With the first exhibition game for the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team just a week 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.
Landen Lucas won’t be the best scoring big man this season for the Kansas Jayhawks. He won’t be the best rebounder. He won’t be the best shot blocker, and he won’t be the best interior defender.
There is a chance though, that Lucas could be the second best big man in each of these facets of the game, although he will have to battle for playing time all season.
As a high school senior in Oregon, Lucas averaged 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 blocks a game. The foundation for a good skill set is in place. The question is, he will be ready to contribute in a major way on the floor this season?
Lucas is the biggest mystery on this team. He was on last year’s squad as a redshirt freshman, and had a whole year to develop his game and his physique. According to Shay Wildeboor, from JayhawkSlant.com, on Tuesday at the Big 12 Conference Media Day, Self commented on Lucas’ improvement over the course of last season.
“I think he has become a lot more confident, he’s obviously more explosive and has more of a scorer’s mentality and he’s very bright. He gets what we are doing. He is one of those guys that over time is going to be a really good player for Kansas. He is just starting to scratch the surface and get it. I could not be more pleased at where he is at this stage in his career compared to where I thought he would be when we first recruited him. He’s far ahead of schedule, from my perspective.”
What is interesting about these comments is what Self didn’t say. He gave no indication that Lucas is far enough along to break into the rotation. He mentions that Lucas “…over time is going to be a really good player…”. This would indicate his game still needs some growth despite the strides he has already made.
On how deep the Jayhawks would go, again according to Wildeboor at JayhawkSlant.com, Self had this to say:
“It doesn’t really matter because we will probably only play nine, but it could be a different nine. I think it’s one of those teams that could be a different nine depending on who’s playing well. It is a team where we play a solid nine in every big game, which we probably haven’t done in years past.”
Self is a stickler on his rotation and one big man is going to be left out. With the Jayhawks need of experience, Tarik Black will probably start. Perry Ellis will be the best offensive big man, so he will also start. Freshman Joel Embiid will get plenty of playing time as well. That leaves Lucas probably battling the more experienced Jamari Traylor for the fourth big man spot in the rotation.
Traylor is physical and a good shot blocker but lacks offensive polish. Lucas is probably more well rounded but maybe just not quite ready for full time play.
There is a lot to like about Lucas as a big man. He has great size at 6’10″, 240 pounds. He has had a full year under the watchful eye of Andrea Hudy, Kansas’ strength and conditioning coach, so he should be getting stronger in all the right ways.
Landen Lucas will play this season. Whether or not he can earn a regular rotation is yet to be seen. Kansas has a lot of weapons this season, and Lucas may just be one that that needs a little bit more sharpening, and will be ready to be a stud next season.
(Note – There was no picture of Landen Lucas in our data base.)