Early Draft Declarations Create Uncertainty at Kansas

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 31st, 2016

Although Kansas fell short of expectations in failing to reach this weekend’s Final Four, the Jayhawks enjoyed another hugely successful season. They won the Maui Invitational, took home their 12th straight Big 12 title, broke a three-year Big 12 Tournament championship drought and earned the overall #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. When a team typically has that kind of year, it has at least a couple players talented enough to enter the NBA Draft. Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene have their warts as prospects, but they remain skilled players in the eyes of talent evaluators, and for that reason (among others, in Greene’s case), neither will be returning to Kansas next season. Their decisions could mean that Bill Self‘s method of addressing the openings created by his two departing wings could come to define his team’s offseason.

Will the allure of playing time created by roster defections be enough to keep Svi Mykhailiuk in Lawrence? (AP)

Will the allure of playing time created by roster defections be enough to keep Svi Mykhailiuk in Lawrence? (AP)

The Jayhawks’ tremendous depth this season means the team may be able to shoulder the losses of Selden and Greene with an in-house solution. Svi Mykhailiuk is a dynamic rising junior who can blow games open with his shooting — in a similar fashion to Greene — while possessing the ball-handling skills and court vision Greene lacked and Selden didn’t need. Of course, those attributes, in addition to Mykhailiuk’s young age (he doesn’t turn 19 until this June), make him a candidate for early entry as well. However, with Selden and Greene already officially gone from Kansas’ roster, the sophomore might see the situation as an opportunity to hone his skills for 20-plus minutes a night next season.

Should Mykhailiuk turn pro, things could start to get dicey. The Jayhawks remain in the hunt for senior prep All-American Josh Jackson, one of the nation’s top undeclared talents, and it just so happens that at 6’7″ and without a clear competitor for playing time, Jackson would seamlessly slide into Bill Self’s three spot. His skill set makes him appealing to any college program, but it’s his constant motor, fearlessness and high basketball IQ that make him the kind of player Self would absolutely love to have on his roster. Even if Mykhailiuk were to stay at Kansas, his guard skills could provide Self the flexibility to slide him into the backcourt for spurts, leaving plenty of minutes still available for Jackson on the wing.

The hypothetical combination of Mykhailiuk turning pro and Jackson opting to go to Michigan State or Arizona (his other finalists) would be the nightmare scenario for Jayhawks fans, but even then, Self would have some hope. The new NBA Draft rules will generally create roster uncertainty during the spring, but that’s not the case here. While Cheick Diallo‘s future remains in question, one key advantage to Selden and Greene being so decisive in March is that Self can enter the summer with a reasonably clear picture of his scholarship situation. That won’t necessarily be the case for many other top coaches, who may need to wait until May 25 before having a firm idea of playing time available, and by that time, it could be too late.

The Jayhawks have lost two of their best shooters, but there’s no reason for panic. While Selden and Greene were contributors to yet another terrific season in Lawrence, there’s a very real chance Kansas ends up better off for their departures.

Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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