Who Should Start?


It’s never too early to begin discussing the potential starting five that Coach Bill Self will display this season. Yes, it’s about to be college football season and yes, tip-off for KU’s basketball team is still two whole months away. However, with new additions to the roster, including a few transfers, it’s time we dive into the potential starters for KU come November.

The point guard position should be locked up with Tyshawn Taylor. I say should be because Taylor will be Taylor at certain parts of the season, so here’s to hoping it’s nothing too serious this year. With incoming freshman Naadir Tharpe nipping at Taylor’s heels for playing time this could pan out well for both players, being that a competitive fight for the PG position can only make the two better in the long run.

Now comes the tricky part with the gaping holes at the shooting guard position because of the departures of Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar. The obvious answer is Elijah Johnson, and deservedly so. His consistent numbers last year are promising for this year’s team and no one (except Thomas Robinson) deserves a starting spot more than EJ. However, there is the high rising and deep-ranged threat that is Ben McLemore. I’d be shocked if BMAC found his way to a starting role early in the season but don’t be surprised if he nabs a start here and there, particularly if his play progresses the way many KU coaches feel it can.

The small forward position is undoubtedly the toughest to predict at this point. Does Self go with the offensively shaky production of Travis Releford or roll the dice with newcomers like Kevin Young or Merv Lindsay? Releford’s consistent defense will probably earn him the starting role at the beginning of the season but I’d like for it to be a three-man race come mid-November.

Now for the easiest part of this story, who on Earth could possible replace the Morris Twins at the power forward slot? Answer, you got it, Thomas Robinson. No one on KU’s roster has a higher ceiling than TROB and with the past couple years he’s had to endure (not to mention the lack of respect shown by college basketball “analysts” like Dick Vitale) it’s fair to presume he’s in for a monster season. TROB will start at either PF or center at the beginning of the season and you’d better believe he will hold that role all the way to the Big Dance.

For the games TROB starts at PF, it pains me to say that Jeff Withey will probably start at center. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like Withey’s added weight this offseason and seems determined to be an impact player this year. At the same time, certain players in basketball have limitations, and Withey may have already reached his. Basketball has transformed into a physical and up-tempo game, two traits that Withey seriously lacks. Now for the games that TROB starts at center, the door is wide open for the PF start. Could it be Justin Wesley’s time to shine? Will Braeden Anderson fit into KU’s offensive scheme? Jamari Traylor sure looks mean in the paint (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tptLVqbOK0) and could win Self over with that kind of defensive intensity.

Regardless of who starts it’s an exciting time for KU basketball. This is the first year in quite some time that the expectations are below the norm. Self has assembled a team that is all about coming together and figuring this thing out without the abundance of NBA talent KU is used to having year after year. Maybe not having the star-studded cast and focusing on team-first basketball will help the Jayhawks show better results come March.