KU Basketball: Who Gets Left out of PG Musical Chairs?

Feb 3, 2016; Lawrence, KS, USA; An overall view of Allen Fieldhouse before the game between the Kansas State Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 3, 2016; Lawrence, KS, USA; An overall view of Allen Fieldhouse before the game between the Kansas State Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that recruiting for KU basketball has been a challenge in the class of 2017. However, signees Marcus Garrett and Billy Preston are a terrific start to the class. Head coach Bill Self and staff now turn to the point guard position, where Trevon Duval and Trae Young are the main targets.

The 2017 crop of point guards is one of the thinnest in recent memory. After the top four of Duval, Collin Sexton, Young, and Quade Green, there’s a precipitous drop off to the remaining top 10 guards in the 247 Composite ranking. As such, multiple high profile programs are competing for a slim number of impact guards. The terrific 2016 class, full of one-and-done talents, compounds the problem. Most big programs, like Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky, need guards. Those two factors add much intrigue to the late signing period for college, and KU basketball fans.

Recent developments in the point guard class of 2017 have given us some clarity with the remaining uncommitted prospects. In the early period, Kentucky signed two guards: Shai Alexander and Quade Green. Those signings essentially eliminate Kentucky from landing another guard. There are three top-10 point guards in the 247 Composite that did not sign in the early period: Matt Coleman, Duval, and Young.

In this list, we’ll run down all three. We’ll give a brief scouting report for each, and tell you which schools are in good shape to land these highly touted recruits. Will any blue bloods be left out of the 2017 version of point guard musical chairs? And which of Duval and Young fits better at Kansas? Which one should fans prefer?

Matt Coleman: #8 PG, #32 Overall

What he brings

When watching Coleman on tape, the first thing that stands out is his speed. He can flat out fly in the open court. He’s an adept ballhandler and finisher as well, able to get into the lane seemingly at will. Coleman has a solid mid-range game as well. His speed and athleticism allows him to be a pesky defender, if nothing else. He’ll get more than his share of steals at the collegiate level.

Unfortunately for Coleman, he has two qualities on offense that will limit his effectiveness as a lead guard. First, he’s not a “true” point guard in the sense that he doesn’t have a great feel for the game and isn’t a great distributor yet. He’s much too small to be an off guard, even in college at 6’1.” The left-hander hasn’t developed a consistent three-point shot yet either, though his mechanics aren’t broken.

Where will he land?

First of all, not Kansas. Coleman officially visited Kansas on October 14th-15th, but did not make his final three of Duke, Stanford, and Texas. For all intents and purposes, this is a Duke vs. Texas race. Coleman has visited Duke twice recently, on his official visit, then unofficially for Countdown to Craziness, Duke’s opening scrimmage. He recently took an official visit to Austin, on October 28-29th.

Each school has pros and cons. At Texas, Coleman would immediately come in and play significant minutes, since point guard play at Texas is lacking. Coleman would fit well in Texas coach Shaka Smart’s up-tempo, high pressure system. He would also be a marquee player to build around, a positive for anyone.

Duke is, well, Duke. They already have a terrific class signed, and are looking to add more in the late period. The Blue Devils are high in the running for two more top-10 players, Mohammad Bamba and Kevin Knox. They’ve already signed Wendell Carter and 11th-ranked Gary Trent, Jr. The Devils could also return Frank Jackson, Luke Kennard, and a slew of big men. As a point guard, that kind of supporting cast is a big plus. When you factor in one of the best home courts in college sports, as well as Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke becomes very attractive.

On the other hand, Coleman has a good chance of getting recruited over in Durham. Duke is heavily involved with multiple five-star guards in 2018, and Coleman isn’t good enough to hold some of them off for the starting job. Reports suggest Coleman could announce in December, but where he goes is far from decided. Kansas fans should hope Coleman announces for Duke. With Coleman and likely Frank Jackson in the fold, Duke won’t have any room for Trevon Duval. Speaking of…

Trevon Duval: #1 Point Guard, #5 Overall

What he brings

Simply put, Duval is a monster. He’s 6’3” or a little shorter, and has a 6’8” wingspan. He’s also a plus, plus athlete. Duval is a true lead guard with terrific ballhandling ability and has solid court vision and passing ability. He’s the best point guard in the class at getting to, and finishing at the rim. I’m not sure there’s anyone capable of keeping him out of the lane in high school or college basketball.

Duval has to improve a couple things to reach his potential. He needs to become a better decision maker, and is turnover-prone. That’s not uncommon for high school guards. Duval has a decent shot, but it’s not consistent yet. If he improves shooting, and becomes more polished as a point guard, the sky is the limit.

Where will he land?

Coincidently (or not?) Duval tweeted out his top five schools on the night of the Champions Classic, right before the Duke vs. Kansas game. His top five are Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Kansas, and Seton Hall. Duval hasn’t taken any official visits yet, though he told several outlets that he will visit all five before making a decision. He’s taken unofficial visits to three schools: Kansas, Kentucky, and Maryland. Of the three, he’s only still considering the Jayhawks.

Duval’s recruitment has been a long and winding one, but seems to have taken shape since cutting his list. Duke and Kansas have gotten the most buzz since then, and for good reason. Both are perennial powerhouses with a need at point guard. Like we said in the last slide, Duke is looking to bring in a monster class, and give the keys to either Coleman or Duval. If Coleman announces for Duke in a couple weeks, we will probably write off the Blue Devils for Duval.

Duke is also closer to Duval’s native home in Delaware, and a terrific educational institution. If Duval’s main goal is to get to the NBA, which it seems to be, then Duke has the better record than Kansas of getting point guards to the NBA. Duke has received much of the buzz lately, especially after being offered last weekend. The Duke offer should clear up any questions about Duval’s eligibility or ability to qualify, after he spent a year at non-NCAA accredited school Advanced Prep in Dallas.

What about Kansas?

Even though Duke is getting most of the buzz, and rightly so, given their recent run on the recruiting trail, Kansas is still Kansas. Bill Self has taken the KU program to new heights, and is recruiting at a high level in his own right. The Jayhawks also offer plenty of playing time. KU stands to lose both starting guards after the season. Frank Mason will graduate, and Devonte Graham seems much more likely than not to declare for the NBA Draft. Even with Malik Newman and Marcus Garrett in the fold, Kansas needs a point guard. Duval fits the bill perfectly. He unofficially visited Kansas for Late Night in the Phog this fall, and the Jayhawks are right there with Duke. Look for Duval to visit for a game at Allen Fieldhouse sooner rather than later.

Trae Young: #3 Point Guard, #19 Overall

What he brings

One word: scoring. The 6’2” Oklahoman can flat out score it from anywhere on the court. Young is a phenomenal shooter, with a lightning quick release and unlimited range. The nation saw that on national television when Young scored 28 points on 6-10 shooting from beyond the arc in the Peach Jam final against the PSA Cardinals team. It was terrific competition as well, with five four-star prospects or higher on the PSA squad, including Quade Green.

Young is an underrated driver as well, even with his small frame. He’s quick and crafty enough to score from many angles at the rim, and has added a nice floater to keep defenses honest. He’s a good, not great passer as of now. Hopefully he can master the entry pass soon, because Udoka Azubuike could use a great post feed. Young’s weaknesses are really from the neck down. He’s slight of build (around 175 pounds), and not incredibly quick for his size. As such, he may struggle a bit defending collegiate guards. Andrea Hudy could do wonders with Young if he stayed for multiple years.

Where will he land?

Young has made all of his official visits during the fall, to Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech. For most of his recruitment, most observers handicapped it as a three-horse race between Kansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. Young has very likely cooled on Kentucky after the Wildcats signed fellow five-star guard Quade Green. He will likely decide in January, after watching how each team performs on the court.

That leaves the hometown Sooners and Kansas as the remaining suitors for Young. OU has allure for sure. Head coach Lon Kruger can really coach and develop guards. Look no further than last year’s Oklahoma team. It also gives Young the chance to stay home and be the go-to scorer for the Sooners right off the bat. On the other hand, OU doesn’t have a great supporting cast to put around Young, at least not to the level of Kansas.

Kansas seemingly offers the best of both worlds for Young. Lawrence is within driving distance (a little under five hours) to his family’s home in Norman, so the Young’s could see Trae fairly often. Kansas is also one of the preeminent programs in college basketball, among the leaders in wins and titles. The consecutive conference title streak is another carrot for Young. Kansas will likely tie UCLA’s all-time consecutive conference title streak this season. It would be a badge of honor for Young, whose father played at Texas Tech, to be on the Kansas team that set the new mark.

At this point, it seems to be a tossup between KU and OU for the talented point guard. Last weekend, the entire Kansas staff traveled to Duncanville, Texas to watch a matchup between KU signee Marcus Garrett and Young. It’s safe to say Young is their main priority at this time.

Mar 17, 2016; Des Moines, IA, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self talks with his bench during the second half against the Austin Peay Governors in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 17, 2016; Des Moines, IA, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self talks with his bench during the second half against the Austin Peay Governors in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Which of Duval and Young fits better at Kansas?

The short answer is it depends. Obviously, Young and Duval are much different players with different skillsets. The advantage to Duval is he’s a surefire lottery pick and the more talented of the bunch. He’s also more of a pure point guard, but the difference isn’t large. He’s the better defender as well, something Self values highly. However, Young has the more complete offensive game, and is far and away the better shooter.

Duval at Kansas

Duval has played with Kansas signee Billy Preston as well, and it’s a little informative about how he would fit at Kansas. The two would be a lethal pick and roll combination, with their combination of skill and athleticism. Though Young and Duval are very different players, Duval would fill the slashing role of Frank Mason, since he gets to the rim better than anyone in the class. His ability to collapse defenses would set up open looks for returning guards Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman. He would also be tasked with defending some of KU opponents’ best perimeter players, since he has the ability (though he hasn’t shown how good he can be yet) to really defend, and Newman may struggle some.

Young as a Jayhawk

Young would fill a similar role in that he’d be KU’s starting lead guard. His specialty would be the three-point shot, giving KU tremendous perimeter spacing. While a good driver in his own right, Young’s shooting ability would free up space for Newman and especially Vick to drive and get to the line. Young can do that as well, and is a tremendous free throw shooter. Last year in EYBL play, Young shot nearly 88% from the line. Defensively, KU could struggle. Neither Young or Newman is a great perimeter defender, and Preston hasn’t been good in that department yet either. The Jayhawks would rely on Vick, Garrett, and Azubuike to be the team’s best defenders.

Who should it be?

Overall, it seems Duval is the marginally better fit for the roster as constructed for next season. The team may have a higher ceiling due to its ability (on paper anyway) to win a slugfest with Duval at point guard. However, the gap is small. One more thing to keep in mind. Most feel that Young isn’t a surefire one-and-done prospect. With a weak 2018 class, Young immediately becomes the most important recruit to keep around for his sophomore campaign.

Mar 31, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self speaks to media during a press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 31, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self speaks to media during a press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bottom line

Frankly, KU can’t go wrong either way with Duval or Young. Each has his pluses and minuses. I like Duval better as a prospect, but Young’s status as a probable multi-year player is an advantage. Young can essentially win a game by himself with his shooting, a la a younger Steph Curry, and that’s a terrific attribute to have. Duval is a better ballhandler and passer at this point, so the rest of the starting lineup may be a little better.

At the end of the day, Oklahoma seems most likely to be left out of point guard musical chairs. Texas is in very good position for Coleman, and Duke seems to really be pushing for Duval over him. Kansas is in good position for both Duval and Young, and I believe will get one or the other. Oklahoma has all their eggs in the Trae Young basket, and needs to improve on the court to make themselves his choice.

After much consternation by fans, the 2017 recruiting class seems as promising as it has been since DeAndre Ayton committed to Arizona. KU has signed Garrett and Preston, and is in good position for both Duval and Young. Both would be tremendous fits in crimson and blue, and put an end to the five-star point guard drought for Self and the KU program. I marginally prefer Duval, but it’s really splitting hairs. I’d be thrilled with either. Like all years, the future is bright in Lawrence for KU basketball.

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