Its now eight days until Kansas opens its exhibition schedule with a game against Pittsburg State on Oct. 29 at Allen Fieldhouse. After watching Kansas practice on Friday afternoon and again on Saturday during a public scrimmage, here are five thoughts on Naadir Tharpe, Andrew Wiggins and the young Jayhawks and five bits of video highlights if you missed Saturdays early morning scrimmage:1. Andrew White III is making a case for reserve minutes in the backcourt.
The question of whether White, a sophomore guard, is a candidate to redshirt should be put to rest for now. White ran with KUs blue team the top seven or eight players during Fridays practice and at the beginning of Saturdays scrimmage.
White played sparingly last season, but he is a natural marksman with good size at 6 feet 6. Self likes his ability to rebound and get the ball to the right spot on offense. And while White still appears to lack some lateral quickness on defense, his straight-line speed has improved, Self says.
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It appears that a core group of six or seven players has emerged during the first month of practice: Junior guard Naadir Tharpe, freshmen wings Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins, sophomore forward Perry Ellis, senior forward Tarik Black, sophomore forward Jamari Traylor and freshman center Joel Embiid.
For now, it seems White is right on the cusp of that core. After Saturdays scrimmage, Self said he expects freshmen guards Frank Mason, Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene to all make strides over the next few weeks. So the final spots in the rotation are still in flux. But if White continues to play well, the final guard spot could belong to whoever can best serve as a back-up point guard for Tharpe.
Disclaimer: With six freshman, the rotation could look a lot different in January than its looking right now.
Some action from Saturdays scrimmage:
Its not all that surprising, of course. Tharpe and senior Tarik Black have emerged as the teams primary leaders, and KU will definitely need some stability and leadership during a tough non-conference slate.3. Andrew Wiggins can wreak havoc on defense, but it may take some time.
Its easy to focus on Wiggins offensive skill-set, but while visiting practice on Friday, former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundywas impressed with Wiggins defensive potential
. Wiggins length and quickness is a scary combination, and KU will need a lockdown perimeter defender to emerge after losing senior guard Travis Releford.
While speaking at Selfs annual coaches clinic on Friday, Van Gundy told a story about how Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decided to play small with the Miami Heat. The short version of the story: Spoelstra saw that playing three smaller players with LeBron James and spreading the floor with shooters allowed James the space to maximize his potential.
For a 6-foot-8 swingman, Wiggins has the potential to be a solid rebounder. He can also get to the basket and set up for others. Itll be interesting to see if Self experiments playing Wiggins alongside a group that features Selden, Tharpe, another shooter, and either Joel Embiid or Tarik Black.
KU, of course, will need sophomore power forward Perry Ellis on the floor. But an occasional small-ball lineup could cause matchup nightmares.
Some more action from Saturday's scrimmage:
Last season, Self liked to remind people that Traylor had only played competitive basketball for two season before arriving at KU. His shooting and offensive skills still need some work, but he could slot in as a quality fourth big man for KU.