The Kansas Jayhawks have survived this season despite just three big guys on their active roster. Hunter Dickinson and KJ Adams Jr. start and play nearly all the minutes, with Parker Braun in reserve when needed.
Things will look much different next year. Adams still has a year of eligibility left and Zach Clemence will return from his redshirt season. Kansas has signed Flory Bidunga, the top center in this recruiting class, and the ninth-best overall prospect, according to ESPN's Hot 100.
If it were just those three rotating through two spots, there would be plenty of minutes for all, but there is one big unknown about next year's roster — whether or not Hunter Dickinson will stay.
Late last month during an interview with Jeff Goodman on the Field of 68 YouTube channel. Dickinson left the door open for a return. In the latest NBA mock draft from NBA Draft Room, they don't have Dickinson being drafted.
Dickinson is a terrific college basketball player. He has a quick shot, good footwork, and great range, but he is a bit slow and not as athletic as he needs to be as an NBA player. In the past, players like Dickinson could go overseas and still make good money. NIL has changed a lot of things. Dickinson can stay right where he is next year and still make enough to support himself and enjoy playing in the best venue in sports for one more season.
If he were to stay, it would give Bidunga more time to develop and round out his game as a reserve. It's not unusual for big men to develop on a slightly slower curve than small players. Clemence is more of a stretch-four player, and he is already working on getting better now, as a redshirt.
It would be doubtful Bidunga and Clemence could displace Dickinson and Adams as staters, but they certainly could give them more rest without as big of a drop-off in talent as there is this year. Both current big men are averaging over 32 minutes a game. Cutting each down four or five minutes a game would probably be beneficial for both, and doing so with talented back-ups would a huge boost to the team.
Adams could probably also play some minutes at small forward, though his shooting outside of ten feet is still a work in progress. If he continues to make strides in his game as he has done so far, it's quite possible a scenario could play out where Adams is in at small forward on occasion, playing in tandem with Clemence at the four spot and Dickinson or Bidunga at the five spot.
Bill Self has become a master at adjusting his style of play to suit the talents of his players, and it would be exciting to see all four of these payers contributing in major ways next season.
Young players don't seem to have as much patience when it comes to immediate playing time as in the past, but if Bidunga can be patient, his time will come and he will be a better player for it. There are a lot of things Dickinson can do offensively that he could teach the youngster.
The Jayhawks would once again be a favorite to contend just like they are now, and quite possibly be even better across the front line with more talented depth.