On average, no program in the country enters a college basketball season with the expectations of Kansas Basketball. Bill Self’s bunch is only a year removed from a national championship, but after a surprising second-round exit in last year’s NCAA Tournament, Kansas is more motivated than ever to return to the top of the college basketball mountain.
Kansas has lorded over the Big 12 conference, claiming 19 of the past 22 regular season conference championships, but the Jayhawks will face a new challenge this year with the addition of Houston, Cincinnati, BYU, and UCF.
There are also many returning teams that pose a challenge to the Jayhawks. Texas was a top-10 team all of last season, and they outlasted Kansas in the tournament, reaching the Elite Eight. Five other teams reached the Big Dance: Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU, and West Virginia.
The transfer portal has changed college basketball, and the Big 12 is no different. Despite losing a wave of talent to graduation and the NBA, most teams in the conference have reloaded. Texas has become more dangerous with the addition of Oral Roberts guard Max Abmas. Kansas State has replaced Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson in part with former Creighton forward Arthur Kaluma. Mike Miles and Damion Baugh are no longer on TCU, but Jameer Nelson, Jr., one of the nation’s top transfers, is now a Horned Frog.
Kansas lost a ton of production from last year after Big 12 Player of the Year Jalen Wilson and Grady Dick both made the leap to the NBA, but Bill Self hit the recruiting trail and the transfer portal hard to fill the void. Former Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson was one of the jewels of the portal, and he’ll be joined in Lawrence by former Towson big man Nick Timberlake and Santa Clara transfer Parker Braun.
Former Texas guard Arterio Morris also transferred in as the presumed starting shooting guard, but Morris was recently dismissed from the team after being charged with rape. Morris’ dismissal has put a black cloud over the program before the season has even begun, especially because Self brought him in despite multiple previous allegations of assault.
The Jayhawks also brought in a talented trio of freshmen to fight for playing time, consisting of Elmarko Jackson, Jamari McDowell, and Johnny Furphy.
Kansas is anchored by returning starters Dajuan Harris, Jr., K.J. Adams, Jr., and Kevin McCullar, Jr., so let’s begin our look at this year’s Jayhawks by taking a deeper dive into the full projected starting lineup.