With the first exhibition game for the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team just a couple weeks away, it is time to start taking a look at the players who will make up the 203-2014 men’s squad. Over the next 2 weeks, KC Kingdom will feature a series of player profiles, taking a look at each player on the team and where they may fit in.
Jamari Traylor has been a project for Bill Self and his staff since arriving on campus two years ago. He red shirted his first season, then made surprising strides during his freshman campaign, especially on the defensive end of the court.
Traylor grew up on the mean streets of Chicago. If you don’t know his story, take a few minutes to read ESPN’s Jason King’s excellent article about Traylor’s youth. It will give you perspective on life in general, and new level of respect for Jamari Traylor. His tale is a great human interest story for everyone, not just Kansas Jayhawk fans.
As a red shirt freshman, Traylor was certainly an unpolished product, but one that was clearly improving. He played in all 37 games, averaging 9.6 minutes an outing. He scored 76 points and pulled down 76 rebounds, a 2.1 average. On a team lacking muscle and presence, Traylor was second on the team with 28 blocked shots. He trailed only the all-time Big 12 record holder in this category, Jeff Withey.
It is difficult to see just what Traylor’s role will be this season. Kansas brought in senior Tarik Black, a transfer from Memphis, to provide muscle in the middle. Perry Ellis was making huge strides at the end of last season, and is a much more polished scorer than Traylor.
Incoming freshman Joel Embiid is a raw young talent with immense upside, who will probably be smoother on both ends of the court than Traylor. Lastly, Landon Lucas, who red shirted last season, is added to the mix of big guys vying for playing time.
Look for Traylor to take a back seat this season to more developed talent. This does not mean he cannot contribute in games and practice. It is difficult to see how he will fit into Bill Self’s tight rotations. He might get more or less playing time based on game-to-game match ups. He may split a rotation spot with Lucas. Or, he may just earn more playing time through hard work and personal development.
Regardless, it looks like Traylor’s biggest contributions to the Kansas Jayhawks may come in future seasons. With his tough mentality, he will probably improve his game each season, and will be a force to be reckoned with as a junior and senior.
All of the new, glamorous, high octane, talent the Jayhawks will have this season may spell a drop in minutes for Traylor, or at least, no increased playing time, but look for there to be some games where Jamari Traylor will provide some significant contributions to the team effort.
He will have more game experience than a couple others who are battling for playing time, so there may be a few times during the course of the season when Self will think Traylor will be the best option.
Patience is the key for Traylor when it comes to playing time. If he is patient, works hard, and improves his overall game, his time will come. Most likely, his playing time will be a bit suppressed in 2013-2014, but look for him to be a huge cog in this junior and senior seasons.
It is a testament to the Jayhawks’ depth this season that a player like Traylor will be a luxury on the bench rather than being counted on as one of the top 6 or 7 players.
Jamari Traylor will have moments in this year when he will shine, but his star is fated to shine the brightest in future season.