Nervous times for KU basketball

By Steve Sell
April 13, 2018

The future of the University of Kansas men’s basketball team has never appeared more tenuous.

Let’s start on the court. The Jayhawks graduated seniors Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk off their Final Four team.

Shortly after the Jayhawks lost to Villanova in the semifinals to end a surprising season where they again won the Big 12 title (14 in a row) as well as the conference postseason tournament, Malik Newman was the first to turn pro, which came as no surprise. 

Newman actually was in college for three years if you count his redshirt year after it was assumed he would leave for the NBA after his one year at Mississippi State. His stock could not be higher as he finished the season with a flourish with highlight-reel game after highlight-reel game.

Just days later, three-year contributor Legerald Vick also announced he was going pro. I think most are skeptical whether he has the game to play at that level, but he can at least make a living playing overseas. Vick’s season fluctuated as he had a hot start, sagged in the middle and then played well at the end. 

All we are waiting on now is the Big Fella, Udoka Azubuike. If he goes pro, KU will be sending out a brand-new starting five as it attempts to win a 15th straight Big 12 title.

Not just because I want this for KU, but my feeling is he needs one more year. He’s a massive presence, but hasn’t played basketball for that many years and still needs to develop. He’s not going to be able to dunk on everyone in the NBA as he does in college, and there are still questions about his stamina and free throw shooting. I also think he needs another year in the KU weight program under the legendary Andrea Hudy, who did wonders for him from his freshman to his sophomore year.

KU has three glittering freshmen at this point in Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson and David McCormack. Then there are three proven college redshirts in brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson, along with Charlie Moore. Both Lawson brothers averaged in double figures their last year at Memphis, with Dedric scoring close to 20 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. K.J. averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds in his only year. Moore is projected as a backup to Dotson, but is a quality player in his own right.

KU has signed one other freshman, Ochai Agbaji. He’s thought to be a project, but he’s regarded as a Travis Releford type.

From newspaper accounts, KU also is in the final three for the top remaining high school player who hasn’t committed, Romeo Langford.

Silvio DeSousa (more on him later), Mitch Lightfoot and Marcus Garrett are the only other KU players back with experience. So it looks like Bill Self will have about an eight- or nine-man rotation.

Then there’s the FBI probe.

KU is still not sure how this situation is going to play out. Reportedly DeSousa’s name is linked to the muddy mess, so his future is up in the air. Hopefully KU will emerge with a clean bill and he’ll be able to continue his career.

Just the fact the FBI is involved (KU officials are saying they have no knowledge of payments) is a stain on the proud program. KU hasn’t been hit with violations since Larry Brown left back in the late 1980s and kept the Jayhawks out of the NCAA tourney for a year.

Roy Williams ran a clean program and Self has always been above board. But given how dirty recruiting has become, I just hope nobody with KU ties will be linked.

It’s going to be an interesting offseason to say the least.