Kansas defeated the Toledo Rockets on 11/28 by a score of 96-58. Kansas had Toledo down by 50 at one point, thanks to a big outing by Devonte Graham (35 points). The players that stuck out in improving draft stock from this game were Svi Mykhailiuk, Devonte Graham, Malik Newman, and Udoka Azubuike.
Udoka Azubuike is a 7’0 center with a 7’5 wingspan and NBA strength. His frame is his best tool, because he turned 18 right before his sophomore season. He is still very raw in terms of offensive skill, but has displayed a great low post presence on defense. Azubuike missed most of his freshman season with a wrist injury, but has played very well early on as the starting center in his sophomore season. Against Toledo, Azubuike went 6-9 for 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal along with very good defense. Azubuike is significantly bigger than most of the Toledo roster, as the Rockets didn’t have a starter taller than 6’9. Azubuike was an aerial threat in the pick & roll and he was also able to use nice touch on his hook shot to score inside. Defensively, Azubuike has good lateral quickness for someone his size, but needs to refine his instincts on switching and gambling on blocks. Azubuike’s long arms helped him attack closeouts and impact shots against a much smaller team.
Azubuike’s offensive upside is limited without a jump shot or reliable shot creation, but his defensive skill and ability to be a solid roll man offensively give him potential as a backup big. However, he is just 18, and with a filled frame and NBA strength, he can work exclusively on his scoring abilities, rather than splitting time between skill development and adding weight.
Malik Newman had 17 points on 7-10 shooting, along with 3 steals, 2 assists, and 2 rebounds. Newman sat out last season after transferring from Mississippi State, but was projected as a late first round prospect after his freshman season. Newman is a 6’4 scoring guard that is very quick in transition and quick getting to the basket. Newman is an intriguing 2nd round prospect that can help a team immediately as a spark off the bench.
Devonte Graham had the biggest game for Kansas, scoring 35 points on 14-19 shooting, along with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals with 0 turnovers. Graham was able to score on all three levels, and while he had the ball in his hands quite a bit, he recorded 0 turnovers. Graham is a second round prospect, but has a high basketball IQ and good scoring instincts. He may qualify as a sleeper in June depending on his NBA Draft Combine performance.
Lastly, Svi Mykhailiuk is a 4 year Ukranian sharpshooter for Kansas. Despite being a 4 year player, he will have just turned 21 by the time the draft takes place. His game reminds me of a blend of Evan Fournier and Alex Abrines, as he is an elite college spot up shooter, but does not possess any elite athleticism traits. Mykhailiuk has a quick release on his jump shot and has excellent footwork coming off of screens for catch & shoots. Mykhailiuk also possesses adequate playmaking skills. He had 2 assists against Toledo, highlighted by finding Azubuike on an alley-oop.
Overall, Kansas and their prospects looked great against Toledo. There’s a lot of excitement about the team, especially when Billy Preston debuts. The length and defense of Azubuike, the shooting of Mykhailiuk, and the scoring abilities of Newman and Graham make Kansas a powerhouse for draft prospects this upcoming summer.
I am excited to announce that I have received credentials for the Kansas @ TCU game in January. Follow me on Twitter @MavsDraft as the date approaches, and I will be providing in-game updates while I am at the game.