With the rise of one-and-done players in NCAA college basketball, it’s becoming less common to see our favorite Kansas basketball players in crimson and blue for a full four-year tenure.
While KU has certainly benefited some from one-year players – most recently notable names Andrew Wiggins and Josh Jackson – some of the best Kansas teams have been made up of four, five, and even six-year guys.
One specific Jayhawk who has used every NCAA rule to stay in college as long as possible is power forward Mitch Lightfoot. He’s rivaling Perry Ellis‘ time as a college player as he redshirted in 2019-2020 and will use his extra year of eligibility due to Covid-19 this upcoming season.
The Gilbert, AZ native has shown his dedication to KU and has been a consistent role player. Coach Self has even said he “bleeds crimson and blue,” noting how much he loves KU. He embraces the fans and the banter – even acknowledging his alter ego “Prison Mitch” that fans have given him.
We all know he’s not going to score 20+ points or play 30+ minutes a game, but we know what he provides is the energy and excitement fans love to see. We’ve all seen him consistently challenge shots and provide a needed spark when KU just couldn’t seem to get anything going in their favor.
While Lightfoot and KU have mutually benefited from each other on the court, we’ve also recently seen Lightfoot’s involvement off the court. With the new NCAA name, image and likeness rule allowing college players to be paid for brand deals and partnerships, Lightfoot has already been able to quickly snag a few deals.
Coach Self has always had a soft spot for long-term guys. It would be silly to think that as a Hall of Fame coach he’s not going to hit the recruiting trail without aiming for the top recruits. However, some of his best teams have been a bunch of Mitch Lightfoot-esque guys.
However, at the end of the season Lightfoot will be able to look back (hopefully from New Orleans on April 4th) on his time at KU with great pride in what both he’s given the Jayhawks and what they’ve given him. Not only have we gotten to see a player grow and develop, but Lightfoot has gained a lifelong family in the coaches, players and fanbase.