When KU men’s basketball coach Bill Self ponders the simple roster math, one thing becomes clear. Kansas may have 10, 11 or even 12 players worthy of playing time this season, Self says, but he is not going to play 10 or 11 players.
“It’s going to be hard this year figuring out who to play,” Self said Thursday during KU’s annual media day at Allen Fieldhouse. “And that’s what I tried to explain to our players yesterday.”
From that sense, a series of intriguing position battles could emerge during the month of October and early November. Let’s start with the locks: Senior forward Perry Ellis and junior guards Wayne Selden and Frank Mason are essentially automatic starters, and sophomore Devonte’ Graham appears a safe bet for the starting lineup based on Self’s stated goal of playing two small guards with point guard skills. In the backcourt, Kansas also returns wings Brannen Greene and Svi Mykhailiuk along with freshman Lagerald Vick. In the frontcourt, freshman Cheick Diallo could anchor the middle — if he is cleared by the NCAA — while veteran forwards Landen Lucas, Jamari Traylor and Hunter Mickelson offer options. There is also freshman forward Carlton Bragg, who played during the World University Games last summer and has drawn praise after workouts this fall.
“The thing I like about it as much as anything,” Self said, “is if somebody is not doing what they can do to help our team win, it’s not going to be that difficult to try to give somebody else an opportunity to do that.”
It is still early, of course, but Self offered a few hints on the roster crunch before the Jayhawks’ officially began practice Friday. When asked specifically about Mykhailiuk, Self acknowledged the backcourt is a “crowded house.”
“It’s hard to say you expect certain guys to do certain things if, in fact, they may not be starters,” Self said. “But I expect Svi to challenge for a starting position and … if he doesn’t start, be as good as any reserve in the country.”
When asked about Vick, who could be lost in the wealth of backcourt talent, Self said: “He’s going to be really good, but he’s got a lot of stuff to learn. He’s got some experience ahead of him.”
KU players set to move into new McCarthy Hall apartments
In the next week, KU’s players are expected to transition to McCarthy Hall, the new on-campus apartments that will house the men’s basketball players as well as a select number of non-athletes, in accordance with NCAA rules.
The initial cost of the apartment project was pegged at close to $17 million, which included a second phase for the women’s basketball players. For now, KU has just completed phase one, which sits on Naismith Drive, adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.
“I’ve actually been in the new dormitories or apartments probably a minimum of 100 times in the last year since they’ve broken ground,” Self said Thursday.
Greene’s hip feeling good
After having hip surgery last April to repair a torn labrum in his hip, junior wing Brannen Greene said he should be ready to play when the season begins. Greene was expected to miss close to five months of basketball workouts after the procedure.