Kansas is the number one team in the country right now according to the Coaches and AP polls. As they strive for Bill Self’s second national championship, fans are left to wonder what their team could possibly look like next year. Frank Mason, who is almost certainly going to win the National Player of the Year award, is finishing up his last year in college and that means that Kansas will need to find a new leader to step up and take over his role. Luckily for them, Kansas just might already have another player like Mason already on the roster.
Devonte Graham is projected by many draft experts to go in the second round of this year’s NBA draft. Why would Graham want to do that when he can come back and likely take over as the heir to Mason’s throne in Lawrence? That question will be answered by only one person, and that is Devonte Graham himself. However, there is an interesting thought of Graham learning from Mason and wanting to stay for his final season just like Mason did.
Kansas has a pretty big time recruit in the form of Billy Preston who will attempt to replace the star power of Josh Jackson, who is basically a guaranteed top five NBA draft pick. With Preston comes reinforcement transfer guards Malik Newman, Sam Cunliffe, and class of 2017 recruit Marcus Garrett. Graham would have plenty of help, especially if Svi Mykhailiuk and Carlton Bragg both stayed another year.
Graham has shown the ability to take over games before if he really needed to. He has a sweet stroke from three, he’s quick, athletic, smart, pure hustle and energetic, all traits which are really what you need from your leader. Graham and Mason make up the best back-court in college and when Mason leaves Graham might be able to take over the Mason role while someone like maybe LaGerald Vick takes over the Graham role.
Mason took all four years to finally become great and I would expect the same with Graham. Both players came from situations in which they de-committed from their respective small schools and went on to become starters for one of the all-time legendary programs in college basketball. We’ve heard it on every broadcast this year - Mason was mildly recruited when he committed to Towson and Graham was even less recruited when he committed to Appalachian State.
Regardless of what happens this year, the stage is definitely set for Devonte Graham to take over the reigns and lead the Jayhawks in the 2017-18 season. The ball is in Graham’s court, but of course there are bigger things for Graham to worry about right now as Kansas heads into the postseason. Only until after the season will we know for sure if “number four” - as Bill Walton called him - is indeed coming back to finish his final year at Kansas.