Leading up to the opening of the 2020-21 Big 12 Men’s basketball season Heartland College Sports will analyze each of the Big 12 men’s basketball teams. Today it’s the Kansas Jayhawks.
2019-20 Record: 28-3 (17-1 in Big 12)
All postseason tournament action was canceled due the coronavirus. Kansas would have likely been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and perhaps the No. 1 overall seed. Kansas finished No. 1 in the final Associated Press Top 25.
Top returning player
G Marcus Garrett (9.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, team-leading 144 assists, 56 steals), G Christian Braun (5.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 44 percent from 3-point line), G Ochai Agbaji (10.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg), F David McCormack (6.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg), F Mitch Lightfoot (chose to redshirt during 2019-20 season).
2019-20 Seniors/Lettermen lost
G Devon Dotson (18.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 63 steals), G Isaiah Moss (7.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 38.7 percent from 3-point line), C Udoka Azubuike (13.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 80 blocks), F Silvio De Sousa (2.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg).
G Bryce Thompson, 6-foot-5, Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, OK); G Tyon Grant-Foster, 6-foot-7, Indian Hills CC (Iowa); F Gethro Muscadin, 6-foot-10, Aspire Academy (KY), native of Gonaives, Haiti; G Latrell Jossell, 5-foot-11, Central (Keller, TX).
Grant-Foster was 247Sports.com’s No. 2 junior college recruit nationally, while Thompson was the No. 21 prep recruit nationally and a five-star recruit. Pulling Thompson from Oklahoma State’s backyard was quite the coup. Both Grant-Foster and Thompson were No. 1 recruits in their respective states. Both could play right away. Muscadin and Jossell feel like a pair of freshmen who may redshirt this season. That’s not a bad thing for either player or for this team.
Looking ahead to 2021, the Jayhawks signed two Top 100 recruits — Sunrise Christian (Wichita, Kansas) power forward Zach Clemence and Westlake (Austin, Texas) power forward KJ Adams. Clemence, 6-foot-10, averaged 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and shot 47 percent from 3-point range last season. Adams, 6-foot-7, also a four-star recruit, averaged 22.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists and shot 61.3 percent from the field last season.
Transfers eligible for 2020-21: None.
Transfers expected to sit out in 2020-21: None.
Looking ahead to 2020-21
One would assume that losing players like Azubuike and Dotson to the NBA would be a death sentence. But this is Kansas, after all. The Jayhawks just reload and there is competition at every position group. Garrett is poised to be the No. 1 option this season, as he spent the second half of last season emerging as the shot-creator and facilitator that took the pressure off of Dotson. That allowed Dotson to become more of a scorer and improve his NBA Draft stock. Garrett is no longer ‘just’ a great defensive player. He’s a well-rounded scorer and facilitator who ALSO happens to be the Big 12’s best perimeter defender. Don’t mistake Kansas being ‘Kansas’ for the fact that the Jayhawks won’t miss Azubuike, especially when it comes to defense and rebounding. Is McCormack ready to take that sort of step and enter the neighborhood of dominant? He’d better be, because De Sousa left the program in October. If McCormack isn’t up to the task, it could be a big determinant of the Jayhawks’ season. Agbaji gives the Jayhawks rare athleticism, and Braun gives them a gritty defender that can shoot the three. The return of Lightfoot gives the Jayhawks their Swiss Army knife player back. Redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson will need to show he’s up for a bigger role. Dajuan Harris, who signed with Kansas in late August of last year and redshirted, could contend for playing time at the point guard spot. We haven’t even mentioned Tristan Enaruna yet, a guard from the Netherlands who has played internationally and got some playing time last year. And don’t expect Thompson or Grant-Foster to just sit there and take notes because they’re new to town. They’re Top 20 national recruits and they’re coming to Kansas to play, perhaps right away. Kansas should be deeper than a year ago. And the Jayhawks are even experimenting with five-guard lineups in the preseason. Only a stunning development from the current NCAA probe into Kansas’ basketball program can stop this freight train from having all the tools it needs to defend its Big 12 regular-season crown. Oh yeah, that investigation? It’s like crickets in Indianapolis right now, isn’t it? Right now, the NCAA’s new Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) committee is resolving the case. That was back in July.
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