Kansas Basketball: Way-Too-Early Grades for Jayhawks Starters
Unsurprisingly, a lot was learned about the Jayhawks in Tuesday's 94-83 victory over No. 4 Duke.
Kansas, not even five percent into the 2013-14 season, quickly proved it can play with any team in the country and has one of the most dangerous starting fives in college basketball.
The minuscule sample size has produced mostly high marks for Bill Self's starting lineup, but the way-too-early grades reveal areas of major improvement.
As was the case last season, Self proved his high-low pass-heavy system can support two point guards.
The semi-incumbent junior Naadir Tharpe appeared destined for two full seasons as the starting point guard for the Jayhawks. That was before freshman Frank Mason put together an impressive offseason that warranted significant playing time.
Tharpe was suspended for the opener due to an obscure NCAA violation; therefore, he debuted with seven points and five assists in Tuesday's win over Duke. A couple of foolish fouls and three turnovers prevented the Jayhawks from building a breathable advantage, but overall, Tharpe managed the game in 28 minutes.
Wayne Selden Jr.
Oftentimes stats can lie, but Wayne Selden's stats are not lying.
The responsibly dynamic freshman has been as good as advertised, averaging 11.5 points per game on 47 percent shooting in over 32 minutes.
He has shown confidence both in the paint and beyond the arc, is not afraid to back down bigger 2-guards and proved he can be the best player on the court.
With arguably Self's most athletic starting five since the 2007-08 title team, transfer big man Tarik Black has not shown he can keep up thus far.
Black has landed in foul trouble in both games, only playing six minutes against Duke. Granted, the Blue Devils are not an ideal matchup for the 6'9" power forward.
Freshman Joel Embiid clearly needs more time to develop, but he has noticeably outplayed Tarik Black. Don't be surprised if Self rolls with the Memphis transfer in the starting five for a few more weeks, but Embiid will continue to see his minutes go up.
With improved footwork, aggressiveness, basketball IQ, consistency and awareness, Perry Ellis is the Jayhawks' most important player.
He is attempting seven free throws per game and is the No. 1 option in the high-low scheme. Ellis aced the Duke test with 24 points in 35 minutes and appears ready to lead Kansas on both ends of the floor.
First, preseason expectations for Andrew Wiggins were deserved but quite unfair.
Second, Wiggins is hitting those expectations, as well as 58 percent of his field goals. Minor mechanical and awareness adjustments on defense will officially complete a dynamic all-around game.
Foul trouble in the Champions Classic was concerning, as three of the four were very lazy and unnecessary, but this aggressiveness has led to 11 total rebounds and three steals in two games.