The Kansas faithful breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday afternoon when senior-to-be Devonte’ Graham announced via Twitter he will return to Lawrence for his final season.
The announcement ended speculation on whether the 6-foot-2 guard out of Raleigh, NC, would be testing the waters and declaring for the NBA Draft. With player of the year Frank Mason graduating and freshman Josh Jackson most likely declaring, Graham will be the returning leading scorer after averaging 13.4 points per game this past season.
Graham was slotted to go 50th overall in DraftExpress’ latest mock draft.
Graham was steady for the Jayhawks all season long dishing out an average of 4.1 assists per game while shooting 38.8 percent from behind the arc. He’ll form another electric backcourt next season with redshirt sophomore Malik Newman, who averaged 11.3 points per game his freshman year at Mississippi State his freshman.
Sunday’s news might be an indication No. 3 prospect Trevon Duval might be going elsewhere. While Duval has the makeup to be a star and would help Kansas out from a talent and depth standpoint next season, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he doesn’t commit to the Jayhawks.
Head coach Bill Self will have a senior, who has been to three NCAA tournaments — two elite eights — a locker room leader; a player who already knows the offense; and will be an All-American candidate returning versus a potential one-and-done. Self also has a Newman, who learned everything last season and practiced against Graham and Mason on a daily basis.
Graham is the clear choice; Duval would be the cherry on top.
Self currently has three scholarships open for the 2017-18 season, but one more could open up as junior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has yet to make a decision regarding his future. Graham’s decision might make it even easier for Mykhailiuk to decide to return. Mykhailiuk is currently ranked as the No. 71 prospect by DraftExpress.
Mykhailiuk appeared in all 36 games while starting 25. He averaged 9.8 points per game.
Either way, Kansas will be in prime shape to make a deep March run