Kansas Basketball: 2016-17 Jayhawks Season Preview

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Twelve straight regular season conference championships for the Kansas basketball program… And despite losing five key contributors, the Jayhawks are once again the team to beat in the Big 12.

KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Last Season: 1st, 15-3 in Big 12, 30-4 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
C: Landen Lucas (Sr)/Udoka Azubuike (Fr)/Dwight Coleby (Jr)
PF: Carlton Bragg (So)/Mitchell Lightfoot (Fr)
G/F: Josh Jackson (Fr)/Sviatoslav Mykhailuk (Jr)
G: Devonte’ Graham (Jr)/LaGerald Vick (So)
PG: Frank Mason (Sr)

Gone: PF-Perry Ellis, G/F-Wayne Selden, PF-Jamari Traylor, PF-Cheick Diallo, C-Hunter Mickelson, G/F-Brannen Greene

perry-ellis-basketball

Kansas basketball Strengths:
Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham already make up a terrific one-two backcourt punch. Add in one of the top recruits in the country in wing Josh Jackson and KU has one of the top collection of starting guards in the country. Mason and Graham are interchangeable at the point guard position as each is capable of being a playmaker and scorer. Jackson is an elite talent who could be one of the top picks in the 2017 NBA Draft.

There depth in the backcourt as well with LaGerald Vick and Sviatoslav Mykhailuk. Vick has received some pre-season hype and should be a regular part of the rotation after playing sparingly as a freshman. Mykhaliuk has underachieved in his first two years in Lawrence but is a skilled wing and threat from the perimeter.

Kansas basketball Question Marks:
Kansas loses four frontcourt players from a year ago including the extremely valuable and versatile, Perry Ellis. Landen Lucas returns to anchor the interior and sophomore Carlton Bragg is poised for a breakout sophomore campaign. A pair of freshmen in Udoka Azubuike and Mitchell Lightfoot figure to compete for minutes off the bench with Ole Miss transfer, Dwight Coleby. That group won’t need to score a ton of points since the guards will handle the majority of the offensive load. Defensively is where this group needs to really make their mark.

sviatoslav-mykhailiuk

Kansas Basketball Player to Watch:
At 6-8, Jackson has the prototypical size for an NBA wing player which is why he will be highly coveted in next summer’s draft. He can score from the outside or at the rim, is an aggressive rebounder, and competes on both ends of the floor. There is no doubt that Jackson is going to be a special player as a freshman and just how special could determine the Jayhawks’ post-season fate.

X-Factor:
Bragg was the fourth man in Kansas basketball coach Bill Self’s front court rotation last year and played a minor role off the bench. The opportunity is now though for Bragg to emerge with starter minutes. He has a nice mid-range game and at 6-10 can be a factor inside as well.

kansas basketball andrew wiggins

Looking Ahead to 2017-18:
Self secured transfers this off-season in Mississippi State shooting guard Malik Newman and center Evan Maxwell of Liberty. Newman will be a huge addition on the wing to help replace the graduating Frank Mason. KU also has a commitment from a 6-5 point guard out of Dallas, Marcus Garrett.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/11 vs. Indiana (in Honolulu)
11/15 vs. Duke (at Madison Square Garden)
11/21 vs. UAB (CBE Classic)
11/22 vs. Georgia/George Washington (CBE Classic)
11/29 vs. Long Beach State
12/3 vs. Stanford
12/10 vs. Nebraska
12/17 vs. Davidson (in Kansas City)
12/22 at UNLV
1/28 at Kentucky (SEC/Big 12 Challenge)

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Milwaukee to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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