Year in Review: The most memorable & most-clicked-on KU basketball stories of 2017
The list of the most read stories on KUsports.com during 2017 and the most memorable KU basketball stories of the year differs dramatically with almost no carry over.
While the reason for that is somewhat unknown — though we suspect that many KU fans worry and obsess more about the future and the unknowns than living in the moment — that reality makes for a difficult challenge when trying to look back on the biggest stories of the past year.
So instead of going with just one or the other, what we offer here is a little bit of both.
First, my Top 10 most memorable KU basketball stories of 2017, complete with some once-in-a-lifetime moments and memorable games.
I’ll follow that up with a quick look at what you guys clicked on most often during the past 12 months. Some of it might absolutely shock you. It certainly surprised me.
With that in mind, let’s get right to it. Thanks for all of your loyal readership, wonderful comments, important criticisms and questions and top-tier engagement from January through December. We greatly appreciate it and value our KUsports.com community as much as anything.
Here’s my list:
1 – Frank Mason III sweeps national player of the year awards
It was one of the most impressive and enjoyable seasons by an individual player in the history of Kansas basketball and Mason racked up the hardware as a result. In addition to winning every national POY award, Mason also became the first player in Big 12 history to average 20 points and 5 assists per game and inspired KU coach Bill Self to call him the best guard he has ever coached.
2 – KU ties UCLA’s record with 13th straight conference title
The streak was impressive before, but there was something about tying the UCLA dynasty — which actually reached 13 in a row back in its day under the direction of three separate coaches — that put a little extra shine on KU’s incredible accomplishment. As always, the season began with questions about whether this would be the year the Jayhawks slipped up and all they did was roll to a 16-2 record in Big 12 play while running away with conference title No. 13 in a row.
3 – Bill Self inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
He learned it was official at the Final Four in April and was inducted into the Hall in early September. For a coach who has won at an unprecedented level and has more hardware and rings in his trophy case than most, this humbling individual honor was something that had a profound impact on Self. He was joined at the ceremony in Springfield, Mass., by more than 120 former players and coaches from all four of his head coaching stops and delivered an A-plus speech to kick off the night at his induction.
4 – Epic comeback leads KU past West Virginia at Allen Fieldhouse
For a program that wins so often, and often by so many, it’s hard to include single victories on these types of lists. But this one absolutely belonged. Down 14 with 2:58 to play to the No. 9 team in the country that had had KU’s number all night, the Jayhawks dug deep, used a wild press and some timely 3-point shooting to force overtime and then sealed the deal on a comeback for the ages with a dominant performance in OT. Devonte’ Graham was red hot down the stretch and Landen Lucas, Mason and Josh Jackson all played key roles in the comeback that made this game every bit as memorable and entertaining as that triple-overtime victory over Buddy Hield and Oklahoma a couple of years earlier.
5 – KU, Mizzou lock horns for Border War revival for charity
There were plenty of people who believed these two would never set foot on the same floor again. But it happened in 2017, when Self and Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin came together to dream up the idea of renewing the Border War for one day to raise money for hurricane victims throughout Florida and the Caribbean. Played at Sprint Center and shown to thousands via a live-stream pay-per-view option that added to the final haul, the Jayhawks and Tigers raised more than $2 million for hurricane relief. Self emphasized throughout the process that this was a one-time thing and that it did nothing to change KU’s view about playing Mizzou during a regular season game. But the event, which was won by Kansas, was cool enough that it’s not hard to envision something similar happening in the future.
6 – Off-the-court issues hang over KU program
From multiple Carlton Bragg Jr., suspensions to an incident at the Yacht Club involving Josh Jackson, Lagerald Vick and a member of the women’s basketball program and rape allegations at the dorm where the men’s basketball players live, there were plenty of non-basketball headlines that captured people’s attention throughout 2017.
7 – Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk announce they’ll be back for senior seasons
Graham’s announcement came a week or so after KU ended its season in the Elite Eight with a tough loss to Oregon in Kansas City, Mo., and Mykhailiuk’s decision went down to the final day of the deadline to pull your name out of the NBA Draft pool. Regardless of the timing or the reasons why they made their decisions, both ultimately decided to return to Kansas for one more run, news that proved to be as big as any on the “recruiting trail” for the 2017-18 season.
8 – The waiting game with KU’s 2017-18 roster
The Jayhawks are off to an 11-2 start and poised to make a run at a record 14th consecutive Big 12 title, but so far a lot of the talk about this team has been about players who have not yet played in a single game — freshmen Silvio De Sousa and Billy Preston. De Sousa graduated early from IMG Academy and just recently joined the Jayhawks’ roster. He is still waiting to have his amateurism certified by the NCAA so he can play in a game. And Preston, who joined the Jayhawks in the summer, has been held out of games while awaiting clarification on a compliance issue involving his vehicle. While both cases dragged on, fans hung on every update or non-update throughout November and December.
9 – KU dives deep into transfer life to remake roster
Carlton Bragg Jr., and Dwight Coleby both left. Dedric and K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore all came. Malik Newman became eligible. And Jack Whitman both joined the Jayhawks and then left. And then there was walk-on football player turned reserve KU big man James Sosinski. In short, Self and company dabbled in the transfer game more than ever before, both in an attempt to add to this year’s team and also to set the stage for the 2018-19 season, as well.
10 – Jayhawks perfect during 4-game Italian exhibition
It had been four years since KU’s trip to Switzerland and France (and just two since winning the World University Games in South Korea), but the Jayhawks were at it again in 2017 for an overseas adventure in Italy designed to give the Jayhawks a head-start on building chemistry for the 2017-18 season. Against less-than-ideal competition, the Jayhawks rolled through four exhibition games over Italian competition, with Graham, Mykhailiuk and Lagerald Vick providing an early glimpse at just how dangerous — and fast — that trio could become.
And here’s a quick look at the Top 10 most clicked on stories of 2017: