As for the big guys on this year’s Kansas basketball roster, there’s no lack of playing style, but especially a forward or a center. And the experience is not an indicator of prudence either, despite the number of new arrivals.
Coach Bill Self welcomes three post players [Mitch Lightfoot, David McCormack, Jalen Wllson] from a year ago, but now has the pleasure of choosing between four new additions to add to the mix – including a 6-foot-9, 240-pound walk-on from first-year forward Dillon Wilhite.
However, some may claim that Wilhite redshirt to save a year of eligibility, but nonetheless, the mere thought of having someone on your bench with this kind of frame is remarkable. Not to mention the rest of the new squad with players like first year forwards Zach Clemence and KJ Adams, as well as the transfer of senior forward Cam Martin from Missouri Southern State.
Each of these players brings a unique style of play that will be used strategically to exploit opponents’ weaknesses. Senior goalie Ochai Agbaji spoke at Big 12 Media Day on Tuesday and was very impressed with Adams’ progress so far.
We also speak well of Martin, who lends some veteran wisdom after three years at Joplin, Missouri, and a couple of All-American honors to add.
“Cam is a very talented player,” McCormack said Tuesday in Kansas City. “He owns [a] great touch and it can also shoot. He can also spread the ground … he plays hard and is a great rebounder. So I think he needs to space the floor and I also play indoors and we can play backwards. It’s just another aspect of the game that we can sort of dominate.
The ability for Martin and McCormack to be on the floor at the same time and space the floor is a tremendous asset the Virginia native has created.
This potentially allows Martin to create a significant mismatch with his defender on the perimeter while having a lethal save option in the paint.
“I worked on that shot and the passing ability,” said McCormack. “So both ways, we’ll have a presence after it’s him or me. We’ll have a big one that can come out and shoot out, whether it’s him or me. So I think that’s going to be great.”
Speaking of working on her shot, Clémence is arguably one of the best big shooters on the list, possibly second behind Martin, who was able to prove his touch on the college scene. But the 6-foot-10 forward is just another option for playing small while contributing as a rim runner.
At Sunrise Christian Academy, Clémence recorded a 47% three-point score as a junior and achieved 37% accuracy as a senior.
Wilson, who has yet to be mentioned, has yet to be forgotten, as he is only entering his second red shirt season after a red shirt season and COVID-19. Similar to Martin and McCormack, Wilson played in several different lineout styles with his ability to both manipulate the ball in space and knock down open shots.
“He’s thinner and bigger,” Self said of what Wilson has improved this offseason. “He’s put on five or 10 pounds, but he looks so much thinner. He is much more explosive. Dunk competitions, baseline, hitting with two feet and two hands. I hadn’t seen this two years ago.
This team is eerily reminiscent of John Calipari’s Kentucky team in 2014, where the future Hall of Fame coach regularly played 10 players, as Self said he was looking to do something similar.
“I expect us to be as good as our cap allows us to be,” Self said. “I don’t have a false hope that if we’re playing at a level that basically doesn’t hit our cap or our staff. But that being said, I think our cap is quite high. I like our staff.