Monday, March 26, 2007

Now that that's over and done with...

I can finally relax a bit and look forward to bask... football, football season!

I knew I'd get that one right.

So, probably nobody gives a rip about my thoughts for next year's Kansas team. But, what good is this pulpit if I don't use it. Actually, I'm more writing this to see if anyone does a break-down on next year's MU squad as well, since I don't have quite the familarity with it as I did when I was still in school.

First off, I'm sure by now you've heard this bit of
news. To any Arkansas readers we may have, who may think Bill Self is now cleaning out his office to head to Fayettville... allow me this moment - Ha ha ha ha ha! I'm better now.

Arkansas may call Self, but one, he's already said he's not going anywhere; Arkansas, Kentucky, etc. And, two, KU's response will probably be "Homie don't play that game!" And, will proceed to throw more money at Self's feet. Sorry, Arkansas, but Bill Self is going to be in Lawrence for the 2007-08 season.

I tell you who won't be in Lawrence... Brandon Rush. At least I think there's about a 60 to 75% chance Rush will make the NBA leap this summer. All indications are he could be a mid-round pick... next year. But, the reality is, Rush is already old for a college sophomore, let alone an NBA rookie, especially in a league that drafts as much on "up-side" as it does on results. Unfortunately, that means Rush will lose another year of earnings potential if he does stay at KU, and that's a chance he can't risk. Depending on how things shake out, he'll probably go mid- to late-first round and be perfectly happy as a off-the-bench defender/spot up 3-point shooter. He's not a marquee-build-your-team-around-him guy, but he would give any squad quality minutes, and after his initial 3 year rookie contract, probably bounce around the league from year-to-year.

This next player may be a bit idealistic on my part, but I am about 70% sure Julian Wright is coming back to Kansas next year. By all accounts, he promised his mom he would earn a degree before going to the draft, and if not for his mom, he would have not come to Kansas in the first place. So, I think that shows just how much weight she carries when it comes to his decisions. Plus, he did really dissappear in the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8, so that may chew at his mind in making the decision. I leave a 30% window, because if someone were offering me $3 million a year for 3 years to leave school... I would have to really think about it.

Now, Darrell Arthur may think about testing the draft waters, but the reality is, he faded way to much in the second half of the season, especially in conference play to expect anything more than a second round pick. I think Self will make that readily apparent to him and he'll remain in Lawrence, at least one more year.

Everybody else stays in a Kansas uniform. Plus... one major addition: Cole Aldrich. From many accounts, I get the feeling this kid is the consistent low-block scorer Kansas has not had in uniform since Nick Collison. The kind of guy you can give the ball to 5-feet from the basket, and you know he's going to get it in there. Kaun is a great defensive player but is not a force offensively, Jackson could be a similar guy to Aldrich, but I think he's much better served as a really tenacious rebounder. Both Wright and Arthur seem to do better a little further away from the basket. But, this Aldrich kid, he could be something special before all is said and done with his time at KU.

I'm not into season predictions this far away from the opening tip... but I think all of these new coaches are going to do their damnest to improve their squads, and I think KU is prepared to meet that challenge head on.

So, now I have to ask, does anyone have early returns for MU next year, especially the recruits that Anderson is bringing in? I think this is the part of the transition from mid-major to major basketball that coaches stumble with the most. Consider Bruce Webber at Illinois. It's becoming more and more clear that he cannot recruit Big Ten style players to Illinois. He probably doesn't have a problem getting similar kids like he did at SIU, but in the long run... those guys don't cut it when you're going up against Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State on a nightly basis. I'm curious if Anderson is going to be able to recruit those kids that will buy into his system, but also be players that you could say: "Yeah, I could any of them at Texas, Kansas or any other school in the conferece." Thoughts?