Stepping onto the court for the first time donning Crimson and Blue in 2014, senior Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk looked a little out of place. At just 17 years old, the young Ukrainian was a little skinnier than the rest of the players on the court – and a little smaller too.
Three years later – although still only 20 years old – Mykhailiuk is now the one commanding his teammates around the court; telling the new guys what to do, and how to succeed as a Jayhawk.
“We’ve got to be [louder], vocal and just help younger guys to learn quicker and if we help them, they’re going to help us,” Mykhailiuk said following the Jayhawk’s 2017 preseason boot camp. Mykhailiuk is now entering his fourth and final season at Kansas.
Kansas senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk made sure to stress to the newcomers the importanc…
When Mykhailiuk began his career at Kansas, the production wasn’t quite there yet - but the potential was.
Mykhailiuk had great success for his age before heading to Kansas, shooting 44.4 percent from behind the arc for the SK Cherkasy Monkeys in the Ukrainian Superleague.
But when stacked up against some of the best young players in the nation on American soil, Mykhailiuk’s weaknesses were brought to light.
One glaring problem was how flat his shots were. The lack of elevation made life easy for opposing players, with them being able to effectively shut Mykhailiuk down if they quickly closed him out.
And when Mykhailiuk did find himself open, his shots were often erratic, which in turn were not helped by his poor shot selection, perhaps due to the fact he found himself with more time in Ukraine.
His struggles translated towards his stats, with the 17-year-old only shooting 28.8 percent from behind the arc, and 30.6 percent from the field.
During his sophomore year, Mykhailiuk was fourth in the guard pecking order at Kansas, but still managed to play a part in 35 of 38 games in 2015-16. He was also given the opportunity to watch the play of fellow guards Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham.
It was also during this year that his friendship with Graham really began to grow, something that translated onto the court in 2016-17.
With the departure of Selden, but the arrival of Josh Jackson, it may have spelt out another season sitting on the sidelines for Mykhailiuk in his junior campaign.
Instead, he stepped up to the challenge and forced his way into a four-guard rotation system, starting 25 out of 36 games played on the season, averaging 27.3 minutes.
The extended time on the court really demonstrated the transformation Mykhailiuk had undergone behind the scenes over the past two years. Not only was his shot selection and form much improved – he now angled his body towards the basket, something he didn’t do as a freshman – but he was also back to getting points on the board, averaging 9.8 per game.
And when not shooting the basketball, his awareness was much improved, with turnovers having been a concern when he first became a Jayhawk.
Now, having decided not to declare for the 2017 NBA Draft and return to Kansas for his senior year, Mykhailiuk, along with his best friend Graham, will be expected to anchor one of the most potent back courts in college basketball this season.
Along with junior guard Lagerald Vick and redshirt-sophomore guard Malik Newman, Mykhailiuk can expect to find himself open plenty of times throughout the season to perfect the three-point shot he’s been working on for the past three years.
With the help of the players surrounding him, along with his own leadership and command, Mykailiuk can expect to be seen as one of the best sharpshooters Kansas has had in recent years if he can live up to his full potential in 2017-18.
—Edited by Brianna Childers