#24 Kansas Jayhawks: College Basketball 111 in 111


kansas jayhawk cheerleaders

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

The Big 12 title has run through Lawrence as the Kansas Jayhawks have cut down the nets in each of the past seven seasons.  However, Bill Self loses several key contributors from last season and only has eight scholarship players on his roster.  In other words, it could be a rare down year for a Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk team that has only lost six games the past two seasons.

Last Season: 1st, 14-2 in Big 12, 34-3 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 3rd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Thomas Robinson (Jr)/Jeff Withey (Sr)
F: Kevin Young (Jr)/Justin Wesley (So)
G/F: Travis Releford (Jr)/Merv Lindsay (Fr)
G: Elijah Johnson (Jr)/Conner Teahan (Sr)
PG: Tyshawn Taylor (Sr)/Naadir Thorpe (Fr)

Gone: PF-Marcus Morris, F/C-Markieff Morris, SG-Brady Morningstar, SG-Tyrel Reed, F-Mario Little, G-Josh Selby, SG-Royce Woolridge (transfer-Washington State)

2011-2012 Outlook:
Self was left scrambling for recruits when the Morris twins and Josh Selby declared for the NBA Draft and Royce Woolridge decided to transfer.  The Jayhawks signed some talented freshmen but suffered a huge blow when three of them, Jamari Traylor, Ben McElmore, and Braeden Anderson were all ruled partial qualifiers and therefore, ineligible for the up-coming season.

Just imagine if Thomas Robinson had declared for the NBA Draft as well rather than choosing to return for his junior season… Robinson is a lottery prospect and will get the chance to step into the limelight this season after playing behind the Morris twins and Cole Aldrich during his first two years in Lawrence.

Former Loyola Marymount standout Kevin Young transfers in and adds some needed experience in the frontcourt alongside Robinson.  Young is not very physical but his athleticism makes him a factor on the glass.  Self has said that his game is similar to that of former Jayhawk, Julian Wright.  Senior Jeff Withey is the other option up-front though he has played sparingly the past two seasons.  The seven-footer is the only true center on the roster and his size and potential as a shot blocker should earn him steady minutes.

This season will also provide Tyshawn Taylor with the opportunity to truly embrace his potential and test his leadership abilities.  Taylor made an immediate impact as a freshman but has not taken the next step the past two seasons.  He is a terrific defender and has great size and strength for a point guard but still turns the ball over too often as a playmaker.

Junior Elijah Johnson is another player who will need to break out this season for Kansas.  He has been stuck on the bench behind some talented guards during his first two years but will step into a starting role.  He is a combo guard who can shoot it from deep but is also extremely explosive at the rim.

It seems to be a running theme for the Jayhawks but Travis Releford also goes from a role player to someone who will have to be an impact starter.  He is a physical wing who has a nice inside/outside game and is also solid and versatile on the defensive end.

With limited depth, freshmen Naadir Thope and Merv Lindsay are expected to see quality minutes off the bench.  Thorpe is a true point guard who knows how to run an offense and distribute the basketball.  Lindsey is a threat from the outside but still fairly raw in his all-around ability.

Conner Teahan and Lamar transfer Justin Wesley were originally walk-ons but have earned scholarships for this season.  Since KU is thin on bodies, Teahan and Wesely could both see limited roles and will be pressed into duty if there is foul trouble or injury.

This young team will be tested early in the season with a match-up against Kentucky and trip to Hawaii for a loaded Maui Invitational.  Expectations are always high at Kansas but this year’s team lacks the depth and experience to be national title contenders.  They will need a lot of pieces to fall into place to remain atop the Big 12 but certainly shouldn’t be ruled out of the conversation if the development of their young talent shines through.

thomas robinson kansas

Player to Watch: Thomas Robinson
In less than 15 minutes per game, Robinson averaged 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season playing behind the Morris twins.  He probably could have started for 99% of the teams in the country and will get the opportunity to be the guy for Kansas this season.  Robinson has great size and strength to overpower opponents down low but also has a smooth stroke to his jump shot.  He plays with terrific energy which sometimes gets him into foul trouble but if he can stay on the floor, has the potential to the Big 12 Player of the Year.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/15 vs. Kentucky (at MSG)
11/21 vs. Georgetown (Maui Invitational)
11/22 vs. UCLA/Chaminade(Maui Invitaional)
11/23 vs. Duke/Tennessee/Memphis/Michigan (Maui Invitational)
12/3 vs. South Florida
12/10 vs. Ohio State
12/22 at USC

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs

#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, 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 Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.


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