Wanted: 3-point shooters for KU team seeking to replace nearly all of its outside shooting from 2017-18 season
It's been an explosive run of 3-point shooting for Bill Self's Kansas Jayhawks during the past three seasons. But all signs for the immediate future point to a potential change.
After playing primarily through the post throughout Self's time in charge, the Jayhawks, in three consecutive seasons, set a KU record for 3-pointers made and attempted in a single season. Don't expect that to be the case when the 2018-19 season rolls around. But that does not mean the Jayhawks will abandon the 3-point shot altogether.
“We may not make a school record, but we'll still be OK,” Self told the Journal-World on Monday. “Perimeter shooting is a concern, but not from the standpoint of how many 3-pointers we make. More from the point of do we run good offense and get open looks.”
KU's record-setting run started in 2015-16, when the first team to crack the 300 mark in school history made 304 triples during its run to the Elite Eight. It continued last year, when Devonte' Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Frank Mason and Josh Jackson teamed to break that record by knocking in 318 3-pointers during their run to the Elite Eight.
And both marks were shattered this season, when Graham and Mykhailiuk became the first KU teammates to each make 100 3-pointers in a season, joining Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick in making 391 3-pointers to help the Jayhawks get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2012.
Only four Division I teams in power conferences finished the season in the top 15 in 3-point makes this season. And three of them reached the Final Four. Kansas, at third overall, was one of them, with Villanova (464) leading the nation and Michigan (361) ranking 11th. Marquette, with 385, was the other team in that group.
To put those numbers in further perspective, 63 Division I teams made 300 or more 3-pointers this season. That's seven times the number of programs that made that many 3-pointers during the 2010-11 season.
Naturally, that stat might lead one to believe that 3-point shooting is the wave of the future — perhaps at all levels of basketball — and that any program wishing to replicate the success of KU, Villanova or Michigan in 2018 would do well to copy their game plan. While that might make sense on the surface, personnel has a lot to do with it, and the Jayhawks' 2018-19 personnel, at least at this point, does not appear quite as poised to follow in the footsteps of Self's last three teams.
“I think our style will be different, without question,” Self said. “Because I think we'll play two bigs. But I do think one of the bigs, Dedric (Lawson), is a 3-point shooter. I could see him taking as many 3s as Lagerald (Vick, who made 59 of 158 this season).”
If Lawson is able to hit that pace, that will go a long way toward making the transition back to the post a smooth one. The Jayhawks will enter the 2018-19 season seeking to replace the highest percentage of 3-point makes in Self's 15 seasons at KU. And it's not even close.
In all, 369 of the 391 3-pointers made by the 2017-18 Jayhawks, or 94.4 percent, will be gone when next season tips off, with only Marcus Garrett's 12 triples, six from Mitch Lightfoot and two each from Sam Cunliffe and walk-on Chris Teahan returning.
Only once before in Self's 15 years at KU, has he had to replace even 80 percent of a team's 3-point shooting and that came after the 2004-05 season, when Self said goodbye to 157 of his team's 198 3-point makes, which were dropped in primarily by J.R. Giddens, Keith Langford, Michael Lee, Aaron Miles and Alex Galindo.
All five of those players were gone after the 2004-05 season, but Self had the luxury of replacing them with a class that included Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush, both players who finished their careers in the Top 10 on KU's all-time 3-point list.
It remains to be seen how well the incoming Jayhawks shoot the ball next season, but, as of today, none of KU's new perimeter players are known first for their 3-point prowess.
Freshman Devon Dotson is more of a pure point guard who attacks the basket. Freshman Quentin Grimes is a versatile combo guard. And transfer Charlie Moore, who red-shirted this season, shot 35.2 percent (45 of 128) during his freshman season at Cal. KU remains in pursuit of Romeo Langford, the No. 5-ranked player in the 2018 class who is expected to pick between Kansas, Indiana and Vanderbilt by the end of the month.
Langford (36 percent) and Grimes (38.6) were both high-volume shooters in high school who showed the ability to get hot from the outside from time to time.
Lawson, who nearly averaged a double-double during his final season at Memphis (2016-17), made 32.2 percent (48 of 149) of his 3-point attempts during his two seasons with the Tigers.
“No matter who you have out there, you're going to make at least 200 or 250,” Self said. “So I don't worry about those kind of numbers. We're obviously losing a lot, but the losses always seem exaggerated because who's going to replace them, just by default, will be shooting a large percentage of those 3-pointers lost. I think what you have to look at is the difference. How do you make up the difference between 7.5 and 10 a game? And you probably do that by going inside more.”
— Here's a quick look at the percentage of 3-point makes that each of Bill Self's KU teams have had to replace from the season before. —
|KU season||% of 3-point makes KU had to replace
from previous season