He Will, He Won’t, He Might 2020: Dajuan Harris
photo by: Darryl Woods/810 Varsity
Back in March, in the aftermath of the shocking cancelation of the 2020 postseason, the conversation around Kansas basketball quickly shifted to the 2020-21 season.
No matter how a season ends, talk about the season ahead always seems to surface. One of the most popular topics that is always addressed is what the next team’s starting lineup will look like.
I’ll be honest: I had Harris in a lot of my lineups.
I don’t any longer, but that has more to do with KU’s versatility and depth on the wing and Harris’ own value as the team’s second point guard than anything else.
Regardless of how much he plays or what role he inherits, I have no doubt that Harris will quickly show he belongs in the Kansas basketball rotation.
And, if matchups or injuries require it, I have no doubt that Harris would do just fine as a starter with the 2020-21 Jayhawks this season.
They just might be deep enough that they won’t need him to do that, which could benefit him both this year and well into the future.
Here’s a quick look at why and how.
He will: Quickly become a fan favorite
Remember those possessions when former KU great Jacque Vaughn would dribble all the way through the lane under the basket, keeping the ball and the play alive while waiting for one of his teammates to pop open so he could set them up with a perfect pass for an easy basket?
If not, look them up. If so, get ready to see more of that from Harris this season.
Whether or not he’ll execute that exact play is unknown, but Harris, like Vaughn, is a pass-first, create-for-others type of player all the way.
It’s not that he can’t score, just that he prefers to pass. He likes the creativity that comes with a good assist and his vision and ability to think a pass or two ahead allow him to operate with a style that’s both smooth and exciting, even while he’s not scoring.
Harris is also a pest on defense. And fans typically love pests when they’re on their team.
He’s still a little on the quiet side, for now, and won’t bowl anyone over with his personality just yet, but Harris has a chance to be involved in a whole bunch of KU highlights this season.
Whether that means swiping steals that turn into high-flying transition buckets and put the momentum on Kansas’ side or memorable dimes in half-court sets that lead to big buckets when the Jayhawks need them, Harris will create a lot of smiles for the home crowd this season.
He won’t: Unseat Marcus Garrett as the team’s top point guard
Because Garrett can play any position, and because he has been so valuable off the ball during his Kansas career, there was a time when Harris serving as KU’s top point guard option might have made sense.
But throughout his junior season, Garrett flashed enough ability to play point at a high level to earn him the job without much contest.
After Garrett filled in for injured point guard Devon Dotson at Oklahoma last season, KU coach Bill Self proclaimed then that he knew who his point guard would be in 2020-21.
And Self has stuck by that, giving Garrett the keys to the car and feeling awfully good about the role Harris can play in support of Garrett.
It’s no secret that Self always has liked to have multiple point-guard type players on the floor at the same time. Even going back to his days at Illinois, some of Self’s best teams have played with two primary ball handlers on the floor at the same time.
The Jayhawks will have that option with Harris and Garrett and while either one will be able to bring the ball up the court or initiate KU’s offense, Garrett with have the ball in his hands in the most crucial moments and at game point.
He might: Be good enough defensively to be a part of KU’s closer lineup
Self has marveled about Harris’ hands defensively, putting him in the same category with Garrett in that department.
So it would make a lot of sense for a coach who values defense above all else to have his best defenders on the floor when the game is on the line.
Harris is most certainly in that conversation as one of KU’s best defenders, and he could find himself playing big minutes late in close games throughout his first season of eligibility with the Jayhawks.
Beyond the obvious advantages of having another talented defender on the floor, Harris’ presence could do wonders for Garrett late in games.
As has been the case in recent seasons, Garrett again will almost always be asked to guard the other team’s best player.
But if that player is smaller, like Harris, who stands 6-foot-1, 160 pounds, or if the Jayhawks need Garrett’s offense late in games just as much as his defense, the luxury of being able to put Harris on the other team’s top guard could be a huge advantage for KU this season.
He Will, He Won’t, He Might 2020: