggering an eight-game streak of sub-double-figure scoring outputs.
Raise a glass to Svi’s growth and consistency; just don’t offer to fill one up for him, or you’re liable to be arrested for offering to furnish alcohol to an underage individual.