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The Argument For Redshirting

Forget what Coach Self said. Which KU basketball player would make the best candidate for redshirting this season?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

During the lead-up to college basketball season, speaking personally, the only things more fun to speculate about than potential redshirts are 1) recruiting, and 2) whether or not Coach Self lets somebody wear a headband during games this season.  (Looks promising for Carlton Bragg!  I haven't felt this confident about somebody carrying his headband over into the season since the Morris Twins, but obviously I've been wrong many times on this subject).

Self has already gone on the record and said that nobody is redshirting this year...but he also said before last season that Wayne Selden would play both point guard and power forward, and the season before that, he said that Andrew White III would be the first guy off the bench, so whatever.  You'll excuse me if I don't treat Self's October-speak as gospel.  Let's take a look at who I think are some potential candidates to just Netflix and chill this season.

Lagerald Vick

The case for redshirting:  I don't know how much Lagerald sees the court this year.  I look at him almost the same that I looked at Michael Lee his freshman year, or to a lesser extent, Naadir Tharpe during his.  If Lagerald is playing important minutes this year, it's probably not a good thing.  If Vick is on the court during a road game when the clock strikes zero, Jamari Traylor should probably keep his head on a a swivel, because the other team is about to storm the court.

Vick, to me, is a perfect example of something that Coach Self mentions all the time, and what I like to call the Travis Releford Corollary-- that having a player during their 5th year (or 9th, in the case of Brady Morningstar) is always better than having someone during their 1st or 2nd.

The case against redshirting:  Is Vick already good right now?  He was one of those guys who shot up the recruiting rankings in a short amount of time, and it's unclear how much of that is attributable to Vick's actual improvement, how much is attributable to his reclassification from the class of 2016 to last year's class, and how much is because names like Self and Calipari were showing interest in him once he decommited from SMU.  Between Mason, Graham, Selden, Svi, and Greene, the backcourt spots look like they're full; but I can't deny the athleticism Vick showed in Korea.  His defensive potential is through the roof, and it could be fun to give Mason a breather during games and tell Vick to just go give the other team's point guard hell for four minutes.

Brannen Greene

The case for:  This was a big summer, physically, for Brannen*.  We all know he can shoot, and he's not a terrible rebounder, but he needed to get a lot better defensively, and he needed to learn how to dribble a basketball.  That hip surgery crushed basically his entire offseason, and I'd be surprised if he was able to spend much time improving at anything besides Call of Duty or NBA2K.  A redshirt would buy him that time that he lost, plus some.  If you figure that one, or possibly both, of Selden and Svi are going pro after this year, then all of a sudden there are a ton of minutes available at the 3 next year, and Greene would have the inside track to the lion's share of them.

{*Side note:  It sucked that Greene missed the World University Games.  Korea would have also been huge for Devonte, Svi, Diallo....and none of them got to play, whether due to injury or nationality.  But hey, at least Julian Debose looks like he should've been one of Paula Abdul's backup dancers from the early 90's, and we got to enjoy that for a couple weeks.}

The case against:  Greene, as we constantly hear from practices, and as he proved for a couple-month stretch last year, is still KU's best shooter.  "Fool's gold" aside, it's no accident that the offense looked beautiful when Greene was hitting multiple 3's per game at a 65% clip.  If Svi doesn't step in and become the lights-out gunner that we've been hearing about for over a year now, and if Mason and/or Graham's shooting regresses just a little bit (Graham in particular seems poised to regress a bit), then all of a sudden we have severe issues from behind the arc.

Also, I'd be scared to even approach BG with the idea of redshirting.  Since about two weeks into his Kansas career, I've been worried that he's a serious flight risk.  He saw what Self did to AWIII-- he was sitting right next to him as it happened.  This is a kid who has long fancied himself as an early-entrant into the NBA draft; I could see him bolting for another school if he even caught a whiff of redshirt talk from Coach Self.

Carlton Bragg

The case for:  Yeah, I know, I'm reaching here.  Top-20 recruits pretty much never take a redshirt.  Here's the only thing that worries me, and probably more than a few other people on this site:  Is Self going to bury Bragg on the bench this year, while giving way too many minutes to Jamari Traylor/Landen Lucas/non-Korea version of Hunter Mickelson?  Definitely a chance.  If that's the case, wouldn't it be awesome if Bragg spent a year learning the system, getting Hudy'd up, then came back next year and almost seamlessly filled Perry Ellis' scoring role at power forward?  Definitely.  If you ignore the cross-position comparison, there could definitely be shades of what happened with Ben McLemore; his academic ineligibility ended up being the best thing that happened to him.

The case against:  Bragg could (and should) contribute something this season.  He won't get as many minutes as Mook did, but I could see him pulling off a poor man's version of freshman year Marcus Morris.  Possibly even a lower-lower-middle class man's version of Marcus.  Like a man who has enough money to take his wife out to an anniversary dinner, but they're eating at Taco John's.  ANYWAY, if Bragg is showing promise early, hopefully Self takes the shackles off and lets him play.  Regardless, I don't think we keep Bragg out of the NBA for all four years anyway, so I should probably forget about getting a redshirt year out of him.


Ultimately, I'll begrudgingly accept that Self is telling the truth, and that nobody will take a shirt this season.  Bragg is too promising; Greene's outside shooting is too important; and Vick wouldn't have reclassified just to sit this year out.  If I had my choice, Vick would get redshirted this year, and be ready to step in and play quality minutes next year.  But then again, I'd also be spending my anniversaries at Taco John's, so maybe it's a good thing that I don't always get my choice.