Which Jayhawk is most likely to join Devonte' Graham as a 30-point scorer?

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham hangs for a shot during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham hangs for a shot during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

We all now recognize how flammable the shooting hand of Kansas senior Devonte’ Graham can get, in wake of his back-to-back 35-point performances this past week, spearheading victories over Toledo and Syracuse.

It’s safe to say any one of the Jayhawks’ starters, Graham confirmed, could put up 20 points and no one would experience an iota of astonishment. But which of his teammates is most capable of exploding for 30 or more points like the senior point guard has?

“There’s no telling,” Graham replied, when asked for his opinion. “It could be Lagerald, could be Svi, could be Malik. Udoka could go crazy one night. … Anybody could have a hot night any given night. If everybody’s being aggressive, somebody’s gonna probably get hot.”

Spoken tactfully, like a true veteran leader. Maybe junior wing Lagerald Vick could slash and shoot his way to 30. Or senior Svi Mykhailiuk might bombard an opponent with 3-pointers en route to a huge night. Perhaps sophomore guard Malik Newman gets hot, while also scoring in bunches in transition for a career performance. It’s conceivable 7-foot sophomore center Udoka Azubuike could be so overpowering against a front line that he dunks, lay-ups and jump-hooks his way to a massive scoring total.

Who knows? Well, actually, KU head coach Bill Self has a pretty good idea.

Asked which of Graham’s running mates is most likely to go off in the fashion his senior point guard did, Self didn’t have to ponder the inquiry at all.

“Svi,” Self replied, even before the question was completed. “Svi. I think Svi’s shown that.”

As KU’s coach referenced, Mykhailiuk nearly reached 30 a few weeks ago, on a night he shot 5-for-7 on 3-pointers and put up 27 against South Dakota State. But that doesn’t mean Self determined the 6-foot-8 guard from Ukraine is the only plausible candidate for the high-scoring, No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (91.9 points per game, sixth-best in the country).

“I think Lagerald can, too,” Self added of the 6-5 guard from Memphis, who produced 20 points against Syracuse while only hitting one 3-pointer.

“And Dok, I’m a little disappointed in Dok in the last game,” Self said of the mammoth post man from Nigeria, who is shooting 77% from the floor and already has finished 26 slams on the season, “because he never put himself in position to score — he never ducked in one time, he never posted up. It’s like the zone messed with his head. And he’s got to be able to play through that.”

Although Azubuike is averaging 14.6 points as a sophomore, Self expressed his dismay about the center’s season-low 6 points versus Syracuse’s 2-3 zone most likely because Kansas is about to face that type of defense again Wednesday night vs. Washington, in Kansas City, Mo.

The Jayhawks (7-0) also could use a bounce-back performance from Newman. The former Mississippi State guard registered his first single-digit scoring game at KU in Miami, going 1-for-8 with just 2 points.

“And Malik’s obviously a guy that can get 20 any night if he’s playing well,” Self added. “And, of course, that wasn’t one of his better games obviously.”

The key takeaway from the who-else-can-get-hot discussion, though, was what an enviable position this team is in from an offensive standpoint.

“The good thing about having five guys that are capable of doing that is you don’t have to have all five guys the same night,” Self said. “You can just have two or three have big nights.”

The 15th-year Kansas coach pointed out Graham, Vick and Mykhailiuk (11 points) combined to contribute 66 of KU’s 76 points in the win over the ACC’s Orange.

“And to be honest with you the other — I could be off on this — the other 10 points we scored, four of them were uncontested lob plays. Not baskets you have to earn,” Self said. “And Malik got an offensive rebound and a put-back on a layup. That’s it. To think we could beat Syracuse when we only have three guys contribute offensively statistically, I think that hopefully is a good sign.”

It seems most fans would agree with Self’s judgment that Mykhailiuk is the most likely Jayhawk to catch fire offensively. Fifty percent of those who voted on Twitter selected the senior marksman as most likely to join Graham as a 30-point scorer at some point this season.

by Benton Smith

Mykhailiuk definitely qualifies as the most probable to go off. But don’t rule out Newman. The 6-3 guard from Jackson, Miss., hasn’t even reached 20 points yet at Kansas, but he has the confidence and shooter’s mentality to erupt when he inevitably has a game where he’s feeling it.

Newman isn’t a gunner as a rule, but if there’s a matchup that favors him and his teammates aren’t at their offensive peak, he wouldn’t have any trouble becoming the go-to scorer when needed.

Here’s a further look at each of the candidates.


Udoka Azubuike

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) gets up for a lob jam against Kentucky during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at United Center.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) gets up for a lob jam against Kentucky during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at United Center. by Nick Krug

Season stats: 14.6 PPG, 77% FGs, 40% FTs

Career highs: 21 points, vs. Oakland (Nov. 21); 10 FGs, vs. Oakland; 4 FTs, vs. UMKC (Dec. 6, 2016)


Svi Mykhailiuk

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) spots up for a three before Syracuse forward Matthew Moyer (2) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at American Airlines Arena in Miami.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) spots up for a three before Syracuse forward Matthew Moyer (2) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at American Airlines Arena in Miami. by Nick Krug

Season stats: 17.1 PPG, 51% FGs, 54% 3s, 63% FTs

Career highs: 27 points, vs. South Dakota State (Nov. 17); 10 FGs, vs. South Dakota State; 6 3-pointers, vs. Chaminade (Nov. 23, 2015); 5 FTs, vs. Baylor (Jan. 2, 2016)


Malik Newman

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) gets to the bucket past South Dakota State guard Skyler Flatten (1) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) gets to the bucket past South Dakota State guard Skyler Flatten (1) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Season stats: 11.9 PPG, 46% FGs, 40% 3s, 100% FTs

Career highs: 25 points, vs. Ole Miss (while at Mississippi State, Jan. 23, 2016); 8 FGs, vs. Ole Miss; 7 3-pointers, vs. Ole Miss; 6 FTs, vs. Tulane (Dec. 18, 2015)


Lagerald Vick

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) goes to the bucket against Texas Southern guard Robert Lewis (33) during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) goes to the bucket against Texas Southern guard Robert Lewis (33) during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Season stats: 16.4 PPG, 54% FGs, 47% 3s, 71% FTs

Career highs: 23 points, vs. Tennessee State (Nov. 10); 9 FGs, vs. South Dakota State (Nov. 17) and Long Beach State (Nov. 29, 2016); 4 3-pointers, vs. Tennessee State and Long Beach State; 4 FTs, vs. West Virginia (Feb. 13, 2017) and TCU (Dec. 30, 2016)

Comments

Tim Orel

Didn't Malik have a 30+ point game in Italy? Yes, exhibition and all, but he did put up 30+ in a KU uniform.

1 week, 5 days ago

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Steve Zimmerman

I guess it's harder for him to score vs NCAA div1 teams. He doesn't have a good shooting form. His mechanic uses more energy, his legs spread too wide. Not a good jumper, IMHO.
Svi and Graham have sweeter jumpshots and potentially are better FG%.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Eliott Reeder

Svi is the obvious answer to this. He could get hot and hit 7-8 threes any time, add a layup or two and a couple free throws and he's there. Malik Newman needs to drive past his man and shoot more pull-up jumpers off the dribble, IMO, instead of settling for lay-ups and threes only. He has a great mid-range game that he's not really utilizing much.

1 week, 4 days ago

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