First it was Gwangju, South Korea for the University of Kansas Men’s Basketball team, now it’s Maui.
The Maui Jim Maui Invitational announced, Tuesday, the championship bracket for the 2015 tournament.
Kansas will open play in the Lahaina Civic Center against home team Chaminade on Monday, November 23 at 8:00 pm on ESPNU. The Jayhawks are a familiar participant in the Maui Invite, having participated six times, this being the third time under Bill Self. KU finished runner-up to Duke in 2011 after late-game heroics lifted the Blue Devils over Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, and Kansas. Overall they are 10-6 in the tournament.
The tournament features an incredibly deep field–per usual–with UCLA, UNLV, Indiana, St. John’s, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest all participating.
In its second game, KU will face either UCLA or UNLV, both featuring plenty of talent which will serve as a test for a Jayhawks team coming off a gold medal at the World University Games (WUG) in South Korea this summer.
Self is still awaiting word on the availability via NCAA clearance on incoming freshman Cheick Diallo, a top 5-ranked big man which could serve as a game-changer for the Jayhawks.
Regardless of Diallo, KU is a loaded team in 2015-16.
WUG MVP Frank Mason leads the way for Kansas, while first-teamer and the tournaments leading scorer this summer, Wayne Selden, appears ready to become the impact player KU has waited for over the past two seasons.
Second-team forward Perry Ellis, returning big men Landon Lucas, Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson, and freshman Carlton Bragg, who all made an impact for the Jayhawks in winning a gold medal, give Self depth around the rim.
Where Kansas’ strength lies, however, is on the perimeter with Mason, Selden, Devonte Graham, Brannen Greene, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, and newcomer LeGerald Vick provide plenty of offensive firepower and athleticism.
Greene (hip) and Graham (quad) are both coming off injuries and were unable to participate in the gold medal run, while Mykhailiuk wasn’t permitted to participate because he hails from outside the United States.
As a side note for Kansas, former Self assistant and Jayhawk-great Danny Manning, heading into his second season as the Wake Forest head coach, potentially could end up facing each other in the championship game as they are on opposite sides of the bracket.
Self told local media after the Maui press release that he and Manning have spoken about the field and although it would be great to face each other in the championship, neither one is overly excited to play against one-another.
Kansas fans would likely be equally apprehensive about seeing Manning face his alma mater for high stakes, but if Wake Forest were to surprise the field and take home the Maui title, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to ever happen.
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