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Preseason Preview: Kansas

Marquette Men's Basketball

Marquette Men’s Basketball

The first official practices of the 18-19 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We will be releasing one a day ending the day before Marquette’s exhibition with Carroll. That’s right, when this series ends, Marquette basketball will finally be here.

Team: Kansas Jayhawks
17-18 Record: 31-8 (13-5 B12)
Postseason?: Duh, it’s Kansas. Earned a 1 seed and made it to the 15th Final Four in program history….where they ran into the buzzsaw that was last year’s Villanova squad
17-18 KenPom: 9
Date: November 21, 2018
Location: Barclay’s Center (Brooklyn, NY)
Coach: Bill Self (16th season)
Projected KenPom Range: 1-10
Projected Conference Finish: 1/10 in the Big 12

Departures from 17-18
Devonte Graham: Starting PG: 37.8 mpg, 17.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 7.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 2.8 tpg, .400 FG%, .406 3P% (Graduated and declared for the draft, drafted 34th overall by Atlanta and traded to Charlotte)
Malik Newman: Starting SG: 31.6 mpg, 14.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.5 tpg, .463 FG%, .415 3P% (Declared for the draft, went undrafted but signed 2-way contract with the Lakers)
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk: Starting PF: 34.5 mpg, 14.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.7 tpg, .434 FG%, .444 3P% (Graduated and declared for the draft, drafted 47th overall by the Lakers)
Clay Young: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 13 games (Graduated)
Sam Cunliffe: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 15 games (Transferred to Evansville)
James Sosinski: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 7 games (Left team for personal reasons)
Billy Preston: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 0 games (Suspended, left to play overseas, declared for the draft, went undrafted)
58% of scoring, 38% of rebounding, 74% of assists, 61% of steals, 14% of blocks, 80% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Dedric Lawson: Transfer SF from Memphis
Quentin Grimes: 5-star SG, ranked #10 by 247 Composite
Devon Dotson: 5-star PG, ranked #21 by 247 Composite
Charlie Moore: Transfer PG from California
David McCormack: 4-star C, ranked #36 by 247 Composite
KJ Lawson: Transfer SF from Memphis
Ochai Abaji: 4-star SF, ranked #133 by 247 Composite
Garrett Luinstra: Walk-on PG
Elijah Elliott: Walk-on SG

Probable Starters:
PG: Devon Dotson: 6’2” 185 lb FR: 5-star PG, ranked #21 by 247 Composite
SG: LaGerald Vick: 6’5” 190 lb SR: 33.1 mpg, 12.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.6 tpg, .488 FG%, .373 3P%
SF: Quentin Grimes: 6’5” 210 lb FR: 5-star SG, ranked #10 by 247 Composite
PF: Dedric Lawson: 6’9” 235 lb RSJR: 34.5 mpg, 19.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 2.1 bpg, 2.4 tpg, .461 FG%, .270 3P% (16-17 stats at Memphis)
C: Udoka Azubuike: 7’0” 270 lb JR C: 23.6 mpg, 13.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.6 spg, 1.7 bpg, 1.8 tpg, .770 FG%, .000 3P%

Probable Bench:
Marcus Garrett: 6’5” 195 lb SO PG
Charlie Moore: 5’11” 180 lb RSSO PG
Mitch Lightfoot: 6’8” 225 lb JR PF
David McCormack: 6’10” 265 lb FR C
KJ Lawson: 6’8” 210 lb RSJR SF

Probable Benchwarmers:
Silvio De Sousa: 6’9” 245 lb SO PF
Ochai Abaji: 6’5” 210 lb FR SG
Chris Teahan: 6’4” 195 lb SO SG
Garrett Luinstra: 6’2” 155 lb FR PG
Elijah Elliott: 6’3” 185 lb FR SG

Notes:
• Death, taxes, and a Big 12 regular season championship for Kansas, these are the things that we have come to know as inevitable. Kansas had another monster season under Bill Self, earning a 1 seed and a Final Four before bowing out to the eventual national champs. The offseason was not kind to the Jayhawks as they lost their three best players and scorers. Any other team would take a step back or at least stay the same, but not Kansas. They simply reload and come back stronger than before. Kansas brings in a monster recruiting class, even by Kansas standards. They also bring in trio of transfers that would be stars on most teams but will make up arguably the best bench in the country for Kansas.
• Kansas got an unexpected boost in late June when LaGerald Vick announced he would be returning for his senior season. Vick originally announced his intentions to go pro in early April and thanks to an erroneous tweet from Draft Express, everyone thought he signed with an agent in early May. It turns out the report was wrong and after considering a transfer, Vick decided to return to Lawrence. Vick was the fifth scoring option for Kansas last season but his presence brings a huge boost to their perimeter game. Even with Vick returning, Kansas is losing 80% of its 3P shooting. Vick was the least prolific 3P shooter Kansas had last season, but without him, Marcus Garrett’s 12 3PM would be the only ones returning from last year’s roster.
• The other big name returner for Kansas is Udoka “Doke” Azubuike. Doke’s career started as the backup to Landen Lucas. In limited minutes Doke showed that he could be a dominant low post scorer and rim protector. As a freshman he shot a very impressive 62.9% from the floor. When Lucas graduated, Doke took on the starting center role and somehow, despite dramatically increasing his minutes and attempts, he got even more efficient. Doke’s 77% eFG was among the best in the nation. It’s easy to see how as he stands a legitimate 7 feet tall, weighs a muscular 270 lbs, and has arms that go on for days. When Doke gets the ball, there’s little doubt that he’s going to try to score off a post-up. He’s not a great passer and his shooting range is non-existent. So it’s not like defenders don’t know what’s coming, they simply can’t stop him. He does make Kansas vulnerable in late game situations. Some teams have figured out that “Hack a Doke” is a legitimate defensive tactic. Doke got a lot of heat after he went 1-8 from the stripe in Kansas’ loss at Oklahoma.
• Self made a huge splash on the transfer market during the summer of 17, landing three battle-tested transfers from quality programs. Included that is a pair of brothers out of Memphis. Dedric Lawson is the bigger and more talented of the two. He’s a bruising forward with some shooting touch. He racked up double doubles like free throws, earning 18 in only 31 games. He uses raw power to bully defenders for easy buckets and rebounds. He was never an accurate three-point shooter but he had the be the man at Memphis. With plenty of talent around him he should be able to be more selective and those percentages should improve. His brother KJ followed him to Kansas. He’s a large rebounding wing who put up good numbers at Memphis. Despite the presence of the Lawson brothers, Memphis didn’t even crack the top 100 in KenPom. KJ won’t put up the numbers he did at Memphis and will have to compete with a lot of talented players for minutes. He might end up being the best back of rotation player in the nation.
• Kansas has famously run a two point guard system for the past few years. Coach Self has never trusted two true freshmen to start at those positions but that might be what happens this season after the Jayhawks lost both players who filled those roles previously. Marquette fans are all too familiar with the first name. Quentin Grimes is a 5-star combo guard out the Houston area and a former Marquette target. Marquette made Grimes’ final four and even got an official visit. It was looking like the stars would align but Marquette was left standing at the altar as Grimes ended up a Jayhawk. Grimes is an elite level scorer and distributor. He’s always had the slashing ability and athleticism and his three-point shot dramatically improved as a senior. He is a dark horse to become Kansas’ leading scorer. The second freshman point guard is Devon Dotson. Dotson is much more of a true point guard. He is speedy pass first PG with a competitive edge and proven leadership skills. His outside shot is lacking so he won’t bring the scoring that Graham did. But his passing ability could lead allow him to replace a good amount of those departing 7.2 assists per game.

Prediction:
• Marquette has enough talent this year that no game is truly unwinnable….but if there was an unwinnable game for Marquette this would be it. The one hope the Golden Eagles have is that with so many new pieces to fit together, Kansas is caught unprepared and Marquette shoots the lights out. But realistically, Bill Self has been doing this for a long time. He will likely have Kansas in midseason form and this will be a coast to coast victory. Kansas simply has too much talent, size, and depth at every single position. However, I don’t see it being an embarrassing effort. Marquette never leads but they are also never truly out of it and end up losing by around 13.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Recruiting

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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