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A look at KU's point guard possibilities for Friday night's regular season opener
Following his team's exhibition victory over Fort Hays State on Tuesday night, Kansas University men's basketball coach Bill Self told reporters he was leaning toward not red-shirting anyone during the upcoming season.
Although this comes as a bit of a surprise given KU's incredible depth and the lack of minutes available for so many talented players, it also makes sense in a lot of ways and is exactly in line with what our own Tom Keegan predicted a little more than a week ago.
Entering the season, Andrew White III, Conner Frankamp and possibly Brannen Greene were the most likely candidates to take a red-shirt this season. But White improved a ton and worked his way into the rotation and Greene and Frankamp both offer the ability to stretch defenses with their deep range and killer shooting stroke.
If it's me making the decisions (and aren't you glad it's not), I'd still give a long look at red-shirting Frankamp, who will be a four-year guy anyway and could stand to have a year devoted to getting bigger, stronger and faster without having to worry about performing on the floor.
Having said that, the idea of red-shirting Frankamp was made tougher by the one-game suspension handed out to starting point guard Naadir Tharpe, who will miss Friday's game against Louisiana-Monroe. Frank Mason, who looked great on Tuesday, will start in Tharpe's place, but, behind that, there's no clear back-up point guard, which is where Frankamp comes in. He seems like the best option there and handled some of that role on Tuesday.
But, what if Self wants to hold Frankamp out of Friday's game just to keep the red-shirt option alive. Could he do it? And how?
There's no question he could, and a big part of the how comes from KU getting a huge lead early and riding it out from there.
I have no doubt that Mason could play 35 minutes if he needed to. So why not let him run wild for 20 minutes and see if that allows KU to build a big halftime lead. If it does, then Mason can get his rest in the second half (maybe even sitting as many as 10 minutes) and KU can go to the point-guard-by-committee approach when Mason's not on the floor.
Self has said that Wayne Selden could be an emergency point guard for this team, but the Jayhawks have a few other guys capable of bringing the ball up the floor and getting the offense going, as well.
Andrew Wiggins certainly is one. Brannen Greene is another. And I even think that Perry Ellis could do it if the Jayhawks got into a bind. (Seriously, what can't Ellis do!?!) During last year's NCAA Tournament, I remember talking to Ellis and his teammates about the prospects of him handling the ball more just in case the Jayhawks ran into VCU and their crazy pressure defense. There wasn't a guy in that locker room who thought Perry operating as a point forward was a bad idea. And I think giving him more of a role in that capacity would be good for his development and prospects beyond college ball.
We'll see how everything plays out on Friday and beyond. If I'm a betting man, I'm guessing that Frankamp will play. But if Self wants to keep the option of red-shirting the Wichita native open, he has options, at least in a one-game scenario.
Gotta love all that depth.