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The Kansas Jayhawks are almost always one of the favorites to win it all in March. With their roster this year there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be a favorite again. In a college basketball world dominated by freshman, the Jayhawks have a mixture of under and upperclassmen talent.
After earning a number one seed in last year’s tournament, Kansas lost significant talent in Josh Jackson and Frank Mason lll. The Jayhawks have even more talent returning to Lawrence this year. Bill Self will be counting on a few transfers to help his team to cut down the nets in 2018.
The player Kansas will need to rely on the most this year will be Devonte Graham. The senior point guard has shown promise throughout his career. In order for the Jayhawks to contend, he must step up like former Kansas seniors before him. Last year we saw a big step up in his game, averaging a career high 13 points per game to go along with 3 rebounds and 4 assists.
Devonte will be counted on to raise the games of others around him. He has new pieces in freshman Marcus Garrette and Billy Preston. They’ll join the veteran talent of Malik Newman, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, and Udoka Azubuike, to name a few.
Devonte will have to help make freshman Marcus Garrette’s job easy. The freshman has been tabbed as the next great player in Jayhawk history. If not, at least their best player this year if he is one and done. The 6-6 point guard from Dallas Texas has great court vision and is a versatile scorer that can guard multiple positions. A lot is asked of Bill Self’s point guards, and Garrette has the right stuff to get the job done. With his passing ability and this talent, the sky is the limit.
The lineups coach Self can toy with each night could be scary.
With all of this talent, it will be hard to find minutes or shots for everyone. It will be a very tough assignment for the Kansas coach. In years past, Self-has had plenty of talent, but not to the point where just about all of the roster could go somewhere and be a top-three option.
Two players to watch are guards Malik Newman and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Newman was a top recruit coming out of high school. He started his career at Mississippi State, with coach Ben Howland. Although he had some really good moments, Newman just didn’t seem to fit.
Kansas has raved about Newman since he stepped on campus. Don’t be surprised if his time at Kansas is similar to Utah Jazz wing Rodney Hood. Just like Newman, Rodney started at Mississippi State and then transferred to Duke. While at Duke you could see the growth in Hood’s game. Newman, who is the more player, should definitely have a similar transition.
Newman is a scoring machine. Kansas will be looking for him to create when things aren’t flowing right. Mykhailiuk, on the other hand, is a jack of all trades wing. He is going to be the x-factor for this team. He can score and knows how to use his size on both ends on the floor. His role will be similar to NBA forward Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. He needs to do all the dirty work. On defense, he will need to guard the best player, while finding his in the flow of the game.
Looking at this schedule Kansas should win another Big12 championship. The non-conference schedule is light. It will be conference play where we will have to see how this team fares. Texas, Baylor, and West Virginia will be waiting. If the Jayhawks plan on competing for a number one seed in March, they will need to get past those three convincingly.