Kansas Basketball: Predicting Jayhawks' Most Improved Players in 2014-15
Perry Ellis was an obvious choice as the Kansas Jayhawks' most improved player heading into the 2013-14 season. It was Jeff Withey the season before that and Thomas Robinson in 2011-12.
While Bill Self will always have loads of talent at his disposal, roster turnover and inconsistent perimeter decision-making have led to an unusually long list of wild cards for most improved player in 2014-15, one of which already bolted Lawrence (Naadir Tharpe). Tharpe's departure only slightly shrunk an intriguing candidate pool.
Here is a look at a three returnees for the Jayhawks who could dramatically improve their play in hopes of making another Final Four run.
Conner Frankamp's role as an incoming freshman last fall was cloudy, and the 6'0" point guard did nothing to change that until the NCAA tournament six months later. He simply appeared drastically overwhelmed by the pace of the college game and the size of his defenders.
During the regular season, Frankamp recorded double-digit minutes in games decided by fewer than 10 points only twice (January 8 at Oklahoma and February 10 at Kansas State) and saw eight DNPs slapped to his stat sheet through the Big 12 tournament, despite inconsistent play from Naadir Tharpe and Frank Mason.
The Wichita native burst onto the scene with 43 combined minutes in the Jayhawks' two tourney games, shooting 50 percent from the field (7-of-14) without committing a single turnover. Look for Frankamp to flourish during a full offseason under the tutelage of a responsible coaching staff to become the selfless and reliable point guard that Bill Self's high-low offense so badly needs.
Wayne Selden, Jr.
Despite an unexpectedly inconsistent freshman year, Wayne Selden surprised many with his decision to return to Lawrence for the 2014-15 season.
"He is just going to continue to get better," Bill Self told Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World about his sophomore-to-be shooting guard.
Quite simply, Selden needs to shoot more after attempting fewer than eight shots and three free throws per game in 2013-14. He routinely abused lazy defenders on inferior teams, but, minus a 21-point effort in a road loss to Texas, averaged only 6.6 points per game in KU's eight other losses.
If Selden is able to improve his off-ball movement and ability to create off the dribble and gain confidence to consistently penetrate the lane, he will undoubtedly become a 15-plus-point-per-game contributor on a top-10 Jayhawks team next season.
Once a top-30 national recruit per Rivals.com, swingman Brannen Greene crawled onto the scene in Lawrence as a freshman, failing to make an impact during a paltry 6.6 minutes per game. His 2013-14 game log is littered with DNPs, a few of which came as a result of disciplinary action, and eggs in the scoring column, but the 6'7" lights-out shooter had no intention of departing Lawrence.
"I love it here. I love it at KU. I love coach (Bill Self). I trust in the program. I never even thought about leaving at any point in the season," Greene told Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World last week.
While Greene's main competition for minutes left (Andrew Wiggins), the Jayhawks welcome 5-star (per Rivals.com) scoring phenom Kelly Oubre and a late addition in Ukrainian small forward Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.
Greene will likely compete with those two for a starting spot this fall, and depending upon his summer work ethic and ability to improve on-court offensive efficiency, he could become a double-digit contributor.