Shortly after the Kansas loss to UNI it was time to turn the page. Look ahead to 2010-2011. Who's staying, who's going, who might be added. Three weeks later we have some of those answers with the potential for another piece or two to fall into place.
That said, even the addition of just one Josh Selby seems to have muddied the waters a little bit in terms of expectations, minutes and rotation for 2010-2011.
Bill Self has gone with a 7-8 man rotation during most of his time with Kansas. Ocassionally a ninth option slips into the picture, but for the most part it's a five man rotation for the 1-3 spots and a 3 man rotation down low. With the departure of Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry one certainly wouldn't expect that to be a problem, but with so many unknowns and so much potential the speculation is at a fever pitch and once again Kansas appears poised to take the court as one of the deepest and most talented teams in the Big 12.
Three weeks ago the prediction was Baylor or K-State, with Missouri's additions even they might enter the picture as a Big 12 title contender. With just one announcement and a little time to let the dust settle, Kansas might once again find themselves picked at the top spot. With that in mind, let's revisit 2010-2011 Jayhawk basketball.
Let's begin in the backcourt. Kansas will return two seniors in Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, a junior in Tyshawn Taylor, a sophomore in Elijah Johnson and of course true freshman Royce Wooldridge who's already signed for the 2010 class.
Add Josh Selby to the mix and truthfully a player that very well could find himself as the top rated point guard when the final class ratings are released. Selby is an athletic, up tempo playmaker that attacks the basket. After learning a little more it becomes apparent that Selby could actually be as good for Tyshawn Taylor as anyone else. With the Jayhawks able to play a more up tempo, attacking style, Taylor can use his abilities more frequently and hopefully reach his potential.
As a whole the Kansas guard rotation will certainly include Selby, Taylor and some combination of minutes from Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed. Don't sleep on Elijah Johnson though. Johnson was the #4 point guard in his class and the #24 player overall. Ideally Selby, Taylor and Johnson form one of the more athletic backcourts in the country. Experience is a bit thin, but not an insurmountable weakness.
Should CJ Henry stick it out you'd expect he can compete. His attitude has come into question but many will point to that being pure speculation. When he played early in the season CJ appeared to provide speed, quickness and the ability to score or create for others. After a pretty painful injury, he rarely saw the court.
Royce Woolridge has been a big time scorer in high school and has the NBA pedigree. The suggestion that he might redshirt has floated around, but Coach Self might want to see how much of a spark he can provide offensively off the bench first.
With the addition of Selby and the higher profile or more experienced players on the roster, CJ Henry might find himself back in no mans land. You'd still think he can compete, but with talk heating up that both Terrance Jones and Terrance Ross are reevaluating Kansas...could CJ elect to move on now?
In terms of Royce, it's hard to imagine a redshirt isn't a very real possibility. Wooldridge is still highly underrated by most recruiting services, but when you talk about the depth Kansas has at guard and think about how little Elijah Johnson played his freshman year, one would hope Kansas makes this call early and gives him a year to develop.
It's likely Kansas enters the season with Mario Little and Travis Releford the two wing position players. Little played much of his junior season injured before redshirting this season. He provides a smooth mid range jumper with the ability to step outside. Little even played underneath during the '08-'09 campaign but with the depth and development at the position that wouldn't appear necessary.
This much we know. Xavier Henry is gone. Little and Releford are more than capable options at the position and between the two will make for a pretty solid pair at the three. Experience in the system, maturity and a year developing that hunger that comes from practicing without playing.
Xavier Henry is a bit of a wildcard here should he choose to return although it looks unlikely. The other wildcard, Marcus Morris. Can he play the three?
New wildcard, Terrance Jones. Xavier is gone and Self's continued recruitment of these two probably indicates he's more comfortable with Marcus underneath.
Jones is compared to previous Kansas wing/forward Julian Wright. Tall, long, athletic and explosive. Biggest edge for Jones might be his ability to score and defend from outside. With the addition of Jones and adding him to the mix at the three Kansas ends up in a bit of a confusing pinch with Little and Releford once again but we are talking about a redshirt senior and a redshirt sophomore. They can handle there business and play. Self has shown loyalty with players like Christian Moody and Brady Morningstar in the past.
No Major shifts at first glance with the bigs. Marcus, Markieff, Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey will battle for the majority of the minutes. However the addition of Terrance Jones does create some flexibility in the front court should Self choose to go extremely athletic, small with Jones down low or big with Jones at the three.
In some respects the Jones commitment could affect the big man rotation at Kansas moreso than the wing. Perhaps it's Jeff Withey or Thomas Robinson that find themselves on the outside looking in. Considering Kansas will need to replace the rebounding of Aldrich I don't see that becoming the case, but it's a valid question.
Put all the pieces together and what you have is a giant confusing mass of basketball player with a few, but not many answers.
PG - Josh Selby, Elijah Johnson.....CJ Henry?
SG - Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrel Reed/Brady Morningstar
SF - Mario Little, Travis Releford.........................Terrance Jones?
F - Marcus Morris, Thomas Robinson
F - Markieff Morris, Jeff Withey
The guards are basically interchangeable. With the addition of Selby it's just a matter of how deep Coach Self wants to go. You'd have to think he's going to go a little deeper. He could easily and comfortably go 11 deep but that is EXTREMELY unlikely to happen. That's where things get confusing.
It's hard to imagine a scenario where two seniors in Morningstar and Reed don't see minutes. At the same time can Coach Self really keep Elijah Johnson on the bench another year?
If Terrance Jones steps in what happens at the wing? Little and Releford made some major sacrifices for the program this year, Little has one year left, Releford three. Still it seems like it's time they get a little of what they're due.
Underneath there's four players. This seems the most likely spot where all four can play, but again can Coach Self extend a rotation beyond his comfort zone?
From a fans perspective it's easy to say play 12, find the guy for that night and spread the minutes around. It just isn't going to shake out that way. Still it seems almost a requirement to go much deeper than the eight we saw this past season. Play 9 and one big and 2 from the 1-3 positions get lost in the shuffle. Play four and only 2 players get sent to no mans land.
To be the best, you've got to recruit and develop the best, it's a tricky dynamic. Every year Coach Self finds new ways to impress with his coaching abilities during the season. Next year will be a unique one all it's own. Depth is again a major strength. This year he isn't necessarily "hampered" by three stars getting huge chunks of minutes. What's the right move?