There’s no turning back now. Julian Wright will be drafted on Thursday night in New York. Where he will be drafted is debatable, but the slender 6-8 forward will play his basketball in the pro ranks next season, that’s a given.
That means Kansas must move on and figure out how to fill the void left by its third-leading scorer.
“I don’t think it does (change things). I really don’t,” Self stated emphatically. “I think we’re still going to be very athletic. Losing Julian we lost a great prospect no question, great player. But we also have a great prospect waiting in the wings too with Darrell Arthur.”
There’s no doubt after talking to Self he’s expecting Darrell “Shady” Arthur to emerge for the Jayhawks this season. Shady is currently in the midst of tryouts for the under-19 USA Basketball team and Self believes Arthur is more than capable of picking up some of the slack after losing Wright. Arthur averaged a shade under 10 points, and 4.7 rebounds per game – Self expects those numbers to improve and if he takes care of business, there will be more minutes available for the McDonald’s All-American in next year’s rotation.
Julian gave Self a lot of options because of his versatility, but don’t expect to see anything drastically different out of KU, maybe just a tweak here, and tweak there. But that doesn’t mean Self won’t be looking for ways to maximize his talent next year, including dabbling in a four-guard lineup.
“We’ll be a little more conventional than maybe what we have been in the past. Playing two bigs, because Julian is kind of a swing guy, we’re playing probably two bigs and three guards. But also I like the idea of playing four guards around one too and we can do that some so I don’t think it changes whole a lot to be honest with you,” Self again confirmed.
Julian certainly fit into KU’s up tempo style but Self sees no reason KU won’t put the pedal to the medal next year in transition. Collins, Robinson, Chalmers, and hopefully a healthy Brandon Rush return at the guard spots. The Jayhawks interior players are certainly no slouches in the speed department. Darnell Jackson, Kaun, and Shady can all really get up and down the floor. Get up and down with those guards running the show and you will likely be rewarded.
“We’ll play faster this next year because we’re more experienced and we’ve got Sherron and Shady that will be a year older,” Self said. “I think we’ll be able to get up and down the floor even quicker than we did this past year. I think Julian definitely fit the way we play, but I think Shady does too. Shady’s probably the fastest athlete, and the fastest big guy and he’ll be playing more minutes if everything falls right for him.”
The Jayhawks are ranked third in ESPN.com’s early poll and still loaded despite the loss of Wright. McDonald’s All-American, Cole Aldrich enters the fray this year giving KU another big body up front. But there are some who question whether Aldrich fits the up tempo mold of KU.
“Cole’s one of our guys but we’ve got Darnell, Sasha, and Shady and we can play small. Cole is not yet where those guys are athletically and their ability but he’s going to be fine,” said Self who says that the game will not change when Aldrich enters the lineup.
So with strength, speed, and skill up front and a lightning quick backcourt, Kansas gives its fans a lot to look forward to.
“Our guards -- we’re going to be as fast as anybody. We may not be as fast as anybody nine deep, but we’ll be as fast as anybody seven deep,” said Self.