Recruiting Perfection: Bragg Or Bust

  • Carlton Bragg is the perfect recruit. How does it get better than this? 6’9", 220 lbs. No hint of OAD stench. This guy is ranked in the top 20. He has “tenacity” and has all the markings of the perfect Bill Self-type player. Self always play inside out loves toughness. Bragg is one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier as a recruit than perhaps the best post player in the Self era, Thomas Robinson, was as a H.S. senior. Most of all, as a highly ranked player, he needs KU and the development Self has to offer to play in the NBA. Bragg needs a coach like Self. His profile (below) begs to be coach by Bill Self. This is recruiting perfection.

    Not only is Bragg recruiting perfection, this is a player of great need. We will go into next season with three post players who are not top talents, and will likely lose Alexander to the draft. A solid, highly skilled post player to provide perhaps three years of stability in the post is just what the doctor ordered. This type of stability makes life in the OAD world palatable – and more workable. It provides cover for misses. It provides a foundation of talent.

    If Self has a top priority, it has to be Bragg. Memo to coach Self – don’t let Bragg get out of town without a commitment. If we bag Bragg, everything else is icing on the cake.

    Here’s Bragg’s ESPN profile -


    Bragg is an ultra-athletic specimen who can impact the game in a variety of ways. He attacks the offensive glass, finishes in transition, and is an explosive around the rim. He has a lengthy frame with long arms and he has great feet. He plays with tenacity at both ends and his hands are terrific. Bragg has extended his range out to the arc. He runs the floor on the break where he spots up waiting for the advance or kick out pass.


    Bragg is coming on strong and has improved from a season ago, but his skill set is still a bit raw. He needs to improve his ability to score with his left hand and continue to add to his face-up game. Utilizing the triple threat game (jab step, up fake, etc.) while facing up his defender will enhance his overall game. Bragg will need to play with more energy and urgency and compete throughout the game which will lead to increased production.

    Bottom Line:

    Once his offensive game matures, he has all the physical intangibles to be an elite high-major and has the potential to play after college. Bragg has to improve his motor but all all the other tools to be a special player with continued skill develop. He has the motor, bounce, and length to be a McDonald’s All-American-he’s that talented.

  • @HighEliteMajor I like it, sign him!

  • Banned

    He’s pretty smooth HEM. Ok count me in.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    If Bragg = TRobb, then Bragg will play only minor minutes next year. Can we flourish with our other three bigs, while Bragg takes a year to develop?

  • @jaybate-1.0 no, well after watching video, he’s further along than TRob. He has a nice jumper too.

  • @DoubleDD Wow nice jumper! Nice ball handling in the open court with that spin move. Seems like he has good court vision and IQ. He did shy away from contact on a couple drives. Seems a little more of a finesse player than T-Rob, but I don’t remember much from T-Rob when he was in HS. Count me in too. Would love to see him play along side a footer. I’m not sure if the ship has sailed with Zimmerman or not. I hope Zimmerman would be a 2AD. If not, pass.

  • @DoubleDD Oh, he may have to lose the headband? 🙂

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Bingo.Bragg is more Darrell Arthur. Diallo is more like TRob minus the bulk: high energy, supreme athlete, but very very raw. I think the ESPN blurb is a little misleading. Bragg’s back to the basket game is definitely a work in progress, but he’s hardly raw. He can put the ball on the floor, face up, and finish going right. He doesn’t have a great drop step or any of the Embiid/Dream-shake moves, but shooting form, rebounding, passing, and solid fundamentals are all things he has today. He also has a much better feel for the game than TRob did out of HS.

  • @konkeyDong

    Spot on. Some of the ESPN descriptions can be dated and do not reflect recent progress.

  • Love at first sight for me. I haven’t had a crush like this since the days of Pamela Sue Anderson on Baywatch.

  • I think by the time his senior year is over, Bragg will be a top 10 recruit. Look at that speed, athleticism and fluidity in the open floor. Look at his jumper and ballhandling. Kid can play.

  • It looks like his game is pretty developed. He can shoot. Could he end up being a OAD, after all?

  • Great comparison to Arthur … Bragg is more highly skilled at this stage than TRob. But more physical, it appears, than Arthur. More “ready now” than TRob, to answer @jaybate’s question.

    Could Bragg be a starter from day one? Sure, but that depends on the competition. Arthur didn’t start, but was clearly the first big off the bench. TRob didn’t start. But in TRob’s case, he was the definition of raw, needed to slow down a bit,. Could he have started? Of course. It would have been a major roller coaster ride.

    Really, and we know this, each player is unique. There are comparisons, but Bragg is Bragg. Bragg could start – but that will be competition related.

    Suppose we land Bragg and Zimmerman? It’s most likely that Zimmerman would start with Ellis, with Bragg off the bench. But who will be Bragg’s competition? Traylor. A senior. Playing time is competition related. See TRob … in another season, TRob might have started as a freshman, even with his “rawness”, so speak. But a guy like TRob doesn’t start as a freshman, limited p.t., and he’s a top 10 NBA pick following a dominant junior season. Great selling point.

    @Hawk8086 The only way Bragg is an OAD is if he definitively plays himself into that spot – and that would mean a heck of a year for KU. Even with that, seems remote that he vaults into a top 10 spot, which would be the compelling case to go pro. But the presumed OAD line is a blurred one, for sure.

  • @HighEliteMajor maybe they will change the rule by then?

  • @HighEliteMajor Great thread HEM & welcome back to the table. Have also wondered about several other rats who have been absent from buckets for awhile-icthehawk, jdoc, etc. Thanks, we’ve drastically needed high quality some food for thought since we’re all drooling for the season to begin. Is a cryin shame we can’t get Alohahawk & Oakville over here to spiff up the joint a little more. Some of these guys are much better at analysis than many of us will ever be.

    Landing Bragg could be a great coup for Self, but with the OAD mindset he seems to be in now, it’s highly possible for a kid to go backwards in “seniority” yearly as the next big thing comes along. So many kids want to play from day one so the 2-3 year guys now have to take that into consideration. A couple of my apprehensions as we speak are that we can still loose a Greene or Frankamp to transfer as this process is currently ongoing & seemingly will not soon end… I hated like hell to loose AWIII & always thought he was the perfect Self guy-hard worker, kept up academically, never a whisper of discontent. Great all around athlete & good soldier for the years of attrition it takes for, let’s say a Releford type guy, to earn his minutes & ultimately get his due. Lucas is another guy I truly believe could have been, & still can be an extremely tough & valuable Self type guy. If we had not landed one year Black last summer, where do you think Landon could be now? My point I guess, is that when guys can just come in off the street & take up major minutes, it certainly has to be in a potential recruit’s thought process that the added potential to get bumped down in the pecking order at any flippin time is there, especially at a place like Kansas.

  • @globaljaybird Well, you have hit on one of the big negatives when going “all in” on OADs. How could a potential recruit not be concerned about getting recruited over at Kansas?

    Jesse Newell had mentioned in the late spring that there were CF transfer rumors. His fate will be sealed this season, one way or another. And you cite Lucas and losing seniority. In this day, I can’t imagine why a guy like Lucas would gamble his future at an elite program like Kansas. My statement sounds pretty stupid without context. But simply gaining playing time, based on our menu of recruits each season, seems like an uphill battle.

    But going back to AWIII. As much as we all would have loved the guy to succeed, I do trust Self’s assessment of his talent and fit. Clearly, Self would rather have Greene and Oubre.

    This game is all about opportunity. What would AWIII have done last season if Wiggins wasn’t signed? White started off last season very solidly, and looked ready to grab big minutes. His off season was reportedly tremendous. But Self has to make hard choices, and his talent assessment favored Greene and Oubre over AWIII.

    Those hard choices is why this season, and the battles that lie ahead, are so compelling. The hard choices will shape next season, as well:

    1. Who is our starting PG, who’s next, and who sits (and thus is a transfer possibility?

    2. Who wins the 3 spot, Oubre or Greene? And if Greene is second fiddle, does he get his nose twisted out of joint and thus consider transferring? This could leave us without Oubre (perhaps turning pro) and Greene next season.

    3. Who wins the battle between Mickelson and Lucas for relevance? And who is banished to 5th big guy oblivion? The 5th guy may never see substantial P.T. in his career here.

    4. And does Svi – this season’s x-factor – get any meaningful role? If he does, more roster carnage is sure to follow.

    Watched some of the Royals win today. Chiefs are in the lead. KU football won. But KU hoops rules all!

  • HEM, I like your synopsis on Bragg. I think the Shady Arthur comparison is likely closest, we shall see. I hate to put all my hopes on 1 18yr old kid by thinking our chances are “bust” without him (but I know you are simply figuratively speaking to make your point, which I agree with). I recall we had 1 Wiggins + 1 Embiid, and just sufferred the most lackluster season in Self’s 10 years.

    Like you, I firmly believe in the 10ish-50ish ranked guys, without the team chemistry disruption, and TEAM development interruption that defines the “top 10/OAD” merri-go-round.

  • Put it another way, Calipari has got to be ecstatic to get 3 or 4 guys back (near-OAD level) that have Final4 experience. Look what returning experienced high-level talent did for Calipari in the 2012 Championship season of theirs. The same season Self was caught a bit flat-footed in the talented-depth dept. Not that Selby cares, but I wonder if the light-bulb on “not NBA ready” has ever went on in his head yet…? (could have used a healthy, cocky Selby in Yr2, but its just my KU-selfish thought there…)

    I think Self just doesnt ever want to get caught flat-footed. The concern is how will his ‘product’ be if he dumbs it down too much for the inexperienced newbies trying to execute it? (hint: see 2013-14 season, worst team Self has put out on the floor).

    Bill Self has put out several coaching videos (over 400min of in-depth breakdown of his system), which detail “breaking any zone D”, “team and on-ball D”, “high-low offense”, “complex motion offense with multiple options on every possession”, etc…Notice how this last team, with the highest talent potential, had the least experience in executing, as well as a couple of key starters being SOFT. Thus you get the embarrassing results against zoneD’s, pressingDs, and trouble executing in the half court sets…the dumbed-down version of the half court sets, that is.

    Dont want a Kentucky-style OAD factory, because it wont work with Bill Self’s system, and a watered-down Self-system is NOT an acceptable basketball product (as we saw last season). I didnt like letting Jay Wright’s smallball Nova embarrass us, just like I didnt like giving a West-Coast upstart (SDSU) a win against us in AFH. Bill Self sure didnt make us the winningest program for 6yrs straight with performances and products like the '13-14 Hawks.

    To cement my point: consider if Wiggins and Embiid both came back for another year, now experienced…how good would Self’s product be. His is NOT an OAD friendly system. Efficient execution on both ends of the floor, and tough physicality…simply favors the multi-year player.

    Self’s been devastating opponents since his Tulsa days with his system, so I hope he doesnt fall for Calipari’s sales job. Notice how KU is trying to build posh dorms for the players, like KY. Everybody needs to remember KY can only get 3-5 OAD’s/yr. That’s all they have room for, without causing mpg strife. Unless Cal is able to slick-talk a top 20 kid into riding pine for a year, so that he too can have that magical power of experience+talent (like he’s about to have this year.) At least KU has that going for it this year, as a lot of talent returns, now experienced.

    Bill Self needs to stay Bill Self. Quick yanks and all. (Although whoever is operating under the “RushRules of mpg” will not suffer the quick yank nearly as often).

  • @ralster

    You explained much better than I did why Coach Self’s system does not work well with OADs and is better suited for teams with more experience. The system could work with only one OAD per season but more than that and then it starts to weaken. Hopefully KU restricts itself to one OAD per season, although from the coach’s perspective I can see where it would be very difficult to pass on elite players, even when they will stay only one year.

  • When sports evolve so should coaches. Coach Cal has dominated recruiting and has been to 3 of the last 4 final fours doing so. Embrace the OAD era or become out dated. Its like your old lap top, it still gets the job done but there are computers that are so much better. HCBS is smart enough to see how coach Cal is getting it done over at UK and will make coaching changes or system changes to WIN championships. Bragg wont sign with KU because he and his parents know he will be recruited over if he stays longer than one year. I would imagine the rest of our roster is getting anxious knowing that most of the top 25-100 guys have signed with a school but the top 25 are all waiting to see what the others are going to do. Most of these top 25 guys walk in to KU and start over the guys that have waited their turn. KU will land a few of these guys and pretty much anyone we sign will start. HCBS system is evolving so he can WIN point blank. The old way of doing things aren’t enough to get the job done any more. If you think that coach Cal isn’t going to the final four this year then you are delusional. So weather his system of coaching works with OAD’s or not he has to evolve or we play second fiddle to UK for a long time.

  • @JayHawkFanToo The “plug in” OAD … where there is an obvious hole and talent is not sufficient to cover that spot. That would be optimal. But really what we’re talking about – and @ralster hit the nail on the head, is that coach Self’s system thrives on experience. All systems thrive on talent. But Self’s systems, and coach Self personally, seem best suited for a touch of experience. That experience being something other than a freshman, really. That first year is just rough under Self.

    The plug in OAD may work in the post heading into next season, but he needs to be ready to play. Zimmerman seems a reasonable choice, paired with Bragg. Add those two to Ellis, with our other post depth, and we won’t be worried inside. I still think Zimmerman may not be an OAD – OAD fringe, maybe. Don’t know for sure.

    Now, this is where I normally go into an anti-OAD rant, and how you could win a title without them (like all but two title teams have), but I won’t.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    “Carlton Bragg is the perfect recruit.”

    Better… he’s the perfect “Self recruit!”

  • @ralster

    I agree with your ideas to a point. I agree that Self has a lot of in depth things that he runs and that those things require practice. However, I disagree that last year’s team was Self’s worst - I would argue that the team from the Rush-Chalmers-Wright freshman season was worse.

    The other thing to remember about last year is that the two things that hurt us most were Embiid’s injury and a lack of elite (or even above average) talent at PG. If Embiid is healthy, I think we get by Stanford and probably beat Dayton. The Florida rematch is a toss up, but a healthy Embiid probably sends us to the Elite Eight. Heck, a healthy Selden may have been enough to get to the Elite Eight. But with neither Embiid (at all) or Selden (operating at what, maybe 75%), KU was reduced in overall talent level to a point where Stanford was pretty close to as good as us. Selden at 75% isn’t an NBA caliber talent. Tharpe isn’t an NBA type talent. Neither is Ellis most likely, although he is a very good college player. No Embiid at all. Traylor is a good college energy guy, but its not like those guys aren’t available to every other school in the country. Frankamp and Mason don’t set us apart from a talent perspective. Injuries reduced us to a Stanford type level.

    Every system works better with experienced players because college practice restrictions mean that most times, unless the core has been together for a full offseason, the level of reps is not very high. But talent cannot be substituted for with experience. A guy like Landen Lucas is nice, but he can’t replace a talent like Alexander. Andrew White is nice, but trust me, you would rather have Ben McLemore, Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre for one year each.

  • @justanotherfan I hope HCBS is selling the fact that we get unlimited practice time next summer for the university games and recruits 3 OAD’s to represent the US and to get a jump start on the season. I hope he is out there selling KU and the USA telling them that if they choose KU they WOULD win a NCAA championship with 3 OAD’s and a deep talented bench!

  • @Statmachine Coach Squid changed the entire structure of college basketball. Last year’s recruiting class solidified our place at the OAD table. It literally came out of no where. One minute, we couldn’t get a top prospect to save our lives- the next thing we know, we have them in bushels. We have two top 10 players coming in to replace our 2 Top 3 picks in the NBA draft. That’s some tall cotton we’re walkin’ in. We should get our share of the 2015 elites as well.

    We aren’t going to be able to put the genie back in the bottle. I know some folks disagree, but I think Coach’s seminal moment came in that title game against Kensucky. He saw KU’s most experienced team get whipped by a team that that was more talented. Hey, we had the ALL-American down low, we also had the best rim protector since Wilt, we had a fast as lightening point guard, and the best defender on the team at the 3. We were simply one of the best defensive teams in the country, and we were dominated. I;ll never forget Tyshawn getting his stuff smacked back in his face on every drive to the basket he made. We started 3 5th year seniors…seniors in their 5th year, and we couldn’t give them a game. That’s about the time period when Coach was interviewed, and said he’d rather have talent than experience.


    The thing with the OAD era is that if you consistently have that talent, as Calipari has shown, you will always have a seat at the table when it comes down to it. As I wrote a while back, since 2006, Calipari has only missed the Elite Eight in 2009 and 2013. Other than the UCLA streak of championships under Wooden and Coach K in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I don’t think there has been such a long string of consistency as far as postseason success by a coach, and if so, I can’t point to one in the last 15 years.

    The simple reason why Calipari is there that much is that he fields one of the six or seven most talented teams every year. If his team is healthy come March, you can basically write him into the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight. I think Coach Self saw that and has decided that he wants the same thing. If healthy, I think we had a Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight squad last year and I think we have the same this year, maybe more.

    A lineup of non-elite recruits - something along the lines of Mason-Greene-White-Ellis-Lucas - isn’t a lineup that you look at and say is an Elite Eight lineup, even though that’s a more traditional college lineup of a two sophomores and three third year players. But a lineup of Graham-Selden-Oubre-Ellis-Alexander could absolutely be a title team. The experience (assuming those guys all played between 10-15 minutes during their previous years in the program) can’t make up the talent gap when comparing the Selden-Oubre-Alexander trio to Greene-White-Lucas.

  • @justanotherfan Agreed, except for Greene. Of all the players on our team, the most interesting to me (beyond the new guys) is Greene. I am transfixed with his skill set. I am mesmerized by the scowling look, and the Rebel without a Cause media interviews. This guy is pure 100% competitor. I don’t think we’re talking huge dropoff with either Selden or Oubre on any level with Greene.

  • @justanotherfan So why is it, then, that in the OAD era only two title teams have had even one OAD (Syracuse '03; UK '12)?

    It is a huge mistake to think that OADs are the answer. For the right coach, and the right system, they can be “a” path. But they are not “the” path.

    The KU lineup of Mason, Greene, White, Ellis, and Lucas – I think the only one we need to trade out is Lucas. And with Self’s recruiting, we should have a top 60 guy there. Add that in. Say a Withey. Actually, let’s use an old go-to name … a Karviar Shepherd-type player…

    That is definitely a national title contender.

    And I would take that lineup, with *experience", over a grouping of OAD talent any day of the week. But you also added in Selden and Graham to your preferred lineup. Neither are/were presumed OADs. You would rather have Oubre and Alexander as freshman, over top 60ish guys as juniors, for example?

    And I would actually say that the OAD deal doesn’t get you a seat at the table. See Kentucky in 2013. They played in the NIT. So while there are peaks, there are big valleys (that isn’t all bad, but it refutes the premise).

    Relying on OADs is fools gold. It’s headlines. It’s style over substance. It ignores that freshmen, by and large, need to develop.

  • @KUSTEVE Some times no matter how much you practice talent out does you. Lucky for Lucas, Mickelson, and Traylor they all should have enough credits to graduate and potentially be free agents next year if we sign 3 bigs and they are not feeling good about their role as quality substitutes.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Very nicely done HEM. I guess the one area we agree is that the OAD route is not a long term answer and a less talented but more experienced team would have the edge.

    Having said that, and with the prospect of the NBA changing the eligibility rules so players stay in College for two years, then Coach Self’s system becomes effective again.

  • @HighEliteMajor when UK played in the NIT they had about the same record as our team last year and they didn’t win there conference. If Nole was healthy experts that year said they would have been in the field of 64. So HEM are you saying that UK has just been lucky the last 3 out of 4 years? How lucky will they be this year with all the talent on their roster? Are you also saying that HCBS is not capable of corralling and getting a team of OAD’s to gel? I think you are going to be pleasantly surprised and you will come to embrace the OAD culture after a few titles…

  • @Statmachine Ooooh … I like questions.

    I admit that there are holes in my argument on OADs. It isn’t clear cut. There is gray area. I admit that I point to examples that may (or may not) prove my point, but they appear to prove my point.

    One “truth” we can agree upon – talent is extremely important. Agreed. Freshman, sophomore, or Julio Franco hitting doubles off the wall at age 45. Talent is talent.

    But in a team game, there are many more moving parts.

    I do agree that overwhelming talent is hard to argue with.

    In my many OAD discussions, I’ve relied upon one important factor – coach Self. I do not believe that his strength is mixing together an OAD pie. He is a system coach. Calipari is not.

    Calipari obviously works well in the OAD environment. For the technical coaching aspects that some say he is lacking (which I don’t buy), he makes up for in the ability to manage high talent, and large egos. His coaching is about the players. Last season was masterful.

    But coach Self is about the system. Learning the system. working within the system. Restricting players within the system. Heck, an NBA scout prior to draft cited that Wiggins was held back by Self’s system. It’s a common belief. Plus, coach Self is famous for his impatience with freshman errors. His mindset favors comfort, and experience.

    1. UK has not been lucky three of the last four seasons. They have been very good, and very well coached.

    2. I don’t know how good they will be this season. But I assume Cal will have them playing well come March.

    3. Yes and no. Coach Self is capable of corralling OADs, but not in his current mindset. I think he would have a very tough time. Look at last season. Two of the top three picks, and we have our worst season in quite some time. How do you beat that talent? Couldn’t play defense.

    4. If we get a “few titles” (I assume you mean real titles … the NCAA kind), yes, I will embrace the OAD culture. Heck, one would suit me fine.


    You wrote…

    but I think Coach’s seminal moment came in that title game against Kensucky. He saw KU’s most experienced team get whipped by a team that that was more talented. Hey, we had the ALL-American down low, we also had the best rim protector since Wilt, we had a fast as lightening point guard, and the best defender on the team at the 3. We were simply one of the best defensive teams in the country, and we were dominated. ll never forget Tyshawn getting his stuff smacked back in his face on every drive to the basket he made. We started 3 5th year seniors…seniors in their 5th year, and we couldn’t give them a game.

    I don’t believe that KU got “whipped” by or that we were “dominated” by Kentucky in that game. KU was within 5 point with 1:38 left in the game and if not for a couple of easy missed shot, this game could have gone the other way. Unfortunately KU dug itself a deep hole in the first half that could not overcome. Do you realize that KU outscored Kentucky by 6 points in the second half? How is that for giving them a game? If not for Doron Lamb (a sophomore by the way) going nuts, this game ends up differently. Not bad for a bunch of lower ranked recruits playing against top ranked and experienced players of which the top 3 performers at the game Lamb, Miller and Jones ***WERE NOT *** freshmen, Miller was actually a senior…so experience does count.

    Also, I don’t know where you get your information but KU did not have "3 5th year seniors…senior in their 5th year; " Withey, Releford and Young were all Juniors. and played another season for KU. You are probably thinking of the 2012-2013 season.

    As far as the All-American, he clearly outplayed the Unibrow and had better stats in every category except blocks, which were Withey’s job on that team.

    Anthony Davis: 1-10, 6 points, 16 rebounds, 6 blocks.

    Thomas Robinson: 6-17, 18 points, 17 rebounds, 0 rebounds.

    Remember that prior to the draft he used to wear a t-shit that said look at the numbers/stats, or something along those lines; a clear reference to the title game. Granted that Robinson missed a couple of dunks late, but overall he performed very well.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I added Selden because if he had been healthy last year, I absolutely think he could have been an OAD. He returned because of health issues limiting his production. I added Graham because KU hasn’t had an elite PG recruit since Sherron Collins. I wish we had a better PG, honestly. But we don’t. We have complained about PG woes for the last few years. If you are banking on experience, you’re basically betting that a guy will get better at basketball than he is right now, because he isn’t good enough right now. But what if he doesn’t get better? If you’re betting on talent, you’re betting that a guy will be good at basketball now, without hoping that he will get better later on. The talented guy will make inexperienced mistakes, but also make talented plays. The experienced guy won’t make as many mistakes, but there are some plays that he just won’t be able to make.

    UK has proven that you can be good year in and year out with OAD’s. They went to the Elite Eight with Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe, went to the Final Four the next year with Brandon Knight (probably would have been the favorite to win it all had they had an eligible Enes Kanter), won it all with Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, etc., missed the dance with an injured Noel and Co., then went to the title game with Randle, Young and the twins. They are in the hunt just about every year. Not just projected to be. Actually there.

    The thing with experience is you get maybe one shot every three or four years. With talent, you can be there just about every year. Why did UK beat a very experienced KU team in the 2012 final? They had more talent. They were just better at basketball. Had we had McLemore to go to, we could have played with them because we could have evened out the talent. But the simple fact was that regardless of experience, when you have Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the college level, you have a defensive behemoth that almost nobody can touch. No amount of execution can eliminate Davis’ shot blocking.

    I would not take the lineup with White and Shepherd over Oubre and Alexander. Oubre and Alexander are better at basketball than White and Shepherd. As I’ve said before, to win a title, you have to get some breaks along the way. Every title team gets those. But more than that, you have to be in the conversation. Oubre and Alexander give us a chance to be in the conversation this year. White and Shepherd would not. You can hate UK all day long, but if they are healthy, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see them playing deep into March again this year.

  • @justanotherfan You say Oubre and Alexander are “better at basketball” than are White and Shepherd. Are you sure of that? I’m with you, though. I assume so.

    But are Oubre and Alexander better as freshmen, than White as a junior and Shepherd as a sophomore? That is more relevant.

    Even more relevant … are Oubre and Alexander better as freshmen in Self’s system than White as a junior and Shepherd as a sophomore would be (assuming both played prior seasons under Self)?

    I don’t know the answer for sure. Embiid was damn good as a freshman. So was Wiggins.

    Try this –

    I would trade Alexander right now for Karviar Shepherd. Straight up … IF … IF … he had played for Self last season as a freshman. Would you? Would you rather gamble on a highly talented guy that has a year under his belt in Self’s system, over an unknown quantity? Instead of Shepherd, think Marcus or Markieff as sophomores.

    That said, I would trade Oubre right now for Andrew White – for this season only. That’s a closer call in my mind. But I’d do it right now. Is Oubre more talented? Sure. But with OADs, it’s a one shot deal. (of course, Oubre might not be an OAD. The sophomore season could be incredible). Oubre could close any gap if stayed another year. But this is a one year, OAD deal. If I had to bank my March on one of these guys, I’d go White. Again, much closer call for me than the Shepherd/Alexander deal.

    But you do make a compelling argument. There are some topics I feel “for sure” about … this ain’t one of them.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Under the conditions you outlined, I too would take Shepherd for Alexander. However, I would not take White over Oubre. We talk a lot about White and his potential…but so far it has been only potential and the reality is that he could not make the starting team or get playing time last season, and,with one year of experience under his belt, chances are he he would still not have made the starting five over Oubre. This would seem to indicate that there are limitations to his game that we do not know but the coaching staff is aware and hence his transfer to a different program…

  • @JayHawkFanToo So you would take Shepherd as a sophomore who would probably average Ellis’s sophomore season numbers best case scenario over 16 points 10boards from the #1 PF in the 2014 class? IF and its still an IF, Big Cliff goes #1 or even top 3 in next years draft he brings more publicity to KU than Shepherd. Added bonus either way you look at it.

  • @JayHawkFanToo We were never in that game. Ever. Not when we were 5 points away, not when we were tied. We never took the lead - we never took control. Now, we were so good defensively, we stopped them winning by 20, but we were never in the game. I apologize for my recollection of our experience. I did get the two years mixed up…lol. Still, we were way ahead in the experience category. Maybe my mind is searching for a lofting point of when our program changed from a “up the ranks” to more of a OAD approach, and I’m simply trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Perhaps not. Because it was about that time that Coach talked about preferring talent over experience. It’s my speculation, and dang it, don’t disturb it with facts…lol. I’m sorry for my Skip Bayless moment. The dynamic remains the same - we listened to two hours of announcers yammering about how young Kensucky was - and they were.

    I have refrained from commenting on whether I actually like or dislike the OAD system. We have Brady Morningstar as an example of why experience doesn’t always work, and Josh Selby as an example of why a OAD doesn’t always work.

  • @HighEliteMajor You will be talking next year how wrong you were about Oubre…lol.

  • Two points:

    1. Hypothesis–Cal did not change the game. George Raveling and Nike changed the game with talent stacking. Cal and Sean Miller just happened to be the guys picked. Likewise, Pitino and Self are not reacting to Raveling and Nike. Adidas is. Pitino and Self just got picked. And Raveling and Nike are not acting in a vacuum. They are reacting to adidas earlier increased push into D1. This is a two player game–Nike and Adidas. All the coaches are trying to do is figure out how to adapt their legacy systems of play to the talent distribution asymmetries being created by a two player producer struggle for branding, endorcers, and market shares.

    2. The key to coaching remains unchanged: fit the right pieces together with the most MUAs to beat six opponents in 3 two-game tournaments in March.

    Systems are a collection of slots filled by personnel. Pick the right ones and they become greater than the sum of their parts. But even then they have to start with INDIVIDUAL MUA. For this reason, Self has to learn how to work with at least two OADS, maybe 3, OADS simply to get the one every game MUA player needed to play for rings.

  • @HighEliteMajor said:

    I would trade Alexander right now for Karviar Shepherd. Straight up … IF … IF … he had played for Self last season as a freshman. Would you? Would you rather gamble on a highly talented guy that has a year under his belt in Self’s system, over an unknown quantity? Instead of Shepherd, think Marcus or Markieff as sophomores.

    I understand that you’re making a totally different point here, so don’t take this as a comment on OADs at large, but in this particular case, I actually would take the frosh Alexander and here’s why: Alexander got ejected from a game last season with two technicals, and suspended from the next. Karviar Sheperd got T’d up once last season, and it was for hanging on the rim after a missed dunk.

    Now I know what you’re thinking; how the hell is getting ejected from the game a good thing, right? But Self’s best big men have tended to be the ones with that level of passion. TRob got T’d up 4 times his jr season (and honestly, it probably should have been a couple more), taunting, walking over opponents, and overall just fighting for his portion of the hardwood (he even threw an elbow and was ejected from one of his first NBA games). The Morris twins as jrs stopped getting mad at bad calls or rough play, and simply got even (and though I would have never admitted it at the time, they were master cheap shot artists). JoJo got T’d up 3 games in a row, going so far as to put a fist to a jaw.

    Who didn’t get T’d up? Wiggins. He had some amazing games, but he never put the spurs to anyone. I don’t remember Xavier Henry ever getting one. Selby too. McLemore’s only T was doing a goofy dance after hitting a 3 in the Big 12 tournament. That’s not to say that you have to get T’d up a lot to be a great player, or that you want guys just running roughshod and getting thrown out of games, but when push comes to shove… Well, shove someone, dammit. Let the Marcus Smarts of the world take their flops, or scowl at the refs. I want the kid that’s going to stand his ground. Alexander may be raw and he more than likely won’t develop to his full potential in one year at KU, but I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going to play hard, hit hard, and be fearless on the court. OAD or NBA long shot, I want a team of what Kelly Oubre called ‘savages’. I’m hoping he and Big Cliff are true to their words, and that gives me hope for a better ending to this season than last.

  • @justanotherfan

    “You can hate UK all day long, but if they are healthy, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see them playing deep into March again this year.”

    If they remain healthy they should be the team to beat this year in March. They’ve got the tallest D1 team of all time. 3 footers to go along with their tall twins out on the perimeter. They are stacked with All-Americans, and many of those are back for year 2.

    Their weakness is Calipari being out-coached. Their weakness is still the twins, if opponents can get over all the intimidation of playing such a tall team and get out there and put pressure on the twins. The only way to beat this team is to beat them at x-axis basketball. Win the game from about 6’3" and lower. Big perimeter pressure, steal passes and dribbles, play more physical and get rebounding position and win the boards, draw fouls with fakes, control tempo… just get Kentucky out of their game. The twins will still choke if there is enough pressure. They are still only a few months older than they were last year when they constantly choked. Last… their weakness is too much media all year creating chaos and slowing down their development.

    Self is going to have to put the heat on these kids. The pressure starts from the coaches, and ends with the kids putting up big pressure on the court.

    We could easily lose our B12 streak this year. We are going to have to really hustle to win it this year.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I don’t believe we were whipped in that game either. However I do believe we played into their hands. At the time I was surrounded by UK fans, and while debating that game with them, I said that we should play Davis straight up (no double team), take away everyone else and make him beat us. The best part of his game was his passing so we should’ve taken that away. This was the thing that worried the UK fans the most leading up to the game. That strategy worked well for us twice against Durrant and Beasley here at AFH. I was really surprised and disappointed when that didn’t happen. Wow, I wasn’t posting here then; that sure felt good to get that off my chest! Sorry if this is all old news! 🙂

    In regards to Davis and TRob stats, everybody had already crowned Davis National Player of the Year before the season had started. We could have held his stats to zero, had Releford lock him up with big D, and had TRob wear off that unibrow with the bottom of his shoe while hanging from the rim, and it wouldn’t have mattered. 😉

    Thanks everybody for letting me get that out. It’s been two years coming!

  • On the OAD thing, I hear everybody’s points but I’m ready to jump off the train. One or two to fill a need is fine, but man, it’s going to make an old man out of me quick!

    Maybe the biggest fear I have is that we lose all the great success stories that we get from players growing and then having a chance to make basketball their life. Guys like Releford and DJack are making a living with basketball because they weren’t recruited over and were given a chance. Jamari may be the last one if we continue down this road, and that’s just sad.

  • @KUSTEVE Now, I’m not down on Oubre at all. Looks like a great player. Just comparing to AWIII as a junior. But I sense you are subtly reminding me of my Tharpe love last fall … duly noted.

    And you cite Morningstar for the proposition that I’m supporting. This is an alternative universe. If there ever was something to cause me to rethink my entire existence, that might be it!

    @statmachine Remember, it’s not Shepherd this next season. It’s Shepherd after theoretically playing one season under Self. And you sure do have lofty numbers pegged for Alexander – you are projecting essentially Julius Randle numbers (15.0 ppg/10.5 rpg). Heck, how many players under Self have ever averaged close to those numbers? TRob 17.7/11.9, Cole 14.9/11.1, Simien 20.3/11.0 & 17.8/9.3. I might temper those expectations a bit. Embiid was 11.2/8.1.

    As a note, Shepherd was 9.1/6.8 his freshman season at TCU.

    But I really can’t argue with your projections too much … Alexander might be = Randle. I thought Randle was the right plug in OAD last season for us and would have preferred him over Wiggins. Alexander is a nice plug in OAD this season and fills a clear need. My point is that I wish we didn’t need the plug in OAD and had quality, high talent depth instead.

    @konkeyDong I like that outside of the box thinking. So who are the guys with attitudes on this team? Mason, Greene, Alexander. Anyone else?

    And by the way, I’m not down on Alexander or Oubre at all, so that’s clear. I think they both will be great assets. And Self pursued and bagged the best talent available. The OAD discussion for me is always a macro approach to team basketball under Self.

  • @HighEliteMajor Gotta give it up for ya Maj. once the OAD merry go round starts it tough to get off. They’ve got to tweak that friggin rule, it’s ruining the college game. Surely the L doesn’t want that, it’s their minor league-for free !!

  • @globaljaybird

    “They’ve got to tweak that friggin rule”

    Amen on that!

    “Surely the L doesn’t want that, it’s their minor league-for free !!”

    We should all be thrilled at the lambasting of Goodell in the NFL. I’m thinking all the other pro league head offices are thinking of cleaning up their act before their heads go on the chopping block.

    There are going to be stories coming up, showing athletes like Selby, who went from 0-100 in two seconds, then back to 0.

    Suddenly all the pro sports start thinking about their image and hire marketing and PR people to help them review policies.

    The OAD rule might end sooner rather than later because a football player punched his girl in the elevator.

    BTW: there is only ONE sport in this country… M O N E Y ! Catch it while you can!

    Filmed at 11…

  • @globaljaybird Hey! I was wondering this weekend just what happened to Oakville? He was one of my favorites from the old site. Do you have any idea where he’s at? Any way to send out a search party and coax him from wherever he is to here?

  • @jayhawkbychoice Glad you asked. Some of the guys that are still registered at have IM’ed him & they’ve received no response. About the first of the year we even started a thread on buckets to entice him to join in our forum but to no avail. Slayr, HEM, nuleaf, myself & several others wrote snippets on the thread for several days why we needed Oakville to join buckets, but our efforts fell short. Maybe it’s time to revive our quest. He is one funny & hoop savvy guy, & he’s buried deep in enemy territory (ST Louis). Another recon is a damn great idea. Reading Oakville oddities is about the only reason I ever even click on the LJW site anymore. Oak would be in the starting lineup here at buckets-he’s one witty dude.

Log in to reply