KU lands top Ukrainian player

5/22/2014

By RUSTIN DODD

By RUSTIN DODD

The Kansas City Star

(MCT) — Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, a top 16-year-old basketball prospect from Ukraine, is headed to Kansas this fall.

Kansas coach Bill Self announced the signing of Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-8 wing, in a release on Wednesday, capping an unexpected three-month recruitment.

Mykhailiuk, who will turn 17 in June, will spend the summer playing with the Ukraine national team before arriving in Lawrence. His young age will keep him at Kansas for at least two years because of the NBA Draft age requirement rules.

"Obviously, this is great news for us," Self said in the release. "He is 16 years old and will turn 17 in June, but his skill level, knowledge and aptitude for the game are way beyond his years. I think that he will be an immediate impact guy.

"He is a guy that can play all three positions on the perimeter. At 6-8, he can play point, play the No. 2 (guard) or the No. 3 (guard). He allows us to be more versatile next year and certainly, there would be few people that would shoot it better than him."

Mykhailiuk, whose full name is pronounced SVEE-at-is-slov mi-KHAI-luk, first appeared on the radar of college programs earlier this spring after participating in the Nike Hoop Summit, a showcase for top American and international prospects. During interviews with American reporters, he revealed his desire to play college basketball.

Kansas recruits Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander each played for the American team in the event, while Mykhailiuk was a late addition to the world team.

Three months later, he's signing with Kansas, joining a four-man class that also includes point guard Devonte' Graham.

"I liked everything," Mykhailiuk said in the release. "From the history, the strength program and especially the coaches — everything. It's Kansas. KU has players every year. Coach Self has had so many players go to the NBA. That's an important thing."

Self has also had success with international prospects in the past. Former KU center Sasha Kaun, who grew up in Russia, played at Kansas for four seasons, helping the Jayhawks to the NCAA title in 2008. Last season, center Joel Embiid, a native of Cameroon, exploded onto the scene before leaving for the NBA after one season. And Andrew Wiggins grew up in the Toronto area before playing high school basketball in the United States.

"Who knows what will end up happening with Andrew and Joel, but right now the consensus is that they will be two of the top-three players taken in the NBA Draft," Self said. "How do you replace guys like that? The answer is you don't. The way you try, though, is to go out and sign Cliff, Kelly, Devonte and now you add Sviatoslav to the mix.

"This could arguably be one of the very best recruiting classes that we've had. I think of last year's class and I think of the class with Brandon (Rush), Mario (Chalmers) and Julian (Wright) — this class definitely rivals that."

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