Kansas is ranked No. 7 in the 247Sports preseason countdown

G Bobby Pettiford Jr.: Self was so bullish on Pettiford (6-1, 190) last year that he routinely referred to him as Kansas’ next great guard, pointing to Pettiford’s strength on the ball and low center of gravity, two traits that some people were familiar with. of Kansas’ better guards. But Pettiford needs to get in and stay healthy. He only played in 14 games last year and has battled some nagging things this offseason. He’s healthy and already on the court, and Self said he wants Pettiford to run the team in Harris’ absence. Can Pettiford (or Harris, for that matter) stretch the floor enough for them to play together? That could tell if he gets 10-15 minutes per game or pushes for 20 plus. He only attempted three 3-pointers last year, so no sample size to speak of, but he showed flashes attacking the basket.

G Joseph Yesufu: Yesufu (6-0, 180) is a dynamic athlete who didn’t shoot the ball as well as he did on a tear at Drake last year, which led to him getting Kansas’ attention in the first place. If Yesufu can approach that level of outside shooting (38.4% on nearly seven attempts per 40 minutes), Kansas will kick some smaller lineups to play alongside Harris. And the Jayhawks did it last season in conference play when Remy Martin has been out with injury and has had some success in those groups — Kansas was 0.07 points per possession better with Harris and Yesufu in the game than with other lineups, according to HoopLens, slightly better defensively and significantly better offensively. Yesufu mostly projects as a smaller guard, with Self favoring Harris and Pettiford.

F KJ Adams Jr.: Adams (6-7, 225) is a bit of an enigma this year. He earned court time in key defensive situations a year ago as someone who can play the five and switch to smaller players late in the game. Case in point: on North Carolina’s last possession of the national championship game, Adams was on the field as a true freshman playing center. The former four-star recruit has more offense than he showed last year as a situational player and will likely get some minutes this year as Wilson’s backup at the four. But with Kansas facing questions on Wednesday, will Adams find the majority of time at that spot again?

C Ernest Udeh: Udeh (6-11, 250) looks like the most traditional center option in Kansas’ arsenal, with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and potential as a shot blocker, screen setter and guy. Here are some things to watch: avoiding fouls, the struggles of many young big men and his defensive positioning. Self found success defensively with big men who weren’t great rim protectors in terms of shot blocking, but had to understand how to protect the paint with their bodies. If Udeh builds up to that quickly and adds a level of shot blocking, he could emerge as Self’s option at center. Udeh is ranked as the No. 7 center and No. 32 player overall by 247Sports.

F Teeth Ejiofor: Ejiofor (6-9, 240) lacks Udeha’s measurables, but he doesn’t lack production-wise, using his strength and intensity to produce even against some of the best high school bigs in the country. Had 16 points, 16 rebounds, six blocks and three steals against a loaded Finals team that included two five-star big men: lottery picks Jalen Duren and current Duke freshman Derek Lively. Ejiofor brings a college-ready body, and the No. 5 power player and No. 46 player in the 247Sports rankings has been a slightly better shot blocker than he’s given credit for. Expect him to be at the center of the battle as well.

G MJ Rice: That’s too little for Rice (6-5, 215) in terms of where he’ll be in the rotation, but all three players ahead of him have tracks (however small) to start, though it’s more of an uphill battle. The former No. 12 small forward and No. 37 overall 247Sports two-spot winger speaks to the need for Dick’s shooting. Rice is a powerful shooter and there is a path for him to become the Jayhawks’ sixth man and microwave shooter off the bench. He can be a sharpshooter who can put up big numbers quickly, and on a team with some offensive questions that could allow him to add real value.

F Cam Martin: Another potential candidate for minutes at the five, Martin (6-9, 230) redshirted last year after transferring from Missouri Southern State, where he was an All-American and a terrific outside shooter, making 45% of his attempts from 3. But Martin’s lack of length and athleticism could prove problematic on the defensive end, and Self tends to have his non-negotiables for a point guard in that regard. That would seem to put him out of contention a bit to start and limit his ceiling as a possible rotation player, especially considering Clemence can also shoot but has more potential in other areas.

G Kyle Cuffe Jr.: The No. 109 overall (four-star prospect) prospect in the 2021 class by 247Sports, Cuffe (6-2, 185) was a great athlete who reclassified from 2022 to arrive early in Lawrence and redshirt. He has a tough road to playing time, especially with Kansas really needing to shoot, and Cuffe is more of an athlete who thrives in transition. He’s an explosive athlete, and while his path to playing time is likely blocked, history has shown that if Cuffe plays with a high level of effort and defense, he could earn odd minutes here and there.

G Michael Jankovich: For most of these previews, we’ve focused on either scholarship players or walk-ons who have already proven to be key players. But Self admitted that his quest to shoot could lead to Jankovich (6-5, 190) getting some non-waste minutes with his shooting ability. Ideally, other players will join and this extra help is not needed. But Self said there’s at least a chance Jankovich kicks into the lineup as a ninth guy who can come off the bench and hit the odd 3-pointer.


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