Another season, another year where the Jayhawks are the favorite to win the Big 12 and one of the leading contenders for the National Championship. While last season didn’t end as the program would like, the Jayhawks return four of five scorers and add the preseason Big 12 Player of the year in Remy Martin. The Jayhawks have maybe the most complete starting-5 that has a great interior big man in David McCormack, good three-point shooters on the wing, and elite guard play. Now the main question goes to whether or not this Kansas team is able to win both a Big 12 or National Championship this season.
The Jayhawks will likely try to play inside-out through big man David McCormack, who is a potential Big 12 Player of the year favorite. McCormack is a 6’10 big man that is a really good interior scorer, finisher, and rebounder, who really emerged as the season went along last year. McCormack is a very good shooter for a true big man, which makes teams try to avoid fouling him, as he’ll make his free throws at an efficient rate. Look for McCormack to pick up where he left off and be the top big man in his league, while he has a good chance to be an All-American as well.
On the wing, Ochai Agbaji will be another All-American candidate, as he’s a really good all-around player. Agbaji is a good shooter, rebounder, and defender, but will need to be more aggressive in order to achieve being an All-American. At the very least, Agbaji will be a great role player, that will allow Kansas to have success, and if he can take a step forward, that will unlock his full potential, and allow him to improve his draft stock.
Christian Braun will provide the team with another solid option on the wing. Braun is a good shooter, plays with a sense of toughness and physicality that will make him a productive piece. The question with him is that he had somewhat of a sophomore shooting slump, but his shot looks pure and that should equate to those percentages improving. Jalen Wilson will miss the start of the season, but he should be a good piece when he comes back. At 6’7 he can handle the ball, shoot, and is good at driving to the rim and scoring, while he is a great rebounder as well.
The major key for this roster comes from their point guard play, where Remy Martin is the headliner for this team. The 6’1 guard is a dynamic guard, who is able to score the basketball at a high level, while he plays with great energy and effort. He needs to work on being more unselfish and looking to pass more often while improving defensively but he’ll be a productive piece for this team and will be the piece that opens up this offense. DaJuan Harris will also rotate and play a large number of minutes for this team, while Harris is not a major offensive threat, he’s a scrappy guard, who defends at a high level while being a good true point guard.
Off the bench, Drake transfer Joseph Yesufu will look to also compete for guard minutes, while he was a star for the Bulldogs, he will have a different role at Kansas as he’ll likely come off the bench. He provides the team with an elite driving guard, who can score around the basket and he can space the floor as he’s a good three-point shooter. 7th-year guard Jalen Coleman-Lands will give this team an elite shooter, mixed with an ability to be a good defender, plus a good offensive threat. While not as old as Coleman-Lands, 6th year forward Mitch Lightfoot is a good role player, as he takes charges, blocks shots, and rebounds, while he should be a good backup 5. Bobby Pettiford will also play reserve minutes, he’s a 6’0 lead guard that is a good ball-handler, defender, and scorer, who will be another scrappy guard.
While the Jayhawks aren’t the preseason favorite to win the National Championship, they have as good of a chance as anyone of accomplishing that task. They have good guard-play, depth on the wing, switchability, and an elite interior big man, which will work well together. While McCormack, Agbaji, and Martin are probably the All-American candidates, neither are a lock but that doesn’t mean the team can’t be great. While this team probably won’t be as good as 2018 Villanova, the fact that about 6 different players could lead this team in scoring will make them a tough guard.
Martin being able to embrace the role of being a true point guard will be key, while his scoring and bucket-getting ability are exactly what Kansas needs, he can’t be too selfish. The key to success will be playing inside-out, finding open shooters, and playing tough team defense, which this team projects to do. Jalen Wilson, Ochai Agbaji, and Christian Braun must all improve as shooters into being consistent double-figure scorers. In addition, David McCormack will need to avoid getting in foul trouble, improve as a defender, and be more aggressive on the offensive end. Should these players take the step forward, the ceiling is National Championship, it will just be up to the players to make the necessary improvements for this team to achieve that type of success.
PG: Remy Martin
SG: Christian Braun
SF: Ochai Agbaji
PF: Jalen Wilson
C: David McCormack
B1: DaJuan Harris
B2: Joseph Yesufu
B3: Jalen Coleman-Lands
B4: Bobby Pettiford
B5: Mitch Lightfoot