The NBA draft just recently passed and the Kansas Jayhawks were well represented. Exciting individual steps forward by key members of the 2009-2010 Big 12 Champion Jayhawks leaves Bill Self a large challenge for this coming season.
The big man in the middle 6'11" center, Cole Aldrich, was selected No. 11 overall by the New Orleans Hornets and quickly traded to join the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder so he can play along side the NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant.
Fellow Kansas talent, small forward Xavier Henry, elected to enter the draft this year as well. Henry followed Aldrich, literally, being the very next pick going No. 12 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Kansas All-American point guard, Sherron Collins, also declared for the draft, unfortunately, was not selected. However quickly after the draft the Charlotte Bobcats signed Sherron as a Free Agent. Collins will participate in the Bobcats summer activities and camps.
Now those are three very large holes to fill and Bill Self was a busy man during the recruiting season looking at a number of blue chip prospects. As the days went by and the declaring deadline approached former Kansas Assistant coach John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats seemed to land top prospect after top prospect.
Bill Self didn't back down and stayed focused on the guy he wanted. When the dust settled McDonalds All-American point guard, McDonalds All-American Slam Dunk Champion, and according to Rivals.com the No. 1 recruit which was a consensus top five high school prospect, Josh Selby made the decision to be a Jayhawk.
The 6'2' point guard should be (and likely will be) showcased immediately. The only other recruit signed for this coming season is shooting guard 6'2" Royce Woolridge. Last years recruiting class included guard Elijah Johnson. This year Elijah will also need to take on a larger role. Both Elijah and Royce have a quick first step and are very athletic.
The young guards will be important but more than likely the focal point of Bill Self's offense this season will be the twins, Marcus and Markieff Morris. They have been developing nicely and their time is now. Last season Marcus showed signs of dominance and Markieff will be expected to carry a large workload in the paint.
A few role players like Brady Morningstar, Thomas Robinson, and Tyshawn Taylor have the tools to contribute and if the Jayhawks hope to contend for the Big 12 Championship or play a factor in the NCAA tournament all the parts will have to click.
I have faith in Bill Self and believe the new additions Selby and Woolridge can fill the gaps left by Collins and Henry with some help from Elijah and Morningstar. The big step will be depending on Marcus and Markieff Morris raising their game along with a few depth players to replace Aldrich, and the inside game that Kansas unleashed last season. Someone or maybe a couple players will need to establish themselves as a legitimate outside scoring threat. It will be tough and as a fan, great entertainment.
My prediction is that Kansas will win the Big 12 Tournament after coming in second in the regular season behind Texas (not Kansas State, despite the early hype!). They will be a three seed in the NCAA tournament and will make it to the sweet 16! We've got some time until tip off but the NBA draft got me thinking...
Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!