- Bill Self has reloaded his roster after a Final Four appearance, including an almost all-new backcourt. What should Jayhawks fans expect from freshman PG Devon Dotson?
In the one-and-done era, college basketball fans have grown accustomed to having to get to know a slew of new, highly-touted names and faces each season, many of whom will spend just one year on campus before moving on to the NBA. Just look at the 2018 draft, where it took 10 picks before Mikal Bridges became the first non-freshman (or international) to be selected. Not all elite freshmen will pan out, but history dictates that many of them will help headline the sport for the next year—and, for some, maybe even beyond.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. The rankings are according to RSCI Hoops, a composite that averages from 25 different expert top-100 lists. We move to the No. 20 recruit, Kansas's Devon Dotson. You can view all of the profiles to date here.
What he means for the Jayhawks’ recruiting class
Bill Self recruited a deep and complete group with his 2018 class to help replace three lost starters and all kinds of production from its Final Four team. Including Dotson, Kansas has a recruiting class of two five-star guards and two four-star big men. Incoming combo-guard Quentin Grimes (No. 8 in the RSCI rankings) shares the backcourt with Dotson while center David McCormack (No. 30) and small forward Ochai Agbaji add depth to the Jayhawks' talented frontcourt. Dotson is an incredible overall player—he’s got impressive speed, can make a mean assist, can easily blow past a defender off the dribble and has a high basketball IQ. The Charlotte, N.C., native is a floor general who’s equally as capable at creating his own shot. With Grimes on Dotson’s wing, Kansas will have a difficult duo to defend on their roster this season.
How he fits
Kansas lost its starting backcourt in All-American point guard Devonte’ Graham and Malik Newman, but the departure of Graham hits especially hard. Because of that, however, Dotson joins Kansas at a time when he can become the team's primary distributor right out of the gate. The pair of Dotson and Grimes—two incoming recruits who can both play on and off the ball exceptionally well—could easily start for the Jayhawks with Dotson running point and 6’5”, 205 pound Grimes at the two or even the three. Those two, however, will hardly be alone in the KU backcourt. With the return of senior Lagerald Vick and sophomore Marcus Garrett, plus now-eligible transfers Charlie Moore (who could push Dotson for the starting job) and K.J. Lawson, there's plenty of depth. Throw in Agbaji also fighting for reps on the wing and the Jayhawks have as much depth at positions one through three as they do in their physical frontline. Dotson fits well with Self’s style of play when it comes to his speed. Kansas is no stranger to playing an up-tempo offense, most recently with Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason III running the show. Dotson’s explosiveness could fill the Graham void, while his ability to make plays and get into the lane is more reminiscent of Mason—though he'll cary far less experience than his immediate predecessors. Self has a history of letting his guards play tough, and with Dotson’s ability to defend he’ll likely thrive doing just that at the point or on the perimeter. He needs a little refining, especially when it comes to his shot, but expect big things from the freshman nonetheless.
Importance to Kansas's success/team outlook
Kansas will look a lot different from last year’s Final Four team, but its freshmen will help the Jayhawks’ quest to push their Big 12 title streak to 15 and stay in the national title picture in 2018–19. Even with the losses of Graham and Co., Self has 7’0” center Udoka Azubuike returning to man the middle, Marcus Garrett to guide the guards plus the help of three transfers, the most notable of which is Dedric Lawson, who has first-team All-Big 12 potential. Self has plenty of players to replace the production the Jayhawks lost, making expectations high again in Lawrence entering 2018–19.