Right now with Kansas we know the Jayhawks have Marcus Morris. Marcus is the guy that will be on ESPN's star watch all season long, and he's turned himself into an NBA lottery pick during his short time at Kansas.
In the very near future, Kansas adds a superstar in the making, Josh Selby. While no one has seen him hit the court with the name Kansas across his chest, it's assumed he will be a key piece to the puzzle and help make the Jayhawks even better.
Now you hit the second level of players for Kansas. Tyshawn Taylor, Markieff Morris, maybe even Thomas Robinson. These are players that can have a big impact on any given night, they have the potential to be a big time player but maybe they'd still fit more into a specific role for the moment.
Taking it a step further you have the definitive role players in Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Travis Releford, Mario Little Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey.
That makes 11. The 11 players that are likely to see the floor from here on out and the 11 players that Bill Self will work with and widdle down to his end of year rotation most likely in the 8-10 player range.
Now which role player means the most to Kansas? Marcus Morris and Josh Selby are assumed to be major contributors and will need to be on any given night. After that it's going to be a combination of players that step up at different points along the way as we've already seen early in the year. But if you're tying the Kansas hopes to one role player, who needs to become that third or fourth consistent playmaker and contributor?
Leads the Big 12 in assists and has shown the ability to create baskets by taking the ball to the rim on occasion this year. Often those baskets are coming at fairly critical junctures when the well seems to be dry elsewhere and the opponent is making a run or Kansas needs to close. It's year three of the Taylor saga. The ups and downs seem to be leveling off. How does Selby's addition change his role?
Early on he looked like a player who was reaching the same level as his brother. He's stronger on the boards, looks just as efficient offensively, the main problem is his defensive draw. Markieff is consistently going to be the Morris twin tasked with handling the load of the opponents main post presence. That's led to foul trouble and limited minutes. Does that open the door for someone else?
Is this the door that opens. Robinson isn't quite as polished offensively as the Morris twins, but he brings a different level of explosiveness both defensively and on the glass underneath. In three games he's hit double digit rebounds and lat night against Memphis he recorded his first double double. It's hard to imagine Kansas losing many games if they get a double double from the bench.
Reed is a starter, but he also has a very clear role. He's the shooter on the team and at this point he's the only one that seems to have the confidence night in and night out to take the open look without hesitation. So far the Jayhawks have been able to rely on their inside presence but the perimeter shooting will need to be there along the way.
You probably aren't going to see a huge argument for Brady. On his best nights he does a lot of things that don't show up in the stat column, but it's hard to imagine him doing enough of those things on a consistent enough basis to be considered the most important role player. Am I wrong?
Developing player, goes strong to the basket and can knock down the three. Throw in his length and athleticism as a defender and maybe he's a guy that can swing things for Kansas.
Minutes are dwindling a bit for the senior but he seems to be a guy that's ready any time he's called upon.
Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey
Mystery men. At the moment these two haven't been consistent. More minutes certainly helps that, but the only way to get more minutes is by gaining coach Self's trust through production. Johnson seems the closest to moving up the ladder. Withey might be the most underrated in terms of importance to this team. These are two highly rated recruits, there will be a spot for them somewhere along the way at Kansas but can it be this year?