The Jayhawks were already going to be loaded this season with Devonte Graham, a potential All-American, returning for his senior season and Udoka Azubuike healthy after missing last year due to injury along with Malik Newman becoming eligible after a transfer from Mississippi State and recruits Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett bolstering the ranks. The return of Mykhailiuk, though, only solidifies Kansas’ place not only atop the Big 12, but in the country.
Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-8 forward, had something of a breakthrough season as a junior, posting career highs nearly across the board, including shooting 39.8 percent on nearly five 3-point shot attempts per game. With his size and shooting ability, Mykhailiuk was sure to garner professional interest, even though it would have been more likely than not he would been drafted in the second round of next month’s draft.
Mykhailiuk’s situation is certainly a unique one for college basketball as the Ukraine native enrolled at Kansas in 2014 just after his 17th birthday. He won’t turn 20 until next month, making him the same age as many sophomores and more likely to be viewed by NBA teams in the future as having upside, rather than a typical 22- or 23-year-old senior who scouts look at as having come close to reaching their ceiling.
Mykhailiuk wasn’t going to be the linchpin of Kansas’ success next season, but his decision to return shouldn’t be underestimated. His size, experience, skill and versatility provide the Jayhawks with a real weapon that will help alleviate pressure and expectations from other players up and down the roster. He’s very much a difference-maker for a team that will be contending for a spot in the Final Four.
What if today was college basketball’s trade deadline?
In honor of today’s NBA trade deadline, where far too many people will spend the day obsessing over where Goran Dragic, Enes Kanter and Reggie Jackson will end up, we give you college basketball’s deadline deals.
If teams at the collegiate level were allowed to swap players, what are some moves that could help turn pretenders into contenders, or contenders into favorites? Here are six trades that would fill holes on the roster of both teams:
1. North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks for Cal’s Jordan Mathews
UNC makes this trade because: The Tar Heels have plenty of bodies up front. What they need is another player on their perimeter that can knock down jumpers. Mathews is shooting 45.0 percent from three on the season, meaning he is a guy that would allow Marcus Paige to play on the ball more.
Cal makes this trade because: They need help on the interior. Badly. Losing Mathews is not exactly ideal, but with Jabari Bird on the perimeter as well, they have the depth to be able to make a change. The Bears are not as far out of the bubble picture as you might think, and adding this piece for the stretch run could be the difference.
2. Ohio State’s Kam Williams for Texas’ Prince Ibeh
OSU makes this trade because: Ibeh is as big, as physical and as athletic as any front court player in the country. He can block shots, he can run the floor and he can go blow-for-blow in the post with anyone. Texas can spare him because he plays essentially the same role as Cameron Ridley, who is worlds better offensively, but Ohio State would make use of him as the shot-blocking presence that allows them to extend their defense.
Texas makes this trade because: One of the issues for Texas this season is that they have too many big bodies and not enough scoring pop in their back court. Williams is a streaky shooter, but he’s a guy with a reputation for being a big-time scorer that can provide scoring pop off the bench or from a starting role.
3. Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss for Louisville’s Shaqquan Aaron
Washington makes this trade because: This season is a bust for Washington, who watched as their chances to make the NCAA tournament disappeared when Robert Upshaw got the boot. They need to start over, and what better was to do that than by bringing in a former top 30 recruit from Seattle. Aaron was lambasted by Pitino after the loss to Syracuse on Wednesday, meaning he may be out the door already. Why not try and get something in return?
Louisville makes this trade because: The biggest issue for Louisville this season? They don’t have a lead guard on their roster that makes everyone else better. Terry Rozier is extremely talented, but he’s a scorer first, second and third. Chris Jones is an elite defender, but he’s a gunner that wants to be Russ Smith. Nigel Williams-Goss is not an ideal fit defensively for Rick Pitino, but he’s one of the nation’s most underrated point guards, a guy that will get easy shots for some of his new, offensively-challenged teammates.
4. BYU’s Skyler Halford for San Diego State’s Angelo Chol
BYU makes this trade because: The Cougars need some physicality in the paint, and Chol will provide that. He’s not really a low-post scoring threat, but he blocks shots, he rebounds, he plays hard and he’ll provide a big, physical body in the paint to help deal with guys like Brad Waldow and Gonzaga’s front line. He can be to BYU what Jameel McKay is to Iowa State.
SDSU makes this trade because: The Aztecs cannot score. They lack elite shooting and they don’t have enough playmakers on their roster to help breakdown a defense. Halford is a knock-down jump shooter and a better creator than he gets credit for, and he’s an expendable piece for the Cougars given how many talented perimeter players are on that roster.
5. Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas for Kansas’ Svi Mykhailiuk
Syracuse makes this trade because: The Orange literally are not playing for anything this season beyond pride, thanks to the ludicrous decision that the school made to self-impose a postseason ban for this year. That means that Christmas, a senior having an all-american caliber season, is a valuable piece. Mykhailiuk is a freshman, but he’s only 17 years old. He’s long, he’s athletic and he can shoot, meaning he’ll fit in the Orange zone, and he needs at least one, maybe two more years in college before he’s ready to go pro.
Kansas makes this trade because: The one thing the Jayhawks are missing this season is a true low-post scoring threat, and that’s precisely what Christmas is. He’d take the pressure off of their perimeter players, and while giving up Mykhailiuk means giving up a terrific prospect, it would make Kansas a real national title contender versus being a streaky shooting team with a shot at the Final Four.
6. Indiana’s Stanford Robinson for Louisiana’s Shawn Long
Indiana makes this trade because: Indiana has been forced to play small-ball this season because of their lack of size in the paint. They spread the floor, they jack up threes and they are as entertaining as any team in the country when those threes are going down. But they’re also the worst power conference team on the defensive end of the floor, and Long should help that. He’s a 6-foot-9 shot-blocker that can score on the block and has three-point range.
Louisiana makes this trade because: Losing Long hurts, but adding Robinson might end up being more valuable. Remember, this is the program that turned Elfrid Payton into a lottery pick, and while Robinson is a different player than Payton, the former top 30 recruit can still be a dynamic slasher from the wing. He’s fallen out of favor at Indiana, averaging just 11 minutes.
Yannick Moreira, New Zealand’s Haka dance highlight Tuesday’s World Cup
New Zealand got their chance to play against the United States in group play of the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday, and while the Kiwis impressed with their pregame Haka dance, the Americans still won, 98-71.
The loss dropped New Zealand to 0-3 in group play and put them in a position where advancing is going to be a tall task.
That’s really neither here nor there for college hoop fans, but it’s worth noting that there are two collegiate hoopers on that New Zealand team — Tai Webster of Nebraska and Isaac Fotu of Hawaii. Against the Americans, Webster finished with just four points in 15 points, going 1-for-5 from the floor and turning the ball over four times against Team USA’s loaded back court. Fotu faired a little bit better, chipping in with eight points and a pair of rebounds in 17 minutes.
Webster and Fotu have been solid playing against some very good competition, but perhaps the most impressive college player at the event has been Angola’s Yannick Moreira, who plays for Larry Brown at SMU. Moreira was a top JuCo recruit in the Class of 2013 but wasn’t quite as good as he was expected to be as a junior. That may change next season, however, as Moreira has had a pair of big games in Bilbao. He finished with 16 points and 10 boards last week against Korea and, on Tuesday, he posted team-highs of 13 points and nine boards in a loss to Mexico.
The only other college hooper in action in Tuesday’s World Cup action was Kansas guard Svi Mykhailiuk. He went scoreless in nine minutes against Turkey, but the Urkanians picked up a key win over Turkey. The win will go a long way towards getting Urkaine through group play.