University of Kansas

KU Mailbag: Cozart’s potential, the battle for the point guard spot, Kelly Oubre’s pro prospects

By RUSTIN DODD

The Kansas City

Kansas Jayhawks quarterback Montell Cozart ran past Southeast Missouri State safety Eriq Moore in last week’s game.
Kansas Jayhawks quarterback Montell Cozart ran past Southeast Missouri State safety Eriq Moore in last week’s game. Kansas City Star

It’s Friday morning. En route to Durham, N.C. Kansas will face Duke at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium.

The Jayhawks are 1-0 after last week’s 34-28 victory over Southeast Missouri State, which was, if you were watching, a somewhat extreme performance. The Jayhawks rocketed to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter. They held on for a six-point win.

KU has also lost 24 straight road games and 27 straight away from Lawrence. So there’s that. And perhaps the #KUMailbag will have an opportunity to peek inside Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday morning. That’s always worth it. And a lot smaller than you’d think.

So let’s get to the second installment of the mailbag. As always, send questions to @rustindodd on Twitter or rdodd@kcstar.com. Also: some relevant music.

Here we go:

Last year, Montell Cozart’s size, raw skill-set and style reminded me of a poor man’s Everett Golson — at least the Golson that was still figuring things out two seasons ago. Now Golson is exploding into the Heisman race, and yeah, that comparison seems a little generous. One thing to keep in mind: Cozart just turned 19 during fall camp. He played his entire true freshman season at age 18, and that, I think, says a lot about his potential. The question going forward, of course, is whether he can be efficient and accurate enough to be an above-average college quarterback.

Somebody like an Ell Roberson — who had a lot more hype — battled accuracy issues during his early years. Cozart and Roberson are close to the same size, though quite different in style. At this point in his career, Cozart seems less inclined to run.

But if you’re a Kansas fan, maybe you hope Cozart can grow into senior year Roberson by the time he’s done.

Yes, the point guard question. Bill Self has said — and repeated — that he wants to play multiple ballhandlers in the rotation. To paraphrase Self: He believes his offense has been at its best when the point guard role was less distinguishable from the rest of the backcourt. In other words: When combo guard duos like Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers or Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor were sharing the backcourt

Some of this is speculative—it’s September. But for the moment, it appears that Frank Mason could be the man to beat at the start of the season, while Frankamp could slide into a complementary guard role (perhaps off the bench) where he provides a secondary handler and three-point shooting. Devonte’ Graham, though, could be the wild card. Self said on multiple occasions this summer that Graham could command immediate playing time. He’s a little longer than Mason and more athletic than Frankamp. But how much of Self’s comments were said to push Mason and Frankamp? Also: Graham’s strength could be a question as a freshman, and who knows if he’s ready to go in November.

Yes, Oubre is a world-class prospect. I’ll defer to Chad Ford on the draft rankings, but his skill-set is undeniable. He’s 6-feet-7, longer than Andrew Wiggins, tremendously athletic, and quite skilled for an 18-year-old. But is he ready to impact college basketball games? That, I think, is the bigger question heading into the season.

In the summer of 2013, Wayne Selden was blowing up draft boards and impressing scouts at all the elite camps he attended. He never consistently translated that pro potential to the court as a freshman — though he was battling a leg injury and playing alongside two other first-round picks.

Such could be the case for Oubre this season. Can he consistently knock down shots from the outside? How polished is his perimeter game? How will he fit into the system? Oubre is a great talent, but if you were projecting Kansas’ three top scorers, you’d probably mention Selden, Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander before Oubre.

I think it’s early. Cliff Alexander is probably closer to 6-foot-8 than 6-foot-9, so that’s one thing to keep in mind. Alexander was arguably the best high school basketball player in the country last season, so yeah, he’s going to be on draft boards and getting questions about the whole one-and-done thing.

But while Wiggins was a stone-cold lock to leave, Alexander is not in that category. Not 100 percent. But you know, sometimes all the discussion just doesn’t matter much. If a player is projected to be a top-10 pick, he usually leaves.

Hey, back to football. Let’s split these into two questions because it’s not certain that both Brandon Bourbon (ACL tear) and Taylor Cox (Achilles’ tear) will be eligible to play next season. Both players would need to be granted a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA. When Charlie Weis announced the season-ending injuries during fall camp, he stated that both Bourbon and Cox would seek sixth years. But after asking around a bit, Cox may have an easier path to a sixth year than Bourbon.

In order to be granted a sixth-year clock extension, athletes generally have to prove that they missed two seasons for reasons out of their control. Cox, you probably recall, took a medical hardship waiver last season after suffering an early-season groin injury. Bourbon, meanwhile, just took a traditional redshirt during his freshman year.

So unless Bourbon can document that his first redshirt was for health reasons — or perhaps something else that would be out of his control — it may be hard for him to get a sixth year.

This is still the NCAA, of course, and rules have loopholes and decisions are sometimes head scratching. But it’s something to keep in mind.

Now let’s assume, somehow, that Cox and Bourbon managed to get a sixth year. We know that athletes come back from ACL injuries with regularity, but a torn Achilles’ can be a monster. Also: Corey Avery and De’Andre Mann look pretty good. And Weis can (and will) add some depth to the backfield through recruiting.

To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to rdodd@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @rustindodd.

  Comments