It was an incredible season for the Kansas Jayhawks which unfortunately came up disappointingly short. KU was playing as well as any team in the country, and when the NCAA tournament kicked off, appeared ready to make a serious run at a Final Four.
In their way was the eventual National Champion, Villanova, which was on a magical run of its own, taking down Kansas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina on its way to the second national title in the history of the program.
Following the loss, the Jayhawks and fans braced for the usual departure of several players to the NBA. At big time programs, this is an annual occurrence following the season, it’s just a matter of how many decide to leave.
Thus far, Wayne Selden, Jr., Brannen Greene, and Cheick Diallo have decided to enter the NBA draft. Only Diallo has decided to not hire an agent, giving him the opportunity to attend the pre-draft camp but still return to Kansas.
Added to those three are the losses of seniors Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, and Hunter Mickelson.
Obviously Ellis is the most significant loss of the entire group, but as Bill Self always does, the reloading process is already underway in preparation for the 2016-2017 season.
Thus far, Kansas has commitments from Mitch Lightfoot and Udoka Azuibuke.
Lightfoot, named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Arizona, is an athletic power forward with the ability to stretch the floor, much like Ellis did over the course of his time at Kansas.
Azuibuke is a bit of a project in terms of his conditioning, but is a legitimate 6-foot-11, 260-pound center with plenty of strength and the type of inside presence KU missed last season.
KU is also said to be the leader for the uncommitted No. 1 player in the country, Josh Jackson.
Jackson would be the immediate replacement in the starting lineup for Selden, playing the three spot but also able to handle the ball.
Jackson was named Co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game and is the type of impact player Andrew Wiggins was coming out of high school.
Jackson is also considering Michigan State and Arizona. For Kansas fans, the worry would lean more towards Jackson deciding to stay closer to home and play for Tom Izzo and the Spartans. However, most recruiting analysts and pundits suggest the pick with be the Jayhawks.
Should Self land his prized recruit, the Jayhawks immediately vault themselves into the top 4-5 in preseason rankings for next season.
Returning are starters Frank Mason III, Devonte’ Graham, and Landen Lucas. Add Jackson and likely Carlton Bragg, Jr., and you have one of the better starting five’s in the country.
As it stands right now, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is slated to return, which is a major plus for Kansas as he is projected to eventually be a lottery pick-level player. LeGerald Vick will enter his sophomore season and has been one of the better performers in practice over the past several months according to Self.
The Jayhawks will also have transfer Dwight Coleby, a transfer for Ole Miss, who is expected to add some additional production in the low post.
If everything pans out the way the staff would like this offseason, Kansas will surely be favored to win its 13th straight Big 12 title and contend for a national championship next season.
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