You may have heard on Sunday that Kansas signee Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is slated to represent his native Ukraine at the upcoming FIBA World Cup. For Mykhailiuk, you can imagine that it’s something of a dream. He is just 17, still growing into his 6-foot-6 frame, and now poised to play in the world’s most prestigious basketball tournament — outside the Olympics or the NBA playoffs.
You also can not blame KU coach Bill Self for being a little nervous about the whole thing. Now Mykhailiuk, who signed with KU in May, will not be arriving on campus until at least the second week of September. And it could be longer.
“I’m happy for him,” Self said Monday before hosting his annual golf tournament for the Lawrence Boy Scouts. “I’m a little concerned that he’s going to come in well behind, which he will. And without putting too much pressure on him, I was hoping he’d be really ready to be a major contributor (in) mid-November. It may take him a little bit more time.”
The re-branded FIBA World Cup — previously known as the FIBA World Championship — runs Aug. 30 through Sept. 14 in Spain. Ukraine, in Group C, will play five group games, finishing against the United States on Sept. 4 in Bilbao, Spain.
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Mykhailiuk, who played in the U-18 European Championships last month, was expected to spend August practicing with the Ukraine senior national team, coached by former NBA coach Mike Fratello. After conversations with Fratello, Self expected Mykhailiuk to be done with his national team duties by late August and head to Kansas soon after.
“(Fratello) said: ‘I really doubt he can make the team, because he’ll be going against men, but let him hang out over here and he’ll get some good training,’” Self said. “And I guess they trained him well enough that he made the team.”
For Mykhailiuk, it’s a been an invaluable summer. He’s spent the past month practicing and playing against Ukrainian professionals — some nearly 10 years his senior. But in a perfect world, Self would have preferred that Mykhailiuk be in Lawrence for the summer, working out with KU strength coach Andrea Hudy.
“I’m more concerned about him strength-wise,” Self said. “He wasn’t here with Andrea all summer, and of course he needs it. He weights 193 pounds, but still yet he’s not strong, and you don’t get strong overnight. It takes time.”
Mykhailiuk is expected to miss the first couple of weeks of class — Monday was first day of the fall semester at KU — but Self says Mykhailiuk will be enrolled in classes and could possibly do some online work in the next few weeks.
Point guard talk — Self on Monday repeated the idea of playing with a four-guard lineup this coming season. Not all the time, of course. But perhaps every so often.
Self likes the idea of playing multiple point guards, and his roster is deep at the wing position.
For now, he can envision a combination of sophomores Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp and freshman Devonte’ Graham seeing the court together.
“You could see two of those three playing together a lot,” Self said. “And then that makes us real small, so your deepest position is wing. So I could see one of our wings being a four-man and playing real small.
“I think it’d be really hard to guard; I just don’t know if we could guard anybody.”
Weis on running backs — In a utopian world, Charlie Weis would prefer to be playing on college football’s opening weekend. But given Kansas’ current reality — including season-ending injuries to two senior running backs — Weis is suddenly thankful for the week-one bye on the Jayhawks’ schedule.
“I’d love to play early,” Weis said Monday on the Big 12 football coaches teleconference. “But in light of a couple of guys we’ve lost in the last couple weeks, I think it’s turned out to be a benefit for us.
“So I think all it has done is given us more time.”
Last week, Weis announced that running backs Brandon Bourbon (torn ACL) and Taylor Cox (torn Achilles’ tendon) were both lost for the season. The injuries pushed true freshman Corey Avery and junior college transfer De’Andre Mann to the top of the depth chart. Avery is a three-star recruit from Carter High School in Dallas, while Mann racked up more than 1,700 yards last season at Hartnell Community College in Salinas, Calif.
“We have two front-line guys that we like a whole bunch,” Weis said, adding that Mann “isn’t just another guy.”
Another week of practice on the heels of fall camp should provide Avery and Mann some added time to grow comfortable with a new offense. It also buys Weis some time to sort through the depth in the backfield. Last week, Weis switched true freshman Joe Dineen from safety to running back. But beyond those three, the Jayhawks are particularly thin at the position.
For now, though, Weis says he’s comfortable with Avery and Mann carrying the load in the backfield.
“These guys were pushing to be No. 1 when we had the injuries,” Weis said. “So what this has really done is elevating them to 1 and 1A.”