Head Coach: Bill Self
2018-19 Record: 26-10, 12-6 Conference
Odds to win Title: +1400
Odds c/o Bovada
Kansas lost the Big 12 championship after 14-straight seasons of being its victor. That does not change much. The Jayhawks are again Conference favorites in 2019-20 and the team is as talented and deep as ever. A few offseason decisions fell in its favor to assure such, and the return of center Udoka Azubuike headlines those decisions. He chose to return, and he is the favorite for Big 12 player of the year. The NCAA also decided Silvio De Sousa will be eligible, and point guard Devon Dotson withdrew from the NBA draft to return to Kansas for one more season.
The addition of graduate transfer Isaiah Moss added to the positive turns, while securing 3-man Jalen Wilson was every bit as huge, as he decided to sign with Kansas after an initial commitment to Michigan. All of those events culminate to make Kansas one of the favorites to emerge with the 2020 championship in March.
Azubuike is as close to unstoppable as any frontcourt player in the country, though his 39.4 percent career free throw shooting is something of a major blemish. He has also had issues remaining healthy, and last season he played just 11 games due to a torn ligament in his hand. He played just nine games the season before for similar injury issues. If he can get to, and remain in, full health, he and De Sousa should be a dangerous combo at the 4/5 spots. De Sousa was a key part of the 2018 Final Four run. He had to sit out last season due to an FBI investigation into the Adidas sponsored programs.
The Jayhawks have plenty of depth behind those starters. David McCormack is a former McDonald’s All-American who Self feels should be the most improved player this season. He is an outstanding athlete, but he averaged just under four points per game last year. Four of his last seven games, though, he had 10-plus points.
Dotson looks to be one of the best floor generals in the nation. He averaged 12.5 points and 3.5 assists per game last year as a freshman. Fellow sophomore Ochai Agbaji also returns after drawing a lot of interest from the NBA. He played 14 games last year and averaged 8.5 points per game, but at times he appeared to be the best Jayhawk on the floor. Marcus Garrett will be the third guard in the rotation and the 6’5” junior averaged 23 minutes per game his first two seasons at Kansas.
Isaiah Moss hit 42 percent of his threes last year, and his shooting stroke will be counted on heavily again this season. Jalen Wilson will see time at the 2 and 3 spots, and he will be one of the key scorers for Kansas.
Azubuike’s health remains vital for this team if it is going to reach its full potential, and with two incomplete seasons, that lingers as a major doubt for Kansas. The Jayhawks are counting on a lot of internal improvement in 2019-20, and Azubuike hitting a decent clip at the line would be one of the best improvements of all, if it were to happen. Wilson adjusting quickly to the NCAA game will help, as would Dotson becoming a true leader in his second season. Moss has to hit his threes at a high rate.
De Sousa has had a full year off and has to regain his timing. There is a multitude of issues, but all are rather solvable. That puts Self in the typical position of having a great team on paper, but one that is riddled with holes and question marks. Self has filled and adjusted holes in the past, but can he make this team as formidable as it appears superficially?