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Basketball

Ncaa Tournament: Usc Hands Kansas Basketball Warm Ups, Lineup Versatility At An All

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Posted by Matt Tait July 7, 2021 at 3:42 p.m.
Kansas coach Bill Self laughs on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson) by Associated Press

There are 125 days between now and when it actually matters, and that should provide KU fans with plenty of time to dream up at least that many different lineups for the 2021-22 Kansas men’s basketball team.

Luckily, the current KU roster is loaded with both the kind of talent and the number of bodies that make such an exercise a possibility.

From five super seniors and four returning starters to four freshmen to 10 new faces, the Kansas lineup figures to look a lot different during the upcoming season than it did a year ago.

That is, of course, except for when it doesn’t.

With returning starters Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, David McCormack and Jalen Wilson all viable options to handle similar roles this season, a completely new-look KU roster might have a very familiar look to it when the games begin.

It’s what happens when foul trouble and fatigue set in, making substitutions necessary, that things will get really interesting.

And I would imagine that KU coach Bill Self and his assistants are drooling over the possibilities. Here are but a few of them, some of which are more likely than others.

My Starting Five

(as of July 6, 2021)

PG – Remy Martin

SG – Ochai Agbaji

3G – Christian Braun

4 – Jalen Wilson

5 – David McCormack

People have been writing off ChristianBraun a little bit, but I just don’tsee it. I think he brings everythingto the starting five that you want ina player and I expect him to haveimproved his shot and physicality inthe offseason, making him poised for astrong junior season. Outside of that,I think the other four are all butlocks to start.

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Top-25 Second Unit

PG – Dajuan Harris

SG – Joseph Yesufu

3G – Jalen Coleman-Lands

4 – Cam Martin

5 – Mitch Lightfoot

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This is one of those “would be rankedor finish in the top half of the Big12” type of teams and at least four ofthese guys are likely to playsignificant roles this season. Thelone exception could be Lightfoot, buthis experience and shot blockingability could help him carve out areserve role if Cam Martin and/or ZachClemence aren’t ready for big minutesright away. Either way, this backcourtis pretty darn good, with twoplaymakers and a couple of shootersand Martin and Lightfoot are bigenough to do what they need to do onthe glass. Looking at this team givesyou a clear picture of why the 2021-22Jayhawks are so highly thought of thisoffseason. Four of these guys couldplay starter type minutes and blendvery nicely with that first unit.

Let’s Play Big

PG – Christian Braun

SG – Ochai Agbaji

3G – Jalen Wilson

4 – Cam Martin

5 – David McCormack

This obviously will never happen — 1.Because the game has gotten smaller,not bigger and 2. Because Selfprobably wouldn’t be comfortable withthose guys as his primary ballhandlers — but Braun has been theinitiator of the offense in spots inthe past and that trio in the backcourt would give KU a size advantageon just about anybody. The big thingthis presents is the idea of playingCam Martin and David McCormacktogether, something I think Self willat least consider doing a fair amountof the time, provided they fit eachother and can do what needs to be donedefensively to be out there at thesame time.

Let’s Play Small

(aka Opposing Ballhandlers’ Worst Nightmare)

PG – Dajuan Harris

SG – Remy Martin

3G – Joseph Yesufu

4 – Ochai Agbaji

5 – Jalen Wilson

I love this look. And even if it comesin a more traditional sense with thosethree little guards and Wilson andMcCormack on the floor, I think thiscould be a very dynamic lineup.Harris, Martin and Yesufu out theretogether could make life miserable foropposing guards. And all three aregood enough offensively — even ifthey’re on the smaller side — to keeptheir presence on the floor fromhurting KU’s bottom line. I don’tthink we’ll see this lineup very much.But if the matchup is right and KUneeds a defensive spark, I could seethis group being the group that playstogether for 4-6 minutes andcompletely turns a game.

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Top All-Newcomer Look

PG – Remy Martin

SG – Joseph Yesufu

3G – Jalen Coleman-Lands

4 – Zach Clemence

5 – Cam Martin

Talk about a pretty good crop ofnewcomers. Four of the five werestarters at their previous stops andthe fifth — Clemence — was a Top 100recruit who brings offensive anddefensive versatility with him. Thereare simply too many talented returnersto expect to see Kansas lean on thenewcomers this hard. But this lineupshows you loud and clear that KU’sdepth is on another level this season.That should keep things competitivefrom start to finish and it alsoshould keep guys fresh late in gamesand late in the season.

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Wings Across America Tour

PG – Joseph Yesufu

SG – Ochai Agbaji

3G – Christian Braun

4 – Jalen Wilson

5 – KJ Adams

Until Remy Martin to Kansas becameofficial earlier this week, there wasa real chance that Yesufu was going toget a long look as KU’s point guard.In this lineup, which features fiveplayers who could thrive on the wing,Yesufu runs the point and the othersrun around all over the floor withhim, spotting up, slashing, gettingout in transition and crashing theoffensive glass on every possession.

Old Heads

PG – Remy Martin (23)

SG – Jalen Coleman-Lands (25 on July 15)

3G – Cam Martin (23)

4 – David McCormack (22)

5 – Mitch Lightfoot (25 on Juy 14)

A lot has been made about the age ofsome of these guys — most notablyjourneyman Mitch Lightfoot — but thatmaturity and veteran presence figuresto help this team a tremendous amount.Beyond that, even if you played thefour oldest guys on KU’s roster, itwould still be a pretty decent team.Having Cam Martin, McCormack and Mitchout there together would make it kindof clunky and make this teamvulnerable on the defensive end. So wewon’t ever see it exactly this way.But there’s no doubt that the foursomeof Martin, Coleman-Lands, Martin andMcCormack could team with Agbaji — asenior himself — to still field apretty old and experienced five andchange the outlook in a hurry. I knowsome have already mentioned it, butadd to these five two other seniorsand you’re looking at a marathon nightof speeches on Senior Night late inthe season.

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The Youngsters

PG – Dajuan Harris

SG – Bobby Pettiford

3G – Kyle Cuffe Jr.

4 – KJ Adams

5 – Zach Clemence

On the flipside of things, this wouldbe the youngest team KU could put onthe floor. And we’re much more likelyto see that group of old men before wesee this bunch. For one, I thinkthere’s a good chance that Cuffe, whoreclassified up to get here early,will redshirt. The other four allcould play some kind of role thisseason, but exactly what that lookslike is not yet known. I thinkPettiford and Clemence are going togrow to become players KU fansabsolutely love. And Cuffe is maturebeyond his years and Adams is aphysical mismatch waiting to happen.It’s just a matter of opportunity andhow quickly all of these guys make theadjustment to the college game thatwill determine how much they’ll playduring the 2021-22 season.

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Bombs Away Bunch

PG – Remy Martin

SG – Ochai Agbaji

3G – Jalen Coleman-Lands

4 – Jalen Wilson

5 – Cam Martin

This is a pretty fun team and it’s notthat much of a reach to picture theseguys being out there together.Coleman-Lands is a career 37% 3-pointshooter, who has two seasons of betterthan 38% shooting under his belt,including last season when he shot39.5% from downtown at Iowa State. Cam Martin shot better than 40% from3-point range for much of hisAll-American time at Missouri Southernand Ochai Agbaji led the Big 12 in3-point makes and was fourth in3-point percentage in the conference.And then there’s Martin, who never meta shot he didn’t feel like he wasgoing to make, and Wilson, who isequally as confident when he lets itfly. Space the floor and let it flywould be the mantra with this bunch,and because of that these Jayhawksshould be a much better shooting teamthan the 2020-21 group was.

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