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 week or so, KC Kingdom will feature a series of player profiles, taking a look at each player on the team and where they may fit in.
Tarik Black graduated from Memphis in just three years and therefore is immediately eligible to play for the Jayhawks this season. Black is a Bill Self type of player. He will offer two things this Jayhawk edition desperately needs – experience and a physical presence. He has played in 102 college basketball games and has stated 60. He’s a smart, and physically and mentally tough. It also helps he comes from a winning culture, as Memphis won 82 games (77%) in his three seasons there, with two conference championships.
On a team very thin on actual collegiate game experience, Black should be invaluable this season for the Jayhawks. With only Naadir Tharpe, Perry Ellis, and Jamari Traylor with any significant minutes under their belts, Black should offer a steadying influence. His tough mentality and bruising physicality should help in the development of some of Kansas’ other big men – Ellis, Traylor, and freshmen Landen Lucus, and Joel Embiid.
In his three years at Memphis, Black averaged 23 minutes, 9.3 points, and 4.9 rebounds a game. His career field goal shooting percentage is 60% but he only shoots 54.8% from the line. Last season, he REALLY struggled with free throws, going just 52-116 (44.8%) for the charity stripe.
While there is a lot to like about Black, he will need to increase his rebound totals and that abysmal free throw shooting. He only has 7 double-digit rebound games in his career. He needs to bump his average up to around 8 boards. If he cannot raise his field throw percentage, he won’t be in games late if the score is close. He just can’t be.
It was very smart on Self’s part to bring Tarik Black into the Jayhawk fold. His presence will allow Traylor, Embiid, and Lucas time to improve and develop in the course of the season. He is here to to be an influence on the court and in the locker room, showing the youngsters what it takes to win basketball games.
Black’s playing time will hinge on how fast those youngsters develop, especially Embiid. If Embiid gets better and stronger quickly, he may take minutes from Black later in the season, especially if Black does not improve his rebounding and free throw shooting.
Tarik Black will be a key to success in the early part of the season as Kansas will face some of the best teams in the nation early on. His game experience will come into play against Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Colorado, and San Diego State, plus whomever Kansas faces in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
While the youths on this team get their collegiate legs under them, Black will be a steadying force in the Jayhawks line-up
It will be very surprising if Black does not start. Of course, no one thought Kevin Young was going to be a starter a year ago, so anything can happen, but Black was brought in as an experienced placeholder until the young big men are more ready to contribute on a larger basis.
Adding Tarik Black to this recruiting class was brilliant. He should be be a huge piece of the puzzle for the Kansas Jayhawks this season.