Kansas basketball continues transfer portal plunder with Rylan Griffen addition

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Bill Self said he was looking ahead to next year during the unexpected struggles of last year's Kansas basketball squad. He showed he was more than just talk because he has delivered in a big way. 

Going into the 2023-24 season, the Jayhawks were preseason No. 1 and the expectations were as they always have been. With the departure of Arterio Morris before the year and several other freshmen looking for greener pastures before the season started, KU had very little depth. Throw in the fact that several players didn't live up to the hype and the pieces didn't fit, and it was a frustrating year.

The reality is that the Harris/KJ/Hunter combination is not a great one on the floor together. Not to say that they all don't bring value to the program, but the fit is not great. Hunter has his limitations with mobility and defense. He must practice his pick-and-roll defense all summer until he can't move. 

KJ is a super-energy player who gives it his all, defends well, and finishes at the rim. With Hunter on the floor, he is more of a clunky fit with his lack of an outside shot. Throw that combination in with Harris, who can't shoot and is afraid to shoot in many scenarios, is not ideal. KU lacked shooters, scorers, and create-your-own at-the-end-of-the-shot clock type of guys.

But enter the transfer portal, and Self has been cooking. Enter the latest signing in Alabama transfer Rylan Griffen. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard averaged 11.2 points in his sophomore year, shooting 39.2% from deep and adding 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists a game. He is also known as a solid defender. 

The Jayhawks already had added AJ Storr, who is another 6-foot-6 guard who led the Wisconsin Badgers in scoring last year with 16.8 points per game to go with 3.9 rebounds and 0.9 assists. Lawrence native Zeke Mayo is coming home for his senior season, coming off a year where he averaged 18.8 points per game, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He is another long-range sniper who is a career 39% 3-point shooter. Riley Kugel, who is a tough guard who has committed but is yet to sign with KU averaged 9.2 points 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists at Florida last year. All bring talent, length, shooting, scoring, and depth. 

One could make a case for any of those four new players to start. Now, it is most likely only two or three will. Our most significant weaknesses have been addressed, and the pieces are now in place for KU to not only be the preseason top team for the second year in a row, but a team capable and favored to be the team ending the season at No. 1. 

With Hunter Dickinson coming back and Johnny Furphy likely remaining in the draft, the Jayhawks sit with 12 solid players. The portal window closes on May 1, but we can still see a player jump ship with little potential playing time in front of them from KU, or we could also add more talent as well.

What will the starting lineup be? My projecting off of Bill Self's thinking will be Dajuan Harris, Rylan Griffen, AJ Storr, KJ Adams, and Hunter Dickinson, with Zeke Mayo, Riley Kugel, and Flory Bidunga as the first three players off the bench. Zach Clemence could see minutes at the four or five as the ninth player. Elmarko Jackson will likely play some backup PG minutes as well with Jamari McDowell and freshman Rakease Passmore filling out the current roster.

My starting lineup would be a little different. I don't think that both Harris and KJ should start alongside Hunter. My lineup would be Zeke Mayo, AJ Storr, Rylan Griffen, KJ Adams, and Hunter Dickinson, with Harris moving to backup PG as an energy guy. 

Super Scorer Unit would include Zeke Mayo, AJ Storr, Rylan Griffen, Riley Kugel, and Hunter Dickinson. The Lock Em Down Squad would be Dajuan Harris, Rylan Griffen, Riley Kugel, KJ Adams, and Flory Bidunga.

The best part about it is we will have pieces and players to adapt our lineups to opponents and we will be able to play multiple ways to win basketball games. Can't wait for the season to begin.

As Always Rock Chalk and Let's Go!