The Kansas Jayhawks are primed to make their attempt at a Big 12 title this season. They finished 33-3 overall last year, including 15-1 in conference play. It will be tough to replace 49 percent of their point production, two top draft choices and the player with the most wins in school history. Head coach Bill Self is one of the top recruiters in the nation, and he’ll have no problem keeping with the winning tradition here in Kansas with what he has coming back and some fresh faces. Marcus Morris, Josh Selby and Tyshawn Taylor will be three players that Self depends upon to carry the load this year. Morris and Taylor are juniors who united for 20 points per contest last year, and Selby is a freshman point guard who is nearly a certain Top-10 choice in the 2011 NBA Draft. A deep bench will have Kansas contending for another conference title.
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NCAA basketball picks are offered at Betfirms. Jack Jones looks forward to extending his 37-23 (62%) college basketball run to pick up right where he left off last year.
Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris return for their junior seasons, and though it will be difficult to take the place of Cole Aldrich, that pair gives the Jayhawks a strong foundation in the paint. Aldrich was chosen 11th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, and his rim protection will be missed. But Marcus put up 12.8 PPG and 6.1 RPG last season while Markieff put up 6.8 PPG and 5.3 RPG and each will likely up those averages this year. Marcus really upped his play within the conference, averaging 14.2 PPG and 7.3 RPG in league play. Sophomore Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey supply strong depth off the bench. Although Withey is no Aldrich, he’s a 7-foot presence inside and could be one of the league’s top shot-blockers if he can earn the minutes.
Sherron Collins’ leadership will be tough to replace after being a part of a school-record 130 victories in his four years as a Jayhawk. There’s no question that leadership along with his toughness in crucial-game situations cannot be replaced. Selby is in reality better than Collins when you look at athleticism and overall talent. He is Self’s top-rated recruit ever, and was listed among the Top-5 prospects for this freshman class by almost every service. Taylor will give Selby some service in the backcourt, providing the experience. But Taylor must overcome some of the problems he had on and off the floor last year. Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed give this team some senior leadership off the bench it desperately needs. After redshirting last year, senior Mario Little will supplant Xavier Henry as the starting small forward. Little was the 2008 Junior College Player of the Year, so he has proven he can get it done. Self believes this team will be much more athletic than last season’s squad, but it will need to find that leadership that cannot be learned if they are going to make the most out of this talent.
Jack’s Prediction: 1st Place in the Big 12 – Though Aldrich, Collins and Henry have all left, there is still plenty of leadership and depth on the Jayhawks to win the conference once more. The Morris Twins along with Morningstar and Reed provide the veteran leadership, while getting Selby and Little offer the athleticism and talent to replace what has been lost. Few schools in the country have a better home-court advantage than the one Kansas enjoys, and no squad in the conference can equal the talent level of the Jayhawks. I trust in Self to put it all together as he’s shown he can do, and if Selby can live up to the hype this team will contend for a national championship.
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