LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson’s focus and leadership has led the Jayhawks to back-to-back NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen appearances. Along the way, they’ve proven that they are capable of playing with any team in the country. On this day, they matched up with then No. 7 Baylor and National Player of the Year candidate Odyssey Sims. Take a walk with us on what the Jayhawks taught us in this huge Big 12 matchup.
1) Chelsea Gardner is a legitimate WNBA post presence.
Junior post Chelsea Gardner of Desoto, Texas is putting up all league type numbers averaging 16.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest. She had one of her best games of the season with 28 points and 13 rebounds against the Bears though. Gardner found ways throughout the game to make her presence felt on both ends of the floor. She scored facing the basket and on touches originating with her back to the basket. If she can continue to build on this success, expect the 6-foot-3 post to get a long look from multiple teams in the 2015 WNBA Draft.
2) Asia Boyd and Natalie Knight provide real depth.
Asia Boyd of Detroit, Mich., was one of the country’s premier perimeter scorers in the class of 2011. She has emerged as a go-to player this season with another quality game against Baylor. The left-handed wing is a fixture for the Jayhawks this season giving them a nice compliment to Gardner on the interior. On the other side of the arc is fellow junior, Natalie Knight of Olathe, Kan. Knight has been a nice secondary scoring option as well since returning after a knee injury suffered last season. Her ability to knockdown the open jump shot forces teams to play Kansas honest in the half court set.
3) Baylor’s first punch left them bruised but not broken.
Baylor came out guns blazing on a 15 to 5 run to start the game. A well-played Bonnie Henrickson timeout gave this young team a chance to settle down and that’s exactly what happened. From there, the Jayhawks started the process of climbing back into the game going into the half locked into a battle. The second half was more of the same before Henrickson’s team pushed the pedal to the medal running away with a huge home victory.
4) Bonnie Henrickson has the ship headed in the right way.
With a sharp coaching staff in tact including Mahogany Green-Eddie, Katie O’Connor and Shay Robinson, Henrickson has laid the foundation for continued success. With a commitment to basketball from the administration that rivals any in the land, there is no reason to think that the Jayhawks will not be able to build on cornerstone wins like the one over Baylor. No detail was left unturned on game day from shoot around to film and including pre game meal ten feet from the players locker room. There is even a multi-million dollar complex in the works that will have the team housed just steps from the Allen Fieldhouse.
5) Kansas 2014-15 roster is even tougher…just wait on it.
Kansas will be in a unique position returning four of their top five scorers as of this moment next season. They’ll add three four-star prospects from the current high school senior class in Lauren Aldridge of Marshfield, Mo., Terriell Bradley of Grand Prairie, Texas and Chayla Cheadle of Columbia, Mo. Based on their current numbers, two if not all three should be able to assist the rotation early next year in Lawrence. Don’t be surprised if the Jayhawks add another player to the mix before the school year ends.
Brandon Clay is the owner of the JumpOffPlus.com International Report, Peach State Basketball, Inc., and ProspectsNation.com. The JumpOffPlus.com is picked up by more than 200 colleges and universities nationwide. He serves as the Executive Camp Director for the Elite Basketball Academy Camps. Clay has been involved in the community since 2001. You can reach him at BrandonClay@PeachStateBasketball.com