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.