University of Kansas

Svi Mykhailiuk congratulates KU’s draft picks, stays busy playing for Ukraine

Svi Mykhailiuk (left), who decided to return to Kansas for his senior season, has been playing for Ukraine’s under-20 team.
Svi Mykhailiuk (left), who decided to return to Kansas for his senior season, has been playing for Ukraine’s under-20 team. skeyser@kcstar.com

Kansas senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk sent his best wishes to Josh Jackson and Frank Mason via Twitter on Friday, a day after his two former teammates were selected Nos. 4 and 34 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.

“Congrats … big future ahead of yall!” 6-foot-8 Ukraine native Mykhailiuk tweeted from France, where Ukraine’s under-20 national team has spent the last couple of days playing exhibition games in advance of the European Championship U20 (Division A) tournament July 13-23 in Crete.

Mykhailiuk, who pulled his name out of consideration for the NBA Draft on May 24 in announcing he’d return to KU for his senior year, has been starting for his country’s U20 squad in four exhibitions vs. France. Mykhailuk scored 13 points Saturday in Ukraine’s 75-65 victory over France’s under-19 team. No shooting stats were available for that game. On Friday, Svi scored four points on 1-of-6 shooting in Ukraine’s 73-44 loss to France. He played 25 minutes.

Mykhailiuk scored 22 points on 7-of-23 shooting (5 of 16 threes) while playing 29 minutes in Ukraine’s 75-61 win over France on June 18 in Ukraine. On June 17, Svi scored four points on 1-of-8 shooting (0-2 from three) with four rebounds in an 81-56 loss to France. He played 21 minutes in that contest.

Ukraine’s under-20 team will play an exhibition Sunday, then three exhibition games in Italy from June 30 to July 2. Mykhailiuk, who turned 20 on June 10, is expected to also play this summer for Ukraine’s national team in FIBA Eurobasket 2017 to be held Aug. 31 to Sept. 17 in Israel and Turkey.

He also is expected to be available to play in KU’s four exhibition games from July 31 to Aug. 8 in Italy.

Mason ‘can play right now’

Former KU guard Mason, who was chosen fourth in round two of the NBA Draft on Thursday, and former Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, who went fifth overall, are currently the only two point guards on the Sacramento Kings’ roster. The Kings always could add a lead guard in free agency.

“We felt he’s a guy … he can play right now,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said of Mason in an interview with the Sacramento Bee. “We felt very confident when we made the choice to pick him at 34.”

Mason met the media with the Kings’ three other draft picks at a news conference Saturday in Sacramento.

“I’m excited to get to work,” Mason said. “Hopefully we can do great things here in the future. I’m excited to be part of this franchise.”

Mason thinks he and Fox will be capable of running the show.

“As a point guard of the team we should always want to compete at a high level and make each other better for the franchise,” Mason said. “That’s what we are gonna do.”

Jackson could be ‘elite’

Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson on No. 4 overall draft pick Jackson:

“If we turn that shot into something special, I think he becomes elite on Kawhi Leonard’s level, so it’s an amazing opportunity for our coaching staff, and every way possible we’re going to try to figure that out,” Watson told Arizona radio station 98.7 FM as reported by arizonasports.com.

“He has a very high motor, a lot of toughness. You can’t really put a ceiling on him,” Watson added.

Jackson, 20, will join 20-year-old Devin Booker, 19-year-old Marquese Chriss and 19-year-old Dragan Bender in the Suns’ starting lineup.

“I know that this is a really young team, but when I look at them that’s one of the things that really excites me the most,” Jackson told 98.7 FM radio. “Because I know that I still have things to learn, they still got things that they need to learn, but I’m really looking forward to being able to learn those things together and being able to just grow up together and I think down the road that’ll just make our team chemistry so much better.”

Gary Bedore: 816-234-4068, @garybedore

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