When the final horn sounded in San Antonio the Jayhawks had three scholarship openings for sure. Brady Morningstar, Mario Little and Tyrel Reed had all exhausted their eligibility and Kansas at that point had one player signed in four-star East Coast point guard Naadir Tharpe.
Fast forward a few weeks and the Jayhawks suddenly sit with seven openings. Marcus and Markieff Morris elected for early entry into the NBA draft as expected. Freshman guard Josh Selby elected to do the same despite a first year campaign falling well short of expectations. The final piece dropped when the other member of the 2010 class, Royce Wooldridge, announced that he would be transferring in search of immediate playing time.
Following the twins annoucement the Jayhawks were able to secure commitments and signed letters of intent from five-star St. Louis guard Ben McLemore and a three-star power forward out of Canada Braeden Anderson. For those keeping score at home, and most Jayhawk fans do, that puts Kansas at three scholarships filled and four to go.
With that in mind, what finishing touches are Bill Self, Danny Manning, Curtis Townsend and Joe Dooley working to secure? And looking even further, how does the final makeup of this group play into recruiting in 2012 and a class that Kansas looks to have plenty of traction.
The remainder of the 2011 class seems heavily focused on three individuals. Jamari Traylor, DeAndre Daniels and Trevor Lacey.
Daniels is the player that Kansas fans are likely most familiar with as the 6'8" small forward was nearly enrolled mid year this past season for the Jayhawks. While Daniels could drop down and play minutes at the four, he is a very legitimate threat as a wing type player in the mold of someone like Texas forward Jordan Hamilton. Daniels visited Kansas in December, his friend and former teammate Christian Garrett joined the Jayhawks in January and Daniels was considered a strong lean to do the same.
This past weekend Daniels did take a trip to Duke where departing guard Kyrie Irving has indicated Daniels will play, but the Daniels camp is stating a decision will be made between Kansas, Duke and Texas in the near future. Texas had initially landed Daniels in an early commitment before pulling out an re-opening his recruitment and many believe this to be a two horse race between Kansas and Duke. Daniels coach is tied to the Duke program and Duke probably plays a style that would be appealing to Daniels, but the competition is also very stiff. At Kansas, Daniels would most likely step in and play immediately and the opportunity for minutes at multiple positions is very good.
Yesterday's announcement that a very similar player, Alex Murphy, would reclassify to the 2011 class and head to Duke this fall is certainly a benefit to the Jayhawk argument, but at this point his final destination is anyone's guess.
Traylor is an athletic 6'7" power forward from IMG Academy in Florida. Same place as Daniels. Traylor recently visited Oklahoma State and it was briefly reported that he had committed, but now appears set to visit Kansas this weekend. Again, playing time is a huge selling point for Kansas as the Jayhawks have Thomas Robinson as a proven post presence and Jeff Withey or Justin Wesley as two yet to be seen options. Braeden Anderson is coming in, but some see Traylor as a more explosive and better prepared player despite some concern over the fact that he's listed at just 6'7"
Traylor's decision shouldn't have much bearing on Daniels and if Kansas puts on the full court press it would seem like they have a TON to sell a player like Traylor based on the current situation in Lawrence and their past success with bigs.
Lacey is a four-star shooting guard out of Alabama. It's long been expected that he would decide between Alabama or Kentucky depending on what happened with the Wildcat early entries, but Bill Self and Kansas have joined the party late and they appear to have made some inroads.
Lacey is a scorer and his outside shot is what has many excited. With Selby leaving, that opened the door for a player like Lacey to come in and compete and with Bill Self's love of the combo guard and the Jayhawks need in terms of an outside threat, there are minutes to give to a player like Lacey.
Lacey and his father have been very complimentary of Kansas in interviews across the Rivals network and they have stated that a visit WILL take place before a decision is made. His interest in Kentucky is very strong as well though and if Brandon Knight departs, that could be a destination but he'll still face substantial competition for minutes based on Doron Lamb returning and the players they already have coming in. Alabama may be the forgotten school at the moment, but they also might be the leader after the Crimson Tide had a strong year and are in Lacey's backyard.
What all this means for 2012 is that most likely Self and the Kansas staff would ideally like to secure all three of these players in a perfect world and head to 2012 banking one scholarship to go along with three others opening up following Tyshawn Taylor's, Connor Teahan's and what many expect to be Thomas Robinson's final year.
That gives the Jayhawks four scholarships heading into 2012 that they can most likely count on and push for during the fall signing period. Primary targets include:
Jackson has been over the top in complimenting Kansas and talking about how much he likes Kansas, but a commitment still hasn't happened.
There is a lot of speculation that Reese is a heavy Kansas lean but it's early and a lot can change. Kansas certainly would look appealing to any point guard though considering Taylor will be exiting.
This seems to be THE name floating around right now in terms of a player with an elite scoring ability. Competition will be stiff for Muhammad but Self and the staff have made it clear that he's a priority.
It has to get done. It's not a given just because he's from in State but it sure seems you can count on one hand the number of games Ellis has missed over the last few years. Memphis, Kentucky, K-State, OU and Wichita St. also on his list.
Another one that Kansas needs to land. They've been on him early, he's been high on Kansas and the Jayhawks have managed to get a good majority of their bigs paid by someone in the NBA during the Bill Self era. Kansas was one of the earliest teams on him and that's an advantage, but Roy Williams and North Carolina just threw their hat in the ring and they've done alright with bigs as well.
Peters is already committed so that takes one spot. Most likely Kansas will have three to go.
Plenty of recruiting to be done. Realistic scenario might see the Jayhawks land two of the three remaining targets for 2011 leaving the total open spots after next season at five assuming no other defections or early entries. It's hard to say which would be the most beneficial two as Daniels and Lacey are probably the most polished and could provide some scoring punch, but Traylor might be a much needed body on the interior.
Moving to 2012 Kansas has Peters and a class of Ellis, Tarczewski, Reese and Nino could realistically happen based on the speculation that Kansas is at or near the top for all five. If Muhammad fell into place somewhere along the way Bill Self will have the Jayhawks right back in the thick of it. Of course, that could very well be the case next year depending on how things come to a close.