University of Kansas

We shouldn't overreact to a KU hoops scrimmage. But here's one prediction for 2018-19

One should not take too much from Kansas basketball camp scrimmages ... and there are many reasons for that.

It's the middle of the summer, for one, and KU's freshmen have been on campus less than two weeks. There are no plays and also no coaches allowed, meaning the effort level is close to what you'd see at the local Y.

Having said all that, I saw enough during Wednesday's 30-minute exhibition to deliver one prediction:

KU will have the nation's leader in dunk assists for the second year in a row.

The stat — though not widely tracked — is exactly as it sounds, showing which players are best at opening up the game's easiest shot for teammates.

College basketball analyst Will Schreefer compiled the data last year, and the top two Big 12 players didn't have much competition.

Dunk assists
Devonté Graham, Kansas92
Trae Young, Oklahoma86
Jordan McLaughlin, USC69
Trevon Duval, Duke52
Ahmad Caver, Old Dominion48
* — Data via Will Schreefer

Which brings us to this season. KU has an open competition at point guard between Cal transfer Charlie Moore and McDonald's All-American Devon Dotson, yet assistant coach Kurtis Townsend hinted at something important about Moore during an interview with reporters Monday.

"I thought he was unbelievable (in practice last year) at getting by his man and then finding an open guy and passing the ball," Townsend said. "He needs to get a little bit better defensively, but I think (fans) will be surprised at how good he is at getting in the lane coming off ball screens, then finding open guys."

Though there weren't many ball screens Wednesday, Moore still was able to display flashes of the skill set that had previously impressed his position coach.

One example: About midway through the scrimmage, Moore brought it up in transition, broke down his defender, drew help, then found Udoka Azubuike for an alley-oop. If you watched closely, you could even see Azubuike pointing for the lob early in the play.

The next time down the floor, Moore showed the same ability. He got his shoulders by the first man, picked up the attention of a big guy, then tossed another rainbow to Azubuike, who was open underneath but couldn't finish this dunk because the pass was a bit behind him.

"He's great (with) vision," teammate Marcus Garrett said of Moore. "He loves the flashy passes ... he loves them. So every time he's going to the goal, he's trying to make the right play."

Moore also has a lot going for him when trying to repeat Graham's feat — and that starts with the players around him.

Returning is Azubuike, who set the NCAA single-season record for dunks this decade last season. Moore also has targets in Silvio De Sousa and freshman David McCormack, who should be big and athletic enough to be trusted with those types of passes inside.

The question will be playing time. Dotson, who is Rivals' 21st-ranked player, brings a different attribute with his speed. Both players are talented, so it's uncertain at this point how the minutes will be divided.

Early on, though, Moore's experience should mean something to coach Bill Self, who hasn't often started freshmen point guards in his 15-year tenure at KU.

Moore will have his chance. If he can improve his defense and continue to be an above-average shooter from three-point range, he has the ball-handling and quick burst needed to one of the Big 12's best penetrators.

That, combined with KU's frontcourt, has the potential to create some nice offensive harmony.

And a whole lot of dunk assists, too.

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