While some freshmen entering college basketball hit the ground running, either meeting or exceeding the preseason benchmarks set for them, others go through growing pains as they get used to a new program and new responsibilities. In the case of Kansas wing Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, the 2014-15 season was one that got off to a good start but ultimately finished with the 6-foot-8 Ukrainian on the periphery of the Jayhawks’ perimeter rotation.
With most of the team in South Korea representing the United States in the World University Games Mykhailiuk sought to make sure he’d be more of a factor in 2015-16, working hard both in the weight room and on the practice court. According to Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star the sophomore has added 17 pounds to his frame, and he has a greater understanding of things both on the court and in other aspects of campus life as well.
“With the team, I’ve been here for one year,” Mykhailiuk says. “So I know how everything is going, how things are working. I know the coaches and what they want from me. I know what they want from the team.”
In the offseason, Mykhailiuk set out to add strength and bulk to his frame, but he also wanted to refine his jumper. Entering college, his shooting ability was thought to be a strength. But for myriad reasons, Mykhailiuk never found a consistent rhythm as a freshman. This summer was about correcting that.
Where Mykhailiuk fits into the Kansas perimeter rotation this season remains to be seen, with many of last season’s contributors back for another season. Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr., who led the way last season and in South Korea as well, will return to their starting roles. But the departure of NBA first round draft pick Kelly Oubre Jr. opens up minutes for a host of players to claim.
Mykhailiuk is one of those possibilities but he won’t lack for competition either. Freshman LaGerald Vick was able to pick up valuable experience in South Korea, and both Devonte’ Graham and Brannen Greene will be available after being sidelined for the World University Games due to injury.
The good news for Mykhailiuk (and Kansas) is that he’s put in the work needed to place himself in position to earn more minutes, and that should only benefit all involved as the Jayhawks look to remain atop the Big 12 and play deeper into the NCAA tournament in 2015-16.
No. 5 Kansas tested by Alan Williams and UC Santa Barbara in 69-59 win
Kansas, ranked No. 5 in the preseason rankings, welcomed in one of the top Alan Williams and UC Santa Barbara — one of the top mid-major programs in the nation — to Allen Fieldhouse on Friday night, and pulled out a 69-59 win.
The Gauchos had kept it close in the first half, and a 10-0 run in the opening minutes of the second half cut the Jayhawks lead to 39-37. But for a five-minute stretch, the trio of Frank Mason, Cliff Alexander and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk scored KU’s 19 points to extend the lead to 15. UC Santa Barbara would get it to 10 on multiple occasions, but could never crack through and cut the deficit to single digits.
Bill Self did not start any of his heralded freshmen, but Devonte Graham led all Jayhawks with 14 points. Graham, the former Appalachian State signee who fought all of last winter to get his release, was the spark late in the first half. After being hit with his second foul, Graham returned to the game and behind the freshman floor general, KU went on a 10-0 run, which led to a 31-23 halftime lead.
Williams, the 6-foot-8 senior, recorded 16 double-doubles last season, ended with game-highs in points (22) and rebounds (13) to go along with four blocks.
Kansas now sets its sights on top-ranked Kentucky in Tuesday night’s Champion Classic in Indianapolis. UC Santa Barbara plays one of the best mid-major non-conference games of the year on Monday night at Florida Gulf Coast.
Isaac Humphries, a four-star 2016 power forward, was also named to the All-Youth Tournaments Team. The 6-foot-10 Aussie averaged 18.9 points and 11.6 rebounds in the U17 World Championships in Dubai. Australia ended up reaching the gold medal game, though, Humphries was plagued with early foul trouble — then limited by the likes of Diamond Stone, Ivan Rabb and the rest of the U.S. front court — as USA Basketball held on for a 99-92 victory.
Malik Newman, the No. 3 overall recruit in the Class of 2015 by Rivals, was named to the honorable mention list. Newman led the U.S. to the U17 World Championship. The 6-foot-3 lead guard led the U.S. in scoring at 14.9 points, adding 4.3 assists per game. Dillon Brooks, the leading scorer in the FIBA U18 Americans Championships, also was a near-miss. The 6-foot-5 wing was part of a Canadian team that lost to USA Basketball in the gold medal game. Less than two months later, Brooks committed to Oregon and enrolled in school for this season.
Cedi Osman (Turkey), Dragan Bender (Croatia) and Stefan Peno (Serbia) rounded out the All-Summer Youth Tournaments Team.