Despite being tasked with replacing multiple starters from his 2017-18 squad, including Big 12 Player of the Year Devonté Graham, Bill Self has the Kansas Jayhawks in position to field as much talent as anyone in the country next season.
That collection of talent was bolstered significantly on Wednesday when star center Udoka Azubuike withdrew from the 2018 NBA Draft to return for his junior season. In doing so, he joins an elite recruiting class headlined by 5-star guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson, and a trio of instant-impact transfers: Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore.
With that in mind, ESPN’s Myron Medcalf ranked Kansas No. 1 in his post NBA draft early entry deadline top 25.
“Still. Number. One. Think about it: Bill Self will boast one of the nation’s most potent front courts in 2018-19 with Udoka Azubuike and Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson (19.2 ppg., 9.9 rpg., 2.1 bpg. in 2016-17) in his starting rotation,” Medcalf said.
“Lawson’s presence will allow Azubuike to focus on doing the dirty work on both ends of the floor that pushed the Jayhawks into the Final Four last season. Self will also pair Cal transfer Charlie Moore (12.2 ppg., 1.1 spg. in 2016-17) with five-star recruits Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes. K.J. Lawson, Dedric’s brother, will also give the Jayhawks another proven talent.”
Talent and preseason rankings aside, Self and the Jayhawks will be tasked with replacing four starters from their Final Four rotation, which is no easy feat. In addition to Graham, Kansas also lost Malik Newman, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Legerald Vick to the NBA draft. Having All-American freshmen and proven transfers fill those shoes helps smooth the transition, but there is a transition, nevertheless.
Fortunately for one of college basketball’s most prominent blue bloods, Kansas’ embarrassment of riches has the Jayhawks positioned to enter the 2018-19 slate as one of, if not the No. 1 team in the nation.