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Ranking the 2021 Rotation

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

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 Tristan Enaruna gets the bulk of the minutes at the four he’s going to have a “better” season than Jalen Wilson even if I think the latter is a better player. Alright, here we go:

12. Gethro Muscadin, Fr Center

A three star center originally from Louisville, Muscadin is a high upside center who should be making an impact a couple years down the road for the Jayhawks, but I think it’s too soon to depend on him now. He’s a super athlete but only started playing basketball at age 15.

11. Tristan Enaruna, So Forward

Enaruna flashed some promise last year, as the 6-9 forward showed the ability to put the ball on the floor well, but he shot just 40 percent from two and under 30 percent from three, and he was a poor decision maker and defender. The latter two should improve, but if the shooting doesn’t, it’s tough to see him getting a lot of playing time.

10. Latrell Jossell, Fr Guard

Jossell is another guy that people are really high on for the future. As an overlooked small point guard, it’s easy to make the Frank Mason comparisons, but Jossell was a really good shooter in high school and supposedly a good defender as well. It’s tough to see Kansas depending on him too much this year, but he’s going to be a rotation guy in the future.

9. Mitch Lightfoot, Sr Forward

I actually may be higher on Lightfoot as a player than McCormack, but it seems clear that Self is going to give McCormack a lot more playing time. I like Lightfoot’s defensive ability against smaller lineups (he would have led the Big 12 in block rate as a junior had he played enough minutes to qualify) and he’s a much better screener than McCormack, which should come in handy in a year where Kansas doesn’t have a point guard who can beat anyone he wants off the dribble. He’s reportedly been shooting the ball well in practice, and if he can get to around 33 percent from three that becomes another weapon for the should be offensively challenged Jayhawks.

8. David McCormack, Jr Forward

I’ll admit that I don’t really see it with Big Dave. His offensive rebounding is Landen Lucas like, but he turns it over way too much, isn’t a great screen setter, and shot just over 50 percent from two last year while taking a whopping 61 percent of his shots from the midrange. He does make those at a reasonable percentage and is a good free throw shooter, so if he steps out and makes those threes instead of 16 footers, maybe he’ll have something.

Defensively, McCormack committed almost 5 fouls per 40 minutes last year, and isn’t a very good rim protector. He can get out and hedge screens well, but so can Lightfoot.

7. Dajuan Harris, So Guard

Harris looks to be the primary backup at point guard this year, and got raves last season running the scout team and as a defender. At just 6-1 he would ruin some of the switchability and the ability for Kansas to put 5 wings out there at the same time, but if he truly is that level of a passer, he can raise Kansas’s floor and ceiling on offense.

6. Jalen Wilson, So Wing

We didn’t really see much of Wilson last year, who had poor minutes in the Duke game and then broke his ankle against UNC Greensboro. Bill Self said he got a lot more explosive in the offseason, and when adding that to his ability to put the ball on the floor at his size and his ability to shoot Wilson becomes a guy you can play in all sorts of situations.

5. Ochai Agbaji, Jr Wing

Agbaji is another guy I don’t really see it with. He is a very good on ball defender, but a poor ballhandler and decision maker which leads to a lot of turnovers and killed possessions. He’s just a 32 percent career shooter from 3, but that may be good enough this year with the lack of shooting Kansas figures to have.

Then again, his top two comps last year on KenPom were Denzel Valentine and Caris Lavert, two All-Americans, so I may end up looking like an idiot here.

4. Tyon Grant-Foster, Jr Wing

TGF was the number 2 ranked Juco recruit last season, so I will trust that and Bill Self in putting him at 4. He shot around 33 percent from three as a sophomore, and if he can shoot at that clip this season that should probably be good enough to get him a lot of playing time. Bill Self also raved about his defense, which is code for this guy is going to play a lot.

3. Christian Braun, So Wing

Braun led the Big 12 in 3-point shooting and offensive rating last season, and improved on defense towards the end of the year as well. We’ll see how he does this year without Udoka Azubuike to clean up the mess down low, but with his shooting ability and ability to nearly always make the correct play on offense, he just needs to hold his own defensively.

2. Bryce Thompson, Fr Guard

A 2020 McDonald’s All-American, Thompson is getting some lottery buzz for 2021. He was reportedly a really good shooter in high school, and obviously was a great scorer overall. Bill Self thinks he can become a good defender, so like with TGF, that seems to be code for he will play a lot. Kansas will likely depend on him to score as much as they’ve depended on a freshman since Wiggins.

1. Marcus Garrett, Sr Guard

Two years ago I didn’t think Kansas could keep Garrett on the floor due to his offensive limitations. Last year (and now), I don’t know how he can ever sit. The best perimeter defender in college basketball (and best one I have personally ever seen come through Lawrence), Garrett improved offensively as well, leading the team in assist rate, showing the ability to get to the rim, and even improving as a shooter, making 33 percent of his threes. He claims to have improved his shot over the summer, but at this point I think we should treat it as it is what it is. Still, 33 percent plus his ability to get past his man and into the lane is plenty good enough. He probably won’t have the offensive numbers to win Big 12 player of the year, but I can’t think of many guys I’d take before him.