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Stanford Basketball Roundup: Major roster changes coming for the Cardinal

Busy week for roster changes

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The season may be over, but the work of a college basketball coach and his staff never stops.

Two Leave the Program

Robert Cartwright and Cameron Walker will not return to the team next season. Neither of these exits are particularly unexpected, and both players are departing the program under good terms.

Walker did not see action this year due to medical issues. He will remain at the school, tearing up the intramural circuit and getting his Stanford degree. In two seasons he logged minutes in 39 games, including 2 starts. He holds career averages of 1.4 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per game.

Cartwright will graduate this spring with a degree in Science, Technology and Society and then look to graduate transfer. He has a fifth year of eligibility due to a broken right arm he suffered during his sophomore year. Per NCAA rules, he will be eligible immediately at his new school.

Robert was a part of a great recruiting class that included Reid Travis, Dorian Pickens, and Michael Humphrey. He played in 94 career games, 19 of which he started at the point. For his career he averaged 4.3 points and 2.1 assists, including a career high 21 points last season versus Washington State. As solid of a player as he was, his minutes were expected to continue to dwindle next year, as Sheffield returns to the backcourt fold and freshman guards Cormac Ryan and Bryce Wills arrive on campus.

Early Entrant?

Reid Travis has declared for the NBA Draft. Travis has not yet hired an agent, leaving him the option to return to school. Recently the deadline for draft entry decisions was moved back to May 30th, so Reid will have the better part of two months to work out with teams and decide if he wishes to keep his hat in the ring.

Travis will graduate this spring with a degree in Science, Technology and Society. Due to persistent injury issues early in his career at Stanford, he was awarded a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Reid has already had a decorated four years on the Farm, including two First-Team All Pac-12 honors. This past year he led the team and was top three in the conference in both points and rebounding, averaging 19.5 and 8.7 per game.

Reid is not currently projected to be drafted per most mock drafts. However, it only takes one team falling in love with him for that to change. This past season he attempted 61 three point field goals after taking just 1 in his first three years, in large part to better fit the mold of the modern NBA big man. His decision will have major ramifications on the 2018-19 Stanford season.

Recruiting

With Cartwright and Walker out, there are two scholarships opened up. One is already spoken for, as Bryce Wills is firmly committed but could not officially sign until these departures. The other remains open, and Jerod Haase seems determined to fill it with an interior presence.

Jordan Brown

The first choice is Jordan Brown, a McDonald’s All-American from Napa’s Prolific Prep. Brown had a phenomenal All-American game, scoring an efficient 26 points and pulling down 8 boards. Were it not for Nassir Little’s remarkable performance, Brown may well have won the MVP award. He has also had some run with the USA Basketball youth program, and will be featured in the upcoming Nike Hoop Summit.

The 6’10” PF is a five-star recruit, and the top-rated player in California per 247. He is one of the few top players that remains unsigned, and has a number of impressive offers, including Oregon, Gonzaga, and Kentucky. There were reports that Cal was the favorite to land him, but the sentiment shifted a bit once a spot opened at Stanford. Also in the mix is Nevada, an Elite Eight team who will likely be even better next year. The Wolfpack have a former NBA coach at the helm in Eric Musselman, and their missing piece is a legitimate interior player. Regardless, Stanford appears to be a front-runner.

Lukas Kišūnas

Stanford has reportedly been in recent contact with UCONN decommit Lukas Kišūnas. The Lithuanian-born Kišūnas stands at 6’10” / 255, and is ranked as a three-star recruit. Kišūnas plays his prep ball in New Hampshire at Brewster Academy, a rival to Josh Sharma’s alma mater Northfield Mount Hermon and Keenan Fitzmorris’ New Hampton School.

He has played for the Lithuanian youth national teams, including at the U17 World Championships and the more recent U18 European Championships. Perhaps his best cap as a Lithuanian international came against Serbia in the third-place game of Europe, when he scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds in just 22 minutes of action.

From what film I watched on YouTube (largely FIBA action), Kišūnas appears to be very polished in the paint. He was effective in the post against the best youth players in the world, and appears to possess great foot work. On defense he seems to stay vertical fairly well at the rim. He opted out of playing at UCONN after the firing of coach Kevin Ollie, and has since heard from numerous schools, including Arizona and SMU. Stanford recruited two international players (da Silva and White) last year, so there appears to be a new emphasis under the Haase administration.

Projected Roster

This is still very much in flux, as it remains to be seen whether Stanford fills the remaining vacancy with Brown, Kišūnas, someone else, or perhaps no one at all. Even more important, though, is whether Reid Travis surprises me and stays in the draft. That would leave a huge hole in the Stanford roster (literally, he’s a large man), and one open scholarship.

Depth Chart A - Reid returns, Brown signs

PG Daejon Davis Cormac Ryan Bryce Wills
SG Marcus Sheffield Cormac Ryan Isaac White
SF KZ Okpala Oscar da Silva Kodye Pugh
PF Reid Travis Oscar da Silva Trevor Stanback
C Jordan Brown Josh Sharma Keenan Fitzmorris

This is the best case, and sets Stanford up to make some real noise in the Pac-12 and perhaps beyond. The roster is jam-packed with versatility. If Sheffield/Ryan can replace the shooting of Pickens, and Davis/Okpala/da Silva can move past their freshman sloppiness, it could be a special team.

Depth Chart B - Reid returns, Kišūnas signs

PG Daejon Davis Cormac Ryan Bryce Wills
SG Marcus Sheffield Cormac Ryan Isaac White
SF KZ Okpala Oscar da Silva Kodye Pugh
PF Reid Travis Oscar da Silva Lukas Kišūnas
C Josh Sharma Trevor Stanback Keenan Fitzmorris

This team is still very good, however there are added questions in the front court. Stanback has played sparingly in two years, but he would believably be the backup center unless Kišūnas or Fitzmorris make great strides early. Sharma is a good rim protector and shows flashes on offense, but he will need to lower his foul rate to stay on the court more.

This depth chart works with swapping Kišūnas for a different interior recruit, should Haase sign someone else.

Depth Chart C - Reid departs, Brown and Kišūnas sign

PG Daejon Davis Cormac Ryan Bryce Wills
SG Marcus Sheffield Cormac Ryan Isaac White
SF KZ Okpala Oscar da Silva Kodye Pugh
PF Jordan Brown Oscar da Silva Lukas Kišūnas
C Josh Sharma Trevor Stanback Keenan Fitzmorris

This team is dangerous still, but front court experience is virtually non-existent. If Brown adapts quickly to the college game, the team could be primed for a good year. Probably an elite defensive squad, as Brown at the 4 would give the starting lineup an absurd amount of length.

Depth Chart D - Reid leaves, Brown heads elsewhere

PG Daejon Davis Cormac Ryan Bryce Wills
SG Marcus Sheffield Cormac Ryan Isaac White
SF KZ Okpala Kodye Pugh
PF Oscar da Silva Trevor Stanback Lukas Kišūnas
C Josh Sharma Trevor Stanback Keenan Fitzmorris

This is the worst case, but could still mean an okay season. Interior scoring would be fairly minimal, and the team would likely go small ball more frequently. Da Silva would probably be elevated to a starting role, which he deserves. It would, however, be a real blow to the bench unit.

Conclusion

As Rumsfeld said, there are a lot of known unknowns. Within the next month or two, there should be clarity around Reid’s draft decision and the makeup of the 2018 recruiting class. Regardless, Haase is on his way toward making Stanford basketball great again.