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Hawks of the Year Standings: Shoutout to the KU Role Players

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Kansas’ bench gets some love, while the top three remain in tact.

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas is riding a three-game winning streak and playing some of its best basketball of the season (outside of about a six-minute stretch in the second half against TCU).

Marcus Garrett continues to sit out with an ankle injury, but KU’s big three kept things going. Devon Dotson and Ochai Agbaji have been consistently strong. Dedric Lawson played well but didn’t put up the numbers we’re used to seeing from him on a consistent basis.

We’ll get to plenty with Lawson, Dotson, and Agbaji, but first, it seems right to acknowledge the role players who were the difference makers this week. Mitch Lightfoot, K.J. Lawson, and David McCormack had a major impact—and in KJ’s case, prevented a loss—on the outcome of the week. Lightfoot and McCormack are giving valuable post minutes, and protecting the rim, while KJ has put together his two best scoring performances of the season. These three guys are a big reason why Kansas has looked like a more complete team of late.

Most Valuable Jayhawks

Players whose skills and play most directly impacts the success of the team.

1 - Dedric Lawson (Last Week: 1)

Lawson struggled at TCU, but was much more efficient against West Virginia, although he was not relied upon nearly as much. Starting more possessions on the perimeter has seemed to help Lawson, and the offense, get into a better rhythm.

2 - Devon Dotson (Last Week: 2)

Turnovers can still be an issue for the freshman, but he’s playing at a high level in every other aspect of the game. Again, Dotson came through with huge free throws late against TCU, going 7-9 from the stripe.

3 - Ochai Agbaji (Last Week: 3)

In one play against West Virginia—where he drove baseline, controlled a pass under the basket, and skied up for a dunk—Agbaji encapsulated the element of the game previously missing from this team where he can excel. The jump shot isn’t too shabby, either.

Honorable Mention: Quentin Grimes, Mitch Lightfoot

Most Productive Jayhawks

Players who are putting up the best numbers for the Jayhawks.

1 - Dedric Lawson (Last Week: 1)

Despite having a down week by his high standards, Lawson is still averaging a double-double on the season at 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds. He’s also up to 36 percent from 3-point range, a big improvement from the first two months of the season.

2 - Devon Dotson (Last Week: 2)

The freshman point guard is compiling an impressive stat line that’s only getting better as the season goes along. Dotson now averages 12.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals, while shooting 53 percent from 2, 43 percent from 3, and a team-leading 79 percent from the line.

3 - Ochai Agbaji (Last Week: 3)

The offensive production has been well noted and is why Agbaji is being discussed as a potentially lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft. But Agbaji is also pulling down rebounds (5.2 per game) at a pace better than every other currently active Jayhawks, except for Lawson.

Honorable Mention: Marcus Garrett, Quentin Grimes

Assets of the Week

1 - K.J. Lawson’s Scoring

As I mentioned earlier, this week was about Kansas’ reserved players. So I’m going to solely focus on them in this section. And no role player had a bigger week than K.J. Lawson. K.J. scored in double figures both games (his first two of the season) while hitting the clutch basket to send the TCU game into overtime. He followed that up with a season-high 15 points on 3-4 from 3 against West Virginia. If Kansas can get 6-8 points from K.J. in 15 minutes the rest of the way, that’s a significant boost for a short-handed team.

2 - Lightfoot and McCormack’s Block Party

Lightfoot and McCormack combined for nine blocks (and 20 rebounds) in two games this week as KU held both TCU and WVU to under 40 percent shooting from the field. The blocks are a nice addition for a team that ranks 115th nationally.

3 - Teahan’s Sharpshooting

Chris Teahan drained a 3 at the end of the West Virginia game. What’s the big deal, you might ask? It was Teahan’s first basket of the season in 12 minutes of play, so shoutout to him and the walk-ons who play hard in practice all year for a dozen minutes on the court. But more than just taht, Teahan is a student favorite, and not much brings a team together in celebration and boosts moral like walk-ons making the most of an opportunity.