KU point guard Devon Dotson impressing early with serious speed

Red Team guard Devon Dotson soars in for a bucket during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

It’s only been a month, and he clearly still has a lot to learn about playing point guard at Kansas, in the Big 12 and for KU coach Bill Self.

But the early feedback from summer pickup games and team scrimmages thus far have pinpointed one area in which KU newcomer Devon Dotson already is well ahead of the curve for a true freshman — speed.

“He’s really fast,” KU junior Sam Cunliffe recently told the Journal-World after listing Dotson as one of the players who had stood out to him so far this summer. “He can push the ball up the court pretty quickly and get to his spots pretty well.”

Lightning fast point guard play is certainly nothing new for the Jayhawks. Whether talking about the past four years, with Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason III running the show, or players like Tyshawn Taylor, Sherron Collins and Russell Robinson before that, Self’s offenses for years have had a serious element of speed.

But just how fast are we talking here with the five-star freshman from Charlotte, who stands 6-foot-2, 185 pounds?

Fast like Mason and Graham?

“For sure,” Cunliffe said. “He’s definitely on that level of fast. He has stood out in that area.”

Although he was a few weeks late to the party because of his commitment with USA Basketball, fellow five-star freshman Quentin Grimes agreed with Cunliffe’s assessment of Dotson’s best skill. And it did not take Grimes long to figure out just how dangerous KU could be with both him and Dotson on the floor together during the 2018-19 season.

“I think it’s good, because we can both play on the ball and off the ball,” said Grimes, who has the ability to play the point but, because of his 6-5, 205-pound frame, often fits best at the 2 or the 3 like he did with Team USA. “Once coach kind of starts to figure us out, he’ll put us in really good positions on the court.”

Those two will hardly be alone in the KU backcourt this season. With Cunliffe potentially factoring into things for the first time and Marcus Garrett, Charlie Moore, Lagerald Vick and freshman Ochai Agbaji also fighting for reps, the KU backcourt, all of a sudden, is just as deep as the Jayhawks' big, talented and physical frontline.

And while the flash and flare of Dotson and Grimes have received plenty of attention, Grimes said Moore had been the most impressive KU guard during his first few weeks on campus.

Asked which of the guards had the best shooting touch thus far, Grimes said, “I think it’s Charlie for sure, that I’ve seen. He’s been the most consistent. And I feel like, as long as I get my reps in, I’ll be right behind there.”

Asked which of the KU guards was the quickest he had seen, Grimes repeated himself.

“I haven’t guarded Devon,” he said in late June. “But I have guarded Charlie, and he’s pretty quick out there on the court, so I’m going to have to go with Charlie again.”

Regardless of who actually comes out on top in the speed category, Dotson and company are clearly getting noticed. Many national pundits have already picked the Jayhawks as the top-ranked team in the country entering the 2018-19 season. And all of KU coach Bill Self’s different lineups, along with the motivational tactics at his disposal as a result, figure to create a roster that can endure the inevitable off nights and in-season slumps from a handful of different players.

“The thing about our team this year,” Cunliffe said, “is we’ve got a lot of guys that are really good and a lot of guys that have improved.”

And, in many ways, the progress is merely beginning.

“When coach finally gets us all together and is able to get it under control, I think we’re going to be really scary because we’re going to have guys everywhere,” Cunliffe added. “Guys starting. Guys coming in. It’s going to be a good team.”

Comments

Dirk Medema

Forgot KJ in the list of guards?

The list provides the opportunity to go big or fast and all sorts of mix and match scenarios. Coach gets to be a bit of mad scientist this year.

2 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dave Miller

I think go big and fast is another option.

2 months, 2 weeks ago

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Marcus Balzer

I really hope that the return of Vick doesn't stunt the growth of Dotson. When it was assumed that Vick wasn't going to be part of the plan for this team moving forward I was looking forward to the development of our younger guys.

2 months, 2 weeks ago

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Shannon Gustafson

They play different positions so it would be odd if that was the case.

2 months, 2 weeks ago

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Marcus Balzer

Do they? Dotson can play on or off the ball. I would assume Charlie will be the starter and then there is a log jam with Garrett and Dotson. If you go with a three guard approach then there is an even bigger log jam w/ all the guards I just mentioned along with Vick, Cunliffe, Grimes, and Agbaji.
Self has shown a tendency to go with guys he can trust so the bulk of those minutes are going to go to Garrett and Vick. Everything else is up for grabs.

2 months, 2 weeks ago

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Jay Scott

They do. Vick is no point guard. He's not a combo guard either.

2 months, 2 weeks ago

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Gary McCullough

Last year the bench was pretty thin. This year we have more talent than minutes to play. One thing I love about Bill Self teams: everyone of them had their own team personality. Last year we were the Strategic Air Command, dropping bombs from another continent on our adversaries. This year shapes up to be a Kung Fu movie: lots of talented individuals doing unbelievable acts of athleticism. Damn, this is going to be a fun season!

2 months, 2 weeks ago

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Craig Ellsworth Peddicord

I have now learned the hard way to check my expectations at the front door. We have had "great" teams in the past only to disappoint. How can we be a consistent top 5 DIV 1 team year and after year with only two national championships in the past 30 years? I have lost count over the years as to the number of times we have been a #1 seed come tournament time. I love coach Self, I like the talent on this year's squad and its corresponding potential, BUT I have had similar expectations in the past. I will enjoy the journey once again as I bleed Crimson & Blue, but life is too short. Now I live in the moment and will not let my passion overwhelm me anymore. And yes winning 14 consecutive conference titles is impressive. But how many other Big 12 teams have won an NCAA BB championship? RCJH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 months, 1 week ago

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