Examining a variety of 5-guard lineups Kansas basketball could play this season

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) comes away with a ball from East Tennessee State guard Patrick Good (10) after it was poked loose by Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) comes away with a ball from East Tennessee State guard Patrick Good (10) after it was poked loose by Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

One of my favorite things to do with my blog is create lists and draw up potential lineups based on the way we think the Jayhawks might play.

And while the most likely plan for the 2020-21 Jayhawks is to play four guards around one big man, KU coach Bill Self on Thursday said he and his coaching staff had been tinkering with ways to play five guards this winter, too.

That opened the door for me to dream up five different five-guard lineups that the Jayhawks could employ this season. There are, of course, many more combinations than this that you could create from the nine scholarship guards that make up KU’s backcourt this season. But these were the first five lineups that came to mind for me.

I don’t know how much of any of these we’ll actually see (maybe none), but given the fact that KU is so deep in the backcourt, it certainly would be fun to see what these groups could do together.

Earlier this offseason, Self told me the way he views everyone from Latrell Jossell to Tristan Enaruna is that “they’re all guards.” He also noted that who each player guards on defense is more likely to determine what position he’s playing rather than anything that happens on the offensive end.

With so many talented, athletic and versatile options in the backcourt this season, Self wants these guys to play fast and attack from all areas of the court. Here’s a quick look at how some of those attacks could be built.

SMALL & QUICK

Dajuan Harris

Latrell Jossell

Bryce Thompson

Ochai Agbaji

Marcus Garrett

Talk about a group that can fly. With Harris and Garrett on the floor together, the Jayhawks would be able to get it and go in any situation. Add to that the fact that Thompson and Agbaji are two of the team’s next-best ball handlers and many have said that Jossell is the team’s best long-range shooter, and this could be a fun group against a small opponent. Jossell is probably headed toward a redshirt so it’s unlikely we’ll see this one, but if you’re looking for the smallest five you can find, this is it.

DEFENSIVE MINDED

Dajuan Harris

Bryce Thompson

Ochai Agbaji

Christian Braun

Marcus Garrett

We already know what Garrett can do defensively, and Agbaji has been so solid in that area, too. Add to that the elite hands and pesky mentality possessed by Harris, the high-IQ positioning and athleticism of Thompson and Braun’s willingness to guard whoever whenever and you’re looking at a group that would not give opponents so much as one free dribble.

LONG-RANGE BOMBERS

Bryce Thompson

Ochai Agbaji

Christian Braun

Tyon Grant-Foster

Jalen Wilson

Neither Garrett nor Harris is known for his outside shooting, so, in this lineup, Thompson runs the point, and the Jayhawks fill (and spread) the floor with five guys who can shoot it from anywhere. Agbaji and Braun should challenge to lead the team in 3-point shooting this season and Wilson was known as a shooter coming in and has dropped weight to make him even more fluid on the perimeter. Thompson's likely to shoot a high percentage from 3-point range because he's smart enough to only take good shots. And Grant-Foster, like Josh Jackson, who shot 38% from 3-point range during his lone season at KU, should get a bunch of open looks because of how much opponents have to respect his ability to drive.

THE BIG SMALL LINEUP

Marcus Garrett

Christian Braun

Tyon Grant-Foster

Jalen Wilson

Tristan Enaruna

Agbaji and Thompson, at 6-5, could also work in this lineup, too. But if you’re looking for the five tallest guards on KU’s roster, this is it, with Garrett handling the point at 6-5 and Braun at 6-6, Grant-Foster at 6-7 and Wilson and Enaruna at 6-8. Talk about matchup nightmares for opponents. This five would not give up much to KU’s smaller lineups in the way of speed and athleticism and also has enough outside shooting and off-the-dribble ability to play any style.

LENGTH & ATHLETICISM

Marcus Garrett

Bryce Thompson

Ochai Agbaji

Tyon Grant-Foster

Tristan Enaruna

Although neither of them look all that physically imposing, Grant-Foster and Enaruna both make up for their lack of weight with their length, which can be an asset on both ends of the floor. Thompson also has good length despite seeming more like a true combo guard than the other two and Agbaji plays above the rim as well as anybody on this roster. Plug Garrett in to run the show, with his slithery and savvy ability off the bounce, and you’re looking at a tough team to matchup with.

Comments

Dirk Medema

This is a “redshirt” year for sports/everyone, yes? I hope grandpa Mitch comes back too.

It’s fun to think of the switching and defensive havoc this team will create in whichever form it takes at any time of the game. There should be lots of space an enough deep ability to make the team explosive as well.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Matt Tait

Yep. All winter sports athletes will be getting an extra season of eligibility and an extra year to use it regardless of how much or how little they play this season... Makes for some interesting options for a bunch of Jayhawks and also takes some of the pressure off of recruiting in the 2021 class.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Steve Corder

So where do the highly ranked 2021 kids go? Who gets to pick-off those prospects if blue blood programs have returners?

Can a school opt not to have a kid return with a scholarship?

1 month, 1 week ago

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Matt Tait

All of that is still being worked out at the NCAA level, but one likely scenario has the NCAA waiving the scholarship cap for the 2021-22 season, meaning programs could have more than 13 scholarship players for that one season and then they'll have to figure it out from there.

I'd imagine most programs will have some players take advantage of the free year and others choose not to, so it probably won't be too difficult to work through. The biggest thing would be paving the way — through recruiting and roster management — for your roster to be back at 13 scholarship players for the 2022-23 season.

Long story short: They'll have some time to sort it all out.

1 month ago

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Scott MacWilliams

So does this mean more or less positionless basketball? Or a point & 4 guards? I'm curious how the offense would run.

1 month ago

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Steve Zimmerman

I'd put TGF in all areas. This kid has a chance to be phenomenal, hope to see a better version of Wiggs. A smaller but fiercer slasher dagger and defender. I look to him scoring double digits regularly, if my prediction is right. Not being talked about much out there, but he'll be a great player some day.

1 month ago

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