The Jayhawks deal in whens, not ifs. When they sort out their rotation. When they lock down their defense. Coming off a 10th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title, Kansas again sits at the top of the conference, and it seems as if nothing has changed -- except so much has.
After losing three starters (including two top five NBA draft picks), the Jayhawks reloaded with three five-star recruits (bruising power forward Cliff Alexander, slashing swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ukrainian sharpshooter Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk). Freshman Devonte Graham, a mere four-star prospect, will give Kansas its first true point guard in four seasons.
While coach Bill Self says, “Our guys aren’t that far apart, from a talent standpoint,” he takes pains to make one distinction clear: His best player won’t be one of the newcomers. It will be junior forward Perry Ellis, the team’s second-leading scorer (13.5 points per game) last year. Self hopes Ellis will add three to five points to his average while becoming a more vocal leader. “I am a real quiet guy,” says Ellis, “but when something needs to be said, I’m going to try to say [it].” He’s already counseled the younger Jayhawks about team chemistry. “When they figure it out,” Self says, “they’re going to get pretty good.”