For most of this season, Bill Self felt that his Jayhawks were lacking something. It was something that has prevented previous Jayhawk teams from living up to their potential - the lack of a point guard. Last year’s team never had one under Elijah Johnson. Even the 2012 national runner-up team that had Tyshawn Taylor failed to operate fluently every game.
Simply put, Kansas has lacked a true point guard that can take over or manage a game since the Sherron Collins days. Naadir Tharpe’s play of late is reason to believe that trend is changing. Since the start of Big XII play, he has become the leader of a young team when no one wanted to be. "He doesn’t really need to show his effort on the score sheet" Bill Self said, "But his main role is to manage the game, in order to make us win games." Bill Self made a great point here. Tharpe had 12 points while dishing out 12 assists last night for his first career double-double in a KU uniform. While, he never attempted a shot against TCU he played a key role in the game with zero turnovers and 5 assists. Tharpe is actually more important to this team than Wiggins and Ellis, even though he tends to get lost in the shuffle most of not every game. Tharpe is the veteran on this team, and it is starting to show.
Most of us threw him under the bus for not being a dependable leader or point guard early in season. Tharpe was criticized for attempting difficult passes or focusing more on points than assists. After a short sting of coming off the bench, Tharpe has turned things up a notch in league play. Last year his FG% in Big 12 play was a paltry 27%, while this year he is shooting 61% through seven games Big 12 play. Tharpe also has 39 assists already in Big 12 games - he total 48 the entire 18 conference games he played his sophomore season.
Furthermore, we have all seen the capability of him taking over a game by scoring and distributing. A high level of play is necessary from your point guard for a deep run in March. Tharpe has been the unsung hero for this team so far and has done a great job shouldering the responsibility of being Kansas’ veteran leader.