Kansas seniors Landen Lucas and Frank Mason spoke not only to the media, but individually to Jayhawk basketball fans after Saturday’s 74-60 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Elite Eight loss to Oregon at the Sprint Center.
“I’m sorry y’all. I really am,” Lucas wrote on Twitter after scoring nine points and grabbing three rebounds in 33 minutes.
Mason, who scored 21 points with four assists and four rebounds while playing all 40 minutes in his final KU game, tweeted: “Feel like my life is over, thanks for everything Jayhawk Nation. You guy(s) will forever have a special place in my heart.”
On Sunday, after sleeping on the setback, Lucas took to Instagram: “Thank you Jayhawk nation for an amazing five years. This place will always mean so much to me. I’m extremely disappointed with my performance and the ending to this season, and while this might be one of the most painful times in my life, I also realize how blessed I am and understand that things could be much worse. I’m thankful for everything I have and for those who have stuck with me on this journey through the good and the bad. Still have more to the story. Love you guys! #RockChalk.”
Certainly individual achievements won’t ease the agony of an Elite Eight defeat — the duo’s second in two years. But a check of the record books show some figures that might improve their moods just a bit.
Mason, who figures to net some additional national player of the year honors in the coming days, finished the season with 753 points, the sixth-best mark by a Jayhawk in a single campaign. His 1,885 career points rank sixth on the all-time list. Sherron Collins remains fifth with 1,888 points.
Lucas converted 63.1 percent of his shots his senior season, the fourth-best mark in school history. His career shooting percentage of 61.2 would rank second all-time in KU annals behind Mark Randall’s 62.0 percent, except for the fact his 392 career shot attempts fall below the 500 needed for consideration.
Some other stats of note:
▪ Junior Devonté Graham hit 94 threes (in 242 tries, 38.8 percent), good for fourth-most in a single season at KU.
▪ Josh Jackson scored 572 points, trailing only Andrew Wiggins (597) and Ben McLemore (589) for most points by a KU freshman.
▪ The Jayhawks’ 83.2 points per game are ninth-best in school history, tops in the 14-year Bill Self era. KU hit a school-record 318 threes (in 787 tries, 40.4 percent).
▪ The Jayhawks allowed 71.9 points a game, worst mark in the Self era and the sixth-worst in team history. Opponents hit 42 percent of their shots, worst mark in the Self era and worst overall since 1992-93, when teams cashed in 43.6 percent.
▪ KU’s 31-5 season included a batch of comebacks. The Jayhawks trailed by eight points or more in 14 games, winning 11 of them. The Jayhawks trailed by double digits in 10 games, going 7-3.
KU loses scholarship seniors Mason and Lucas and walk-on Tyler Self. It’s long been assumed Josh Jackson will enter the 2017 NBA Draft. KU also could lose juniors Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk to the draft.
As of this moment, assuming Jackson leaves and Graham and Mykhailiuk stay, the Jayhawks on paper would have scholarship returnees in those two, plus Udoka Azubuike, Carlton Bragg, Dwight Coleby, Mitch Lightfoot and Lagerald Vick.
Also on board will be transfers Malik Newman and Sam Cunliffe. Newman, formerly of Mississippi State, would be eligible to play in games at the start of next season. Cunliffe, formerly of Arizona State, at the conclusion of first-semester final exams.
The Jayhawks have signed two players. Marcus Garrett, a 6-5 combo guard from Dallas Skyline, who is ranked No. 37 nationally by Rivals.com, averaged a near triple double his senior season (17.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 9.1 assists). McDonald’s All-American Billy Preston, a 6-9 forward from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., averaged 15.3 points and 10.4 rebounds. He’s ranked No. 8 nationally by Rivals.com
Kansas, which at this moment (assuming Jackson leaves and Mykhailiuk and Graham stay) has two scholarships to give, still is recruiting an elite point guard in No. 3-ranked Trevon Duval, a 6-2 player from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He has a list of KU, Duke, Arizona, Baylor and Seton Hall.
KU also is recruiting Hutchinson Community College forward Shakur Juiston, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound sophomore originally out of Paterson (N.J.) Eastside High School. Juiston scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in an 84-58 national title victory over Eastern Florida State on Saturday. He was chosen MVP of the tourney. Juiston entered the national tournament averaging 16.7 points (on 61.4 percent shooting), 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game. He’s been a main target of Iowa State for a long time and is also considering KU, Illinois, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, St. Bonaventure, Seton Hall and VCU, according to the Hutchinson News.
KU was not on the most recent list of 6-4 Edwardsville (Ill.) High guard Mark Smith, who according to the Chicago Tribune is considering Illinois, Northwestern, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio State, Texas, Alabama and Kansas State. Rivals.com’s No. 78-rated player averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game for Edwardsville High and has been selected the Tribune’s Mr. Basketball for the state of Illinois.
There’s always the possibility of adding graduate transfers as they become available. Graduate transfers are immediately eligible at their transfer destinations.
KU junior Mykhailiuk believes the Jayhawks will fare well again next season.
“Kansas … we have a good team every year. It doesn’t matter who is coming back, who is leaving. We always have a good team,” Mykhailiuk said.