Back in November, the first member of the Kansas Jayhawks 2016 basketball recruiting class signed his paperwork – Mitch Lightfoot of Gilbert Christian in Tuscon, AZ. Lightfoot comes to Kansas after being named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Arizona. How does he fit in with the 2016-2017 Jayhawks?
Lightfoot, who finished the year ranked as the top player in Arizona in the Top247 Composite, joins Kansas after a prolific career at Gilbert Christian (AZ). In his senior year, Lightfoot led his team to another state title by averaging 17.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.8 steals and 4.8 blocks per game.
Lightfoot’s skill that will help him see early playing time is his shooting. He’s not an elite shooter, but he is a very capable 3pt shooter – especially on set shots – and also has shown great touch around the free throw line and the extended elbows. As he progresses in Lawrence, we expect Lightfoot to extend his range around the floor and become a more consistent high post shooting threat.
One of the other thing we noted – and something we’ve heard from a few scouts that have seen him play a bit more – is that Lightfoot is a solid and willing passer both from the low and high posts. In the high-low offensive system under Head Coach Bill Self, shooting and passing from the high post are essential to being a successful forward.
Lastly, Lightfoot brings a competitive fire with him that should help him compete for a spot in the lineup. He’s a player that always hustles, competes for rebounds, chases down blocks, and in general displays a very good motor on the floor. In this way, he’ll remind some people of how hard Jamari Traylor played in his career. Atlhetically, Traylor is also a decent comparison for Lightfoot, as both are great straight-line runners and good leapers.
Measuring in at 6’7″ and under 200 pounds, Lightfoot will likely have a long adjustment period to the physicality and size of division 1 basketball. Most of his career has been spent in the lower levels of AAU and small class Arizona basketball, which means he’s rarely had to face off against other players of his athletic caliber. Luckily, Kansas has one of the best strength and conditioning programs in the country to help get Lightfoot built up properly.
As of now, Lightfoot does not possess much in the way of a post game on the blocks. He will need to continue to develop his hook shots and finishing down low in order to consistently get minutes at Kansas. He struggles to seal opponents in the post, which is something that should be rectified as he gains weight and strength.
Defensively, Lightfoot shows good timing as a help defender, but his lack of size could prove to be a long-term hindrance to him being a strong defender at the Big 12 level. Much like Traylor, his defensive production might be limited to help-side blocks and defensive rebounding.
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As we did yesterday with Udoka Azubuike, we would recommend you HOLD on Lightfoot if he were a stock. What he is now is certainly not what we’ll see in 2 years time.
While Lightfoot’s potential isn’t likely NBA level, he still has the tools and athleticism to eventually be a strong contributor at Kansas down the road. A lot of his ability to break into the lineup in the future is dependent on his ability to put on good weight and develop his body, as right now it’s simply not ready to compete at a school like Kansas.