University of Kansas

KU Jayhawks Q&A: A potential wacky all-Big 12 team, and football’s best-case scenario

Big 12 Media Days: How many wins will it take for KU’s David Beaty to keep job?

The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff and Jesse Newell, along with The Wichita Eagle's Kellis Robinett discuss all of the happenings during the first day of Big 12 Media Days in Frisco, Texas
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The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff and Jesse Newell, along with The Wichita Eagle's Kellis Robinett discuss all of the happenings during the first day of Big 12 Media Days in Frisco, Texas

Time for another Kansas Jayhawks Q&A.

Thanks for the questions, and please follow my Facebook page if you haven’t yet.

Dedric Lawson is the answer here, and I don’t think it’s that close. He should be KU’s leading scorer. He’s a great rebounder (averaging 9 per game in his final season at Memphis), and a strong total in that stat usually seems to help when it comes to national honors.

Add in the fact that both coach Bill Self and teammate Quentin Grimes have lauded Lawson for his passing skills this summer, and you have the makings of a player who should be the focal point of KU’s offense.

I’d be surprised if Lawson is not the consensus preseason pick for Big 12 player of the year when those announcements are made in the coming weeks.

Which also leads to another talking point: Will KU and Kansas State sweep the preseason All-Big 12 team? Lawson, Grimes and Udoka Azubuike should be in consideration for first-team honors along with Dean Wade and Barry Brown.

It’s possible West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate or Iowa State’s Lindell Wigginton sneak onto the list so that more than two teams are represented. Still ... how crazy would an all-state-of-Kansas, preseason all-Big 12 team be if it happened?

I took a quick look at KU’s projected minutes in this blog from a few weeks ago, and to answer your question ... Self obviously has a nice luxury.

Lawson and Azubuike should and will get a majority of the frontcourt playing time. That leaves De Sousa and McCormack left to battle for whatever’s left.

Self, though, has navigated this type of situation before. Remember, Cole Aldrich and Jeff Withey, at one point in their KU careers, were fifth in line for big-man minutes before emerging as All-American-type players later in their careers. Though De Sousa and McCormack both could be candidates to leave KU early for the pros, they will start this season as backups, which hypothetically should free them to play with constant energy when they are able to check in.

I think it’s also easy to forget that some KU big men simply didn’t get as many minutes early in their careers. Thomas Robinson, for example, averaged only 7.2 minutes as a freshman and 14.6 as a sophomore before emerging as one of the nation’s top players in 2011-12.

Will De Sousa and McCormack get as much playing time this season as they probably deserve? Probably not. Then again, this kind of depth should only make practices more competitive while giving Self greater security in case of injury.

That’s an overall positive for KU as a team, and part of the reason the Jayhawks will have the highest of expectations entering next season.

This is a good question, which also reminds me of an offseason discussion I’ve had with some co-workers: What if this shot went in instead of rolling out? It’s amazing how our perception of an entire season is shaped by this ball missing its mark off the backboard by a fraction of an inch.

Anyway, this three from Svi should be among the top ones in KU history, though I think there should be two above it.

No. 1 obviously is Mario’s Miracle to force overtime.

No. 2, to me, is Sherron Collins’ shot from the corner following his steal against Memphis. Without this play, KU never has a chance to tie it at the end.

Because Mykhailiuk’s shot helped send KU to a Final Four, I think it’s safe in the third spot. Though Aaron Miles also gets honorable mention for this prayer against Missouri in 2003.

Former KU guard Mario Chalmers talks about playing Missouri during his days as a Jayhawk.

This might be stating the obvious, but the best-case scenario is that coach David Beaty works out. Firing a coach and hiring another one — even if needed — causes a program to restart in certain aspects, so KU could save itself a couple years of transition if it’s able to simply keep its current coaching staff in place.

So a best-case scenario looks like this: KU overwhelms Nicholls State in the opener, winning by 30-plus in a game that is not competitive. Though KU football fans are skeptical for good reason, this would create at least a bit of buzz around Lawrence that this year might be different than previous ones.

The next week, KU would follow with a huge accomplishment: a win over Central Michigan that would end its FBS record road losing streak at 46. Even if the Jayhawks are favored in this contest, it would rightly be considered a big moment, allowing the program to move forward without having to talk again about the black cloud that has hung over it for nearly a decade.

After that, KU would return to a nice crowd at Memorial Stadium in a coin-flip game against Rutgers. Gabriel Rui kicks the game-winning field goal in the final seconds, moving the Jayhawks to 3-0 while also getting them some positive pub on the national sports shows that night.

With some momentum, the Jayhawks go on to win three more Big 12 games, picking off a couple of conference opponents who have worse seasons than expected. KU accepts an offer to play in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 22 while also earning a few weeks of extra practice time to help build for the future.

If the season goes like that? The KU football rebuild could realistically be years ahead of schedule — with a boost in football donations providing even greater optimism about the seasons to come.

KU has one scholarship remaining following Sam Cunliffe’s departure, but it’s important to remember that Cunliffe left because of KU’s backcourt depth. It seems unlikely that the Jayhawks would have a need for a 2018 guard to fill in his place if Lewis decides to reclassify.

It’s also worth throwing out this caveat: If Self and his staff are recruiting a guy, they never should be completely counted out. Lewis has mentioned KU as one of the schools that has recruited him the hardest, so there is that at least.

Still, from what I’m hearing, it sounds like Lewis is a heavy Alabama lean. Things can change in recruiting, but at this point, it doesn’t seem like KU should be considered a favorite.

If we read between the lines, it appears that KU has backed off recruiting the Topeka guard, who recently told Scout’s Evan Daniels that Creighton, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Nebraska were prioritizing him.

Harvey recently pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors according to The Topeka Capital-Journal, which could help explain why his list of potential suitors might have changed in recent months.

As my colleague Sam Mellinger would say ... “A list!”

First off, yes, I do believe Cunliffe could be one of the best transfers to leave the Jayhawks. He’s a good kid with crazy athleticism and a bit of shooting ability, which means he probably could start at 320 Div. I schools. KU just isn’t one of them.

I’ll save the entire rant for another time, but Cunliffe illustrates the problem with the NCAA’s “must sit out a year when transferring” rule. The guard ended up in a situation at KU he couldn’t have anticipated a year ago; why should he be punished for that?

In any case, here’s my list of top five transfers to leave KU (based on their college stats after):

5. Dwight Coleby

Provided well-above-average rebounding and shot-blocking numbers for Western Kentucky in his graduate transfer season.

4. Conner Frankamp

Thanks to a microscopic turnover rate, Frankamp posted solid offensive stats in his three years at Wichita State. His three-point shooting ended up fine (38 percent in his career), though that number was probably lower than fans expected given his high school reputation.

3. David Padgett

After transferring from KU, Padgett had three solid seasons as a role player at Louisville.

2. J.R. Giddens

Giddens’ off-court situation led to his departure from KU, but after a move to New Mexico, he had a productive senior season in 2007-08. Giddens was named co-Mountain West player of the year before getting selected in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft.

1. Andrew White III

Much like Cunliffe, White left KU when the team had an especially deep backcourt. He had excellent single seasons at Nebraska and Syracuse, shooting 40 percent from three in both locations while thriving as an efficient, high-volume scorer.

I was about to answer this question when I realized a fellow media member had already posted the correct answer.

Even if Chasen is good at air hockey himself (he asked the question after all), I’m putting my money on the one of us I know for sure has played real hockey.

That would be the Chicago native Gary, whose life skills should serve him well in the arcade too.