In past years, the Memphis-to-Kansas pipeline may have delivered Tarik Black and Lagerald Vick, but that seems tame compared with what’s going on today.
According to Evan Daniels of Scout.com, KU coach Bill Self has secured a commitment from California transfer Charlie Moore, a 5-foot-11, former four-star prospect in the Class of 2016, who averaged 12 points and 3.5 assists per game for the Bears last season.
Moore played in 34 games during his lone season with Cal and averaged 29 minutes per game during his freshman season.
Moore confirmed the news shortly after Daniels’ report via a Twitter post of him in a KU jersey — wearing No. 13 — with the words "New Chapter" written below the photo. Shortly thereafter, KU coach Bill Self offered his thoughts on the news via press release, signifying that the transfer was official.
"Charlie started at Cal this past year and averaged just over 12 points a game as a true freshman," Self said. "We think after a year sitting out that he'll be much like (KU sophomore transfer) Malik Newman will be for us this year, ready to make a serious contribution to our program."
Before heading to Cal, Moore, a Chicago native, had committed to Memphis and then-head coach Josh Pastner. Once Pastner left for Georgia Tech, Moore elected to head west and now is looking to return closer to home to be closer to his ailing father in the Windy City.
Called by Rivals.com during his recruitment, “a dynamo who can score,” Moore carries a toughness typical of Chicago prospects and is known for his explosive abilities and on-court personality.
He joins former Memphis standouts Dedric and K.J. Lawson in electing to transfer to Kansas, which, one year from now, will give Self three players who at one time seemed to be well on their way to starting together for the Tigers in Tennessee.
"We're excited about all three of these prospects," Self said in the release. "They've all had successful starts to their college careers at different institutions. Certainly, the transfers became so attractive to us, in large part because we will have guys in our program who will be ready to contribute in a year. We could lose multiple guys next year, so I think this is a great fit for the University of Kansas. Not only will we get better down the road but this will certainly make us better in practice next year."
With the grant-in-aid agreements signed by all three players, Self was able to comment for the first time on the Lawson brothers, whose decision to transfer away from their native Memphis was highly publicized a couple of weeks ago.
In 2016-17, Dedric Lawson (6-foot-9, 236 pounds) led the AAC and was 19th nationally in rebound average at 9.9 boards per game. His 19.2 scoring average was second in the conference and he was fifth in the league with a 46.1 field goal percentage. Dedric recorded 19 double-doubles on the season which was 11th nationally and tops in the AAC. Dedric scored a career-high 35 points against Iowa on Nov. 26, 2016.
"Averaging almost 20 points and 10 rebounds last year, Dedric is one of the best big-man prospects in the country," Self said. "He was a double-double machine last year."
Self also said Dedric's brother, K.J. Lawson, who averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds as a small forward at Memphis last season, would add a lot to KU in the coming seasons.
"He's a very competitive athlete who we feel will add to our culture here," Self said.
According to a Tweet from college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein, Kansas and Illinois have emerged as the two favorites to land Cal point guard Charlie Moore, who plans to transfer in the offseason.
Moore, a 5-foot-11, former four-star prospect in the Class of 2016, averaged 12 points and 3.5 assists per game for the Bears this season. He played in 34 games and averaged 29 minutes per game during his freshman season.
Moore originally committed to Memphis prior to last season but backed out of that commitment when then-Memphis coach Josh Pastner left for Georgia Tech.
That sent Moore to Cal, where he played one year for Cuonzo Martin, who left this offseason to take over at Missouri. Despite praising Cal’s promotion of assistant coach Wyking Jones into the head coach’s office, Moore elected to transfer in order to be closer to his ailing father, who, in 2015, suffered a stroke.
“After many discussions with my family, I’ve made the decision to transfer to be closer to home,” Moore said in a statement earlier this month. “This was an extremely difficult decision for me, but the opportunity to be closer to my family is one that I feel is necessary for me at this time. I am grateful for my first year at California and for teammates, who became my brothers.”
Called by Rivals.com during his recruitment, “a dynamo who can score,” Moore carries a toughness typical of Chicago prospects and is known for his explosive abilities and on-court personality.
Although Rothstein’s report merely mentioned KU as one of two frontrunners for Moore, there’s a lot about the link to Kansas that makes sense.
For one, signing with KU would give him the opportunity to play with former Memphis players Dedric and K.J. Lawson, who also are transferring to KU this offseason. Although the trio never played together at Memphis, the Lawson brothers no doubt had an impact during Memphis recruitment of Moore.
For two, with KU losing Devonte’ Graham and possibly Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk following the 2017-18 season, the Jayhawks will be looking to restock the cupboard with guards heading into the 2018-19 season, when Moore would become eligible after sitting out in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.
As Kansas coach Bill Self and his staff continue to try to put the finishing touches on the 2017 recruiting classes, recruiting services everywhere are doing the same.
This week, both ESPN and 247 Sports released their final rankings of the 2017 class, which, to date, includes two KU commitments and a couple of known targets still trying to make their decisions.
6-foot-5 combo guard Marcus Garrett, who committed to KU last August, finished ranked as the No. 47-ranked player in the class according to 247 Sports and 61st in the ESPN rankings.
Five-star prospect Billy Preston, a 6-9, 220-pound forward from Oak Hill Academy finished ranked No. 21 on the 247 list and No. 17 according to ESPN.
Those two players finished ranked No. 10 and No. 37 in the final Rivals.com rankings for the 2017 class.
Other notable names and rankings on the final 247 Sports list include KU targets Trevon Duval (No. 6), recently released Illinois big man Jeremiah Tilmon (No. 39) and guard Thomas Allen, another player who recently was given a release from his previous choice after a coaching change, who came in ranked 126th on the final list.
Duval, who has been one of KU's top targets for months and would pair nicely in the Kansas backcourt next to Devonte' Graham and Malik Newman, was rumored to be making an unofficial visit to Duke this week — the Blue Devils may represent KU's stiffest challenge for the dynamic guard — but Duval wrote on Twitter that such reports were untrue.
It should be noted that this is the same Duval, who earlier this month, Tweeted that he would announce a final two only to reveal later that his plans of narrowing down his list from five (Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Seton Hall) to two were merely an April Fool's joke.
Thanks to Josh Jackson's formal announcement that he would enter the NBA Draft, the Jayhawks now have one remaining scholarship to pass out. Should Svi Mykhailiuk, who is testing his merits but has not yet hired an agent, elect to stay in the draft, Kansas would have two scholarships to give in the current class.
As always, Self and his staff also are lining up visits and making the rounds with players in an ultra-talented 2018 class, with power forward Marvin Bagley III, small forward Zion Williamson, shooting guard Romeo Langford, power forward Jordan Brown, power forward Bol Bol and point guard Darius Garland representing a few of the highest-ranked names to keep an eye on.
While the Kansas basketball program’s 2017 recruiting class remains incomplete and a work in progress, the folks at Rivals.com have released their updated and final Rivals 150 rankings for the current class.
The two future Jayhawks on the list who already have signed with Kansas both dropped a couple of spots but more or less held their ground and maintained their status in the same tiers they were in during the previous update.
Billy Preston, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound McDonald’s All-American from Oak Hill Academy landed in the No. 10 spot in the final rankings. That was two spots down from his previous ranking of No. 8 but allowed Preston to maintain the distinction by which many had known him throughout the recruiting process — a Top 10 player in the class. Preston also remained a 5-star prospect.
Of Preston, who averaged a double-double (15.3 points and 10.4 rebounds) during his final prep season, KU coach Bill Self recently said: “He’s a prototypical 4 man. He’s a big guy that can handle the ball and shoot. He’s really a good prospect.”
Marcus Garrett, a 6-foot-5, combo guard from Dallas’ Skyline High, dropped one spot from No. 37 to 38 but remained higher than his initial ranking of No. 44 when he committed to Kansas last August. Garrett also held his status as a 4-star recruit.
Of Garrett, who nearly averaged a triple-double (17.3 points, 10.4 points and 9.1 assists) during his senior season while earning Texas Gatorade Player of the Year honors, Self recently said: “I think Marcus is gonna be good. Marcus is a 6-5 guard, he’s strong and he’s gonna be a really good player.”
The two players already officially committed to the program were not the only noteworthy prospects listed in the final Rivals 150 rankings.
Trevon Duval, the top-ranked point guard in the class who has narrowed down his list to a final five of Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Seton Hall, dropped one spot, from No. 3 to No. 4 as he reached the homestretch of his recruitment.
The arrival of the spring signing period, which opened Wednesday and runs through May 17, creates a situation where Duval will not have to wait to sign whenever he makes his final decision. He can both commit and sign on the same day or, possibly even sign an official letter of intent with his chosen school before making his choice public.
Most recruiting analysts believe that Duval’s decision will come sometime later this month or early in May. But the reality is that it could come any day.
KU target Jeremiah Tilmon, a 6-10, 235-pound big man from East St. Louis, Ill., also received a new ranking in the updated list, falling from No. 25 to No. 42. Tilmon, who had committed to Illinois but asked for a release after the Illini changed coaches, is expected to receive a visit from Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard on Friday.
Self recently told the Journal-World that he would like to add a “quick-twitch 4 man” in the current class to back-up Preston, but added that, “If he’s not a quick-twitch guy, then hopefully (he’s) a guy that’s big enough to play the five. But there’s some guys out there and there’s gonna be a lot of seniors that will look to transfer so hopefully we’ll find one.”
Other names of note on the list include: Brewster Academy guard Thomas Allen, who recently was released from his commitment to NC State after the Wolfpack coaching change. Allen jumped from No. 149 on the list to No. 99.
Former Arizona State commitment Kenny Wooten, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward who recently reopened his recruitment and checks in at No. 140 on the list. Wooten, according to Rivals, had an offer from KU prior to committing to Arizona State.
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reported Monday, through information obtained from their father, that former Memphis standouts Dedric and K.J. Lawson plan to transfer to Kansas.
The two brothers, who are natives of Memphis, where they attended Hamilton High, will sit out the 2017-18 season per NCAA transfer rules and be eligible in time for the 2018-19 season,
Last season, they combined to average more than 30 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists per game for Tubby Smith's Tigers, who finished the season 19-13.
Dedric Lawson, a 6-foot-9, 236-pound sophomore and former McDonald's All-American, averaged a double-double — 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game — while his brother, K.J Lawson, a 6-7, 210-pound, red-shirt freshman, averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Both players committed to former Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who has since moved on to Georgia Tech. Their father, Keelon Lawson, held a position on Pastner's staff but was demoted after Smith arrived in town.
Just after noon on Monday, K.J. confirmed the news with a Tweet that read, "ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK"
According to Parish's report, the latest recruiting haul by Kansas might pay dividends beyond the next two seasons, as Dedric and K.J. have two younger brothers — Chandler and Johnathan — who are top prospects in the 2019 and 2021 classes. Beyond that, a cousin, D.J. Jeffries, also is a Top 10 player in the 2019 class.
Though ineligible next season, the Lawson brothers will be able to practice with the team all year, providing some tough competition for KU's rotation players to battle on a daily basis throughout the year.
Dedric Lawson will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the upcoming season and K.J. Lawson, if he applies for and is granted a sixth year of eligibility because of injury issues earlier in his career, would have three years of eligibility remaining.
Stay tuned to KUsports.com for more...
Now that it’s all over, it’s hard to believe that the Carlton Bragg Jr. era in Kansas basketball will go down as an experiment.
But that’s exactly what it was.
Despite earning high praise throughout his prep career and becoming another in a long line of McDonald’s All-Americans to join the Jayhawks, Bragg’s two years in Lawrence were mostly about unfilled potential and missed opportunities.
As a freshman, when he showed promise and seemed to be smiling all the time, Bragg went into games with little pressure and often gave the Jayhawks solid minutes when he was on the floor.
Playing him then was not much of a gamble for the Jayhawks, but on a veteran team with so much talent in the front court, there really was no need for Bragg to be a big time player.
That all changed during his sophomore season, when the Cleveland native was in perfect position to pick up the slack left by Perry Ellis’ departure but could never get it done, mentally or physically, off the court or on.
Bragg’s entire sophomore season was a mess and he rarely — if ever — looked like the kind of player many expected and hoped he would be.
That reality, along with his inability to deliver when the pressure was on — and, really, even when it wasn’t — led to today and Bragg’s decision to leave KU for a fresh start.
It’s a good decision. And it will benefit both sides. While Bragg gets a chance to start over at a program that no doubt will be excited about his physical tools, wherever that may be, Kansas gets his scholarship back and can add another body in the 2017 recruiting class.
Already with combo guard Marcus Garrett and Oak Hill big man Billy Preston in the mix, the Jayhawks now can address both need and desire with the remaining spots.
KU coach Bill Self said the other night that he’d like to add another ball handler for insurance at the guard position and a quick-twitch 4 man to back up Preston.
That was before Bragg’s scholarship was available. Now, with another offer to hand out if Self so chooses (and as long as Josh Jackson declares for the NBA Draft) the Jayhawks can double up on either position and take the best available player out there, be that a high school senior or a college transfer.
By quick-twitch 4 man, Self is talking about a player who owns everything that everyone thought Bragg had and everything former KU stud Kevin Young did have.
If Self could find a Kevin Young type of player, he would almost immediately have some kind of role and impact on next year’s team.
The extra energy, toughness inside and ability to keep up with the fast pace set by KU’s talented backcourt would be an absolute bonus and a nice change from what Bragg offered on the floor.
There are others who have filled this role in recent years, with Jamari Traylor, Cheick Diallo and even Thomas Robinson (before his monster junior season) also fitting that description while playing a supporting role.
Whether Self can find a guy like Young, Traylor, Robinson or Diallo at this point in the process remains to be seen. And with the spring signing period beginning next Wednesday, it seems more likely that such a player would come via the graduate transfer route that delivered Tarik Black a couple of years back.
Here are a couple of names worth familiarizing yourselves with as Self and his assistants scan the country for a player who could fill this role.
• Jeremiah Tilmon, 6-foot-10, 235-pound center from East St. Louis, Ill., recently requested his release from Illinois, where he committed last July. With the coaching change to Brad Underwood, Tilmon, a 5-star prospect and the No. 25-ranked player in the 2017 class according to Rivals.com, reconsidered his commitment and, given that he had Kansas on his list initially, may eventually be on the Jayhawks’ radar again.
• Shakur Juiston, 6-foot-7, 215-pound prospect from Hutchinson Community College has been on KU’s radar for a while and, according to 247 Sports, he received an offer from Kansas on March 6. In fact, Matt Scott of TheShiver.com, reported earlier today that Self and KU assistant Norm Roberts paid Juiston a visit today.
There are, of course, many more names that might surface in the coming days and weeks, as the Jayhawks look to finalize their 2017 class and set their roster entering the offseason.
Thomas Allen, the No. 149-ranked player in the 2017 class, according to Rivals.com, revealed on Twitter on Monday night that he had received a scholarship offer from Kansas.
Allen, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard who spent the past season playing at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire — former home of current KU guard Devonte’ Graham and former KU players Naadir Tharpe and Thomas Robinson — and, initially had committed to North Carolina State. But when the Wolfpack fired coach Mark Gottfried, that opened the door for Allen to look around and he recently was granted a release from NC State.
The 3-star prospect who helped Brewster to a 33-0 season and national prep school championship, scored 19 points in the championship game that delivered Brewster its third national title in the past four seasons.
His lone season at the prep school proved memorable in other ways, as well, with Allen netting a school record 50 points in a single game in January. He went 18 of 23 from the floor in that game, with 11 of the makes coming from 3-point range.
According to Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, Allen’s strong season and sudden availability has received plenty of attention throughout college basketball.
“More of a scorer and perhaps a natural two guard, Allen can really shoot from deep and has heard from Kansas, Auburn, Michigan, Tennessee, Providence, Butler, Nebraska and many others,” Bossi wrote this week.
What exactly KU’s immediate needs are in the 2017 recruiting class remain in flux. With Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk likely at least consider leaving early, KU remains in search of a point guard for next season and beyond.
If Graham returns for his senior season, the need is not as great. But KU would love nothing more than for Graham to return and to pair him with 5-star point guard Trevon Duval, the No. 3 player in the 2017 class who remains undecided and is zeroing in on his decision.
Duval is considering KU along with finalists Arizona, Baylor, Duke and Seton Hall.
If the Jayhawks miss out on Duval, there are still a few other point guard options out there, and even though Allen is not a true point guard, adding him to the class would certainly add depth in the backcourt in the form of a player who might stick around for a few years.
One of the available point guards is Allen’s Brewster teammate, Makai Ashton-Langford, the No. 38 player in the Class of 2017 who recently was released from his letter of intent with UConn, but his Rivals.com bio does not list Kansas as an option.
Others who have had ties to Kansas include 4-star prospect, Tremont Waters, who is ranked No. 36 in the class and has asked for a release from Georgetown, with whom he signed in November, and 4-star prospect, Mark Smith, an up-and-comer ranked No. 78 from Edwardsville, Illinois.
Duval remains the top choice for Kansas, and the rest of his finalists, but if the electric McDonald’s All-American elects to sign elsewhere, the pool of options after him is not as shallow as it once seemed to be.
The next signing period is slated to begin April 12 (next Wednesday) and will run through May 17.
Although it wasn’t as hyped up or exciting as an NCAA Tournament game, I’m sure more than a few fans of Kansas basketball tuned into ESPN last night to watch five-star forward Billy Preston play in this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game.
Preston, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward with guard skills, started for the West squad which won the game by two and finished with 10 points and 3 rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-2 shooting from 3-point range.
Outside of a few highlight videos, which you can check out below, this was my first extended look at Preston, which I’m sure was the case for many of you.
A couple of things immediately stood out, some good, some bad. But before we get into them, it’s important to point out one thing — Billy Preston is not Josh Jackson. He never will be, they don’t play the same way and holding him to those standards or expectations for next year or beyond will only leave you disappointed.
That’s not to say Preston won’t impress. The guess here is that he will. Big time. But Jackson, with his maturity, effort, tenacity and all-around game, was a special player, one of those that does not come along very often. While Preston will be asked to fill some of the void left by Jackson’s likely departure, he will not do so in exactly the same manner. Simply put, he’s just not quite as quick or explosive as Jackson. But that’s not a knock. Very few players are. In fact, of all the players on the floor in last night’s McDonald’s game, none really seemed to match what Jackson brought to the table for 35 games for the Jayhawks during the 2016-17 season.
And while the fact that the KU freshman’s time with the program is already over is disappointing — Jackson has not announced his intentions yet, but it will be nothing short of a major shock if he decides to do anything but enter the draft — life will go on, the Jayhawks will be good again and Preston will be part of the reason.
So, quickly, let’s get into some of the things that stood out about Preston’s game during last night’s showcase.
The first and most obvious skill that caught my eye was Preston’s jump shot. That’s one area where he will have an edge on Jackson, at least in terms of how the shot looks; it remains to be seen if he’ll shoot 38 percent from 3 like Jackson.
Not only does Preston have legit 3-point range, but he looks good (and comfortable) shooting from deep and can both step into it on the catch and create the shot off the dribble.
His step back 3-pointer from the wing was impressive in two ways — 1. He maintained his balance and rhythm throughout the shot, and 2. His length created even more separation than a guard taking a similar shot would have been able to create. If he can get and hit that shot with consistency next season, he’ll be tough for anyone to handle.
Speaking of handles, Preston definitely looks comfortable handling the basketball on the perimeter, which should make him a weapon in multiple areas. As mentioned above, not only can he create his own shot off the bounce, but he also showed the ability to use both hands and attack the paint.
Don’t confuse “attack the paint” in this case for what you came to expect from Frank Mason III and Jackson this season. But for a 6-9 forward, Preston has impressive skills in this department.
One other thing about his ability to handle the ball that stood out was that it did not appear that he only put the ball down looking to score. On a couple of occasions, Preston drove to pass, which was impressive in a game that usually does not include much passing.
A couple of other things I liked about Preston’s night: He looked comfortable in the high post area, which, if used their often, would make him a handful for opposing defenses; he was active on the glass and showed a knack for hustling and being around the ball and he always appeared to be in control of his movements while playing a fairly cerebral game.
In playing alongside 7-footer DeAndre Ayton, who picked Arizona over KU, you got a small taste of what it might be like for Preston to play with KU 7-footer Udoka Azubuike next season.
This was particularly interesting to watch on the defensive end, where Preston was able to use his length and athleticism to roam around and create problems for the offense while Ayton held it down in the lane.
Because Ayton and Azubuike differ so much as offensive players — Ayton’s a perimeter player in a 7-foot body and Azubuike loves to do his damage as close to the rim as possible — we didn’t learn much about how the two Jayhawks might work together on the offensive end, but there’s no doubt that their size and length will give KU coach Bill Self plenty of options there.
Like any high school senior or incoming freshman, Preston is not without his areas that need work. And a couple of those surfaced Wednesday night, as well.
I thought he could’ve moved a little better without the ball on offense and too often appeared to be watching the player with the ball, waiting for and expecting a pass to come his way. That makes sense for a player who is used to being the focal point of his offense wherever he plays, but won’t fly at Kansas.
And even though he was willing to share the ball, some of his decisions and passes weren’t exactly the best. My guess is that at KU this won’t hurt him too much because he won’t have the ball in his hands a ton looking to create plays for others. Instead, he’ll operate within the offense and be put in a position to make plays himself, with the only passes being extra passes for easier shots for teammates or basic ball movement stuff, both of which are areas he’s fully competent.
After signing Preston last November, Self compared him a little bit to Marcus Morris and added that he did not remember having the opportunity to coach a taller, more skilled big man.
Beyond that, Preston’s size and strength, which should only improve in the months ahead, make him a candidate to do whatever is needed down low when he’s not dominating on the perimeter.
With KU’s roster still a work in progress for the 2017-18 season — with both guys deciding if they’ll return and the coaching staff recruiting more players — it is not yet known exactly what style and system the Jayhawks will utilize next year.
What is known, though, is that, with a player like Preston on board, Self and his staff will have a ton of versatility and plenty of options.
Although Billy Preston’s college basketball career has not even started yet, you’d never know it from listening to the 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward talk about his future school.
In Chicago this week for the McDonald’s All-American Game, the No. 8 player in the country, according to Rivals.com, has talked a lot about coming to Kansas, a program with which Preston signed during the early signing period back in November.
Judging from him filling Twitter with Tweets about his future team and talking in interviews about the Jayhawks, their 2016-17 season or run through the recent NCAA Tournament, it’s clear that, at least in his mind, Preston is already a Jayhawk.
During a recent interview in Chicago with Rivals.com’s Krysten Peek, Preston talked about the McDonald’s game, his time at Oak Hill Academy and, of course, the recent loss by Kansas in the Elite Eight.
In his answers to the questions about KU, which covered just 62 seconds, Preston used some form of the words “we” “us” or “our” 13 different times.
That wasn’t the only indication that he’s all-in with the Jayhawks. While in Chicago, Preston has both soaked up the experience and operated as a de facto recruiter for the Jayhawks with some of the players in the game who remain undecided, including point guard Trevon Duval, ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Brian “Tugs” Bowen, a 6-7, 195-pound forward ranked No. 19 on Rivals’ list.
“Definitely. I’m definitely recruiting,” Preston told Peek. “Brian, Tugs, he told me he doesn’t even have Kansas on his list, but it’s never too late to try. He’s definitely a player I’d like to play with, as well as Tre Duval. I’ve definitely been in both of their ears, both of their heads, trying to pick their brain, see where they’re at. I’ve definitely being doing some McDonald’s All-American recruiting for sure.”
While that may continue throughout the day, the main event is set for 6 p.m. tonight on ESPN from United Center.
Check out the complete Billy Preston interview below and be sure to check in with KUsports.com tonight and Thursday for more from Preston and this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game.
Trae Young, Collin Sexton, Quade Green and Tremont Waters — all are point guards ranked in the Top 36 of the Rivals 150 for 2017 and all were players that the Kansas men’s basketball program recruited on one level or another during the past several months.
With Young’s announcement today that he is staying home in Norman, Oklahoma, to play for the Sooners, the Jayhawks now have missed out on several of the top point guard targets in a class loaded with talent at the position.
All four of those players chose colleges that allowed them to stay close to home. And sometimes there’s just no competing with location.
However, all of those misses would be forgotten in a millisecond if the Jayhawks can entice five-star point guard Trevon Duval to pick Kansas.
Duval, a 6-foot-3, 189-pound point guard from IMG Academy in Florida, is the highest ranked point guard in the 2017 class. Slotted at No. 3, four spots above Sexton in the overall rankings and 11 spots in front of Young, Duval picking Kansas would be a big time get for the Jayhawks and likely push KU’s 2017 Class, which already includes five-star forward Billy Preston (No. 8 overall) and four-star combo guard Marcus Garrett (No. 37), into the Top 3 in the country.
With that said, landing Duval won’t be easy. Along with Kansas, the fast and physical flier from New York City also lists Arizona, Baylor, Duke and Seton Hall as finalists, but it’s not as if the Jayhawks are a long shot here.
In fact, after what KU showed Duval and his family during his official visit earlier this month, there are plenty of people out there who believe that KU is alive and well in their pursuit of Duval.
Shay Wildeboor, of JayhawkSlant.com, told The Journal-World that KU is expected to visit Duval today.
Obviously, had Young chosen Kansas today, KU’s chances at landing Duval would’ve been diminished. But since he didn’t, a case could be made that the Duval-to-Kansas odds might now actually be slightly better.
With Young out of the mix and Kansas losing Frank Mason III — and potentially Devonte’ Graham — after the season, there is a clear opening for a lead guard in the Kansas program.
Even with transfers Malik Newman and Sam Cunliffe (2nd semester) in the mix alongside Svi Mykhailiuk (another candidate to leave early), Lagerald Vick and Garrett, it appears that KU still would need true point guard to run the show.
If Graham returns for his senior season, he could be that point guard, but he also has shown this season that he is just as effective playing off the ball with another player handling the point.
The idea of Duval playing point with Graham and Newman starting next to him brings visions of a Top 5 preseason ranking and yet another title-contending Kansas team.
Maybe that’s how all this will play out and the Jayhawks, who have been relentless in their pursuit of Duval to this point, will wind up singing the praises of the slogan, “Good things come to those who wait.”
"There is heavy competition (for Duval) and Duke has been seen as the team to beat of late," wrote Eric Bossi of Rivals.com on Thursday. "But there’s nothing to suggest Kansas isn’t a real player here and they’ll certainly be turning up the heat.... It is never easy to miss out on a top 15 prospect like Young, but given that the majority of highly rated prospects are off the board, the timing isn’t the best and the pool of available players to choose from is pretty shallow. That said, Kansas is still Kansas and Bill Self is Bill Self, meaning that there are still options out there."
Having said that, it’s entirely possible that they’ll miss on Duval too, an ending that would bring a fair amount of uncertainty to next year’s Kansas roster.
Don’t substitute uncertainty for fear, however. Whenever you’ve got Bill Self running your program, you’re going to be OK. After all, did anyone think that Self’s decision to take a couple of kids named Mason and Graham, who once appeared to be headed to Towson and Appalachian State, would wind up producing one of the best backcourts the school has ever seen?
Maybe missing out on the Class of 2017’s crop of talented point guards is just the college basketball gods’ way of evening things out.
Then again, maybe Kansas will land Duval and all will be well that ends well.
Time will tell. Stay tuned...