Jayhawk Wrap Up


Drake Mattis, Sports Editor

On March 26, the 2015-2016 NCAA basketball season came to an end for the Kansas Jayhawks. In a tight game against another heavyweight in Villanova, the Wildcats simply outplayed the Jayhawks in the final minutes when it mattered the most.

This was the final game for senior forwards Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor, who were key contributors throughout the season, and would also prove to be the final game for junior guards Wayne Selden, Jr. and Brannen Greene, who both declared for the NBA Draft. Both of these players stated that they would be hiring agents, meaning that they cannot return to school for next season.

Another player whose situation is a little bit different is Cheick Diallo. The freshman forward who saw little playing time throughout the year also declared for the draft, but he did not hire an agent. This means that he can still return to school for the next season if NBA scouts don’t think he would be a first or second round pick.

Unfortunately for Jayhawk fans, it is looking more and more unlikely that Diallo will return for his sophomore year. He was suspended for the first five games of the season by the NCAA due to eligibility issues related to $165 worth of impermissible benefits. Before Diallo even played in his first collegiate game, he was highly regarded as one of the best players in the class of 2015 and possibly an early first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. But throughout the season, his playing time was limited as coach Bill Self wanted to develop underclassmen more while giving veteran players the bulk of the playing time.

As for the Jayhawks, this strategy by Self proved to be somewhat successful as they marched their way to the Elite Eight before being stopped by Ryan Arcidiacono and the Villanova Wildcats. Though they did not make it to the Final Four as many had predicted, the Kansas Jayhawks had the best season out of anyone in college basketball.

Along with winning the Maui Invitational, the Jayhawks were Big 12 Champions of the regular season and they won the Big 12 Tournament. They remained steady in the top 10 polls all season, and stayed at the very top for a number of weeks along with capturing the number one overall seed in this year’s wild NCAA Tournament.

Looking forward to next season, the Jayhawks will be thinner than first expected with the early departures of Selden, Jr. and Greene. They have two recruits who may not make immediate impacts but could be vital in the long term in five-star center Udoka Azubuike and four-star power forward Mitch Lightfoot.

The current Kansas roster for the 2016-2017 season may look troublesome for some Jayhawk fans, and their quest for a thirteenth straight Big 12 regular season title may be more difficult than it has been in the past. But this is not the first time things have not looked so hot for the Jayhawks shortly after an NCAA Tournament departure. The offseason will give the Jayhawks plenty of time to build up their team along with time to grab a few more top recruits who have not decided on where they will be playing next year yet.