A day after landing the top freshman recruit in the country, the Kansas men’s basketball team received more good news Tuesday in the form of a top reserve deciding to return.
Guard Svi Mykhailiuk announced via Twitter that he would not be declaring for the NBA Draft.
“Coach and I been talking and I decided that I’m not gonna test and I’m excited to spend my junior year as a Jayhawk. Rock Chalk,” Mykhailiuk wrote on his “Sviat_10” account.
The decision solidies KU’s backcourt, which should include returning starters Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason and Rivals.com’s No. 1 recruit Josh Jackson, who committed to the Jayhawks on Monday.
Self said the announcement also impacts KU’s recruiting, as instead of trying to scramble to find a perimeter scorer, the staff can be confident knowing it has Mykhailuk.
“It certainly takes some pressure off knowing that we couldn’t have recruited a better kid to come in our program right now than what we would with Svi being in our program,” Self said. “I’m excited about it. I really am. But I’m really more excited about it for him than for us, because I think he knows that he hasn’t been able to display his talent level consistently, and there’s been reasons for that, and we’ve also had some good players that were a little bit older and mature and things like that.
“I really feel like that he believes in his heart that next year will be the opportunity that will allow him to do that.”
Self said he talked openly with Mykhailuk about the potential positives and negatives of going pro. Though players are allowed to declare for the draft without an agent with no penalty, Self’s advice was to not do that simply to test the market; instead, he told him to declare only if he had real intentions of leaving if he received good reports from NBA personnel.
Mykhailuk, who was born in Ukraine, has often been viewed as a projectable NBA player because of his height (6 feet 8) and age. He started college a year early, and during his freshman season, he was the youngest player in Big 12 at age 17. DraftExpress.com projects Mykhailiuk as the 22nd pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
“The bottom line is, he feels like that regardless of how well he can do right now at this moment, it’s not where he’ll be at this time next year. And I agree,” Self said. “Svi should be a freshman right now. He’d be a young freshman, but he’d be a freshman. If you look at Svi as a freshman going into his sophomore year, who wouldn’t be excited about him? So I think he understands that.”
Mykhailiuk, who averaged 5.4 points this season, once again projects as a backup. He played in 35 games a year ago and started none, though his 449 minutes ranked sixth on the team.
“No kids are totally patient, but I think he’s showing some maturity right now, stating that, ‘I just know I’m not going to be where I’m at right now 12 months from now.’ That’s basically what his decision was,” Self said. “And of course, the opportunity would probably more prevalent for him next year with Wayne and B.G. both going ahead and entering the draft.”
KU still is waiting on official decisions from two players. Forward Check Diallo has declared for the draft but has not hired an agent, meaning he has until May 15 to make a final decision. Forward Carlton Bragg, meanwhile, has not made an official announcement, though early indications have been that he is likely to return for his sophomore season.