After announcements from Jalen Wilson, Ochai Agbaji and Remy Martin surfaced that they had all withdrawn their names from the NBA Draft, the Kansas men’s basketball roster seems to be set for the 2021-2022 season.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the position group’s depth and players.
Harris is the only point guard that played for Kansas last year, with Martin transferring from Arizona State and Yesufu from Drake, along with incoming freshman Pettiford. Harris, Martin and Yesufu have starting abilities and can make impact plays on both ends of the court, but Martin is the superstar out of this group.
Last year with Arizona State, Martin was outstanding for the Sun Devils. Matin averaged an impressive 19.1 point per game, 3.7 assists, and 1.2 steals as well while also putting up four games of 30 points or more en route to First-Team All-Pac 12. Martin will also be one of the preseason favorites to win Big 12 Player of the Year for this upcoming season.
Yesufu was another impressive player during the 2020-21 season, where he averaged 12.8 points per game for Drake and really showed out down the stretch averaging 23.2 points during the final nine games of the year. Yesufu also had an outstanding performance in the NCAA Tournament, where he scored 21 points in Drake’s First Four victory over Wichita State and 26 points in a loss to USC in the first round of the tournament. Although Yesufu is a great point, he will likely be used more as a shooting guard due to Martin’s ability and to free up some playing time for Harris.
Harris had an impressive freshman season. Although he only averaged 2.4 points per game, Harris was second on the team with 65 assists and impressed defensively during his time on the court. Harris should find some playing time this year, even though he will most likely be the backup to Martin.
Although Pettiford is only a freshman, if an injury, or injuries, were to occur, he could be called into action. Although I believe this year will be more about adapting to the Bill Self system and could even result in a redshirt for the season.
To say that Bill Self has depth to work with at the guard position would be an understatement. There are potentially four guards on the roster that could be in the starting lineup and make a significant impact, but Braun and Agbaji headline the group.
Braun nearly doubled his production from his freshman year, jumping from 5.3 ppg to 9.7, and from 2.9 rebounds to 5.1, while he could also be seen diving on the court for loose balls and making other impact hustle plays en route to a Big-12 Honorable mention. Although Braun started nearly every game last year, Jayhawk fans could see him competing for a starting spot with Yesufu, but either way, Braun will have a major impact this season.
Agbaji, who just announced this week he would return for his senior season, could have the biggest impact out of all the guards on the squad. The athletic freak averaged a career high 14.1 ppg last season, while also being named to the Big-12 All-Honorable Mention squad, and drained three or more three-pointers in 15 games. Agbaji will be expected to improve even more and become a vocal leader for the team.
A super senior transfer from Iowa State, Jalen Coleman-Lands, will be an important piece to the Jayhawks’ shooting equation. Coleman-Lands averaged 14.3 ppg with the Cyclones last season while also starting in all but one game. Like Braun and Agbaji, Coleman-Lands was named an All Big-12 Honorable mention as well. Coleman-Lands could be used very similarly to Isaiah Moss in the 2019-20 season, being a crucial three-point shooter off the bench while also getting constant playing time.
An incoming freshman, Cuffe Jr., could be in a very similar position as Pettiford. Cuffe could be opened up to more opportunities this year if he can adapt to the system quickly, but the playing time will be thin for the frosh.
Martin and Agbaji are seemingly clear starters, but the third position will be up for grabs between Braun and Yesufu. Braun knows the system well already, but Yesufu could have a higher ceiling. The decision will most likely come down to how quickly Yesufu adapts to Bill Self’s style of play.
Stay tuned for the second part of the in-depth look at this season’s roster, as I move on to breaking down the forwards and centers.