The Morris twins are gone. Josh Selby bolted after one year. Solid seniors like Brady Morningstar have graduated. It's the thinnest Kansas Jayhawks team in years and it's hard to know just what Bill Self has this season heading into the 2011-12 college basketball season. Yet ESPN likes the talents of Thomas Robinson and company enough to rank the Jayhawks No. 14 heading into the season.
In their preview, Jason King admits the success might not continue this season, but the tradition is too good and the raw talent is there.
"The Jayhawks have won seven straight Big 12 titles and averaged 33 wins in the past five years. But success may not come as easily for Bill Self's squad in 2011-12. Point guard Tyshawn Taylor is a fourth-year starter, and forward Thomas Robinson is being hailed as an All-American candidate. But beyond that, the Jayhawks' roster is stocked with former role players. Combo guard Elijah Johnson and forward Travis Releford and Jeff Withey -- the other projected starters -- have all shown encouraging flashes in the past. But KU's bench is as deep as a kiddie pool, which could be a problem if players such as Robinson get into foul trouble. The other problem is a nonconference schedule that includes Kentucky, Ohio State, USC, Georgetown and potentially UCLA. Building confidence could be tough."
Baylor is ranked No. 12 and is the highest team unveiled from the Big 12 yet. They might just be the highest team overall from the conference as ESPN has yet to unveil its top 10. Those will come later this week, but for now it's clear that the belief in Kansas is still there -- even if the team is mostly unknown at this point.