Last year, Sophomore Andrew White was expected to have a breakout season, though admittedly much of this was media driven due to multiple articles written about his attitude, work ethic, and how in shape he was.
Sadly, none of that came to fruition. White saw action in just 18 of KU's games last year, averaging 6.3 minutes per game. He didn't play enough or have a high enough usage rate to even make it onto KenPom.
Despite this, White showed in his limited playing time that he could be an asset. He had a 56% eFG, hit the defensive glass, and shot 7-14 from three in the early going before getting repeatedly benched clearly shattered his confidence.
True, White wasn't a great athlete. True, he struggled defensively. But he was no worse on defense than Brannen Greene, Naadir Tharpe, or any number of perimeter defenders not named Andrew Wiggins. Yet, despite his tangible skills (and intangible ones: White always appeared to have one of the better hoops IQs on the team) White was nailed to the bench.
In any event, this isn't about Andrew White. This is about the Free Andrew White (#freeandrewwhite) movement that sprung up and how it applies to this year's team. Once again, Kansas has quite a bit of depth on its side. Obviously this is better than the alternative, but it is almost guaranteed to result in a situation where a player who is deserving of playing time is left out in the cold (especially since Self likes his 8 man rotation). I have vowed to email Bill Self (whose email address I can only assume is bill.self at ku dot edu) 50 times regarding said player, so let's look at the candidates for that honored spot.
Mickelson, a transfer from Arkansas, probably won't be getting too many DNPs or games of 10 minutes worth of playing time. I doubt he'd transfer to Kansas if he knew he was going to sit on the bench, and he's probably the best shot blocker Kansas has. I've said it time and time again, but rim protection is the most valuable skill to have in college basketball, so it would make sense for him to play a ton.
Still, Mickelson's numbers otherwise were unimpressive at Arkansas. Like, really unimpressive. He shot under 50%, didn't draw fouls, committed a ton of fouls, didn't rebound, and turned it over a fairly large amount. Protecting the rim is more important than literally anything else, but if you can do literally nothing else, you might not get a ton of playing time.
Like Mickelson, I can't see Frankamp getting left out of the rotation. While he didn't get a ton of playing time last year, he looked good in nearly every bit of game action he got. Frankamp took care of the ball, played adequate defense, and finally showed off his outside shot that got him to KU in the first place.
The addition of touted recruit Devonte Graham and Self's inexplicable love for Frank Mason might mean Frankamp plays less than he should, but he's the type of player who has a legitimate shot to shoot 45% or better from three, and if you add that to a ridiculously low turnover rate (5.5%) and the ability to play fairly decent on ball defense, it would be one of Self's poorest personnel decisions to not let Frankamp have the keys to the offense.
Sviatoslav is the son of a professor and attended a prestigious multilingual school in Ukraine, so despite already playing in their professional league, and receiving Euroleague interest, he opted for college basketball in the United States.
Mykhailiuk was the MVP of the European under 18 B championships, though he wasn't exactly efficient shooting the basketball. He's been inefficient inside the arc for basically his entire career due to not being filled out yet (he's 17 so this is obviously understandable) and having a relatively short wingspan. He has a phenomenal jump shot, and all outside sources seem to indicate he's a good passer with a high basketball IQ. Whether or not he gets a lot of playing time this year, though, will likely depend on his abilities at the defensive end of the floor.
Being just 17, he'll have to stay for two years at Kansas and that (combined with his youth in general) could see him struggling for playing time all year. He'll need to adjust to college basketball (though playing against pros certainly helps) and he'll need to adjust to life in the United States in general.
Complicating things a bit is the aforementioned interest from Euroleague teams. Mykhailiuk wouldn't get any playing time with them either as a 17 year old, but it would certainly be more tolerable to sit on the bench with a million+ dollars going into your bank account.
I can't see that happening, however. He (likely) wouldn't forego the opportunity to get paid last year (European players can't sign contracts until they turn 18 but they certainly can get paid. See: Enes Kanter) to come to Kansas, only to turn his back on the Jayhawks before his Freshman season ended. Also, while I have only gotten the pleasure to watch him a handful of times, he's too freaking talented to keep off the floor. He's tall, he moves incredibly well on the court, has a great jumper, and has a really good feel for the game. By the end of the year, I think he'll be firmly entrenched as Wayne Selden's backup.
Lucas was a bit of an afterthought in his recruiting class, a 3 star prospect from Oregon who committed to Kansas extremely late. Due to this, he was an obvious redshirt candidate. Still, there were signs even in his first two exhibition games that Lucas would be able to compete for playing time at Kansas.
For one, he has a good motor. Some of this is obviously due to the fact that he doesn't get a ton of playing time, so it's not like he's going to pace himself. But he relentlessly attacks the glass (more on this later) sets some good screens, and is active, if not excellent, on defense.
As for his rebounding, Lucas might be the best one on the roster. Via Sports-Reference, Lucas grabbed 11.2 rebounds per 40 minutes (and had percentages of 10.6% and 21,3%). To put into perspective, Joel Embiid grabbed 14 rebounds per 40 minutes and had percentages of 12.7% and 27.3%. In layman's terms, Lucas compared favorably with one of the best rebounders in the country last year.
Even so, I think Lucas is going to be the guy who ultimately loses out. Cliff Alexander, Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, and Hunter Mickelson all seem to be ahead of him in the pecking order. What's more, even though he has the potential to be an elite rebounder, Lucas sitting on the bench for long stretches probably won't be unwarranted. So while I'll be obligated to send Bill Self 50 emails about it, at least he'll know I'm only doing so halfheartedly.