#7 Kansas Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Kansas Jayhawks

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #7
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12

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Kansas knows how to reload and they will do it again. After ten straight Big 12 titles, the Jayhawks have proven time and time again that they can replace talent with even more talent. This year will be no different. Junior Perry Ellis is ready to emerge as the team’s top player, but he has plenty of competition for that position. Ellis, a 6-8 junior forward, averaged 13.5 points and 6.7 rebounds. Even though he was overshadowed by flashier teammates, Ellis is an efficient scorer and is improving defensively.

2013-14 Record: 25-10, 14-4
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bill Self
Coach Record: 325-69 at Kansas, 532-174 overall

Who’s Out:
A couple of Ellis’ flashier teammates were drafted first and third overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. Andrew Wiggins, a 6-8 guard, was drafted first overall following a freshman campaign in which he averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds. Wiggins could score from anywhere on the floor and obviously losing somebody talented enough to be picked first overall in the draft is a massive loss. Two picks later Joel Embiid was taken. During his lone season with Kansas, the seven-footer averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. Even for KU, replacing that defensive production will be tough. Starting point guard Naadir Tharpe is also gone. He dished out 5.0 assists per game while committing just 2.1 turnovers. Tharpe also added 8.5 points per game. Tarik Black provided about 15 minutes per game to the frontcourt off of the bench and Andrew White III was a promising young guard who never really found the minutes in Lawrence.

Who’s In:
This year’s group of possible one-and-done freshmen is led by Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander. Oubre, a 6-7 guard, is the typical long and athletic wing that Coach Self loves to have. He can pretty much do it all and should not have too much trouble transitioning to this level. Alexander is a bruising power forward and will be one of the toughest players in the conference as a freshman. That physicality will lead to plenty of rebounds and enough scoring in the paint. Devonte’ Graham will battle it out for the starting point guard spot. He is a leader who can run the offense and his ability to score is just a bonus. Josh Pollard and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk will add options on the wing. Mykhailiuk is young so his best days are still to come, but the 6-8 freshman has a lot of skills and should at least crack the regular rotation. Hunter Mickelson spent two years at Arkansas and proved to be one of the better shot blockers in the SEC. The 6-10, 245 pound forward is expected to be a fine defensive minded reserve for the Jayhawks this season.

Who to Watch:
Wayne Selden Jr. could have joined Wiggins and Embiid in the NBA, but he opted to return to school for his sophomore season. He is ready to turn into an experienced leader for the Jayhawks after averaging 9.7 points and 2.5 assists as a freshman. Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp are among the returning talent who are battling it out for minutes on the perimeter next to Selden. Mason is an option to run the point, but he needs to work on his jumper to be more dangerous on the offensive end. In the frontcourt, Ellis and the newcomers will handle most of the work, yet Jamari Traylor, Brannen Greene and Landen Lucas are back too. Traylor is a bruiser in the paint and can push people around off of the bench. Greene is more of an athletic wing than a true frontcourt player, but he can fill in minutes at the four spot if needed and showed enough potential as a freshman to take a big step up in production.

Final Projection:
There is so much depth and talent on this team that it would be unwise to bet against Kansas winning another Big 12 title. Youth and inexperience mean very little to Kansas when top ten recruits keep coming in. If going pro was an option, these would be lottery picks so the reloading has been completed as effectively as possible. Every year we can think that maybe everything just will not gel with the new, young group of Jayhawks, but that never happens. Worst case scenario, somebody like Texas wins the Big 12 and Kansas is stuck in second place and only gets a three or four seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Frank Mason, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 points per game
Wayne Selden Jr., Sophomore, Guard, 9.7 points per game
Kelly Oubre, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Perry Ellis, Junior, Forward, 13.5 points per game
Cliff Alexander, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.0 (21st in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.1 (177, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.3 (7, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (79, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.4 (256, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.0 (174, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.1 (135, 6)
Rebound Margin: 7.5 (7, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.9 (43, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (257, 10)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#3 Cliff Alexander
#5 Wayne Selden
#10 Kelly Oubre
#42 Perry Ellis

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#3 Cliff Alexander
#7 Kelly Oubre
#56 Devonte Graham


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