Devon Dotson's presence eliminates concerns, raises KU's ceiling

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) floats a shot over the West Virginia defense during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) floats a shot over the West Virginia defense during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A Devon Dotson-less Kansas basketball team would have figured out some way to succeed in the 2019-20 season — Bill Self is still the Jayhawks’ head coach after all. That alternate reality isn’t one even the most diehard KU follower could stomach in fan fiction form, though.

If Dotson had decided to go ahead and keep his name in this year’s NBA Draft, maybe Quentin Grimes would have tried to return to KU and play some point guard instead of entering his name in the transfer portal. Perhaps incoming freshman Issac McBride would have emerged as the team’s primary ball handler. More likely, junior Marcus Garrett would have served as a large floor general.

The truth is none of those alternatives could be characterized as ideal. Had Dotson not saved KU from that actuality with his decision to return, observers would constantly have wondered how much better the Jayhawks would have looked with the point guard from Charlotte, N.C., running the show.

The Jayhawks should be what-if free next season, though, with Dotson back and Silvio De Sousa cleared. KU even projects as strong enough with its veteran heavy lineup to keep people from wondering how R.J. Hampton would have looked in a KU uniform.

With Dedric Lawson trying to carve out a spot for himself in the NBA and Hampton playing in New Zealand, this will be Dotson’s team. And maybe that played some factor in his decision to put his NBA career on the back burner for one year. (See Self’s statement on Dotson: “We feel like we have a very high draft pick in next year's draft returning as our point guard.”)

It looked like Dotson would have been a late second-round pick this year. Now he has a full season of starring for what looks like a legit Final Four contender ahead of him. More national television exposure and countless opportunities to showcase what kind of growth he has made as a playmaker, shooter and finisher after averaging 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman, when he made 48.2% of his shots and 36.3% of his 3-pointers.

Dotson won’t have to lead KU in scoring — a healthy Udoka Azubuike would be more than capable of that — but he could. Dotson had the best free throw rate (.482) among KU starters this past season and he became more adept at getting into the paint and drawing contact as his first college season progressed. He’ll be even more comfortable, not to mention stronger, by the time his sophomore season begins, and Dotson is dedicated and competitive enough to become a more effective scorer off the dribble, whether that’s at the rim or at the foul line.

And you know he’ll spend the offseason working on his 3-point shot and trying to improve his ability to drive to set up shots for his teammates, because those are two qualities that will better his chances of getting drafted early in 2020 like Self thinks he can.

A leader in waiting and as obsessed with winning as anyone on KU’s roster this past season, Dotson can now smoothly step into the spotlight, while assuring the Jayhawks play with speed, as well as some confidence and passion. Next year’s KU team won’t look much like its predecessor. Not with a driven Dotson back and taking on an even larger role.

With Dotson, Azubuike, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, De Sousa and Mitch Lightfoot, Kansas has a core of rotation players that looks on paper like a Big 12 title-winning lineup and a top-five team in the country. Their ceiling could go even higher if some combination of freshmen McBride, Tristan Enaruna and Christian Braun prove themselves ready. Plus, with three open scholarships at this point, there’s a chance Self and his staff could still add even another player or two capable of contributing right away.

As talented as all those individuals are, each of their jobs would have been more taxing without Dotson around. His presence changes everything for the better for KU, and saves everyone invested in the program from wondering what if.

Comments

Dale Rogers

Benton, is this a typo? "Dotson had the best free throw rate (.482) "

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Len Shaffer

Per a Google search: "Free Throw Rate is the ratio of foul shots to field goal attempts, expressed as FTA/FGA. As of this morning, the NCAA D1 Free Throw Rate is 37.3%, meaning that for every 100 shots from the field, college teams are taking just over 37 free throws."

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Len Shaffer

Thank God Dok, Silvio and Devon are all back. Now let's hope they can all stay healthy -- that will go a long way towards determining what kind of season they have, because I wonder how much they could overcome it if any of those three goes down for an extended period.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Steve Zimmerman

The question is now, will Dotson ppg decrease? Will his apg increase? Will he be willing to throw lobs instead of full-speed to the basket? Will his 3pt shooting increase? Something's gotta give, positively speaking.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Andy Godwin

Sometimes you do what is asked. Self asked Dotson to attach the rim whenever possible. With Silvio and Udoka, at least there are viable choices on the team who can consistently finish above the rim. Last season was one of the least athletic teams under Self, so this season lobs might result in a higher percentage of successful assists.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Garry Wright

"Self asked Dotson to attach the rim whenever possible." I assume you mean Self wants him to attach the rim after Dok has torn it off with one of his slam dunks!

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Mike Greer

As with every new season, we fans enter with unrational exuberance. Last year wasn’t any different, than we lost Silvio, then Dok, then Q went flat, then Vick. If the team can stay healthy, the sky is the limit, but we should probably hope someone else has a break out year. I don’t recall a year where we didn’t need someone to step up.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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John Strayer

I still don't seen an answer to the question who is going to spread out defenses by being a legitimate three point threat.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Tracey Graham

It's great that Dotson is back, but I don't see KU as a legit Final Four team next season. Who is the bigtime scoring threat? Who is going to be a knockdown 3-point shooter? Who is going to grab 10+ rebounds per game? I can't see this team winning the Big 12 next season. And I'd be surprised if they made it past the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, my opinion could change between now and next March, but right now I don't see anything to get overly excited about. The team will win 20 games and make the NCAA Tournament, but it does that every season. whoopee.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brian Wilson

Your kidding me....Dok will get 10 Rebounds in his sleep. Scoring will be spread but are you forgetting Silvio is back...just guessing but put him in for 15 a game and it will be Dok, Dotson, Agbaji, Braun and Eanruna that will put up plus 10 on any given night.

Biggest positive should be team chemistry. Starting or backup, if your players are competing at the position they want to play they will be happy. Putting Grimes, a PG want to be, at SG thinking he would be happy getting starting minutes was stupid. This is exactly the type of thing coaches do without thinking. Unless HCBS does something, the only out of position player on the team going into next year appears to be Lightfoot.

To continue....If a 5 STAR Grimes can't win the PG spot, then he rides pine, waits a year or two, competes, and earns it. Otherwise, why would he or anyone ever think he is good enough to play PG in the NBA if he can't do it at KU.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Armen Kurdian

I don't think we need a singular 3-pt threat. If Devon, De Souza, and Marcus can knock down just enough to be dangerous, we should be able to score around the basket much better than we did last year. We've seen how fast Devon is to the basket, I think our scoring will actually be going up next season despite not having an assassin from beyond the arc.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Roger Ortega

The only one that could make enough three's in that group, at least at this point, is Dotson. Very doubtful Marcus improves enough to be deemed a threat and I don't think we've seen whether DeSousa is a 3 point threat or not. I could be wrong and would LOVE to be, but I just don't see it happening.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Trey Hohman

Yeah, we need another real 3-point threat. Maybe it's one of our freshman? Like many others, it's confusing why Grimes didn't go straight into G-League or else just come back to KU and try to round himself into a proto D & 3 NBA-type wing. Seem like at least a fair amount of solid rotational NBA 2-guards tend to be guys who stuck around college for 2+ years. Danny Green Josh Hart, JJ Reddick, Marcus Smart, Gary Harris - even my man Wayne Selden at this point. He and Dotson must've hated playing together. It never worked last year obviously.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Robert Brock

They are already breaking out the champagne and nachos in Lubbock celebrating back-to-back Big 12 championships.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brian Wilson

I don't know, KU's depth, size and athleticism looks pretty good to me.
And from what I've read Enaruna can score from anywhere and defend all 5 positions.<br>

7"0" Dok - 6'10" Mac<br>
6'9" Silvio - 6'8" Lightfoot<br>
6'9" Enaruna - 6'6" Braun<br>
6'4" Agbaji - 6'5" Garrett<br>
6'2" Dotson - 6'1" McBride<br>

The only player by type out of position is Lightfoot. With Dok, Silvio, and MAC off the bench Lightfoot gets less time unless Lightfoot squeaks a few minutes at the 3 spot just to see how he does but my gues not likely

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Pius Waldman

13 scholies should give potential for redshirting or transfer having to not play immediately. Save one or two and see what happens this summer.
I don't understand Grimes not going pro and accepting a year without playing.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Nick Kramer

I hope you're correct about Enaruna, time will tell. Coach really likes Garrett in the game, so don't be surprised if Garrett slots in at the 3, with Enaruna sliding up to the 4. It also remains to be seen if Silvio can play the 4 if we bring back the hi-low. Hoping he has developed some handles and a 15 foot shot since we last saw him. I would guess the staff is looking hard for a transfer who is a scoring 4 right now, as well as another shooter for the wing.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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David Robinett

We return as king of the hill next year.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Mike Greer

Agbaji started off pretty hot from 3 point range, numerous announcers and pundits commented on his great three point form. Many have predicted him as a first round pick next year. Yet half the people here have obviously forgotten he even played last season. He had two 20 point games as well. Do you think he forgot how to play? He could easily develop into a solid 3 point threat.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Eric TheCapn

The title of this blog series is so confusing; I came here to learn about Smiths.

Perhaps it should be called "'Hawkology" (note the leading apostrophe) or something more accurate, for the sake of journalism.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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Steve Zimmerman

Brian, I'm sorry but based on which stats u think Dok will grab 10 rebs? even if he's wide awake, he will NEVER NEVER rips 10 avg rebs. UNTIL the coaching staff mold him into one rebounding machine. He doesn't box out well, he seems too heavy (Hudy needs to work him out more) to re-position his body quickly, he just doesn't have that quickness or bounce to jump. Silvio, on the other hand, is potentially our double-double candidate next season. He is solid, legs spread down low, he knows how to tip the ball to himself, his wide body helps him in boxing out, too. I think we've seen what he's capable of. McBride will be a surprise, I predict. Dok, is still unknown, whether he will dominate under the basket - he hasn't played or practiced in a year.

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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