Losing big man Joel Embiid was something Kansas head coach Bill Self and his staff planned for from a recruiting standpoint, with the Jayhawks landing Cliff Alexander and Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson eligible after sitting out last season. But there’s room for others to step forward and work to earn more playing time, with Landen Lucas being one players hoping to do just that.
According to Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World the redshirt sophomore has dropped nine pounds from his 6-foot-10 frame since the end of the season, but the shift in weight isn’t because Lucas felt he was heavyset. Lucas’ stated goal was to decrease his body fat before getting back to the weight he played at, hoping to raise his lean muscle mass in the process.
Lucas will play on an Athletes in Action team next month in Estonia and Latvia, and while those games won’t be played alongside his teammates they will provide solid game experience to a player who averaged just 4.9 minutes per contest in 2013-14.
“It definitely should be a fun time. It’ll be great because I really haven’t had a chance since high school (to play extended minutes),” said Lucas, Kansas University’s third-year sophomore center who is carrying 231 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame, down nine pounds from his listed weight of 240 last season.
“It’ll be good to get a feel for it and get ready for next year,” added Lucas, who worked as a camp counselor Saturday at former KU staff member Sean Harrington’s Players Camp at New Century Fieldhouse.
Embiid wasn’t the only personnel loss Kansas had to absorb in its front court, with graduate transfer Tarik Black also moving on. But with Ellis leading the way the Jayhawks won’t lack for bodies in the post, because in addition to Alexander, Lucas and Mickelson they also welcome back Jamari Traylor (4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg). Ellis and Alexander will be the headliners, but it takes more than two interior options to make a run at a national title especially when considering the depth other programs possess.
Within the Big 12 Texas added Myles Turner to its deep front court rotation, Iowa State has Jameel McKay and Giorgos Tsalmpouris to play along side Georges Niang, and programs such as Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma have solid interior options as well. And from a national standpoint multiple (expected) national title contenders have front court depth as well. How much more playing time Lucas earns remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t hurt Kansas to see him take a step forward in 2014-15.