#2 Kansas Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Kansas Jayhawks

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12

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Kansas has won at least a share of the Big 12 title for 11 straight years. Last season the Jayhawks lost five conference games, giving a chance to teams like Iowa State and Oklahoma, but the Jayhawks ended up a game up on both the Cyclones and the Sooners. This season should be more of the same. It will be close atop the Big 12 rankings, but betting against the Jayhawks is never a good idea. But the regular season success did not translate into March. Kansas lost the Big 12 title game to Iowa State and then fell in the third round of the NCAA Tournament to Wichita State. This time expect Kansas to again be a #1 or #2 seed, but maybe this time they can make a more serious NCAA Tournament run.  

2014-15 Record: 27-9, 13-5
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bill Self
Coach Record: 352-78 at Kansas, 559-183 overall

Who’s Out:
Kansas did lose two freshmen who left early for the NBA Draft. Kelly Oubre was drafted 15th overall after averaging 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds during his lone season with the Jayhawks. The lanky 6-7 guard did start 27 games for the Jayhawks, but he did not quite live up to his very lofty expectations. Cliff Alexander earned six starts during his freshman campaign and the big bruiser averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds. He also led the team with 1.3 blocks per game. He went undrafted, leaving after just one season. The only other departure is little used Christian Garrett, who saw action in just nine games.

Who’s In:
Everything KU lost with Alexander, they should get with Cheick Diallo…and then some. He is a tough and lanky 6-8 forward who will make an immediate splash on the defensive end. His offensive game is not too bad either. Carlton Bragg is another big time recruit who will add options to what is possibly the nation’s deepest frontcourt. Bragg is a versatile player who can score in a variety of ways. Lagerald Vick is a big, athletic shooting guard who would highlight most other recruiting classes. He has a load of talent and can make things happen offensively. With Oubre gone, Vick will find a place in the regular rotation. Local product and junior college transfer Clay Young rounds out the class.

Who to Watch:
With the return of Perry Ellis for his senior season, Kansas has very high hopes for their talented frontcourt. Ellis led the team with 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds. He is not flashy by any means, but he is consistent and extremely reliable. When you build a team around a player, Ellis is the type of guy you want on your side. Jamari Traylor earned 18 starts last season and he is the tough, gritty frontcourt player that Coach Bill Self loves. He will not score much, but he does the dirty work. Junior Landen Lucas is a dependable 6-10, 240 pound forward who started 14 games in 2014-2015. Like Traylor, he is not a big time scoring threat, yet he is stronger on the glass then Traylor. Hunter Mickelson will add even more frontcourt depth if he can find the minutes. Frank Mason III is the player who will make sure the big guys get their touches. The junior point guard dished out 3.9 assists per game last year and added 12.6 points. His consistent outside shooting makes him extremely tough to defend.

Final Projection:
Wayne Selden will join Mason in the backcourt after averaging 9.4 points as a sophomore. He is a very good shooter, but does need to be a bit more aggressive attacking the basket. However, he had a great summer at the World University Games and is ready to live up to his potential. Devonte Graham could join Selden and Mason in the starting lineup. As a freshman last year he averaged 5.7 points and 2.1 assists per game. Like Mason and Selden, he can handle the ball and score. With Brannen Greene and Svitoslav Mykhailiuk joining Vick off of the bench, the KU backcourt is nearly as deep as the frontcourt. Mykhailiuk is a player to watch out for. The 6-8 sophomore can play any position in the backcourt and with his size is obviously a matchup nightmare for most opponents. It will not take long for players like Diallo, Graham and Mykhailiuk to emerge as stars and KU already has three with Mason, Selden and Ellis. That is why this team is a serious contender to win a national championship.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Frank Mason III, Junior, Guard, 12.6 points per game
Devonte’ Graham, Sophomore, Guard, 5.7 points per game
Wayne Selden, Junior, Guard, 9.4 points per game
Perry Ellis, Senior, Forward, 13.8 points per game
Cheick Diallo, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.1 (75th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.8 (131, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.0 (134, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.6 (35, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.9 (222, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.9 (47, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.4 (65, 3)
Rebound Margin: 3.8 (62, 3)
Assists Per Game: 13.2 (121, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.9 (210, 7)

Madness 2016 NBA Draft Rankings:
#4 Cheick Diallo
#22 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
#36 Perry Ellis

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#5 Cheick Diallo
#23 Carlton Bragg
#40 Lagerald Vick


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