Following the 2008 National Title Kansas saw the departure of Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur to early entry while Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson and Russell Robinson left due to expiring eligibility. The following year was expected to be the start of a rebuild but Kansas had two carryovers in Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins that were able to lift a crew of new faces to a Big 12 title and a Sweet Sixteen appearance. The rebuild quickly turned into a reload.
In all honesty the 2008-2009 season was one of the more satisfying seasons as a fan that I can remember. Rather than going through a season filled with expectations and pressure, the year provided Kansas fans with that opportunity to watch a team develop and improve throughout the year. They were a frustrating group at times, not because they weren't reaching their potential, it was because they were learning but that seemed perfectly fine. It was a completely different feeling than the last two seasons.
While I certainly wouldn't ever discourage Bill Self from loading up, dominating the regular season and landing a top seed, it does look more and more likely that Kansas could be looking at a similar scenario next season. Rumors are swirling that the Morri will announce their departure this week, speculation is that Josh Selby will also depart with Thomas Robinson being the lone question mark but some indicating that there is a strong possibility that he too could depart. Throw in the loss of Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Mario Little and that is a potential loss of five to seven from the Jayhawk rotation this year. That's no small blow.
Best case everyone comes back and Kansas has a front line rotation of the Morri, Robinson and Jeff Withey. Worst case Kansas is now sitting with Withey and Justin Wesley in a paper thin front line that likely must include an undersized Travis Releford in the rotation. Reality probably rests somewhere in the middle as Kansas should either retain Robinson or land one or two bigs in the upcoming recruiting class.
The backcourt situation doesn't look as devoid of prospects regardless of what happens. Josh Selby returning to Kansas for one more year would be huge for both parties in my opinion but speculation at this very moment seems to indicate that this won't happen. I'll save my thoughts on the one and done for another day, but best case Kansas has Taylor, Selby, Elijah Johnson, Royce Wooldridge, Naadir Tharpe, Ben McLemore, Connor Teahan and I'll throw in Releford because his more natural position is probably the three. Worst case you remove Selby from that lineup if he chooses to declare and Kansas still has some depth albeit without much experience.
Now the question becomes whether or not this is a rebuild or if the situation exists where this group could once again surprise and give Kansas fans a reload scenario. It's tough to say. Who are the carryovers that can take over a team the way that Sherron and Cole did? Do Taylor and Johnson have that makeup? If Robinson sticks around he would certainly look to be a frontrunner to lead in that manner.
No one expected the seamless transition after the last go around and I doubt many would look at the worst case scenario above and feel that way either. There have been some very good programs that have gone through tough times following an exodus including some prior champions in Florida and North Carolina. It's just not an easy task staring Bill Self in the face at the moment. The hard part as fans is going to be tempering those expectations because every time we've done that in the past Bill Self has pulled rabbit out of the hat.