Brought to you by Select One Security

Jayhawks projected in 5-10 range by most national pundits in way-too-early Top 25 polls

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) roars after hitting a three pointer against West Virginia during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) roars after hitting a three pointer against West Virginia during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Now that college basketball has a new champion for the first time in two years, it’s on to the next season everywhere but Waco, Texas, where the Baylor Bears will continue their celebration of the 2020-21 season for decades to come.

As well they should. Scott Drew's team had an incredible season — for the second year in a row — and capped it off with two dominant performances at the Final Four in Indianapolis.

While the transition to another offseason of college hoops means looking closer at which players are returning, who’s leaving and, in the modern day, who might be transferring, it also means taking a first glance at how things might stack up entering next season.

The Kansas men’s basketball team figures to return most of its core for the 2021-22 season, and Bill Self and company have been adding pieces via transfer or late prep commitments in the past week or so, as well.

All of that, along with the likelihood of more to come, has the Jayhawks positioned to be a Top 10 team entering next season according to most of the national media.

Here’s a quick look at what several national outlets are saying about the Jayhawks in their traditional “way too early” Top 25 polls for next season.

Who: ESPN.com’s Jeff Borzello

Where KU’s picked: No. 5

Skinny: “One of the best teams in the country over the final month of the season, Kansas should celebrate Bill Self's lifetime contract with a much more consistent group. The Jayhawks are likely to lose senior Marcus Garrett, but most of the rotation should return. Jalen Wilson and David McCormack both had long stretches where they looked like stars, while Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji are stalwart starters. The big question could be at point guard without Garrett. But DaJuan Harris showed flashes of his two-way ability this past season, while former Louisville signee Bobby Pettiford was a top-100 prospect at the high school level. Self also has Bryce Thompson, who came into school with the reputation as a big-time scorer but struggled with injuries as a freshman. Kansas' frontcourt should be loaded, though, with top-50 prospects Zach Clemence and K.J. Adams entering the fold.”

___

Who: Stadium’s Jeff Goodman

Where KU’s picked: No. 6

Skinny: “The Jayhawks should return the majority of last year’s team and will add a few key pieces. Bill Self has a lifetime contract now, but he’ll need for the freshman Pettiford to be ready, as he’ll be expected to make plays off the bounce. KU has a strong frontline of McCormack and Wilson, and quality perimeter players in Agbaji, Braun and Thompson. But the key comes at the point guard spot, where it could be up to Pettiford to change the dynamic of this team.”

___

Who: CBS’ Gary Parrish

Where KU’s picked: No. 10

Skinny: “Even if Ochai Agbaji moves on, Kansas should still return four starters from a team that went 9-2 in its final 11 games and advanced in the NCAA Tournament. A top-10 recruiting class will help the Jayhawks compete for the Big 12 title.”

___

Who: The Athletic’s Seth Davis

Where KU’s picked: No. 6

Skinny: “The upside of having a down year (by the Jayhawks’ standards, anyway) is that the team won’t lose a bunch of players to the NBA Draft. Agbaji could test the waters but is not a projected first-round pick. Bill Self didn’t land any McDonald’s All-Americans, but his recent addition of Pettiford strengthened the freshman class, and Curry is a juco transfer who should have a chance to play significant minutes. Martin is an intriguing grad transfer who averaged 25 points and 9.1 rebounds at Division II Missouri Southern State.”

___

Who: NCAA.com’s Andy Katz

Where KU’s picked: No. 5

Skinny: “Jalen Wilson could be a star and the Jayhawks will be ready to challenge the Bears again for the title.” We’re assuming Katz is talking the Big 12 title there, but who knows?

___

Who: USA Today’s Scott Gleeson for Yahoo Sports

Where KU’s picked: No. 10

Skinny: “Coach Bill Self's lifetime contract means continuity in the pilot's chair. What KU's roster looks like in 2021-22 will be less predictable. There's a chance the Jayhawks lose Ochai Agbaji to the NBA, along with departing senior Marcus Garrett, but David McCormack (13.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Jalen Wilson (11.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg) are set to return. Self will be busy on the recruiting trail, where he's yet to land a five-star.”

__

Who: SI.com’s Kevin Sweeney

Where KU’s picked: No. 11

Skinny: “Bill Self was open about needing to add more talent this spring after a blowout NCAA tournament loss to USC, and the Jayhawks are set to do just that. In addition to strong returners like Jalen Wilson and David McCormack, Self has already signed three four-star recruits, a top-10 juco recruit and top D-II transfer Cam Martin. Sophomore point guard DaJuan Harris has a critical offseason ahead of him to develop as the top playmaker for the Jayhawks, and Self may have a bit of a logjam on his hands with several different options up front. One big draft decision to track: Ochai Agbaji, the team’s leading scorer this season and a projected second-round pick.”

___

Who: 247 Sports’ Kevin Flaherty

Where KU’s picked: No. 6

Skinny: “The Jayhawks had one of the nation’s best defenses in the latter part of the season and should bring back four starters: David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun, with Agbaji potentially testing the waters. But it’s what Bill Self has done around those guys that could elevate the Jayhawks. He’s added two big-man shooters in freshman Zach Clemence and transfer Cam Martin, another powerful interior player in juco transfer Sydney Curry and a hard-nosed 4 in freshman KJ Adams. Former five-star Bryce Thompson could be due for a second-year leap, while DaJuan Harris will battle four-star freshman Bobby Pettiford and potentially (Ty Ty) Washington — the No. 3 point guard in the 247Sports Composite — for the point guard spot. The Jayhawks could also lead for athletic Creighton big-man transfer Christian Bishop, and 247Sports’ Brandon Jenkins reported that Kansas has the most momentum for South Dakota’s Stanley Umude.”

Comments

Jonathan Allison

It seems that the expert opinion is that Jalen Wilson will return and that Ochai will test and very likely could leave.

I have not seen much written concerning player's decisions to stay or leave this year.

I have been speculating that Jalen could leave and that Ochai would test but return, but I haven't been monitoring any draft boards or anything like that, and I haven't read anything from any sources as to whether any player is contemplating entering the draft and going pro.

Have any players announced their intentions yet other than the three transfers? I know that Mitch had indicated that he plans to return as a grad student next year.

I'm curious for a breakdown of the scholarship situation as it currently stands with returning players and newcomers.

Seems that as of now we expect to return the following scholarship players: Braun, Harris, Jossell, Thompson, McCormack, and Mitch (covid allowance)

We are awaiting decisions from Agbaji and Wilson

We have the following newcomers on the way: KJ Adams, Zach Clemence, Sydney Curry, Bobby Pettiford, Cam Martin

Seems to me that we have 12 scholarships + Mitch accounted for right now.

So I assume that we currently have one scholarship available unless Ochai or Jalen declare their intentions to forfeit their scholarship and start a pro career.

2 weeks, 1 day ago

Report

Matt Tait

Your numbers are good, there is one open spot and could be one or two more before things are finished.

I don't think Ochai or Wilson are going anywhere. Ochai may test (because why not?) but I would imagine he'd have to really wow them to consider leaving.

KU's still in the mix for some really talented players, so the whole thing remains a work in progress. But it should all be ironed out in the next couple of weeks and then the depth chart/future will be clearer.

You're correct in saying that no one (other than Mitch & Teahan) has announced his plans one way or another, including Garrett.

I'd expect a lot of that this week and next.

2 weeks, 1 day ago

Report

Adam Bengtson

Is this the same experts that said Gonzaga was 1 of the greatest teams of all time?

I don't mean to be so direct, but what did anyone watch last year of this team that screamed NBA? We had 2 All Americans in 2019-20 and they cannot locate a NBA team. I hope Self is brutally honest with these kids. If you leave, you are making the mistake of never getting to extend your basketball career. The culture is just killing the sport. We had 3 players leave this past year, because they couldn't cut it. 2 of them given multiple opportunities and never made an adjustment. Did they go and try to get better? No, they left where they could go play with some mediocre school and shine there.

I understand the NCAA isn't doing us favors with recruiting, but I just watched a group of 4 star recruits come together for 2 years at Baylor and win a National Championship. These kids need more time together and will more of a chance of winning because of it. Baylor's recruiting is nothing but transfers sadly, but that is why I am excited for this next year, as we have another year under our belt, with sprinkled pieces of talent and depth.

I just don't understand all these kids entering the draft. Whoever is advising this, is ruining careers at a high rate. It just hurting college basketball, and now every year now, a free agency palooza.

My prediction for next year is Dave McCormack will be 1st or 2nd Team All American.

2 weeks, 1 day ago

Report

Matt Lindaman

Before looking ahead, now is also the perfect time to craft an alternate KU roster for the past year, stacking it up against Baylor. After all, many are asking how Scott Drew put together such a roster--which was a great combination of transfers with experience, old players pushing 24 years, and local hustle. So here goes. For center, the Jayhawks are set with McCormick who is ready for a break-out year. Fifth-year player Cheik Diallo assumes the power forward position. Arriving at KU amidst much fanfare, Diallo was forced to sit out his first year which wound up as a red-shirt. It soon became apparent his game needed more work, though there was a lot of raw talent. Scouts soon soured after injuries derailed his second year, but since that time, Diallo has learned and become stronger and committed to improving his game. Knowing the team had a chance to be special, he returned for year five and now serves as a fierce rim protector and defender. A great tem player, he is happy to yield the court to Kansan Christian Braun who comes to the four spot off the bench, ready to board and run and gun (from deep). Braun, who played year one with close cropped hair, supports is role with a new look, throwback mullet. In the guard court, KU fans are absolutely spoiled. Dotson and Grimes return for their senior campaign as scouts continue to project them very late first round or early second. Former Jayhawk Graham has provided the model of what four years can do for NBA roster placement and improvement,including putting oneself into a great position for a second and bigger NBA contract. Grimes has used his time to commit to his defense and passing. As a result, he has the green light from deep and the coaching staff has committed to a dual-leader, two-headed point guard model. Technically, they have three as the wing is manned by returning defensive player of the year Marcus Garrett. Ochai Agbaji provides athleticism off the bench, while second-year freshman Jalen Wilson shows promise in gaining a number of minutes during blowouts. Mitch Lightfoot can spell McCormack at center. Lightfoot's hustle has endured him to fans and teammates alike while his ability to do a bit of everything has earned him the nickname "Everyday" Mitch.

Looking ahead--like the new point guard pick-up they added. The other point guard (Ty Ty Washington) looks like a great get. Reminds me of a 6-4 Sherron Collins.

2 weeks, 1 day ago

Report