Friday, June 29, 2012

Tracking Jayhawks

The NBA draft was last night and two Jayhawks were selected.  Thomas Robinson went #5 overall to Sacramento, a team that's bad enough defensively to need him right away.  Robinson was the 10th Jayhawk lottery pick since 2000.  Tyshawn Taylor went in the second round (41st overall) to the Brooklyn Nets, now just 10 miles from Taylor's hometown, with lots of roster space to afford Taylor a chance to make the roster.

Just as I had worried, only 29 of the of the 47 players who left college early got drafted.  18 players have forfeited a free college education to go pro and have likely missed on their NBA dreams entirely.  Little comfort comes knowing that a few of those guys weren't going back to school anyway because of legal or academic problems.

Congratulations and good luck, TRob and Tyshawn!

Now on to the new guys:
In addition to sophomores Jamari Traylor (6-8 forward) and Ben McLemore (6-5 guard), who were both on the team last year but suspended from play, there are a bunch of new faces to learn.

Perry Ellis (national high school player of the year, 6-8 from Wichita and a 4.0 student and valedictorian!) and Andrew White (6-6) are four-star, top-10-at-their-position players, who play power forward and small forward, respectively.

The other three commitments are from Zach Peters, Anrio Adams, and Landon Lucas (a forward, guard, and center from Texas, Seattle, and Portland).  Peters committed to Kansas in his sophomore year, almost two and half years ago.  Each of these guys could be a surprise talent that rises to the top (like Thomas Robinson) or they could be the next redshirt or transfer.  Time will tell.

Then it gets fuzzy.  Though he's not listed on most websites, the team announced a few weeks ago that Milton Doyle (a 6-4 point guard from Chicago) has joined the team after de-committing from Flordia International and Milt has already played in an alumni scrimmage event on campus.  Add to that two walk-on coaches' sons Tyler Self and Evan Manning, who are already with the team.  And still more recruits' names are floating around like Nino Jackson, Karviar Shepherd, and Jordan Trebutt along with potential transfers to KU from other schools.

The problem becomes roster space.  By my count, that's 18 players counting the walk-ons but a college hoops team only gets 13 scholarships.  I don't think walk-ons count since they pay for school out of their own pocket, but even if Self, Manning, and Niko Roberts pay to play, KU must still redshirt at least two players.  KU has four players who have already been redshirted including Justin Wesley, Keith Langford's little brother, who can't redshirt again but he could give up his scholarship and walk-on like he did his first year when Langford paid his tuition.  Though surely he won't be asked to that.

Finally, there's been some coaching changes too.  Assistant coach Danny Manning left and was replaced by Niko Roberts' dad, Norm Roberts.  Roberts has coached on Bill Self's staff at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois, and Self's first year at Kansas and is back again after an eight year absence.  Director of Basketball Operations Barry Hinson left and was replaced by former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler.

Those are all my notes since April.  We'll see who gets redshirted, injured, arrested, or offended that they are twelve or thirteen spots down the roster for the first time in their life.  KU plays a few exhibition games in Europe this summer and then the season starts in November.

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