Tuesday November 4th, 2014

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.”

Read all of SI.com's 2014-15 college basketball preview content

Projected top seven scorers

name pos class ppg rpg apg o-rating
Perry Ellis F Jr 16.1 7.7 1.3 126.9
Cliff Alexander F Fr 11.7 6.8 0.8 117.4
Wayne Selden F So 11.2 3.6 2.1 115.3
Kelly Oubre F Fr 10.6 4.4 1.2 117.4
Frank Mason G So 7.2 1.7 2.4 113.2
Brannen Greene F So 6.5 3.2 0.9 111.8
Devonte Graham G Fr 6.3 2.3 2.2 104.6

Projected Big 12 standings

rank team projected conf. record 2013-14 conf. record
1 Kansas 15-3 14-4
2 Texas 12-6 11-7
3 Iowa State 12-6 11-7
4 Kansas State 10-8 10-8
5 Oklahoma 10-8 12-6
6 Oklahoma State 8-10 8-10
7 Baylor 7-11 9-9
8 West Virginia 7-11 9-9
9 Texas Tech 5-13 6-12
10 TCU 4-14 0-18

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.