KU BIGS first off the bench.

  • Jamari Traylor averaged 16.1 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, .8 bpg and shot .667ft%

    Landen Lucas averaged 4.9 mpg 1.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg, .3 bpg and shot .500ft%

    Hunter Mickelson averaged 16.6 mpg 5.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg and shot .800ft%

    1st of all I feel bad for Traylor this year because he is not an upgrade to Alexander or Ellis. He however plays the same position as them. Lucas and Mickelson BOTH have 2 inches and 20 lbs on Traylor. They both have trimmed off some fat and both did well in athletes in action this summer. After sifting through tons of info I have come to the conclusion that Mickelson WILL get the nod for first off the bench. I remember HCBS saying that Mickelson was a poor mans Jeff Withey only because he is not 7’ tall. CJ on line reported that his vertical jump has increased by 5 or 6 inches since he arrived at KU. HCBS also stated that his shot was good all the way out to the three pt line. If all of this is true then he should lead the team in blocked shots and play more minutes than the other 2 because he brings something to the table we lost when Embiid left last year. Not only that his FT% is really good for a big man. If you give the guy 20 minutes he is going to average 8.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and 2.1 bpg and be 5th or 6th in scoring.

  • @Statmachine

    Great projection!

    I could see this happening. It will depend on how much Jamari improved, too, and which player creates the best chemistry on the court.

    However, I could see Hunter earning lots of minutes for two simple reasons: defense and rebounds! He seems to have the advantage in both areas and I’m pretty sure these are the areas we will need the most help from the bench concerning post play. I know he can hit the outside shot, but I’m not sure Self wants him to.

    I also see Jamari getting minutes because he is one of Self’s favorite players. He works hard, hustles and has brought himself from dire straits to one day earning a good living in basketball. I know that counts big for Self, and he’ll stay on Jamari to continue to lift his game so he can get his minutes on the court.

    Landen has fundamentals going for him. He may not have an outside shot or have any specific part of his game where he stands out, but he does bring fundamental basketball to the court, and as we saw last year, sometimes he can be effective by bringing the post play back to fundamentals. Sometimes our post play gets away from fundamentals, like properly blocking out, knowing how to hedge on defense, play with arms always extended up, knowing if you step out of the post to guard you still must defend the post, seeing the court well especially for team defense, etc.

    I remember a guy named “Cole Aldrich” who suddenly appeared one March to start his legacy. KU listed him as 6’11" and he was only 6’9". Cole didn’t have a crazy arm length or big hops. Cole had fundamentals, good court awareness and had great shot blocking technique and good rebounding skills, too. I see Landen and Hunter targeting play like Cole.

    Jamari sets the distinction of a 4 and not a 5. Sure, he’ll get minutes at the 5 sometimes. That is one more reason why Self likes him… Jamari is a “utility post player!” Or how about… “combo post player!” He represents in the post what Self likes out on the perimeter; guys who can play multiple positions! Granted, in Self’s offense the only difference between a 4 and 5 usually is right or left. The difference is more if one can hit shots away from the basket. But on defense, one guy has to guard the other team’s center. Jamari has the athleticism (speed and hops) to handle quality 4s. And he has some brawn to challenge 5s (to some degree).

  • @drgnslayr

    Jamari is listed at 6’-8" which means he is closer to 6’-6’. He will play the 4 but more realistically he is more a 3-4 than a 4-5; very few people his size have even played the 4 in the NBA, Barkley being the best known. Maybe Traylor can play the 5 against smaller schools in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but I just cannot see him playing the 5 against the much bigger centers in the conference. Alexander a t6’-9" might be able to play some center, mostly because his heft (250 lbs) allows him to block the middle, but the more natural players at the 5 would be Luca and Mickelson. Michelson had a very good freshman season and while his number did not necessarily dropped down by lot in his sophomore year, he did not show progress either. A lot of it was due to the change on coaching and being force to put weight without the corresponding training to gain the strength needed to carry the additional weight, and the net result was dramatic drop in blocks. With Hudy’s training he is hopefully back to being a rim protector.

    Here is a good write up on Mickelson’s progress…

    Read more on Mickelson…

    KU has had excellent rim protectors in the last few years, Aldrich and Withey being the better ones; let’s hope that Mickelson can continue the tradition.

  • Traylor will back up Ellis, its that simple. He’s our 6th man especially if his game continues to progress. He brings energy that others simply can’t and his ability to maybe guard more than one position is key.

    Hunter and Lucas are fighting to back up Alexander. Whoever wins the battles in practice will get the upper-hand at minutes. Depending on match-ups they might actually start some games for size purposes. This would make our depth scary having Cliff come off the bench.

    As long as Cliff limits fouls I see him by a landslide having more blocks and rebounds than any Jay-hawk this year, those are his 2 elite skills other than his physical style of play. Ellis might challenge him in rebounds because he figures to play more as the featured player in the rotation.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Physically, you can argue that Jamari can be a 3. But up until now, he definitely is not a 3. By the time he leaves Kansas I hope he can work into becoming a 3, because professional doors will open for him when he can handle the ball better and hit perimeter shots. He has the athleticism to defend at the 3.

    He definitely (on paper) is not a 5. But Self used him as a 5 sometimes this past year and I’m willing to bet he will do the same this year. Sometimes Self just wants to see how players match-up. Jamari actually can match-up well on some trees because of his lateral speed and his physical strength. Others… not so well.

    I’m anxious to see his progress this year. He has made gigantic leaps in his game every year and there is no reason to think his development has slowed.

    I’m also psyched on Hunter’s potential… and Landen.

    Really… all of these guys have their strengths and weaknesses. Hunter seems to have the most going for him to get minutes at the 5. But even Self doesn’t know until more time goes by and they guys practice more and start having games.

    A big unknown for me, concerning Hunter, is his lateral speed. Can the guy get up and down the court quickly?

    It would be truly amazing if this team found a quicker effective pace than our more recent teams. Over the past few years our offense never attacked a defense until that defense was totally settled in. Often… that made it an uphill battle and it killed momentum.

    Think back to last year. How many times did we pop in 10 points on anyone within a minute? How about 2 minutes? I recall this as being one of our biggest advantages in the past… our runs!

  • @drgnslayr Actually, at the NBA draft combine Aldrich measured 6’9" flat-footed, but 6’11" in shoes, which is how I always play basketball, so I don’t think it was a huge fib on KUs part (and youza are those some thick soles on his shoes). Also, it’s never been clear to me if players report their height for the roster or the coaching staff/university does. But it doesn’t matter much because your effective height for basketball is really a matter of wingspan and reach, not how tall you are from the heel to the top. Aldrich actually did have crazy arm length (7’5" span/9’3" reach). @jayhawkfantoo may or may not be right about Traylor’s acute height, but I’m pretty sure Traylor’s arms and vertical are a longer/higher than Ellis’, and he’s a lot bigger than Barkley’s 6’5" listed height. His bigger problems with defending were always not fouling and not getting backed down by heavier players. Traylor needs to either use his quickness more or bulk up so that he can stand his ground.

  • @konkeyDong

    KU is not alone in fibbing with players listed heights; it is pretty much like the MSRP that nobody really pays. It always amazed me to watch T-Rob and other bigs next to Withey and though they were listed as being only a couple of inches apart, Withey seemed to tower over them. At the NBA combined T-Rob was measured at 6’-7.75".

    I am not sure how tall Traylor actually is and other than the coaching staff I doubt anyone really knows, but I know he is not tall enough to play center, even in college. Most of the elite PF in the NBA now are at least 6’-10" and SF are 6’-8" +/- 2". Much like Perry, Traylor’s body is more suited to play SF in the NBA although his style of play would seem to be PF all the way. BTW, Perry is lited as being 5 pounds heavier than Traylor…it did surprise me a bit.

  • @konkeyDong

    I agree with your post. I didn’t know Cole had such a long wingspan.

    Withey proved to us how much it is about technique than anything else. In his first year of play, it didn’t take much to shoot over him, and then he found technique and timing.

    I don’t know… back in my sports days I can’t ever recall playing for a team in any sport where I was asked about my measurements. There was always a nurse or med type person measuring everyone and I was never measured with my shoes on. Height was measured at the same time they took weight, so we were down to our undershorts.

  • Jamari should get a lot of minutes. Nobody on this team brings more enthusiasm than Mari! I don’t have a clue about Hunter, just what I’ve read. I want Lucas to succeed, was impressed early, but then he regressed. I really think Self has more options than he’s had in a long time. Think we will see some pressing and running the floor. 🙏💨🏃🏀 I’m hoping to see a remake of the bruise bros, w/Mari and Cliff. Lots of options, if you are having an off night, we have quality subs! Worry about fouls on Cliff too. He likes to swing at everything! Really excited to see how this plays out!

  • Imagine if Traylor improves half as much as he improved from freshman to sophomore season? Last season, Self affirmatively played Traylor over Ellis many times. We all hope that Ellis makes progress. But what if Traylor has made substantial progress? And what if Ellis hasn’t? Both are possibilities, right?

    Traylor plays aggressively. Ellis doesn’t. But Ellis is clearly more skilled. It may come down to the old phrase, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

    Ellis is the living definition of a “finesse player.” Does anyone think that Self is entirely pleased by that? I don’t. Self wants tough players. He mentions it all the time. I see a scenario where Self decides that Ellis just isn’t playing the game that Self wants played.

    My concerns with Ellis also bleed over to the offensive end. He is a pivot/fall-away type player. He moves away from contact. And he plays smaller than he his because he scrunches down on his pivot. In football terms, Ellis is misdirection, where Traylor is I-Formation.

    That said, I do expect the most likely scenario is that Ellis is just fine. If I had to predict our leading scorer, he’d be my co-favorite with Selden.

    But if you want Kansas to play athletically and fast, what is your lineup?

    Mason, Selden, Greene, Traylor, and Alexander, right? You don’t think “athletic” or “fast” when you think Ellis.

    I do think there’s a very plausible scenario where Traylor shocks the world and displaces Ellis.

  • @HighEliteMajor like your fast group, maybe oubre and Greene rotate. Maybe graham too- rotate w/Mason?? Interesting combos!

  • @HighEliteMajor

    If Summer Camp reports are to be believed, Ellis has looked great and shown considerable progress. We will find in a few weeks.

    If you remember his freshman year, he showed solid fundamentals and nice technique but was missing shots. At the end of the season, he put everything together and played great on the Bi9 12 tournament and onwards. I am hoping that over the summer, he got the various parts of his game in sync and will see a new and improved Perry Ellis come Fall.

  • @HighEliteMajor I can easily view Mickelson piling up minutes at the 4/5 slots, some of which come at Perry’s expense. From what we’ve been informed, Mick may not be a finesse guy at all. Anyway I’m hoping he’s more of a Kaun or DJack type guy, with the added dimension of an outside shot. I can also for see HCBS swiftly planting his can back on the pine if the outside shots don’t fall. Habits are hard to break so I can’t imagine Bill’s "quick hook’ to me much different than in years past.

  • @globaljaybird said:

    not be a finesse guy at all. Anyway I’m hoping he’s more of a Kaun or DJack type guy, with the added dimension of an outside shot. I can also for see HCBS swiftly planting his can back on the pine if the outside shots don’t fall. Habits are hard to break so I can’t imagine Bill’s "quick hook’ to me much different than in years past.

    Hate to say it, but you’re going to be sorely disappointed by Mickelson if you think he’ll be anything like Kaun. Kaun was a lot bigger, stronger and more athletic. Mickelson was a pretty good shot blocker at UArk, though foul prone, but from an offensive standpoint… well, what offense? He could finish a lob or get the occasional stickback, but he had no back to the basket game. As for his face up, his J is okay out to 15 feet, but he lack’s a triple threat game, so unless he’s being sagged on in a zone, don’t expect him to be punishing teams face up.

  • @konkeyDong Certainly not one to disagree, but the above post says “I’m hoping.” I’ve not seen the before or after & don’t know who has.

    Also here’s to hoping we’ll both be pleasantly surprised at his improvement under Norm, Bill, & Hudy in opposition to his tutelage under the “40 minutes of whatever” format in Anderson’s Arkyville program. The spin is that his vertical has increased considerably since here & maybe that translates positively to our benefit. Self has many options at the 4/5 spots with his group this year & that doesn’t include playing smaller than Ellis at the 4, which most believe is quite unlikely.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    "I’m hoping to see a remake of the bruise bros, w/Mari and Cliff. "

    I love the way you think!

  • @drgnslayr I’m counting on you to write that up- your project!

  • If Hunter really has increased his vertical by 5 or 6 inches then he will be a totally different player from his Arkansas days.

    His scoring potential changes completely because that many vertical inches means a juxtaposition ON TOP of his former scoring position (ball release).

    This changes his potential for scoring with his back to the basket. He still has to have technique and touch, but his release platform just went up half a foot!

    He is really our big mystery post player. Maybe his increased athleticism hurts his touch for a while… maybe not!

    Some guys are naturals when it comes to back to the basket scoring… others just never get it. You’ve got to establish your position while guards reach in and take swipes at the ball, while you start your scoring move. There is so much that has to happen, and the key for most post players is to catch the ball while already starting to make their scoring move. Give no time for help defense to disrupt his movement and movement options. How many guys have we watched fail at this? Remember back to a young Withey. He would catch the ball and stall out, while bringing the ball down for help defense to swipe at.

    I don’t know why it is… that so many post players pause with the ball and wait for the defense to give them the sign that they are set and ready to defend. That has been one of the greatest mysteries in basketball that I have never found an answer for.

    Certain players, like Kareem, fed off of his pause because he could pass well and he could protect the ball well in the post. Problem is, everyone seems to think they are the next Kareem!

    I really loved to watch Olajuwon! He mixed up his timing on every single possession. I also believe a big part of what should make Embiid successful is that he understands the need to mix up his timing in the post. He’s watched probably every single piece of footage on Olajuwon he could get his hands on.

  • @Crimsonorblue22

    I’d be happy to… when the season starts and we see the beginning of the bruise brothers together!

    You can bet it will be mentioned hundreds (if not thousands) of times.

    The first time we see Perry play soft we’ll see Bam-Bam replace him and the beginning of a synergistic relationship with Cliff.

    I can hardly wait!

  • @drgnslayr maybe, just maybe, Perry will be a new bam bam!

  • @drgnslayr Always perplexes me too. So many guys cannot make a move without putting the ball on the floor maybe that is indicative of a me first approach to their game, or lack of confidence/ability to make any move at all. IMO that’s why Joel was so special-his moves & drop steps without putting it down. Very few guys are just so natural & can nail that part of the game. When a footer or big puts it down he gives up all advantage over the six foot guards & is stripped more often than not, he’s slower, dribbles much higher off the floor, & yada yada. That was about fundamental #1 when I learned the game. Some bigs have that ability & many never will.

  • @globaljaybird

    I think the tendency to want to dribble comes from so many players now learning to play facing the basket as opposed to a back to the basket traditional post up. There aren’t many Shaq’s or Moses Malone’s out there who can go down to the block, carve out space without using their upper body and score from that spot. Most guys have to turn and face, then make a dribble move because they can’t get to the sweet post spot just by using positioning (and because the initial post up is called more closely now than it was even 15 years ago).

  • Interesting post from all!

    I’m not sure how all this will play out. Last year, Embiid scored most of the time by taking his man one on one, or two, or three, however many they threw at him. 🙂 Perry seemed to score in the flow of the offense, catching the ball on the move on ball reversal and a few one on one when he had the MUA. Jamari seemed to be an opportunistic scorer. Put backs, loose balls, being open because his man helped somewhere else, scoring in transition. Toward the end of the season, we saw Mari score on drives to the basket when he had a MUA. Unless the offensive scheme is to get the ball to him, then his game will be much like it was last year. I’m not really sure how Mari’s game would translate if he was ever a focal point.

    I haven’t seen enough of Big Cliff to know which category his game falls into. Is he creative and skilled (and polished) enough to be a focal point on offense, or will he be an opportunistic scorer? Hard to tell from his highlight videos. My guess is somewhere in between.

    Of course Bill will run the good ol’ high/low, but it will probably look a lot different this year in the way it’s executed. My hope is that we have enough scoring threats all over the floor that the post player don’t feel burdened and have to force anything. And vice versa!

    Defensively, I’m hoping Hunter or Lucas will be able to fill a roll similar to what Kaun (notice I spelled that right this time ;)) did. Whenever an opposing big got into a rhythm against us, he would come in and just bother the crap out of the that guy. He didn’t blanket people, but he would keep them from their spots, mess up their timing, and I think it messed with their head. After 3-4 possessions of this, then Kaun would score on them and it was like he took their heart. And did it with energy and a smile!

    I like the idea, that defensively we could throw different looks at opposing bigs. This group will be interesting to watch this season.

  • @jayhawkbychoice Mari also had a few- not many, jump shots. It surprised me! I know he took it to heart how teams left him open to double team wigs. I’m hoping to see more jump shots from him! I want it for him, like so many of us do.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Yeah I want it for him as well. It will be interesting to see what his (and everybody else’s) role will be on this team.

    Perry, Jamari, and Cliff just seems like a short (in height) rotation to me, so I think one of Hunter and Lucas will have an impact on someone’s minutes.

  • @jayhawkbychoice I have no idea how Hunter will do, none. Only what I read.

  • @konkeyDong Interesting take on Mickelson. It squares with everything I’ve read and with a review of his Ark stats. There have been no comments or info that he was a stud in practice, or that he’s a guy to watch, which is somewhat informative. At the scrimmage last season, the one thing I noticed was that his shot from the outside was real flat. But really, the dude is an unknown. Unless he’s a completely different player, no way he displaces Ellis or Traylor from their roles. Competing with Lucas for the 4th big spot.

  • @HighEliteMajor Hey, his numbers are on the rise, especially playing 1 on 1 against 12 year olds.


  • @Crimsonorblue22 Thanks for the link. Good read. And thanks to @bskeet for the edit.

  • @approxinfinity Judging by the kids shoes, he’s an OSU fan. I hope Hunter goes all “Big Bore” and posterizes this kid!

    (Just fun, no malice intended)

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Assuming Alexander starts at center, how many minutes do you expect him to play? I am not sure how good his conditioning is, particularly if you consider he carries 240+ pounds, plus the foul situation will also come into play. I see him playing around 20 MPG, at least at the start of the season with Mickelson and/or Lucas getting substantial time at Center. Thoughts?

  • @JayHawkFanToo I think what you have suggested is a realistic expectation of a freshman. It seems perfectly reasonable that Alexander will have significant ups and downs, perhaps even some Tarik Black like games where he is a complete non-factor. We should expect that.

    I personally think that Self could start Ellis and Traylor early, with Alexander displacing Traylor as a starter pretty quickly. But I also think that Traylor could play more effectively than Alexander. I don’t think that’s a stretch. And that Self would favor Traylor over Alexander many times.

    I will be surprised if Self makes much of a distinction between “power forward” and “center:” Meaning, if Lucas and Mickelson are 4th and 5th guys (in whatever order), they will likely be 4th and 5th when it comes to p.t. This season will certainly give us an insight into Self’s view of the position distinction. We know in 2008 he played two PFs most of the minutes, but the C (Kaun) was the clear first big off the bench. Right now, we don’t have that.

    Personally, I thought that Lucas gave us some pretty quality minutes when he was in last season. But it seems obvious that Self seems him to be low on the totem pole. I do agree that either he or Mickelson could pick up significant p.t., but I think that Traylor may be the bigger beneficiary of p.t. if Alexander isn’t a 30 mpg guy.

    Would it be surprising if we saw Ellis play 28 minutes, Alexander 25, and Traylor 20? That might even seem conservative. Even with that, there would be only 7 minutes left for Mickelson/Lucas (80 minutes total for 2 post players).

    Where do the minutes come from? I think at best, the 4th perimeter guy is around 10 mpg. Minutes are tight.

    Would be interested in others’ thoughts.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I believe the college game in many ways follows the NBA trends and now there is very little distinction anymore between PF and Center. Many players that we commonly think of as being centers, such as Pau Gasol, Duncan, Faried, Ibaka. West, Stoudemire, Aldridge, Love and Griffin are actually PFs; not a lot of players in the NBA are listed as pure Centers anymore. The only true Centers KU has had recently were Aldrich and Withey. FWIW, none of the players on the official KU roster is listed as “Center.”

    My best guess is that Ellis plays 30 minutes, Alexander and Traylor split 40 minutes and Mickelson and Lucas split 10 minutes, all 3 estimates are +/- 5 minutes.

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