Kansas is going to enter next season as one of the nation’s top ten teams, the favorite to win their 11th straight Big 12 regular season title and a contender to win a national title.
In fact, the Jayhawks have a very good chance of being better next season than they were last season, when two of the projected top three picks in the 2014 NBA Draft were on the roster of a team that won the Big 12 regular season title.
But that doesn’t mean that Kansas will enter the season without question marks, as they have a number of players at key positions that will need to prove themselves. Can Perry Ellis be the go-to guy on a team that makes the Final Four? Just how good will Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander be in their first year at the college level? Can Devonte’ Graham, Frank Mason or Connor Frankamp be the answer at the point?
And then there’s Wayne Selden. Selden was considered a potential lottery pick entering last season and likely would have gone in the first round had he decided to enter the 2014 draft, but that was more based on potential than it was his performance as a freshman. He averaged just 9.7 points last year, but it was a season that was hampered by a knee issue that he had surgically fixed this offseason.
From the Topeka Capital-Journal:
“You can’t really make excuses, because I’ve been playing with my knee like that for three, four years now,” Selden said. “So it became normal, and I didn’t really realize it.”
Selden has worked to rehab the knee over the summer and is still getting treatment for it.
“It’s feeling pretty good,” Selden said. “I don’t think I’m still fully 100 percent, but I feel like I’m getting really close to being there.”
Selden entered college with the reputation of being a powerful slasher, but the knee injury hampered some of that explosiveness limiting him, at times, to playing a role as a spot-up shooter. That’s not his strength.
But with a healthy knee and an offseason’s worth of rehabilitation, the hope is that we will get a chance to see a brand new Wayne Selden next season.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.