Kansas coach Bill Self did a good bit of foreshadowing following his team's 85–51 loss to USC in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.
"For us to be a team that really has a chance to be a national contender, I mean, we need to get a little bit more athletic," Self said then. "We need to get a little longer and bigger, those sorts of things."
Perhaps no one envisioned the roster turnover that would come next. Self, over the next few months, completely reshaped his team while adding a total of eight new scholarship players.
The good news for Self, through all that, is that he's also bringing back four starters — giving him the best of both worlds when it comes to both talent infusion and reliable, proven production.
At a Glance
HEAD COACH: Bill Self
2020-21 RECORD (BIG 12): 21-9 (12-6)
2020-21 POSTSEASON: NCAA: Lost to USC 85-51 in the second round
G Marcus Garrett (11.0 ppg, 3.7 apg)
G Bryce Thompson (4.6 ppg, 1.1 apg)
David McCormack will be KU's biggest contributor in the middle, fresh off a season in which he rallied from a miserable first few weeks to earn All-Big 12 second-team honors. The 6'10" forward is an excellent free-throw shooter and offensive rebounder and is comfortable shooting face-ups between 14 and 20 feet. His offseason was slowed a bit by injury, as he had to sit out the early summer months after having surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot.
Jalen Wilson also is back after testing his NBA Draft stock in the offseason. After reshaping his body before his redshirt freshman season, the 6'8" Wilson was an excellent rebounder for his size and also showed some scoring ability off the drive while averaging 11.8 points in his first full campaign.
Division II transfer Cam Martin gives Self an intriguing option as a shooting big man. The 6'9" super-senior averaged 25 points and 9.1 rebounds while making 45 percent of his 3s for former Jayhawk Jeff Boschee at Missouri Southern State in 2020-21. Freshman Zach Clemence also provides an option as a versatile big if Self is looking to stretch the defense, while Mitch Lightfoot — in his sixth year with the program — should be comfortable in his role of rebounder/shot-blocker at the end of the bench.
Remy Martin will be a trendy pick for Big 12 Player of the Year after transferring in from Arizona State. He should give KU something it sorely lacked a season ago: a point guard who can create for himself or others off the dribble while also being able to make open 3s. Martin was first-team All-Pac-12 last season while averaging 19.1 points and 3.7 assists.
KU solidified its backcourt rotation when guard Ochai Agbaji announced he'd be returning for a senior year while bypassing the NBA Draft. The 6'5" guard led KU in scoring last season at 14.1 points per game while thriving as an outside shooter.
Christian Braun returns after starting all 30 games a season ago. A scrappy rebounder and loose-ball specialist, Braun could benefit from regaining confidence in his 3-point shot after making 34 percent his sophomore season.
Joseph Yesufu joins KU after taking off as a late-year starter for Drake last season. Though he is small in stature at 6'0", Yesufu made 38.4 percent of his 3s a year ago and also has a floater game that could help him counteract the size he'll face in the Big 12.
Jalen Coleman-Lands — who transferred from Iowa State — gives KU another outside threat after making 40 percent of his 3s last year.
Dajuan Harris Jr. slots in as a backup point guard, while freshman Bobby Pettiford provides Self additional playmaking off the bounce.
One of Self's most-used mottos with his teams in recent years has been this: "Players change, expectations don't."
The current group will test that again this season, as even after all the roster adjustments, KU finds itself in a familiar position heading into 2021-22: as a favorite to win the Big 12, with national title aspirations if things fall right in March.
Postseason Prediction: NCAA Tournament Final Four
Big 12 Prediction: 1