2016-2017 Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12
Once again Kansas fell short of a trip to the Final Four. This time they were knocked off by eventual national champions Villanova in the Elite Eight. Kansas has some big shoes to fill heading into the 2016-2017 campaign, but Coach Bill Self has plenty of other talented players returning and entering the program. Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham will provide leadership and so much more on the perimeter. Mason averaged 12.9 points and a team high 4.6 assists last season. He is a dynamic scorer who is dangerous from beyond the arc and even better when it comes to attacking the basket. Graham is one of the best shooters in the Big 12. He connected on 44.1 percent of his three-point attempts. He also dished out 3.7 assists per game. With Mason and Graham in the backcourt, Kansas has a couple consistent scorers who can control the tempo and set up their teammates.
2015-16 Record: 33-5, 15-3
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bill Self
Coach Record: 385-83 at Kansas, 592-188 overall
Wayne Selden, Brannen Greene and Cheick Diallo all left the Jayhawks early. Selden averaged 13.8 points per game, while Greene added 5.4 in limited action off of the bench. Diallo was one of the big forces in the paint. Despite playing just 7.5 minutes per game, he was drafted 33rd overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Perry Ellis could be the most significant departure. The 6-8 forward led Kansas with 16.9 points per game. He was a dynamic scorer who could finish with ease around the basket and occasionally knock down some three-pointers. Also gone are Jamari Traylor, who earned eight starts last season, and Hunter Mickelson, who started 11 games, but averaged just 7.7 minutes per contest.
Josh Jackson could be the best recruit in this class. The 6-8 guard should step right into the starting lineup and is expected to be one of the top selections in the 2017 NBA Draft. Jackson has a superb all-around game. He will use his size to attack the basket with ease. His outside shot may not be particularly great, but he could be the best player in the Big 12 this season. Fellow incoming freshmen Mitch Lightfoot and Udoka Azubuike will add options in the frontcourt. Azubuike, a seven-footer, has developed nicely over the summer and could be in for a surprisingly productive freshman campaign. Dwight Coleby should be in the rotation as well. The Ole Miss transfer averaged 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds with the Rebels as a sophomore in 2014-2015.
Who to Watch:
Even without all of the newcomers in the frontcourt, Kansas has plenty of big guys who are ready to step up. Landen Lucas stepped into a starting lineup halfway through his junior campaign. The 6-10, 250 pounder is not flashy, but he gets the job done, especially on the glass. The expectations are extremely high for sophomore Carlton Bragg. He averaged just 8.9 minutes per game as a freshman, but the former McDonalds All-American is ready to make a big splash now that he will have the opportunity. In those limited minutes, Bragg proved to be a dangerous scorer inside and out.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk will provide some quality depth on the wing. He is a big 6-8 junior guard who will at least be able to knock down some three-pointers off the bench. Coach Bill Self has a ton of options and a great mix of experience and talent. With Mason and Graham controlling the game, there will be opportunities for players like Jackson and Bragg to do what they do best and develop into consistent underclassmen. Come tournament time having upperclassmen in the backcourt will be a huge benefit for Kansas and that should help them make a very deep NCAA Tournament run.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Frank Mason III, Senior, Guard, 12.9 points per game
Devonte’ Graham, Junior, Guard, 11.3 points per game
Josh Jackson, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Carlton Bragg, Sophomore, Forward, 3.8 points per game
Landen Lucas, Senior, Center, 5.8 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.3 (16th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.6 (71, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.5 (5, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.7 (22, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.0 (82, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 41.8 (4, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.3 (119, 5)
Rebound Margin: 5.5 (32, 3)
Assists Per Game: 15.9 (35, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.6 (163, 5)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#2 Josh Jackson
#35 Carlton Bragg
#47 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#1 Josh Jackson
#30 Udoka Azubuike
#95 Mitch Lightfoot