In continuation of my in-depth look at the Kansas men’s basketball roster, I’ll be taking a look at the two positions I did not go over in part one of my roster analysis: Forwards and Centers.
Forward: Jalen Wilson, Dillon Wilhite, Zach Clemence, KJ Adams Jr., Cam Martin, Mitch Lightfoot
Similarly to the shooting guard group, Bill Self has an incredible amount of depth within the forwards, with at least three or four starting-caliber talents.
Wilson is the most notable of the forwards. After announcing his withdrawal from the NBA Draft, the redshirt sophomore seems to be one of the most crucial players on the roster. Wilson had a spectacular 2020-21, averaging 11.8 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game, which is the second-best rebounding mark by a freshman, only trailing Joel Embiid.
Wilson also tallied 58 assists, nine double-doubles, and earned a spot on the Big 12 All-Newcomer team. Continued improvement is seemingly on the horizon for the sophomore, and Wilson could prove to be one of the most important players for a successful 2021-2022 season.
Aside from Wilson, Lightfoot is the most recognizable name on the list. Heading into his sixth season with the Jayhawks, Lightfoot has brought a veteran presence in past seasons, despite limited playing time.
Lightfoot averaged 3.4 points per game and 2.5 rebounds per game last season while also playing at least some time in almost every game. Even though time will most likely come thin for the super-senior, expect Lightfoot to still see the floor, especially when other big men get into foul trouble.
Martin is seemingly the biggest addition to the group. A 6-foot-9 transfer from Missouri Southern, Martin lit up the MIAA in his junior and senior seasons. He averaged 24.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, and two assists per game while also shooting an outstanding 58% from the field his junior year.
In his senior campaign, Martin averaged 25 points and nine rebounds while shooting 58% from the field again and 45% from behind the arc. Martin will bring much-needed athleticism and versatility to the roster with his ability to play inside and out. Expect to see Martin on the floor a lot this season.
Ranked as the 34th overall best prospect in the class of 2021, Zach Clemence could play a larger role than most freshmen on the roster. Standing at 6’10’, Clemence might not see much time in a traditional forward role, but more as a center for when David McCormack gets in foul trouble. Although Self may tend to lean towards Martin or Lightfoot first, Clemence could get some crucial and valuable minutes throughout the season.
Adams, the 45th overall prospect in the 2021 class, most likely will have a more learning year with the Jayhawks. Although he could see some time on the court should injuries pile up or if he adapts well to the Kansas system.
Center: David McCormack
In the thinnest position group, McCormack sits alone as the only center. McCormack had a breakout 2020-2021 season, averaging 13.4 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game and just a little over a block a game. McCormack also led the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 51.1%, recorded six double-doubles, and earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors while also taking home the Big 12 Most Improved Player Award.
McCormack could debatably be the most important player on the Jayhawks’ roster and will be crucial for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Starting Forward and Center: Jalen Wilson and David McCormack
There is seemingly no debate on who the starters will be out of this group. Both started nearly every game last season and dominated at their respective position last season.
Full Projected Starting Lineup:
Guard: Remy Martin
Guard: Ochai Agbaji
Guard: Christian Braun/Joesph Yesufu
Forward: Jalen Wilson
Center: David McCormack