With Andrew Wiggins expected to be the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Kansas Jayhawks have a hole to fill at small forward. Enter McDonald’s All-American, Kelly Oubre. The 6-7 Findlay Prep product should start for KU next season at small forward but is trying to be his himself and not replicate what the Jayhawks are losing in Wiggins.
“Stepping into that role, I’m just bringing toughness,” Oubre told me at the McDonald’s All-American Game Media Day. “I’m an animal. I’m just trying to bring my game.”
Like Wiggins, Oubre is a lengthy, athletic small forward who is explosive at the rim. A lefty, Oubre has a more consistent outside shot and shows more aggressiveness in attacking the rim than Wiggins, which was often a huge criticism of his game this past season. Still, Oubre knows he has plenty to work on before arriving in Lawrence. “My all-around game,” Oubre said when I asked him about what part of his game needs to improve. “I don’t want to have any limitations. I just want to be the best player I can be. Ball-handling, shooting, defense, leadership… I want to be great. I feel like I have the world to win and I can’t be stopped.”
Assuming Joel Embiid does declare for the draft, I have Kansas ranked third in my 2014-15 way too early pre-season rankings since they return a solid core including starters Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis. Arkansas transfer big man Hunter Mickelson also becomes eligible and highly-touted recruit Cliff Alexander also joins the fray as could top 5 recruit, Myles Turner who is still undecided but has Kansas on his short list of schools he’s considering. “We’re bringing a full head of steam,” Kelly Oubre confidently stated of next year’s Jayhawk team. “We’re coming at everybody. (Kansas) had a shorter season than expected this year and it won’t happen again.”
Oubre is referring to the Jayhawks’ third round loss to Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. KU did play that game without Embiid but the early exit has certainly fueled Oubre’s fire. “After the game I immediately tweeted ‘motivation.’ It simply means that I’m motivated to not let the team down next year, to bring everything I can to the table and try to go all the way next year.”
Oubre will likely be a one-and-done since he should be a lottery lock for the 2015 NBA Draft. While there are similarities between his game and Wiggins’, Oubre wants to leave his own mark at Kansas.
“The tradition is there; the winning tradition.” And with Kelly Oubre joining an already talented Jayhawk squad, that winning tradition should carry on as Kansas will look for their 11th straight Big 12 Conference Championship.
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 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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