What are we doing here this week, not talking about the NCAA Tournament?
There’s no sense in complaining about a sporting event being canceled during a pandemic only to say that there were a lot of things that could have been done if more people in power had taken the potential health crisis more seriously.
Instead, it seemed as though no one thought about this weeks ago when the coronavirus was starting to spread.
Let’s look at a dozen big things about Big 12 hoops:
12. What just happened?
I’m too young to have really grasped the magnitude of what it was like when the World Series was canceled in 1994 — I was 8.
Needless to say, I’m bummed. I’m bummed for the players, who don’t get to play in the greatest sporting event in the world, bummed for the Big 12, which had two championship-level teams, and bummed for America.
However, make no mistake, not playing this month was 100% the correct decision made by the NCAA. Canceling the tournament altogether, I don’t know. It seems like the NCAA could have found a way to do this in May instead of nothing at all.
11. Tweet of the week: Boynton’s plan
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton:
“Seniors, if they want, should have another year. Special permission on scholarship numbers for an unprecedented circumstance. Next year only.”
Yes. Do it. No argument.
Since the season ended abruptly, the best thing I can do is look at next season and try to get excited for 2020-2021. From the order of where they finished in the league this year, here are some big thoughts on each team.
Note: A few weeks ago I wrote that I saw another down year next season for the Big 12. After doing a deep dive into each team, that may not be the case. Now that Texas appears to be bringing Shaka Smart back and the unpredictability of the NCAA’s punishment toward three schools under investigation, it seems the league could be in line for an elite year.
A year after making the Elite 8, Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber and the Wildcats finished last in the Big 12. (Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/TNS)
10. Where do we go from here: Kansas State (10-21)
Notables who are gone: Xavier Sneed, Makol Mawien
Who could be gone: Cartier Diarra
Who’s coming in: Nijel Pack, 4-star recruit
I was more wrong about Kansas State than any team in the Big 12 this past season. A 10-21 regular season shouldn’t happen when a program returns a handful of rotation players who won the league title the previous season.
Returning players didn’t play well, there were more than one occasion where it seemed point guard Cartier Diarra and coach Bruce Weber weren’t on the same page and it was just a mess. For next year, the loss of Xavier Sneed and Makol Mawien aren’t nearly as devastating as you would think considering neither of them elevated their play this season. Mawien was so good during the late stages of his sophomore year but he never reached that level again and Sneed was clearly a better fit for a complimentary piece than the main piece.
Diarra became too much of the offense and was inefficient, shooting 30.7% from 3-point on 116 attempts and shooting 41.4% overall from the floor. He did have 131 assists and 119 rebounds this season, but clearly K-State never replaced Barry Brown this season.
Even with the warts, Diarra would be in-line for a preseason All-Big 12 team if I didn’t feel like he’s a strong transfer or NBA candidate. A redshirt junior this season, perhaps Diarra is in line to graduate transfer and thus become a pretty highly sought-after player despite his up-and-down junior year. If he is back — and Weber and Diarra have downplayed publicly any animosity– Kansas State could return to its winning ways of 2018 and 2019.
With 4-star Indianapolis product Nijel Pack arriving next fall along with three other recruits and UTEP transfer Kaosi Ezeagu that make up the current No. 21-ranked class, Kansas State could be pretty good next year. Because Pack is a 5-foot-10 point guard, and returning guards Dajuan Gordon and David Sloan flashed some potential this season, I wonder if that pushes Diarra to transfer.
Regardless, the player to watch — the guy who could be the star on this team — is rising senior Mike McGuirl, who shot 41.2% from 3-point on just 85 attempts and doubled his scoring output this season from 3.6 ppg to 6.9 ppg. More opportunities to shoot– Sneed and Diarra combined for 352 3-point attempts and both shot 30% — could yield a better overall offense for the Wildcats in 2020-2021. Montavious Murphy was a bright spot for K-State. The 6-foot-9 freshman started 16 games and played in 19 before a knee injury ended his season in mid-February.
Levi Stockard is probably the penciled in big, but at 6-foot-8 there are potentially better options. Stockard averaged 16 minutes a game and played in 31 regular season games and started three, averaging 3.6 points. Ezeagu, a 6-10, 240 pound UTEP transfer who will be eligible at midseason.
What made the previous two Kansas State teams really good when healthy — aside from Barry Brown being one of the 10 best players in Kansas State history or at least in the last 30 years — was a stretch big man in Dean Wade. I’m not sure the Wildcats have that.
I expect Kansas State to be picked last or ninth in the preseason this fall.
Weber’s future is: I think he’s pretty safe but a bad year next season and he’s back to where he was four years ago. He climbed out of the hole. Kansas State fans probably don’t appreciate him like they should. I say the same thing every year it seems, but I would not be surprised if Weber makes a move elsewhere before Kansas State ever decides to fire him.
PG: Diarra – he’s still expected back, so we’ll keep him here
G/F Montavious Murphy
F: Levi Stockard
Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton will likely be drafted by the NBA this June. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
9. Where do we go from here: Iowa State (12-20)
Notables who are gone: Prentiss Nixon, Michael Jacobson
Who could be gone: Tyrese Haliburton, Solomon Young
Who’s coming in: Xavier Foster, 4-star recruit
Haliburton is likely to be taken in the NBA Draft’s first round. Maybe even a lottery pick. His season-ending injury ruined any chance of Iowa State turning things around in the second half to get into, at the very least, the NIT discussion. It’s coach Steve Prohm’s second sub .500 year in three seasons and the fan base in Ames never did welcome him with open arms after Fred Hoiberg left, so next season is vitally important to the future of the program.
Losing two seniors — both of whom transferred to Iowa State — and losing Haliburton won’t help.
I’m putting Young in “may go” basket because he’s a redshirt junior, which means he may be in line to graduate transfer and he would be a highly sought-after player based on how well he played the last month. Also there’s a 7-foot, 4-star recruit ranked who’s No. 65 in the nation coming to Ames next year.
You wouldn’t be foolish to buy some stock in Iowa State next year. Rasir Bolton should be back. The Penn State transfer averaged 14.7 ppg., and started 30 games for ISU. If Young is back that’s a good base to build around and Greg Conditt, flashed enough during his sophomore season to perhaps be set up for a breakout junior year. Terrence Lewis and Tre Jackson got to play big roles the final two months of the season. Losing Zion Griffin and Caleb Grill definitely hurts the Cyclones.
Is there a chance Haliburton returns? Doubtful. If he does, Iowa State should be a top 25 team next fall.
Prohm’s future is: He’ll be in a similar situation as Texas’ Shaka Smart and Weber — if both of those programs decide to bring them back — next year in that a bad season or even a missed tournament is probably going to force some action. That said, Prohm is in decent position to have a bounce back year.
8. Where do we go from here: TCU (18-14)
Notables who are gone: Desmond Bane, Edric Dennis, Jaire Grayer,
Who could be gone: None?
Who’s coming in: Charles O’Bannon Jr. (transfer)
TCU is losing one of their better players in program history in Desmond Bane, while the two other seniors were graduate transfer and were always more short-term options. There’s not a huge recruiting class entering the program this spring with three 3-star players arriving with the highest ranked being Lancaster product Mike Miles, ranked No. 144 in the country.
However, Charles O’Bannon, Jr. will be the highlight of the new arrivals. The former 5-star, 2017 McDonald’s All-American transfer from USC and son of the UCLA great Charles O’Bannon, is applying for a waiver to play in the fall semester but should be available by conference play. He sat out the 2018-2019 season with an injury at USC.
TCU is on some shaky ground next season. They received a notice of allegation in January over former assistant coach Corey Barker. There’s no telling what TCU’s punishment could be next season.
This is not a team that appears ready to compete for an NCAA championship or a conference championship, so perhaps the move is to self impose a ban, move on with recruiting and focus on 2022. While I don’t think the punishment is worth a postseason ban, if programs let these impending punishments linger into the summer, the recruiting backlash could be eased if teams just announced it now.
To be clear: They won’t do this.
TCU’s season will be based on two players’ performance: Kevin Samuel, who is among the best centers in the conference, and R.J. Nembhard, who showed some development this season as a sophomore. Nembhard averaged 12.1 points and started 28 games. Samuel started all 32, averaging 10 points and 8.4 rebounds and shot 65.3% from the field. The next returning player in scoring? P.J. Fuller, a former 4-star recruit, who averaged 5.7 points as a freshman.
If Fuller and fellow freshman Francisco Farabello take the same steps that Nembhard made from freshman to sophomore, than TCU could be a really fun team next year. Add in Jaedon LeDee and Diante Smith along with eligible transfer Kevin Easley — the former Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2019 at Chattanooga — and TCU could win a lot of games.
Why the hesitation? I can’t trust who is going to be at TCU until August starts and players start reporting. TCU has been gouged by transfers the last several years and it seems like with some of the players coming in looking for playing time, it could push others out. A walk-on entered the portal on Monday.
However, if they don’t, and I trust Jamie Dixon, than TCU could surprise people.
Dixon’s future is: On the one hand, he’s still the coach at TCU. On the other hand, he was pretty much the coach at UCLA for like five minutes last offseason. It seems clear to me that TCU doesn’t want to lose to him and if he keeps having winning seasons — regardless of where they finish in the standings — perhaps that’s enough for a TCU program that has next to no basketball history. If he’s not the head coach at TCU in three years, it’ll be because he left for another job.
The projected lineup is:
7. Where do we go from here: Oklahoma State (18-14)
Notables who are gone: Cameron McGriff, Lindy Waters, Thomas Dzwaga
Who could be gone: Isaac Likekele
Who’s coming in: Cade Cunningham, Rondel Walker, 5- and 4-star recruits
Oklahoma State is bringing in 247 Sports current No. 1-rated prospect in the 2020 class to campus next year. The Cowboys hired his brother, Cannen, to the coaching staff last year, so it was pretty much assumed his brother was coming. The class isn’t just Cade Cunningham. Walker is a 4-star, top 100-ranked player and the Cowboys have two more 3-star prospects in the class. At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, Cunningham projects as a point guard in the NBA, according to many scouting reports and his shooting is one area where he needs to improve. He’ll probably share the load with OSU’s best returning player, Likekele, who will be on the short list for preseason All- Big 12. That’s a pretty good backcourt.
The three seniors OSU is losing have been integral to the team the last three seasons, but they never played in the NCAA Tournament and had sub-.500 Big 12 records the last two years. It’s hard to say their losses can’t be overcome.
Why worry? Because so often we find big time prospects who go to non-basketball powerhouse programs and miss the NCAA tournament. Markele Fultz, Ben Simmons and just this year with projected No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards, who was unlikely to make the tournament for Georgia. You need other pieces around them to really make the tournament when you play for a Power 5 school.
Why you can relax? Likekele doesn’t have the same NBA career path as Cunningham, but he’s a really good college basketball player who can handle the point guard duties and Oklahoma State should have some good pieces around him who played for OSU this year. Likekele averaged 10.9 points, led the Cowboys with 127 assists and 54 steals, led the team in average minutes per game and even averaged 5.6 rebounds. He needs to shoot better — just 21.5%, but he only shot 14 3-pointers! He’s a point guard!
Yor Anei will be one of the top post players in the league after a semi-breakout year as a sophomore — 8.1 ppg, 1.8 blocks– but he needs to desperately improve his rebounding (just 4.7 per game) and needs to stay on the court more (20.2 minutes). Kalin Boone, Avery Anderson, Chris Harris and Keylan Boone all saw action.
Will we see OSU ranked in the preseason poll? Maybe? I don’t think so, but enough people will give them a look because of Cunningham to build hype around them.
Boynton’s future is? It’s do or die for Mike Boynton at this point. Just like it was for Johnny Jones at LSU. You can’t miss the tournament when OSU could — big emphasis on could — have the best player in the league next year. If he misses his fourth straight NCAA Tournament — because unless OSU was winning the Big 12 Tournament, the Cowboys weren’t making it in 2020– will OSU bring him back?
The projected lineup:
F: Keylan Boone
F: Kalib Boone
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard and Jahmi’us Ramsey likely had one year together in Lubbock. The freshman guard will likely go pro this offeseason. (Sam Grenadier/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal via AP)
6. Where do we go from here: Texas Tech (18-13)
Notables who are gone: T.J. Holyfield, Chris Clarke
Who could be gone: Jahmi’us Ramsey
Who’s coming in: Nimari Burnett, 4-star recruit, McDonald’s All-American; Joel Ntambwe UNLV transfer
Texas Tech had a sneaky young roster after Holyfield, Clarke and juniors Davide Moretti and Kyler Edwards. Obviously Ramsey was the most impactful offensively and I’d be pretty surprised if we see him back next year. Especially with the No. 11-ranked recruiting class in the country featuring Burnett, a 6-foot-3 combo guard who is the No. 26 recruit. 247 Sports gives him 4 stars, but let’s call him a 5-star recruit since he was slated to play in the most premier high school all-star game this month.
It’s just not him, though. Michael Peavy, a 6-foot-7 forward from Duncanville and Chibuzo Agbo, a 6-foot-7 forward from San Diego are both 4-star prospects. Peavy is the No. 43-ranked player in the country and Agbo is No. 111.
I’ll start here: I think this is my projected Big 12 champion at this point. I can’t pick KU to win it if I don’t think they’ll be eligible to play in the tournament. I think Baylor will be great, but the talent Texas Tech will have is something we haven’t seen from a Big 12 school not named Kansas since Rick Barnes was loading up the roster at Texas.
Texas Tech struggled a lot because they didn’t have a great point guard. They had good players trying to play it, but they clearly weren’t great fits. Clarke, who came off the bench, was about their best option. Next year, perhaps Burnett, listed a mysterious “combo guard,” might be the guy who finally brings what Keenan Evans gave the Texas Tech offense during his senior year in 2018. I still think that was Texas Tech’s best team under coach Chris Beard. Had Evans not gotten hurt, Texas Tech probably would have won the Big 12 and shoot, they made the Elite Eight with Evans not at 100%.
What’s the one thing I could be an issue for next year’s team? The last two seasons Tech’s offense has been really helped by shooting big men. Holyfield this past season and Tariq Owens the year before. Right now the only center I see Tech having is 7-foot Russell Tchewa, who averaged five minutes a game and 1.7 points. Does Tech have a stretch big man next year? Does it matter?
Joel Ntambwe averaged 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds for UNLV before transferring following is freshman year. He could be the perfect small-ball big man.
Kevin McCullar will enter as one of the top sophomores in the league after after entering the lineup late and really taking off. His 6.0 ppg., is a little misleading. Terrence Shannon is another sophomore who really flashed potential this past season. Perhaps the big man thing won’t matter because Texas Tech can play a bunch of guards and position-less basketball?
There’s always the potential for transfers, but somehow I don’t see a lot of obvious ones.
Outside of Ramsey, I don’t see any other player actually staying in the draft and in fact I think there’s a realistic chance that Ramsey — the Big 12 Freshman of the Year — comes back.
Beard’s future is: Less complex as it was, from an outside perspective, than four weeks ago. I don’t think Texas is firing Shaka Smart (and Kansas isn’t firing Bill Self), so now you don’t even have to ask the “will he” or “won’t he” question. I found it interesting that on a recent CBS Eye on College Basketball podcast that Gary Parrish said ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski had heard of NBA teams having interest in Beard. I wonder if serious college basketball coaches are going to try the NBA after one of the best college coaches of the last 15 years, John Belien, couldn’t make it out of one season.
The projected lineup is:
F: Russel Tchewa
5. Where do we go from here: Texas (19-12)
Notables who are gone: None
Who could be gone: Probably none
Who’s coming in: Texas has no current commits
The above is either really awesome or really scary depending on how you viewed the 2019-2020 Texas Longhorns.
Shaka Smart could always be fired before the end of the month and there’s some space between what just happened and April, but I really don’t think it happens.
It’s quite an expensive undertaking, especially if you don’t have a clear, slam dunk, won’t say “no” option. Texas doesn’t have it.
Why not see if Smart can take a clearly talented and deep team and finally put the pieces together as opposed to paying him nearly $9 million to leave? I know people like to say “money isn’t a problem at Texas,” but maybe money is a problem with Texas basketball.
If Smart stays, there’s a pretty good chance that this 19-win team adds a McDonald’s All-American in Greg Brown III, a guy who is going to remind a lot of Texas fans of the greatest player in program history. Brown is a 6-foot-9 — maybe even taller — forward who shoots like a guard (and may actually be a guard) who averaged close to 30 points. He’s from Austin. His dad played for the Longhorn football team.
It’s not a given that Texas will return every piece from last year’s team. Unless Jericho Sims sees himself as NBA ready (Cedric Golden voice: “isssss he?”), the most likely subtraction from this Longhorn team is via transfer, and I’m not sure I saw anyone who fits that. Before the five game winning streak, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Courtney Ramey would pop up in the portal. I don’t see that now. Maybe there’s just too big of a logjam at the post position if Sims returns for Royce Hamm, Kai Jones and Will Baker to all stay — but I don’t envision any of them leaving.
Baker is a local product, Jones is better off just staying and building an NBA Draft profile and Hamm is turning into a fan favorite.
It’s possible that this is the best roster in the league if Brown joins them. It’s also possible that there’s just too many players who are expecting playing time and if we don’t see player movement, you could have another season where Smart is struggling with his rotation during Big 12 play.
Smart’s future is: Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte won’t fire a coach mid-season, so if Smart is back, he’s back for a whole season. The fact I have to type that should be an indication of where Smart’s tenure is. People weren’t going to the Erwin Center to watch his team play. When they did, Texas fell face-first into some Oklahoma State Cowboys. Smart doesn’t need a winning season next year. Smart doesn’t need a tournament season next year. With this potential lineup, Smart needs a dominant, never leaves the AP top 15, second weekend appearance, type of season.
The projected lineup is:
G. Matt Coleman
G: Jase Febres
4. Where do we go from here: Oklahoma (19-12)
Notables who are gone: Kristian Doolittle
Who could be gone: Brady Manek
Who’s coming in: Trey Phipps, 3-star recruit
I don’t think Brady Manek is leaving Oklahoma. If the Sooners were going to lose any player early, he’d be it. And if that’s the case, the Sooners could be good next year.
If they can replace Doolittle with one of the incumbent guards.
Austin Reaves had an up-and-down first year where he shot just 25.9% from 3-point despite taking 162 shots — second most on the team — and shot 38.1% from the field overall. He averaged 14.7 points while playing the most minutes of any player. He was an 84.8% free throw shooter — Oklahoma was an outstanding 76.6% overall from the line. His numbers reflect the efficiency issue with him. Imagine if Reaves returns as a redshirt junior shooting in the mid-30s as opposed to the mid-20s from the 3-point stripe? That is probably wishful thinking, but we saw in his last game when he scored 43 points — the highest point total for a player this season in Big 12 play — against TCU.
Oklahoma’s big freshman addition, De’Vion Harmon didn’t burst on the scene and neither did sophomore Jamal Bieniemy after a strong freshman season. But they had moments. Bieniemy started 30 games and averaged 31.9 minutes. He didn’t have a great season with average to below average shooting numbers, but with Doolittle graduating and taking with him his 381 shots, there will be more opportunity for him and Harmon to take off.
The key will be Manek. He’ll be a first team All-Big 12 preseason pick if he returns and be one of the faces of the league. He has started since his freshman season with Trae Young and is a 6-foot-9 forward who shot 38% from 3-point.
Oklahoma should have eight returning rotation players and perhaps it gets contributions from two redshirt freshman, Rick Issanza (7-foot-1, 230 pounds) and Anyang Garang (6-foot-8, 190 pounds). Issanza is from the Congo and Garang is from Australia via the NBA Global Academy. I wouldn’t rule out Oklahoma being a popular destination for graduate transfer and late signees.
You also wonder if Kur Kuath, the 6-foot-10, 220 pound forward will have more of an impact. Kuath played just 10.5 minutes a game as Oklahoma only real true big man.
Maybe that’s a little too optimistic because sometimes players are what they are and expecting Reaves to be more efficient, Bieniemy and Harmon to be more involved in scoring and Manek to be star player is unrealistic. If there is one team that could be next year’s version of Kansas State and Iowa State, maybe it’s Oklahoma. A lot of pieces but just not enough to make a great whole.
Kruger’s future is: I think Kruger will one day retire as the Oklahoma coach. How soon that is? I don’t know, but Kruger gets his teams to the tournament consistently enough to where he has a long leash.
The projected lineup is:
West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe could leave Morgantown after just one season with the Mountaineers. (AP Photo/David Dermer)
3. Where do we go from here: West Virginia (21-10)
Notables who are gone: Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler, Logan Routt
Who could be gone: Oscar Tshiebwe, Derek Culver
Who’s coming in: Isaiah Cottrell, 4-star recruit
Whether West Virginia starts the next season ranked or not depends on the two most likely players to test the NBA process. West Virginia went big last season and dropped the pressing style with two players who could control the paint. If the Mountaineers were to lose both Culver and Tshiebwe, then coach Bob Huggins needs to go back in the lab and figure out his gameplan. It would seem that WVU has the personnel to press and rebuild the team around Miles McBride. But even if one of the big men are back, WVU should be a preseason top 25 team.
Culver and Tshiebwe averaged just 11.2 and 10.4 points, but both averaged 9.3 and 8.6 rebounds. That was key against WVU: you better hit shots, because you won’t be getting the rebound. And you’ll be lucky if you do, because the defense is a top-5 unit in the sport. I feel like both are going to test.
Let’s say they both do what they should and return next season, it gives WVU a chance to win a lot. With a third big man in Cottrell, WVU is deep in the front court. Emmitt Matthews had a slightly disappointing season for WVU considering what we saw at the end of the 2019 season, but he’s back after starting 30 games. McBride averaged 9.5 points as a freshman, third on the team, and could be in line for a breakout season as a sophomore. Taz Sherman flashed a lot of potential at the end of the season and I think we can expect Jordan McCabe and Gabe Osabuohien to produce more next season given their experience.
The backcourt wasn’t great in 2020. McCabe had 51 assists this season and 42 turnovers. He started 29 games but only averaged 13.5 minutes. West Virginia had 447 turnovers last season to just 383 assists.
Huggins’ future is: They’ll bury him on campus somewhere one day.
The projected lineup is:
2. Where do we go from here: Baylor (26-4)
Notables who are gone: Freddie Gillespie, Devonte Bandoo
Who could be gone: Jared Butler, Tristan Clark, MaCio Teague
Who’s coming in: Dain Dainja. L.J. Cryer, 4-star recruits
The greatest season in Baylor basketball history never got to finish. They were likely to get a No. 1 seed in the tournament.
The good news is that a lot of the players who made Baylor really good could be back. I’d be surprised if Butler and Teague and even Davion Mitchell didn’t think about testing the NBA. I wouldn’t be surprised if Clark, a junior, looks to transfer but he could be a sneaky Big 12 Player of the Year guy if he’s fully 100% healthy for his senior season.
Usually I put redshirt juniors on my list of possible players who could leave because of the graduate transfer factor, but I just don’t see Mark Vital ever playing for anyone but Baylor.
The last few years, basketball writers have given props to coach Scott Drew for his ability to develop players and not rely on strong recruiting classes like he did a decade ago. That’s out the window. Baylor has the No.15-rated class in the nation this year, and has the No. 56 and No. 78 recruits (Dain Dainja and L.J. Cryer) along with 7-foot center Zach Loveday, the No. 122-ranked player. At least two of those players could play major roles next season. Baylor will have to find away to win with Gillespie and Dainja could be a big piece to that puzzle if Clark never returns to form.
All eyes will be on Butler and Teague. If both of those guys return, we’re talking about Baylor entering preseason with No.1 hopes. Jon Rothstein has the Bears No. 3 on his initial list. Baylor would essentially return the same exact team minus Gillespie and Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year winner Bandoo, but you have to believe that it gives Matthew Mayer more playing time and Flo Thamba a chance.
If Butler is back, he’s the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year (assuming Kansas’ Devon Dotson is gone).
Drew’s future is: It’s never been brighter at Baylor.
Here’s what I wrote about Drew in the NCAA Tournament preview column that never published:
What Scott Drew is facing this year is this: Is he this generation’s Gene Keady? Or is he this generation’s Jim Boeheim?
Keady never reached the Final Four. He made two Elite Eights and five Sweet 16s at Purdue. He won 550 games but never got to the biggest stage. Boeheim had been to the Final Four several times at Syracuse, but his entire coaching legend changed when he finally won the title in 2003. Maybe Bo Ryan is a better example because he didn’t make the Final Four until 12th season at Wisconsin and he didn’t even need to win the title for his legacy to change.
For Drew to make the Final Four would mean he gets off the same island that Arizona’s Sean Miller, Purdue’s Matt Painter and Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton are on: Keady Island, a place where the best coaches to have never reached the Final Four go for Spring Break.
This isn’t Drew’s last chance to do it — he’s still just 49 — but this seems like the season it could happen.
Next year he gets the chance to do it.
The projected lineup is:
READ MORE: KU basketball’s Bill Self: ‘Nobody in America had a better season than we did’
Kansas guard Marcus Garrett will be the anchor veteran in the Jayhawk starting lineup. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
1. Where do we go from here: Kansas (28-3)
Notables who are gone: Udoka Azubuike, Isaiah Moss
Who could be gone: Devon Dotson
Who’s coming in: Bryce Thompson, 5-star recruit, McDonald’s All-American
Kansas is either going to be a favorite to win the league, a preseason top-10 team and be, well ... Kansas.
Or it’s going to be unranked, unable to play in the postseason and be a non-factor nationally in and outside the Big 12.
I have no idea how much the cancellation of the postseason will impact a possible postseason ban for Kansas. I imagine that the university could argue that the program was already prevented in competing in the postseason by the NCAA this year, so perhaps a punishment without a postseason ban is more likely. Financially, I wonder if Kansas athletics can even afford to not have two years worth of postseason money vacated, therefore could make a case on that.
I certainly feel like the NCAA would be punishing people not involved in the scandal even more if they prevented players like Christian Braun, Tristian Enaruna and the older players like Marcus Garrett and Mitch Lightfoot from playing in the tournament for a second year.
If we’re looking at this traditionally, I think Kansas is going to receive a postseason ban.
There will be a postseason ban, scholarship reduction and head coach Bill Self will be suspended for 12-20 games if the NCAA follow its regular playbook. That’s along the lines of what the NCAA has done to other schools– or what schools have done to themselves to avoid a bigger NCAA punishment.
If that happens, I expect a healthy amount of attrition to the Kansas roster.
I think players who have been fringe NBA draft prospects like Ochai Agabji someone who needs to return to school, frankly– are more likely to enter the draft instead of starting over with another program. David McCormick, a former McDonald’s All-American, who is the penciled in starting center next year, was a player some assumed would be leaving early anyway, might be in the same boat.
That said, let’s break down Kansas, who Rothstein has No. 4 on his rankings, as if KU has its current status.
I don’t know if the Jayhawks would have the best team in the league, but it’ll be as stocked as most Kansas teams.
Dotson is gone. Azubuike and Moss are graduating. Marcus Garrett is college basketball good, but not an NBA player at this point, so he’ll likely be back. The question will be Agbaji, but given his up-and-down sophomore season, I expect him to be back along with McCormick. Add a pretty good recruiting class with the No.20-ranked player in the nation coming in, and it’s hard to envision many people not picking KU to win the league. Kansas would be one of the deepest teams in the Big 12 with a lot of experience.
Thompson has the chance to pick up where Dotson left off. The son of a former Tulsa point guard under Self, the 6-foot-5, No.20-rated recruit is a pure scorer who can shoot and has the size to defend multiple positions.
Self’s future is: Cloudy at best.
The projected lineup is: