Kansas Jayhawks Basketball: 2017-18 Season Review
Record: 31-8 (13-5 Big 12)
NCAA: def. Penn, 76-60 (round of 64); def. Seton Hall, 83-79 (round of 32); Clemson, 80-76 (Sweet 16); def. Duke, 85-81; lost to Villanova (Elite Eight), 95-79 (Final Four)
Seniors losing: G Devonte’ Graham (17.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, team-leading 282 assists, 40.6 percent from 3-point line), F Svi Mykhailiuk (14.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 107 assists, team-leading 43.4 percent from 3-point line), G Clay Young (72 minutes in 13 games).
Any NBA Bound?: Graham should be a first-round pick. Mykhailiuk may get drafted, but more likely he’ll end up with an NBA Summer League and training camp invite.
Any One-and-dones or early entries?: None
Top players returning: G Lagerald Vick (12.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg), G Malik Newman (14.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg), C Udoka Azubuike (13.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg), F Mitch Lightfoot (3.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg), F Silvio De Sousa (4.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg), G Marcus Garrett (4.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg).
The players you don’t know about: The Jayhawks have an insane four players sitting out all or part of the season due to transfer rules — G Dedric Lawson of Memphis (who averaged 17.5 ppg in a two-year career with the Tigers), G Sam Cuncliffe (9.5 ppg in one season with Arizona State and played 74 minutes for Kansas with 2018), G Charlie Moore (12.2 ppg and 120 assists in one season with California) and G K.J. Lawson (11.5 ppg in two seasons with Memphis). All should play vital roles next season.
Recruits already in the house: G Quentin Grimes, 6-foot-5, The Woodlands, Texas (College Park HS); PG Devon Dotson, 6-foot-2, Charlotte, NC (Providence Day School); C David McCormack, 6-foot-9, Mouth of Wilson, Virginia (Oak Hill Academy). Just your usual Kansas recruiting class. The three early signees are in 247Sports.com’s Top 35 nationally and in the Top 4 at their respective positions.
Commitments yet to sign: 247Sports.com has 6-foot-5 guard Ochai Agbaji of Oak Park HS in Kansas City, Missouri, as a hard commit. He’s only No. 329 in the nation, but he’s a Top 11 recruit in Missouri.
Summarizing the season: This wasn’t your usual Kansas team and head coach Bill Self knew it. And it took some time to figure things out. But once Self and the Jayhawks figured out who they were — an athletic 3-point shooting team with limited frontcourt depth — they embraced it. Graham was a highly-deserving Big 12 Player of the Year and First-Team All-American, and his leadership guided the Jayhawks through some unusual rough patches (such as two home losses among five Big 12 losses). Mykhailiuk was one of the league’s top shooters from distance, while Vick suffered a slump at midseason. It was Newman that emerged two-thirds into the season as a real offensive presence, and he was a big part of the reason the Jayhawks got to the Final Four. Azubuike gave the Jayhawks their only real inside presence for most of the season, but Ligthfoot and De Souza provided their own contributions, with De Souza giving the Jayhawks real minutes and points late in the season.
Looking ahead to 2018-19: Losing Graham and Mykhailiuk is significant for Kansas. But, this is the Jayhawks after all, so they simply reload. Newman can step into Graham’s primary scoring role. Azubuike, with improvement in his outside shooting and rebounding, can be a singular force in the conference. De Sousa offers something different as a change-of-pace center with his athleticism. Vick gives the Jayhawks their most experienced starter. But next season is all about the firepower sitting on the bench, the four transfers that basically kept their powder dry all season. They averaged 50 points per game at their former institutions, and with that firepower the Jayhawks should remain the favorites in the Big 12 next season.