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In search of minutes for Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

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Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.

Question: What is more difficult for a 17-year-old basketball player to achieve: Making the Ukrainian national team or cracking Kansas University’s 2014-2015 perimeter rotation? Answer: We’ll soon find out.

Former NBA coach and broadcaster Mike Fratello, head coach of Ukraine’s national team, told Kansas coach Bill Self he didn’t see how incoming KU freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk could compete well enough against “men” to make the roster for the FIBA World and expected him to play for the junior national team. Mykhailiuk exceeded Fratello’s expectations and made the roster. Good sign. Great accomplishment.

It will be quite the accomplishment if Mykhailiuk, 17, can earn playing time on KU’s loaded perimeter.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at how the perimeter minutes might get distributed had Mykhailiuk not been recruited to Kansas and then try to make time for him by subtracting minutes elsewhere.

Three perimeter positions times 40 minutes equals 120. Add 10 minutes for when one of the perimeter players slides to the power forward position, meaning 130 minutes are split among the following six players: Small guards Frank Mason, Conner Frankamp and Devonte Graham and big wings Wayne Selden, Kelly Oubre and Brannen Greene.

Obviously, these guesses are all way premature and mean nothing, which doesn’t take the fun out of the exercise. Give 25 minutes to Mason, 15 to Frankamp and 15 to Graham. That leaves 75 minutes for the three big wings. Give 30 minutes to Selden, 30 to Oubre and 15 to Greene. It’s difficult to picture Mykhailiuk cutting into the minutes of Selden or Oubre.

That leaves Greene, a skilled scorer with a big body and a reputation as an underachiever at the defensive end. Nothing motivates the way playing time does, so if Greene has the maturity to realize how much he must improve his defense in order to play and has it in his body to play much better D, he could become the team’s most improved player. And if a 17-year-old can beat him out, then that 17-year-old is one serious talent. Any way you look at it, KU has tremendous perimeter depth, regardless of how the minutes are distributed.

The question of how to pronounce Mykhailiuk's name no longer is a mystery, but the readiness of his game remains one.

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