Bill Self has seemingly had a revolving door of NBA-level frontcout talent the last few years. It’s pretty darn incredible that the Jayhawks have gone from Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson to Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins to Thomas Robinson in the present.
But since prospective freshman Braeden Anderson and Jamari Traylor have been declared ineligible, Kansas will find itself in unfamiliar territory this season: without a big man succession plan coming off the bench.
The loss of the highly-touted guard Ben McLemore will hurt too, but Self should be able to compete with his presumptive starting trio of Elijah Johnson-Tyshawn Taylor-Travis Releford. He should also be able to squeeze enough depth out of freshman Naadir Tharpe and even redshirt senior walk-on Conner Teahan.
But the frontcourt is more of an issue behind Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson. Kevin Young (6’8”), a junior transfer from Loyola Marymount, could find himself being leaned on heavily. In two seasons at Loyola Marymount, Young averaged 10 points per game on 45% shooting and 6.2 rebounds and 1.o blocks per game.
Young’s former coach at Loyola Marymount, rather uncharacteristically for a coach, seemed to be candid in saying that Young wouldn’t be an offensive threat in the half-court but could be a factor in the open floor.
If this is the case, the Jayhawks already explosive transition offense could get a bit better. But they wouldn’t seem to rely on Young for offense regardless, his contribution would have to come from playing defense and making an impact on the offensive glass.
In that vein, in his freshman season in 2009 Young (10.3 OR%, 15.9 DR%) put up rebounding numbers somewhat similar to what Marcus Morris did in 2010 (12.8 OR%, 14.1 DR%). The cause for concern is that those numbers slipped in 2010, and obviously the competition will be different in the Big 12. But for those looking for the glass-half-full take, perhaps those numbers indicate Young can grow into a contributor on the glass.
It is possible that walk-on redshirt sophomore Justin Wesley (6’8”) could see playing time if things get dire, but I am only saying that because of his size. Self could also shift to a four guard lineup at times and retain some size as Releford, Johnson and Teahan are all 6’4” or above.
Side note: Because I am a new to advanced stats (and math-challenged to be honest) and can’t stand when blogs keep dropping them into posts without explaining them, here is kenpom.com’s explanation of DR% and OR%.
Offensive rebounding percentage (OR%): This is the percentage of possible offensive rebounds a player gets and computed as PlayerOR / [%Min * (Team OR + Opp. DR)]. The denominator is scaled based on the percentage of a team’s minutes played by the player.
Defensive rebounding percentage (DR%): This is the percentage of possible defensive rebounds a player gets and computed as PlayerDR / [%Min * (Team DR + Opp. OR)]. It is generally believed that offensive rebounds are more attributable to individual effort than defensive rebounds. Due to its relative rarity, an offensive rebound is considered more valuable than a defensive rebound.