The first thing that must be said about Kansas’ alumni scrimmage on Wednesday — which took its usual spot on the final day of Bill Self’s basketball camp — was that the basketball was not so good. Self, himself, has a saying for this kind of basketball — “brother-in-law ball” — and that’s a fitting term for Wednesday’s game, which included appearances from former KU players Elijah Johnson, Sherron Collins and Brady Morningstar.
There was little defense, some iffy shot selection, and all the usual aspects of a pickup basketball game in early June. This doesn’t mean the game was of zero value, of course. Incoming freshmen Lagerald Vick and Carlton Bragg stepped onto a basketball court in public for the first time since arriving on campus. And even though Kansas’ upcoming appearance in the World University Games has altered the usual summer schedule, this was our first opportunity to see the Kansas team on a basketball court since the Jayhawks’ season-ending loss to Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament.
So here are some idle thoughts from Wednesday afternoon’s game, in case you were stuck at the office like most people in the Lawrence and Kansas City area.
▪ 1. Nearly three months after the Wichita State loss, sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham looked more confident — and a little thicker in the upper body. Graham is a prime candidate to make a jump this year, and you could see traces of that here. Self has discussed playing two small guards together, and if you watched Wednesday’s game, you can see why. Junior Frank Mason was predictably impressive. But if you were going to pick a standout — which, honestly, this scrimmage was not great for evaluations — you might settle on Graham.
He finished with 23 points and wasn’t hesitant about firing from deep.
“Way more comfortable,” Graham said of being a sophomore. “You can see just from out there, putting up shots. I don’t even think I put up four or five shots last year in that game. I was so nervous.”
▪ 2. Speaking of Graham, he was asked after the scrimmage to name a player that had made the biggest jump from the end of last season to now.
“I think Svi,” Graham said, picking sophomore Svi Mykhailiuk. “I think he’s gotten way more aggressive than he used to be. As freshmen, we were hesitant and not really confident in ourselves. But I think he’s gotten a lot more aggressive, and (he) is looking for his shot more and looking to attack more, and I think it’s gonna help us.”
We wrote about Mykhailiuk earlier this week. You can read the story here. But based on Wednesday’s scrimmage, it does appear that he’s grown a tad since last summer while adding a few pounds to his frame.
▪ 3. Lagerald Vick is the definition of a quick-twitch athlete. Self and Graham have both raved about his first step, and Vick showed off some explosive leaping ability while hitting one three-pointer. From a basketball standpoint, though, it could take him some time to adjust to a higher level.
▪ 4. You might notice that we haven’t mentioned Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas or Jamari Traylor. For one, it’s hard for big guys to stand out in pick-up games. For two, it really hasn’t been that long since we last saw the returning members of Kansas’ team. Ellis’ knee looked fully healthy, and other than that, he pretty much looked like Perry Ellis. Same goes for Lucas and Traylor.
▪ 5. The last time we saw Wayne Selden, he was scuffling through a disappointing performance against Wichita State, the final image from an up-and-down sophomore season. Now Selden is back for his junior year, and in a small sample size on Wednesday, he showcased all his strongest attributes. He looked athletic at times; he knocked down some threes; he looked physically imposing, especially compared to some of his younger teammates. The question moving forward — and a major question for Kansas in 2015-16 — is whether Selden can turn some of his talent into increased production. It’s the kind of question you can’t answer after watching one pick-up game.
Here’s more video from Wednesday’s warmups: