This year was a memorable year for the Kansas Jayhawks to remember. For the majority of the year we were the consensus favorite to win this years title. Sadly that was not the case this year. However this team will go down as one of the best teams that Kansas has had in recent years.
Devonte’ Graham was part of Bill Self’s two point guard backcourt. Graham has an incredible motor and is full of heart. While he is usually the more forgotten part of our backcourt he always seemed to shine when it mattered most. From his freshman to his sophomore season his points, assists, rebounds, and field goal percentages have all increased. Increasing his points per game from 5 a game to 11 was a big step for him. Also his team best 44% three point percentage was a huge part of our offense this year. However his upper body strength is a reason he has a great field percentage of 46%. He has the strength to finish at the rim with the best of the guards in the nation and his motor gets him by most of his match-ups. One of his best features is his defensive ability. He was on the Big 12 All Defensive team this past year. His 1.5 steals a game lead the team this year. However he needs to gain more consistency as he is going to be a junior next year. Certain games he finds a struggle to impact the game offensively. Some games he did not seem to get the ball in scoring positions as much as others. He was always effective on the defensive end however so his impact was not always the most visible.
Frank Mason III
The other half of our backcourt, Frank Mason III was the more experienced member of the backcourt. While he may be undersized listed at 5-11, his speed and quickness helps him get past his defenders. His strength is driving to the basket and either finishing at the rim or kicking to others to create scoring opportunities. Frank excels in Bill Self’s high ball screen style of offense. He creates great angles for drives and his court vision helps him find rolling post players or spotted up shooters. Mason’s game is summed up with one word, consistency. Looking at his sophomore and and junior statistics they are almost identical. His sophomore year he averaged 12.6 points per game compared to his 12.9 points per game this season. His field goal percentage was also very identical. He shot seven tenth’s lower from his sophomore season .441 to .434. He increased his assists and rebounds this past season as well. He had a great year earning All Big 12 Second Team honors and All Big 12 Defensive honors. I expect for next year, as he will become this teams leader, for him to step up a little once again.
Wayne Selden Jr.
The breakout performer of the year for Kansas was the junior from Roxbury Massachusetts. After coming in the same recruiting class as Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, it took him longer to develop into the player he was expected to be. As a McDonalds All American he was projected to be a one and done type of player. However after two years of struggling to find himself in the squad he took his game to the next level. He added 5 points to his points per game average from his freshman and sophomore year. He was second on the team on with his three-point percentage of 40% for the season. He was also second to Perry Ellis in scoring for the team. His ability to score from anywhere on the court was a huge part of the teams success this year. With this excellent year he earned All Big 12 second team and was good enough to go test the NBA Draft process.
This was one of the most important players on this year’s team for reasons that people never saw on the TV. Lucas was the lockdown defender against the opposition’s best post player. While such players would’ve beaten Perry Ellis, Lucas took pride on defending top scoring options. He was the ultimate role player this year as he led the team in rebounds (7 rpg) while taking a limited offensive role. He aggressively rebounded the ball on both ends and made sure he was the defensive anchor in the middle that we needed to secure games. As a senior he needs to develop some offensive moves but he has a bright future next year.
The senior leader and fan favorite of course gets the highest grade on this list. From leading the team in scoring with 17 a game to also being the bread and butter of the offense, Ellis has lived four years of legendary status here at Kansas. Being a native of Lawrence, Ellis quickly became a favorite of the fans. His consistency and dependability made him a consistent member of the KU team. As an unanimous selection to the All Big 12 1st team he was one of the top 5 players in the whole conference. He led this team wonderfully and all fans will be sad by his departure.
The AP National Coach of the Year deserves nothing but the highest grade we can give him. This team may have not won the National Championship but the hardware gained this season was an incredible amount. Representing America at the World University games and bringing back a gold medal was the start of our year. We went on to win the Maui Invitational, Big 12 regular season Title for the 12th time in his 13 years here, and the Big 12 Tournament. We ran this season and sadly did not get the ultimate prize but we did amazing. Bill Self has been one of the best coaches at Kansas and that list has many legendary coaches on it. He wins 95.7% of all home games at Allen Fieldhouse and is a legend in Lawrence.