Whether it’s ranking Carlton Bragg 2nd one year or ranking Frank Mason 5th or so in his sophomore year, this post always generates some well deserved postseason laughs. It’s time once again for my preseason ranking of the best players in KU’s rotation.
A brief refresher: I won’t be ranking any of the walk ons and if we get any redshirt information prior to posting, they won’t be in here either. There’s also some inexact science involved. I’m not attempting to rank players based on playing time, but obviously if David McCormack gets the bulk of the minutes at the four he’s going to have a “better” season than Silvio De Sousa even if I think the latter is a better player.
Tristan Enaruna, 6-8 freshman wing
This will be a theme for the first couple guys, but Enaruna is only here because I don’t see a lot of playing time for him. He has an incredibly slight frame that probably won’t hold up over a full season, and while he was able to get into the lane with ease against Fort Hays State, he had trouble finishing, which would obviously be exacerbated against division one talent.
David McCormack, 6-10 sophomore forward
McCormack is below Lightfoot here for a couple reasons: first he’s not a great defender (yet, hopefully) and second, his turnover rate of 22.2 percent was insanely high. If McCormack turns down the turnovers, he could be a major contributor. He shot 62 percent on twos and was arguably the team’s best offensive rebounder.
Mitch Lightfoot, 6-8 senior forward
A deserved fan favorite, Lightfoot had some great performances off the bench last season, and if he had enough minutes to qualify he would have been a top 30 shot blocker nationally in terms of block rate. He’s limited by his lack of size and isn’t as good of a screener as you want an offensive role player to be, but he’s a smart defender who won’t spark worry if he is pressed into playing time.
Jalen Wilson, 6-8 freshman wing
Wilson is the most heralded of KU’s freshman, and it’s easy to see why when you watch him. A fluid and explosive athlete, Wilson gives Kansas athleticism on the wing that they sorely lacked last year. This is probably me overreacting to one game, but I am worried about his defensive IQ and his shot doesn’t look terribly reliable. I suspect this ranking will look ridiculous come February.
Christian Braun, 6-6 freshman guard
Apologies to Christian for mispronouncing his last name 50,000 times over the next four years (for the record, it’s pronounced “brown”), but driving his bandwagon should help make up for it. His shot looks great, he looks beyond his years as a passer, and already seems like he can thread the fine needle of asserting himself on offense while also deferring the proper amount without totally disappearing. He’s going to be a good one.
Silvio De Sousa, 6-9 junior forward
He’s mostly here because he has had a full season away from playing basketball games, and I don’t know how quickly he will be able to get back into the swing of things. As a freshman he was a terror on the offensive glass and shot 68 percent from the field. His turnover rate was absurdly high, however.
Marcus Garrett, 6-5 junior wing
This is another one I am hoping will look dumb by the end of the year. Garrett is a gamechanger of a defender, but his lack of shooting (he shot just 24 percent on fewer than 50 3-point attempts) destroys KU’s spacing on offense, something that could be fatal to the 2020 version given how important Udoka Azubuike is. He’s also not proven that he’s a good enough passer to make up for it. He looked really good in the first exhibition, and if he keeps it up he certainly deserves to be ranked higher.
Isaiah Moss, 6-5 senior guard
A grad transfer from Iowa, Moss’s addition gives Kansas a major boost in terms of outside shooting. He shot 42 percent on 114 attempts last year and is a career 39 percent shooter. He’s a pretty good passer as well and reports are high on his defense, but frankly if he shoots around 40 percent from deep he can do whatever else he wants.
Ochai Agbaji, 6-5 sophomore guard
Agbaji burst onto the scene last year, even though he finished shooting just over 30 percent from three as he hit the freshman wall big time. I’m incredibly high on him for this year. He showed a knack for knowing when to take over last year, played good defense for a freshman, and was probably the best athlete on the team.
Devon Dotson, 6-2 sophomore guard
Dotson flirted with the NBA last year, and this is 99.99999 percent likely to be his last season in Lawrence, so let’s enjoy him. He shot 53 percent from two and 36 percent from three, and was impressive at the rim as well, especially for a smaller guard. Defensively, he would be the talk of the team if not for Marcus Garrett. He could stand to get a few more assists, but should also live at the free throw line.
Udoka Azubuike, 7-0 senior center
All you need to know about Azubuike is if he stays healthy all season he will probably break the NCAA record for career field goal percentage. Oh, and he’s also a borderline elite rim protector who is a threat to foul out every opposing big man. Not bad.