Editors Note: More fanpost frontpage love that was deserving a few days ago. A solid take by Jayhawks4Eva, even Jesse Newell and KUSports.com took a notice of this little bit.
I think we can all agree this was a pretty terrific GIF for the Jayhawks. Obviously, this is a GIF in December, so you don't want to put too much stock into it, but you feel good about resume-building GIFs like this. Factor in that it was on the road, and you can't help but have high-expectations for this team. If they can keep this up consistently, they will be a real threat come March.
As usual, a lot of people are going to focus on McLemore. As this GIF shows, he's one of the best freshman that we can remember in recent KU history, and we've had some pretty high expectations for freshman that have really not panned out lately (most noticeably two seasons ago with Josh Selby). Now far be it for me to criticize a guy that is making money, but McLemore is really proof of concept that a player can improve their draft stock by a degree of magnitude, and I think when he looks back after being drafted by the Washington Wizards, it'll be largely because of this GIF.
Let's take an in-depth, statistical look at what he does in this GIF. He begins by setting the rhythm and tempo for his fellow dancers with some incredible footwork. Team player. You gotta love that. KenPom currently ranks McLemore fourth in the nation in dance footwork (behind Usher and Fred Astaire, and of course MJ) and it shows by how easy it is for his teammates to join in. He begins with a double arm out, and then alternates with both arms, which you think is going to set the pattern for the rest of the dance, but then he looks to the sky in a sort of "Hey, let's party and get wild" move that just leaves the opponent speechless.
Ben McLemore, I don't have to tell you guys, is an incredible player.
Now, let's talk about some of the other folks in this GIF. As impressive as McLemore has been, I think it's even more impressive that fans in the know realize that he is not the most valuable player on the court. I think we can all agree that's Jeff Withey. Now dancing may not be Jeff Withey's strong point, I want everyone to take a look at his work in the backcourt of this GIF.
As you can see, Withey doesn't try to take on too much in this GIF. He's knows his strengths and realizes that flashy play might not get him into the Top 10 on SportsCenter, the work he's doing with his shoulders in this GIF (which matches the rhythm McLemore sets from the beginning) is going to be key in late game situations. He does his part. He's a work-horse. If I had told you two years ago that Withey would be this integral to a GIF, I think most folks would have laughed. Good on you, Jeff-ster.
Travis Releford, like he plays on the court, is kind of easy to miss if you don't look closely. What I appreciate about his work in this GIF is that he not only does some sweet moves, but he is also working out his triceps by supporting himself on the bench. Talk about an efficient player. What else would you expect from a player with one of the highest effective field goal rates in the country?
Elijah. What can you say about Elijah? Just when you think you've really looked at everything available in this GIF, Elijah gives you more. We, as Kansas fans, have been pretty lucky to have this kid around. He's been willing to accept whatever assignment HCBS gives him (point guard, shooting guard, dance partner). The true definition of a team-player.
Notice EJ is the first player to get in on the dance once McLemore starts it. And not only does he dance, he does silly moves to make his buddies laugh. I think we can all appreciate that. I looked at some of the numbers on HoopDanceMath.com, and EJ is projecting for 2.4 hilarious dances per GIF at this point in the season. Again, it's December/January so you can only hope he sustains those kind of HDPG numbers, but it's promising.
And now Anrio. He is not afraid to get in front of the camera and work it. Another example and reassurance that we won't be rebuilding next year when it comes to dancing GIFs, but reloading.
I will conclude by talking about a player that probably won't get any media attention, and that's Christian Garrett. It speaks to his unknown nature that he was incorrectly identified as Evan Manning on the first version of this post (h/t to Triston27), but Garrett's devotion to KU is so strong that he literally tries to eat his jersey in the right side of the frame of this GIF. You don't see that kind of dedication now a days.
So there it is. There's your recap, and even if we crash in burn in the tournament, I think we can all agree, this was a terrific moment. A team this athletic and talented on the court is naturally great at dancing and this cameraman was truly in the right place at the right time.