It was another painful-to-watch exit from the NCAA Tournament for Kansas, suffered at the hands of yet another hot-3-point-shooting team.
The good news is unlike last year, there’s a chance Kansas doesn’t lose three-and-a-half starters (Vick was gone and then back and then gone again, so he gets counted as a half). Some combination of Udoka, Dedric Lawson, and Quentin Grimes could leave for the NBA, or another unforeseen move could take place. The difference would be the Jayhawks would still have key pieces returning who have played in a Kansas uniform.
But let’s assume, for this exercise, that the core team will be back in Kansas uniforms next season. That group will be a year older and wiser, but still not infallible. There are clear weaknesses that need to be addressed, and the offseason is when the majority of the real progress is made.
So let’s take a look at some key (probable) returners and areas in which improvement would go a long way. Dedric Lawson and Devon Dotson are not included because Lawson is already an All-American candidate, and the areas Dotson can improve (court vision, passing) will likely come with experience, and he’s already performing well beyond his one year in college.
Marcus Garrett: 3-Point Shooting
To be fair to Garrett, the entire team could use an improvement in 3-point shooting, but he leads the group. A major storyline from last offseason was how many shots Garrett was getting up on a daily basis. Well...it wasn’t enough. Garrett continues to be a liability on offense outside of three feet (though his finishing at the rim was strong at the end of the year), and it has disastrous effects on the team’s offense. Defenders playing off Garrett and daring him to shoot clogs up the driving and passing lanes and turns it into a 5-on-4 matchup. He finished the season as a 24.5-percent shooter from deep. Even improving to a 30-32-percent 3-point shooter would at least make the defense take him seriously.
Quentin Grimes: Finishing at the Rim
Grimes improved on this toward the end of the year, but still only shot 44.4 percent from 2-point range on the season. Some of this was due to indecisiveness and a lack of aggressiveness toward the basket. And some was just missing shots. Adding more consistency to this element would bring some easy production, and confidence, to his game.
David McCormack: Footwork
We saw glimpses. The potential is there for McCormack to take a major leap forward next year, especially if Udoka doesn’t return. An offseason working on getting rid of the happy feet and refining his footwork could make him a dangerous force in the paint.
Ochai Agbaji: Defense
Look, for a guy who was redshirting into January, Agbaji had a really good freshman season. The offense dipped a bit toward the end, but that could be credited, at least in part, to being banged up and hitting a freshman wall. But Agbaji also occasionally looked out of sorts on defense. Perimeter defense was a struggle for Kansas as a whole this year, and as one of the most athletic players on the team, Agbaji has the potential and size to be a solid on-ball defender. Kansas could definitely use it.