Kansas Basketball: Assigning Roles to Each Player on the 2013-14 Roster
Bill Self might be fielding a load of questions for the 2013-14 season, but he surely has plans and desired roles for each of the 15 current players on his roster.
As Perry Ellis and Naadir Tharpe return to Lawrence, they will lead a young team seeking to replace nearly 80 percent of the team's scoring and erase memories of a Sweet 16 defeat.
Ellis and Tharpe are two Jayhawks that left Arlington last month with near-guaranteed roles on next year's team and will be joined by a deep five-man recruiting class in the coming months.
As Self seeks to add to that five-member class, here is a look at projected roles for all 15 players.
Andrew White III
Everyone expected more from Andrew White III as a freshman, but the big shooting guard remained inconsistent all season.
After averaging a paltry five minutes and 2.2 points per game, he has a chance to break the starting lineup as a sophomore, but unless his versatility and reliability is improved, Brannen Greene will slide past White.
However, as the first scoring option off the bench as the team's sixth man, Andrew White III will be called upon by Self to provide 15 consistent minutes per contest.
Possibly Self's best candidate for a redshirt, Frank Mason will look to prove he can help immediately as the team's backup point guard in beating out fellow incoming freshman Conner Frankamp.
If available, Mason will relieve Naadir Tharpe in the event of foul trouble and could receive the nod over Frankamp in the event of a shooting slump.
As for his defined role, think Tharpe's freshman season of 2011-12 when he backed up Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson in averaging 5.5 minutes and nearly one assist per game off the bench.
Arriving as a little-known 6'10" big man from the Pacific Northwest, Landen Lucas was destined for a redshirt season in the Jayhawks' crowded frontcourt.
With Kevin Young and Jeff Withey departing, Lucas will be given every opportunity to win the starting position over freshman Joel Embiid.
Regardless of that outcome, Lucas will be counted on for 13-18 minutes per game in providing muscle inside the lane defensively and reliability offensively.
Naadir Tharpe is and will be Kansas' starting point guard for the next two seasons.
Following the highly-publicized point guard debacle last season, the junior-to-be must provide 30-plus efficient minutes as Self's primary distributor and third perimeter scoring option.
Running an underclassmen-heavy team will present vastly different for Tharpe following two seasons on veteran squads, but a Final Four depends almost solely on him.
Replacing Ben McLemore, arguably the best freshman player in school history, is borderline unrealistic, but Wayne Selden must find a way to do it.
The 5-star recruit and McDonald's All-American will have every opportunity to attempt 10-plus shots per game, experiment on the perimeter and slash the lane as the Jayhawks' primary scorer.
Without another dynamic scorer off the bench, Wayne Selden will be expected to carry this team alongside Naadir Tharpe and Perry Ellis.
Few fans remembered Justin Wesley was still on the team last season following an injury-plagued and mop-up duty campaign in which he only played 68 minutes over 19 appearances.
The Lamar transfer walked into a perfect role in 2011-12 with a thin frontcourt but has been brushed away by promising young forwards.
Wesley should still be used in smaller lineups as the youngsters experience growing pains and slide into foul trouble, but more than 10 minutes and a couple points per game is unrealistic.
Greene received little national publicity in his small Georgia town, but five months following graduation at Tift County, the 4-star combo forward will be thrust in the Kansas starting lineup.
As Self's primary perimeter threat, Greene should record 25-plus minutes and be forced to work out any defensive issues on the fly as he will find himself defending physical 6'7" Big 12 forwards.
Following an uninspiring regular season, freshman Perry Ellis poured in 43 points on 18-for-23 shooting in the Big 12 tournament while also recording 19 rebounds.
His improved aggressiveness, composure and creativity inside the paint gave Kansas fans a glimpse of his McDonald's All-American talent and his potential for the coming years.
Ellis will be expected to provide 30-plus minutes as the starting power forward and develop similarly to Marcus Morris as a sophomore before the 2009-10 season.
Flipping a coin might be your best bet in determining the Jayhawks' starting center next season.
While Landen Lucas has the clubhouse lead with a redshirt season under his belt, incoming seven-footer Joel Embiid will likely overtake him in the KU starting lineup come November.
The two centers should split minutes, but Embiid will be counted on as their primary shot-blocker and rebounder during conference play. Look for him to provide 20 minutes
Aside from Frank Mason, Conner Frankamp is the next likely possible candidate for a redshirt season, a tool that Bill Self loves to selectively use.
However, the 4-star combo guard can shoot, and he will prove that in the offseason, forcing Self to plug Frankamp in as a secondary perimeter threat.
The lights-out three-point and free-throw shooter will be the primary backup to Naadir Tharpe and occasionally replace Wayne Selden, Brannen Greene and Andrew White III in small lineups alongside Tharpe or Mason.
Jamari Traylor's development during his redshirt was oftentimes unfairly judged alongside Ben McLemore. The dynamic power forward rarely played integral roles in Kansas wins and was susceptible to smart offensive players or aggressive defenders.
Entering 2013-14, Traylor is almost looking for a do-over as a reserve big man, seeking to impose his 6'8", 220-pound frame on lazy forwards.
He could receive an occasional start depending upon matchups and growing pains for the youngsters, but he will likely provide 15 or 20 minutes per game. His versatility allows Self options with lineup experimentation in the early-going.
Never have bench players received the crowd's love in the way Evan Manning and Tyler Self did last season, for obvious reasons.
With a host of talented all-around scoring guards en route to Lawrence this summer, those two along with Christian Garrett and Niko Roberts should remain in their usual bench roles.
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