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Ranking the Kansas Basketball Rotation, Part 1

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NCAA Men’s Final Four - Previews Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

With basketball season around the corner, it’s time once again for one of my favorite posts of the year: ranking the rotation. A quick reminder of my perhaps haphazard methodology: this is how I think all of the scholarship players rank against each other, not a ranking of how I think Bill Self ranks them.

That said, playing time is obviously taken into account somewhat. If I think David McCormack (just for example’s sake) is the best player on the team this year, it doesn’t do me much good to rank him 1st if I think he’s going to play fewer than 10 minutes per game. Get it? If you have questions, comment or tweet @rockchalktalk or @moops.

12. Ochai Agbaji (6-5 freshman guard)

I still think Agbaji will redshirt, but in KU’s Late Night scrimmage (which I realize doesn’t mean much) he did not look out of place athletically at all. Physically, he’s ready to withstand the grind of college basketball. But with so much depth on hand, Kansas likely will (and probably should) take advantage of it and get Agbaji a redshirt year.

Given his frame and where he’s from, the Travis Releford comparisons will likely be coming rapidly. Agbaji obviously isn’t that type of a defender yet, but seems to have more confidence in his shot than Releford did at that stage. I certainly expect him to rank quite a bit higher on this list in the coming years.

11. Mitch Lightfoot (6-8 junior forward)

Lightfoot could start for probably 8 of the other 9 Big 12 teams, and would be a major contributor for everyone else in the league.

Lightfoot’s biggest problem last year was a lack of strength, something that mayyyyyybe won’t be an issue anymore. Too often last year he would get himself in a good spot offensively but get shoved away by a bigger defender, or allow an opposing offensive player to back him down for an easy layup.

He is, however, a very good help defender. His 10.8 block percentage led the team last year, and he would have finished 2nd in the Big 12 in the stat had he played enough minutes to qualify. That alone gives him value defensively, and if he did bulk up enough to hold his position in the post, Lightfoot could earn himself some minutes.

Offensively, Lightfoot is mostly a rim runner and dunker. He was the 2nd best offensive rebounder on the team last year, and is a relentless worker (probably a little too relentless given his foul totals), which gives him a couple extra baskets. He needs to improve as a screener to be able to really get a lot of playing time.

Also of note: Lightfoot is a career 40 percent shooter from three, and even though it’s just 20 attempts (but hey who’s counting), he looks comfortable enough taking them that maybe he could be an answer to potential shooting woes?

10. David McCormack (6-10 freshman forward)

I am guessing you won’t find many teams whose 10th man is a McDonald’s All-American, but that’s how things are with the 2018-19 Kansas Jayhawks. Granted a lot of this ranking is based on the fact it sounds like he’s pretty far down there in the rotation, and there just aren’t enough minutes to go around.

McCormack is physically imposing, and if he were to get pressed into action this season I certainly wouldn’t be worried about him in that aspect. From reading preseason articles and watching interviews, it sounds like he needs to get into better cardio shape, but I am not worried about that either.

Basketball wise, he’s mostly a dunker at this point and doesn’t have much skill outside the immediate paint area. Long term, he looks like a potentially elite rebounder. I should watch him play more before going for this comp, but think more athletic Landen Lucas.

9. Devon Dotson (6-2 freshman guard)

Dotson is probably the guy I have the least handle on of this year’s squad. A McDonald’s All-American himself, Dotson was one of the best AAU players in the country last summer. He gets into the lane well and is incredibly quick. I have not seen much about his shooting but he looks to have a simple, repeatable form, so there likely won’t be any issues there.

Defensively, however, Dotson needs some work. He probably isn’t quite 6-2, and he’s not filled out at all yet, so he’s going to get pushed around. He also, from the clips I have seen, needs a lot of work both in anticipation and staying in front of his man. Knowing what Bill Self prioritizes, I think that lack of defense could keep Dotson from major playing time, which is the biggest reason he’s this low on the list.