#4 Kansas Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Kansas Jayhawks
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #4
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12
 Kansas Logo
The Jayhawks have won 30+ games in back to back years, but have also come up one game short of a Final Four appearance in consecutive seasons. This year, Kansas finds themselves in familiar territory as a preseason top-5 team and Big 12 favorites. Bill Self has led the Jayhawks to 13 straight regular season conference titles, and has a team more than capable of extending that streak. Consensus National Player of the Year Frank Mason and top-5 draft pick Josh Jackson are gone, but Devonte Graham is a Big 12 Player of the Year candidate, while former top recruit Malik Newman joins the Jayhawks. Kansas will make a run at their first Final Four since 2012.
2016-17 Record: 31-5, 16-2
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
Bill Self
Coach Record:
416-87 at Kansas, 623-193 overall
Who’s Out:
Kansas loses three of their top five scorers from a year ago, most notably Naismith Trophy winner Frank Mason. Mason had an outstanding senior season, averaging 20.9 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Mason finished his Jayhawk career ranked in the top six in both points and assists in Kansas history. Josh Jackson became a one-and-done player after winning Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Jackson was also a third team All-American behind 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Landen Lucas has graduated after a four-year Jayhawk career. Lucas was the only steadily reliable post-presence for Bill Self last season. Carlton Bragg and Dwight Coleby have both elected to transfer away. Bragg is a former five-star recruit who never seemed to earn the full trust of Bill Self. Coleby averaged 5.6 minutes per game in his lone season with the Jayhawks.
Who’s In:
Malik Newman will be eligible this season after he transferred into Kansas a year ago. Newman is a former five-star recruit who played one season at Mississippi State. Newman averaged 11.3 points per game but never lived up to his full expectations. Bill Self will look to get the most out of Newman as his starting point guard. Sam Cunliffe is another transfer who will see playing time this year once the 2017 semester ends. Cunliffe transferred in from Arizona State where he played 10 games last year and averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. Bill Self also added two new recruits to his roster. Billy Preston is a five-star, 6-10 power forward who was ranked as a top-20 player nationally. Marcus Garrett is a four-star guard who was a top-75 player nationally. Both players will see major minutes on a thin Jayhawk roster this season.
Who to Watch:
Devonte Graham takes over as the go-to scorer for the Jayhawks. Graham was named to the All-Big 12 second team as a junior, averaging 13.4 points, 4.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals. This year, Graham is in line for a run at Big 12 Player of the Year as Kansas’ most reliable player. Svi Mykhailiuk is also back for his senior season after flirting with going to the NBA this offseason. Mykhailiuk started 25 games as a junior, averaging 9.8 points and shooting 38.9% from behind the arc. Lagerald Vick should become a starter and a more consistent player for the Jayhawks as a junior. Vick averaged 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 25.6 minutes a year ago, and all those numbers should be on the rise this season. Udoka Azubuike is out to avenge his lost freshman campaign. Azubuike played in just 11 games before his season ended with a wrist injury. Azubuike had become a starter and was leading the Jayhawks in blocks, and he will look to pick up right where he left off. Mitch Lightfoot could also see some added minutes at center after playing just 4.1 minutes per game as a freshman.
Final Projection:
Kansas will be the team to beat in the Big 12, just as it’s been for the last 13 years. Losing Frank Mason and Josh Jackson will leave major voids, but Kansas has a good balance of returning contributors and talented newcomers to overcome the departures. Bill Self will have to continue to use smaller lineups, but the Jayhawks are built to score points in bunches. Kansas will be looking to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2012, and they certainly have the talent necessary to make a late season run.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Malik Newman, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season

Devonte Graham, Senior, Guard, 13.4 points per game
Lagerald Vick, Junior, Forward, 7.4 points per game
Svi Mykhailiuk, Senior, Forward, 9.8 points per game
Udoka Azubuike, Sophomore, Center, 5.0 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 83.2 (14th in nation, 2nd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 71.9 (170, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.8 (12, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.0 (78, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.8 (54, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.4 (6, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.8 (264, 9)
Rebound Margin: 4.4 (47, 2)
Assists Per Game: 16.2 (23, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.7 (136, 4)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#26 Malik Kewman
#30 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
#50 Devonte Graham
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#18 Billy Preston
#53 Marcus Garrett