Within minutes, possibly even seconds, of the news breaking Wednesday night that William & Mary transfer forward Jack Whitman was leaving the Kansas basketball program, eager and uneasy KU fans alike were connecting the dots to Marvin Bagley III.
Late Thursday morning, KU coach Bill Self confirmed Whitman's departure, saying, "Jack called me last night and informed me that he would not be playing basketball at Kansas for his fifth year. I do not know what his plans are moving forward. All I know is he will not be part of our basketball program. We wish Jack the best with his future endeavors.” But that confirmation did not include anything about what the Jayhawks will do to replace him.
It sounds good on the surface, replacing Frank Mason III with Marvin Bagley III, who just so happens to be the No. 1 ranked prospect in the Class of 2018.
And, yeah, there were rumors floating around earlier this week that Bagley was at least considering reclassifying into the 2017 class so he could play college basketball this season.
But the whole thing is far from a slam dunk, and there are a lot of moves that need to happen before Jayhawk fans can even begin to dream of seeing the 6-foot-10, 230-pound big man in crimson and blue next season.
Before we look at what factors are stacked against them, let’s first look at what the Jayhawks have working in their favor.
• First and most obvious is the fact that Kansas, no matter who you talk to, is one of the few true blue blood schools in the country and one that most all of the top prospects in class after class at least like to check the temperature on to see if the program might be the right fit for them. It was recently for Josh Selby, Andrew Wiggins and Josh Jackson. And, in time, it could be for Bagley, too. So it’s not as if KU fans are crazy for thinking he might come to Lawrence the way it might sound silly for fans in Boulder, Colo., to think Bagley might want to be a Buff.
• Beyond that, Bagley does already have KU on his short list of finalists. Those schools, in alphabetical order, are Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and USC. Big time programs, all of them, but Kansas is on the list.
• The big-picture timing of trying to woo Bagley to town really couldn’t be better for Bill Self and the Jayhawks, as Kansas currently has the reigning college player of the year in Mason and also just put Josh Jackson into the NBA via the No. 4 pick in the draft. Seeing that kind of exposure on the college level and path to professional ball no doubt would seem awfully appealing to a player of Bagley’s caliber. Beyond that, KU’s recent surge of putting players into the NBA — often via the draft lottery — has inspired top-tier prospects to look at KU’s ability to develop NBA talent in a fresh and more favorable light.
Now, let’s take a look at what might make this less than likely, both now and in the future.
• For one, reclassifying is not a slam dunk. It happens, but it’s not automatic and there is a process that Bagley would have to go through to make it happen. Beyond that, his family recently told Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, that those rumors about Bagley’s reclassification were just that, rumors, and that the elite talent had not yet made any such decision. So it’s possible that all of the Bagley talk was much ado about nothing. And if that’s the case, Kansas will still continue to pursue him, but it won’t be as a replacement for Whitman this season. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish is absolutely convinced that Bagley is en route to reclassifying and Parrish said on his recent radio show that he had been told that Bagley (a) had the grades to get it done and (b) was moving forward full speed ahead. Having said that, one source familiar with Bagley's recruitment told me Thursday that it'll take "a miracle" for him to be able to reclassify and added that Duke and USC were the likely front-runners.
• Even if the reclassification comes and KU gets a real crack at him in time for the 2017-18 season, it’s not as if it’s automatic that KU would get him. Bagley already may have visited Duke, and he’s scheduled to visit USC on July 26-27 and Arizona during the first week of August, when KU is playing overseas in Italy. “The Duke visit was completely geographical and we can drive, and we chose those three because we can drive to all of them,” Bagley’s father recently told FanRagSports.com. “And then we’ll get UCLA after, and then Kentucky and Kansas. We plan to visit them all. We’re going to try to get them in the best way we can.” For what it's worth, most national recruiting analysts seem to believe Duke is the team to beat for Bagley.
• The timing of this whole thing is nuts. Because summer workouts get going almost as soon as the Jayhawks get back from Italy, it’s hard to envision them putting in the kind of work necessary to land him while they’re in Italy. Then again, three members of Self’s staff did not make the trip to South Korea for the World University Games a couple of summers ago, and given that these Italian exhibitions are much less intense and important than those games, it’s not hard to imagine someone such as assistant Kurtis Townsend staying back to make a run at Bagley if that’s on the table. Having said that, Bagley’s also the type of talent that you’d easily still welcome into your program even in September or later if that’s what it takes to get him.
• Perhaps one of the most important things to remember about this deal is that Bagley’s whole motivation for reclassifying is not because he cannot wait to play college basketball for his school of choice. Instead, it’s because doing so provides him with the quickest path to the NBA and the money that awaits there. If Bagley is able to play college ball in 2017-18, he would be eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft, where he would at least be in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick and certainly would be a surefire Top 5 choice. “I want to go the NBA,” Bagley recently told Andrew Slater of 247Sports. “That's my goal and those schools help get you there. They prepare you for that. That's why they made my list.”
• As for what he’s hoping to get out of whichever college program he signs with, Bagley said his whole mindset was focused on development. “I just want to get better,” he told Slater. “Wherever I feel like that is, wherever I feel like I'm around good people, around people who push me every day and tell me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear, that's where I see myself.”
At this point, it’s hard to picture exactly how all of this is going to play out. Bagley has not given any kind of time frame for a decision about his school or a decision about reclassifying and, even though there still is time to iron it all out, August is quickly approaching and things get a little tighter from there.
According to Slater’s report, Duke and now Kansas, thanks to Whitman’s departure, might be in the best shape of the bunch should Bagley reclassify because they have spots available immediately.
Regardless of KU’s chances of landing him or what his immediate future holds, this much we know: For at least the next few weeks, those interested in Kansas basketball would be wise to pay attention to whatever news comes out of the Bagley camp.
Three former Kansas basketball players earned all-Summer League honors this week following strong showings in Las Vegas during the past couple of weeks.
Phoenix rookie Josh Jackson, the No. 4 overall pick in June's draft, landed on the first team while second-year pros Wayne Selden Jr., and Cheick Diallo both earned second-team nods.
The accolades represent a couple of key things for the players and their franchises, with the Suns receiving validation of a job well done after selecting Jackson when they did and Selden and Diallo gaining even more crucial confidence as they strive to find their way and make an impact on their respective rosters.
Selden was oh so close to being named a first-team selection and he easily could've been on the first team, which was made up of Jackson, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith, Caleb Swanigan and John Collins.
The former KU standout was fourth in the entire league at 22.7 points per game and helped lead the Memphis Grizzlies to the semifinals of the Summer League tournament. Not only did Selden score in bunches — with deep jumpers, dazzling dunks and repeated trips to the free throw line — but he also emerged as the go-to scorer on Memphis' young squad.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t even play a dozen games with the team last season and spent three times as much time in the D League as he did on an NBA roster.
It's likely that Selden missed out on making the first team because his rebound (3.8) and assists (3.0) totals were not as high as some would've liked to see. While those areas clearly are important parts of the game, Selden's emergence as a take-over type of player was one of the better stories of the Vegas circuit.
He looked strong, confident, crazy athletic and comfortable in any and all situations. In short, he looked a lot like the guy KU fans got glimpses of during his three years at Kansas, most notably during his 33-point outburst in a home victory over Kentucky during his junior season.
While some might perceive Selden’s second-team selection as a snub or a slight, the guess here is that Selden’s just fine with it. Ever since going undrafted in 2016, the former Jayhawk guard has taken full advantage of any and all opportunities to fill his tank with fuel for motivation.
The result was his stellar summer and a two-year contract with the Grizzlies. If this latest dose of motivation delivers the same way the previous fuel did, Selden could be poised for a breakout season when NBA action returns this fall.
As for Diallo and Jackson, both used their athleticism and high motors to become big time factors in Vegas.
Jackson, as he did during his one year at Kansas, consistently flashed his all-around game, putting up points, playing tough defense and getting on the glass game in and game out. The Detroit native averaged 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in five outings with the Suns, and routinely found his way into highlight shows with his play on both ends of the floor.
Diallo, who has opened some eyes in New Orleans with his growth and maturity as a player, not only scored 18.6 points per game in Vegas, but also averaged 9.8 rebounds per night, good for third in the league. Diallo enjoyed three 20-point outings, recorded a double-double three times and never finished with fewer than five rebounds in New Orleans’ five games.
Other former KU players who recently wrapped up play in the Vegas summer league include Perry Ellis, who averaged 11.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in five games with Minnesota; Landen Lucas, who averaged 1.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in two games with Boston; Frank Mason III, who averaged 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 16.5 minutes per game with Sacramento; and Julian Wright, who tallied 3.0 points per game in four games with Utah.
So last week news broke that Marvin Bagley III, currently the No. 1 ranked prospect in the Class of 2018 according to Rivals.com, was considering reclassifying and heading to school this Fall for what likely would be his lone season of college basketball.
Many recruiting analysts have said that Bagley is the clear-cut No. 1 player in the 2018 class and the 6-foot-10, 220-pound, 5-star prospect brings a well-rounded and explosive game to the floor every time he suits up.
As you would expect with a player of that caliber, all of the major players in college basketball are in on him and any one of them — Kansas included — would love to have him playing in their colors when he hits the college hoops scene.
At this point, Bagley has a Top 6 of Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and USC, with only a visit to Duke scheduled so far.
He grew up in Southern California and also spent some time living in Arizona. So it’s easy to see why those three schools are in play here, as well. And then Kansas and Kentucky are, well, Kansas and Kentucky so that makes sense, too.
What does not make sense is the belief that Bagley would consider reclassifying without knowing where he wants to play his college ball.
I’m not saying it’s a done deal. Not even close. In fact, Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, recently spoke with Bagley's family and reported that they're calling the news "rumors" and saying they have not made any such decision about jumping up a class.
I don’t know the kid and barely know the circumstances surrounding his recruitment. But I find it hard to imagine that he would make a major move — or even consider one — like reclassifying in order to attend college a full year before he previously was expected to without having a pretty good feel for where he wants to go after the paperwork is done.
The guess here is that place will be Duke.
In order for it to be Kansas, the Jayhawks likely would need Bagley to decide against reclassifying and to stay in the 2018 class, which certainly is possible and definitely would give Bill Self and company more time to make their pitch and also time to find room to add him.
As of today, the Jayhawks are full and bringing on another player — whether he’s a monster player like Bagley or a 3-star big man for added depth — would require some movement on the scholarship front in order to open up a spot.
With the trip to Italy coming in two weeks and preseason camp starting shortly after their return, it’s hard to imagine anyone from the current roster moving on for one reason or another at this point.
The Bagley thing is interesting, not because it’s rare — reclassifying has become more and more common during recent years — but because he’s such a big time talent.
But his move, should he make it, probably would not mean much for the Jayhawks at this point in time. Now, if he stays in the Class of 2018, stay tuned...
With a surplus of guards and a need up front, the Boston Celtics made somewhat of an inevitable move on Friday. And it involved a former Kansas basketball player.
According to multiple reports citing sources, the Celtics have agreed to send guard Avery Bradley to Detroit for former KU standout Marcus Morris. The Pistons also will be getting a future second-round draft pick in the deal.
Morris, if the trade goes through, will be playing for his fifth team in his first seven NBA seasons. And there’s no doubt that this next squad will represent his best opportunity at team success.
The Celtics, who earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, reached the conference finals a year ago and added prized free agent Gordon Hayward, along with No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum, during the offseason.
The key portion of the deal for Boston was to move Avery's contract so they could sign Hayward to a max deal. But getting a young forward with size and good athleticism in return certainly does not represent the Celtics walking away as the losers in this deal. It seems to have the potential to be mutually beneficial for both sides and all parties.
Bringing the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Morris twin into the fold gives Boston coach Brad Stevens even more flexibility and versatility and also brings some beef and attitude to the team trying to break through and reach the NBA Finals.
Stevens has talked recently about moving more toward positionless basketball, playing with three positions instead of five — guard, wing and big man. Morris fits into that idea very well and should give Stevens a variety of options on the perimeter and down low.
Morris made news last postseason by showing up to a Washington Wizards playoff game to support twin brother, Markieff, in an authentic Washington Markieff Morris jersey. The move opened eyes throughout the arena and even led some to speculate that Marcus may have filled in for Markieff following an injury in the postseason.
Morris enjoyed one of the better and more consistent years of his career last season, averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds in 79 games with Detroit.
He has career averages of 10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 416 NBA games, but surrounded by all of that talent in Boston, it’s easy to see how he could carve out a key role and improve on those numbers in the coming years.
July 4, as you well know, is known as Independence Day in the United State of America, but there’s a developing situation for another, lesser-known holiday a couple of days later.
Thanks to the last-chance vote for this year’s Major League Baseball All Star Game, July 6 might forever be known as Moose Day.
All morning and afternoon, Twitter has been on fire with Kansas City Royals fans — and therefore many KU basketball and football fans, as well — Tweeting #VoteMoose in an attempt to get Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas into this year’s All Star Game next week in Miami.
While the fun has extended to all walks of life, with people adding “#VoteMoose” to the end of Tweets that have absolutely nothing to do with sports, and others getting creative and putting out movie challenges in which you replace a word or two in a popular movie with the words Vote Moose for a good laugh, the movement officially reached KU at 2:16 p.m. Thursday afternoon, when Kansas basketball coach Bill Self joined the fun.
Self, who has more than 220,000 followers but just 261 Tweets to his name — including a whopping nine so far this year — wrote simply, “Let’s get another Royal into the All Star Game. #VoteMoose.”
As of 2:57 p.m., Self’s Tweet had 1,264 likes, 667 ReTweets and 24 replies.
Self’s Tweet will only count once in the voting, but you can bet there were a few folks out there who follow the KU program and its coach that followed suit after they saw Self fire off his Tweet.
Falling in the "Go Figure" category, Self's Twitter picture is actually of him and his son, Tyler, at Kauffman Stadium.
Moustakas, who reached the All Star Game in 2015 via this very same path is expected to find out at a 5 p.m. announcement whether he received enough votes to make the team.
In 2007, Kansas forward Julian Wright, whom some called a young Magic Johnson because of his size, athletic ability and vision as a passer, became an NBA lottery pick when the New Orleans Hornets made him the No. 13 overall pick following two stellar seasons at Kansas.
Today, Wright is trying to make it back into the league as a center.
Listed on the Utah Jazz summer league roster, with a big C by his name, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound former Jayhawk Wright again is knocking on the door of the league he played in from 2007-2011.
During that time, Wright played in 231 games in three seasons with New Orleans and a fourth with Toronto, making a total of 40 starts and underwhelming most of the way.
Though plenty gifted athletically, Wright struggled to transition to the pro game, primarily because his jump shot was not where it needed to be, and that led him to more bench time than playing time. His four-year averages landed at 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, and, from there, he jumped overseas, where he has continued his playing career to this day.
Last listed as a member of Pallacanestro Reggiana, of Italy’s LBA, Serie A Basketball League, Wright has played with eight different franchises overseas from 2012 to today, with two stints in Israel, two in Italy and at least part of one season in Greece, Puerto Rico, Russia and Turkey, as well.
While it remains to be seen what comes of Wright’s summer tryout with the Jazz, Kansas coach Bill Self told the Journal-World on Wednesday that he had heard some favorable feedback on Wright already this summer.
“Somebody told me he’s big enough, he can switch screens, he could do some good things if he could get in shape, and maybe he could make a team,” Self said of his former Chicago standout. “But who knows?”
Wright’s presence on the Utah roster has caught the attention of those who cover the Jazz on a regular basis. So, too, has his physical presence. Much larger than he ever was during his days as a thin, dynamic play maker in Kansas, Wright looks like a completely different player today and, in many ways, is almost unrecognizable on the floor.
Calling him a Center might have caught some off guard, but at least one outlet, Utah’s SB Nation site, believes that Wright could be auditioning as a stretch big, which, given his height, was the way some of his overseas clubs used him during recent years.
Evidence of this guess appears in the following video clip, where Wright (No. 30) can be seen fading to the corner at the bottom of the screen.
While playing a stretch four (provided his shot has improved to that level) might be Wright’s best path toward getting a legitimate look, don’t expect it to be one that leads to a roster spot.
Here’s another quick video in which you get a little closer look at Wright, with that beard that has been a part of his signature look for the past several years.
And here's a video interview from a couple of years ago, which opens with Wright talking about his Kansas experience.
With recent draft picks Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III preparing for their first taste of life in the NBA during their upcoming summer league sessions, former Jackson and Mason teammate Landen Lucas will be beating both draftees to the punch.
Lucas, an undrafted free agent center with the Boston Celtics’ summer league squad, will kick off his extended tryout today in Salt Lake City, when the Celtics take on Philadelphia at 6 p.m. central time.
Lucas is one of just three players on the Celtics’ summer league roster who stands 6-foot-10 or taller — Boston’s 2016 first-round pick, 7-footer Ante Zizic is another — and he will be wearing No. 63 in green and white.
A couple of quick tidbits about Lucas’ situation heading into his first crack at pro basketball:
• Although Lucas’ ultimate dream is to play in the NBA, this is far from a Celtics-or-bust situation for the former Jayhawk. Lucas entered the draft process with heavy interest and even guaranteed offers from a handful of foreign teams and would no doubt be scooped up quickly overseas if things don’t work out in Boston.
• Lucas is the only player in this year’s draft class on the Celtics’ entire summer league roster who went through an individual workout with the team prior to the June 22 draft. Celtics boss Danny Ainge has long been known to appreciate toughness, maturity and character in the players he signs and drafts and Lucas grades out highly in all three areas.
• One thing worth keeping an eye on with Boston is the status of free agent forward Gordon Hayward. If Hayward decides to sign with Boston, likely on a max deal or something close to it, the Celtics would have much less room under the salary cap and could be looking to fill the final couple of spots on their roster with less expensive options. Hayward to the C’s certainly would not guarantee Lucas anything. And he likely remains a long shot to make the roster anyway. But Boston adding Hayward would be noteworthy for Lucas provided he plays well during the next couple of weeks.
• Boston will play in two summer league sessions, with the first running July 3-6 in Salt Lake City and the second coming July 7-17 in Las Vegas. Mason and Jackson will kick off their summer league careers Friday in Vegas against one another.
• As for his work with the Landen Lucas Foundation, it continues at full speed even with its namesake busy trying to catch on in the NBA. The foundation already has given out nearly 40 scholarships to young people in Lawrence and continues to search for ways to raise more money to sustain the vision and help as many local children as possible in their quest to get involved with their chosen sports. The Foundation’s goal is to raise $100,000 and give away 200 more scholarships in the next year.
Although it's unlikely that he’ll be asked to fill Frank Mason III’s shoes in Kansas’ starting lineup, KU freshman Marcus Garrett will be looking to do just that in his chosen jersey.
Garrett, one of nine newcomers on this year’s Kansas basketball team, will wear No. 0 during his first season with the Jayhawks.
KU Athletics last weekend released a short video with the newcomers — six of which will be eligible during the 2017-18 season — revealing their jersey numbers and talking about the experience of wearing a KU uniform for the first time.
“Today we’re taking action shots to put up in our locker and just to feel the Jayhawk uniform,” said Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson, who will wear No. 1, the same number he wore at Memphis.
Added Cal transfer Charlie Moore, who wore No. 13 with the Golden Bears and will wear No. 5 at Kansas: “I’m just excited to put on this uniform and represent.”
The other newcomers featured in the video were William & Mary graduate transfer Jack Whitman, who will wear No. 41, Memphis transfer K.J. Lawson, who has chosen to wear No. 13; freshman Billy Preston, who picked No. 23; and walk-on Chris Teahan, the younger brother of Conner Teahan, who will wear No. 12 during the upcoming season.
Although Garrett did not address wearing the same number as the reigning national player of the year, the group expressed similar thoughts when talking about putting a KU uniform for the first time.
“I’m thrilled to be here and can’t wait to get started,” said Whitman, who will be eligible to play immediately.
Added Preston: “I’m excited to play in front of the crowd, the most crazy fans and the best fans in the country.”
As for Garrett and K.J. Lawson, they seemed most excited about joining the tradition-rich Kansas program.
“This town loves basketball,” K.J. Lawson said. “And I’m just excited to be a part of a great tradition.”
Added Garrett: “I’m very excited for Late Night. Everybody tells me how many people are gonna be there and I just can’t wait.”
Two other newly eligible faces on this year’s roster are guard Malik Newman, who will wear No. 14, and Sam Cunliffe, who will wear No. 3 when he’s eligible to play following the end of the first semester.
Here’s a quick look at the entire numerical roster:
0 – Marcus Garrett, Fr. G
1 – Dedric Lawson, Jr. F
2 – Lagerald Vick, Jr. G
3 – Sam Cunliffe, Soph. G
4 – Devonte’ Graham, Sr. G
5 – Charlie Moore, Soph. G
10 – Svi Mykhailiuk, Sr. G
12 – Chris Teahan, Fr. G
13 – K.J. Lawson, Soph. F
14 – Malik Newman, Jr. G
21 – Clay Young, Sr. G
23 – Billy Preston, Fr. F
35 – Udoka Azubuike, Soph. C
41 – Jack Whitman, Sr. F
44 – Mitch Lightfoot, Soph. F
It’s not a complete rarity just yet, and some very, very good Kansas basketball players recently have stuck around to play all four seasons at KU.
While that often endears them to the hearts and minds of KU fans much more than those phenoms who come and go in a year or two — think recently beloved ballers Frank Mason III, Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Devonte’ Graham, Tyshawn Taylor and more — it also gives them quite an advantage in their assault on the record books.
Sticking around for four years gives a player, on average, 35 more games to rack up stats than a player who left after his junior season, 70 more than a two-year player and more than 100 more games to rack up stats than the one-and-done superstars who no doubt would have a much more prominent place in the KU record books if four-year college careers were required or the norm.
Just think about the numbers Andrew Wiggins and Josh Jackson would’ve put up. (Wiggins, by the way, would have just finished his senior season at KU if that were the case).
Another one in this area that always gets me is Paul Pierce, who played three stellar seasons at KU before turning pro and would no doubt have been the second leading scorer in KU history (behind only Danny Manning) had he stayed for his senior year. As it is, Pierce, in three seasons, climbed all the way to sixth place on KU’s scoring chart and currently sits 10th after Keith Langford, Sherron Collins, Perry Ellis and, of course, Frank Mason III all passed him. All four were four-year players.
And that brings me to my point. With Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham announcing this spring that they would be back for their senior seasons, both have a chance to move up on a handful of KU all-time lists, including total points, 3-point shooting and games played.
Graham, who eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone during his junior season, figures to be in position for a jump in scoring with several other big time scorers who he called teammates now gone.
After a modest, 164-point freshman year, the senior from Raleigh, N.C., has averaged 456 points per season during the past two seasons and sits in 45th place on KU’s all-time scoring list, a few points ahead of Rex Walters.
Assuming Graham at least hits his two-year average during the 2017-18 season, that would move him into the Top 20, just ahead of Drew Gooden, who capped his three-year KU career with 1,526 points.
If Graham is able to even come close to duplicating what Mason did during national-player-of-the-year campaign last season, that would give Graham a shot at cracking the Top 10.
The best guess here is that he’ll land somewhere between his 456 average and that 700-point ceiling, putting him comfortably in the Top 15 by the time he says goodbye to Lawrence.
Now let’s turn our attention to KU’s all-time 3-point shooting records, an area in which both Graham and Mykhailiuk can do some damage before they’re done.
Neither player is going to come anywhere close to catching all-time leader Jeff Boschee, whose 338 career 3-pointers are 69 (a good season) more than second-place Billy Thomas.
But there’s a shot that Graham could catch Thomas for second and Svi could move into the Top 5.
To do so, Graham would need to knock down 84 triples during his senior season. While that’s far from a given, considering the amount of attention Graham figures to get from opposing defenses during his final season as a Jayhawk, it’s certainly possible. As a sophomore, Graham drilled 75 3-pointers and, last season, while playing third fiddle to Mason and Josh Jackson, Graham upped the total to 94.
Given the presence of Malik Newman and the fact that KU coach Bill Self has said next season’s team is likely to play a little more inside out than last year’s team did, it’s certainly possible that Graham could get free enough times to knock down the 84 shots he needs to slide into second place. If not, third place seems all but certain, as he needs just 51 3-point makes to move past Kirk Hinrich.
For what it’s worth, Frank Mason III currently sits in seventh place (185), five 3-point makes ahead of Mario Chalmers.
Graham’s 94 3-point makes as a junior was good for the fourth best single-season mark in KU history. And his .411 career percentage has him on the brink of the Top 10 in all-time 3-point percentage already.
And then there’s Svi, who, after a relatively slow start to his career, stepped up big time with 70 3-point makes during his junior season. Another season like that would put the young Ukrainian on the doorstep of the Top 5, as he needs 84 3-point makes as a senior to pass Brandon Rush (205) for fifth place on KU’s 3-point chart.
Regardless of how it all plays out, both Graham and Mykhailiuk, thanks largely to their status as four-year players, should be mainstays in the KU record books for quite a while.
That’s not a knock on the one-and-done phenomenon or me saying one way is better than the other. The bottom line is this: It’s every player’s goal to make it to the NBA and if you’re ready you should be able to go.
But it’s cool to see that, beyond getting an education and enjoying the college experience, there are a few other perks of staying in school for all four years.
Records are cool anywhere, but at a place like Kansas, with all of its rich history and tradition, being a part of them, can wind up being even more meaningful later in life.
Thanks to their decisions to return for one more go — not to mention one more stab at a national title — Graham and Mykhailiuk now are in position to experience that.
“They will be sorry,” and “You won’t regret it.”
Two very different sounding phrases uttered by former Kansas basketball stars who on Thursday night were drafted into the NBA, Josh Jackson as the No. 4 overall pick and Frank Mason III as the fourth pick of the second round.
Provided Wayne Selden Jr., sticks with the Grizzlies and recently rehabbed point guard Mario Chalmers gets back into the league with someone, the addition of Jackson and Mason to NBA rosters brings the current total of Jayhawks in the NBA to 18.
I’ve been around all but a few of those players and it’s hard for me to imagine any of those who came before them being quite as driven and focused to make their presence felt as Jackson and Mason.
That presence may come in very different ways and at distinctly different times — hence the two different sounding phrases that kick-started this blog — but there’s no doubt that both players are well positioned to use their best skills — toughness, tenacity, work ethic, effort — to prove to their teams and others that they will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
A quick glimpse into the crystal ball has that vision looking a little different for the two Jayhawks.
For Jackson, the sky is the limit. The versatile wing, with a ridiculously talented all-around game and unending desire to polish all aspects of it, has the potential to be a 10-year NBA starter and play in at least a couple of All-Star Games.
He had that potential heading into his lone season at Kansas. He had that potential before the first pick was even made on Thursday night. And after waiting a full 31 minutes for his name to be called at No. 4 to Phoenix, that potential now has a little motivation behind it.
Jackson proved that after he was drafted by calmly proclaiming at his post-draft presser that those teams that did not draft him — all three of them — one day would be sorry.
I don’t doubt it. Because I know Jackson a little bit and I know that he’s not going to pull back one bit in his pursuit of that goal. It’s not in his DNA to ease up, and now that he has a reason, real or perceived, to go even harder than he already has, you’re talking about an exciting situation for the Phoenix franchise.
As for Mason, who took to Twitter after he was picked to thank the Kings for drafting him and promise them that they would not regret it, the idea of him becoming a force in the NBA looks a little different.
But before we examine exactly what that means, let’s remember that nine months ago this was a player who was not on anybody’s NBA radar and the young man damn near cracked the first round.
Impressive. Incredible. In every way, exactly the kind of thing that Frank Mason has done throughout his entire basketball playing life.
So for Mason, that whole force to be reckoned with talk looks a little less All-Starish and a little more like a veteran point guard who enjoys a long career and becomes one of the more respected and well-liked players on whatever roster he’s on. Think Paul Pierce meets Nick Collison.
After Thursday’s draft, KU coach Bill Self talked glowingly about the situations inherited by both of his former players. He loves the fit for Mason, who will be able to both play and help rebuild the culture with the Kings. And he thinks Jackson, no matter who he’s playing for, is ready to make a significant impact on the NBA immediately.
Regardless of how long it takes for either player to reach his full potential, there’s no doubt in my mind that few Jayhawks before them have been as ready, and at the same time as motivated, to transition to the pro game full-speed ahead.
It should be fun to watch and both Phoenix and Sacramento should benefit a great deal from that mindset and determination.
Current Jayhawks in the NBA
Cole Aldrich – Minnesota Timberwolves
Darrell Arthur – Denver Nuggets
Tarik Black – Los Angeles Lakers
Mario Chalmers – TBD
Nick Collison – Oklahoma City Thunder
Cheick Diallo – New Orleans Pelicans
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns
Frank Mason III – Sacramento Kings
Ben McLemore – Sacramento Kings
Marcus Morris – Detroit Pistons
Markieff Morris – Washington Wizards
Kelly Oubre Jr. – Washington Wizards
Thomas Robinson – Los Angeles Lakers
Brandon Rush – Minnesota Timberwolves
Wayne Selden Jr. – Memphis Grizzlies
Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves
Jeff Withey – Utah Jazz