I have usually spelled out my feelings about the latest edition of Kansas Jayhawk basketball well before Thanksgiving. But ESPN's shakedown for viewers with ESPN+ has limited my viewing of K.U. thus keeping me from making any real assessment about this team. Now I can share a few thoughts.
Kansas will be a formidable team as long as Doke Azubuike is healthy. Doke is a double/double on paper every night. Kansas is as deep in the interior as it has been since the Final 4 championship team of 2008, so deep in fact Bill Self opted to redshirt seasoned veteran Mitch Lightfoot. Besides Azubuike, David McCormack is a load. He has a soft jumper that's money from 15 feet in and all that's needed is for Silvio De Sousa to blow off the rust that accumulated from last year's suspension.
Ochai Agbaji runs hot and cold. He is incredibly athletic and plays hard on the defensive end. Kansas is unbeatable when Agbaji plays well.
Marcus Garrett is the lock down defender. He can cover four spots on the floor. He's more than adequate ball handler now and is fearless driving to the hoop. If he had an outside shot he would be going to the NBA.
If transfer Isaiah Moss had played for Kansas last year the Jayhawks would have won their 15th straight conference title. He was the extra outside shooter that the Jayhawks desperately needed to help spread the floor. I have a feeling he will be streaky but he's a weapon that the Kansas offense sorely needs.
The two freshman, Tristan Enaruna and Christian Braun won't see much in the way of minutes by the time this team hits conference play. Both players can shoot from the outside and Enaruna shows signs of being a first rate defender. The great unknown among the freshman is forward Jalen Wilson. Once he comes back from injury in January it will be interesting to see how he fits into the rotation but if the reports are true about his ability in early season practices, he will be a contributor.
That brings us back to the bigs. Bill Self desperately wants to play the hi-low with Doke, Silvio and McCormack. The trio has struggled when they've shared the floor. I think Self will continue to experiment through the pre-season but will ultimately go with just one big once conference play hits.
I don't know how Self keeps reloading. He doesn't get all the top recruits but he does an amazing job of recruiting kids that fit together. His athletes buy into the system and appear to believe in the approach to hard nose defense and an offense that demands the ball go into the interior.
Is this is Final 4 team. Yes. Will they make it to the first weekend in April, the odds say no.