As soon as Brandon Rush declared for the NBA Draft, it left a big hole in our team. All season long I felt him to be replacable, and still feel the same way, but with Julian choosing money over a chance at glory as well we are less likely to march towards a 2008 National Title. Julian and Brandon were our two leading scorers last season, as well as our two leading rebounders. Cole Aldrich will help to replace Julian Wright's production down low and Tyrell Reed will take some of the playing time Brandon left, but there are still plenty of minutes for the taking.
The two players that will have to 'replace' our two departed stars are the keys to our success in 2007-2008. If they live up to their pre-Lawrence billing, we could still be a National Title contender in March, but they could also lead us spiraling to a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 finish and a suspenseful Selection Sunday. We will most likely fit in somewhere in-between, a surefire Tournament team but one with little chance of stringing together 6 wins in mid-to-late March. Those players are Darrell Arthur down low and Sherron Collins up top. They were both freshmen last season and both played a part in our Elite Eight finish, but they only have room to grow as players and become the 'stars' of this team. Super is our best player as I write this right now, but I think if he is still the best player we have in March we will be in for another possible first round upset. That is no knock to Super, he just isn't a star that can lead a team on a deep March run and is better suited to be a tremendous role player. I think that both SC and DA are capable of making this jump, but whether they do or not is the key to our season.
Of course their transformation from role players to stars would leave slots open in the 'role player' slot, which will need to be filled by either an improved Sasha Kaun or an incoming Cole Aldrich down low and either an improved Rodrick Stewart/Brady Morningstar or an incoming Tyrell Reed. All of last season I felt that Brady is a good enough player to be a role player for a National Championship-caliber team and he might have the best chance of his career to accomplish that next season. Self will have a monster recruiting class coming in after next season, with seniors DJack, Sasha, Russell and Rodrick all graduating and potential NBA jumps from DA, Super and SC. That would leave us down 7 scholarships, 7 holes for Self to play with in his favorite part of the coaching spectrum, recruiting.
Keep in mind that we now have a scholarship available pending both Brandon and Julian staying eligible for the Draft, a player that will not only potentially have a part to play in next year's team but will also most likely start in 08-09 after a mass exodus of talent.