(Originally posted at Upside & Motor)
It’s been an eventful year for Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. He graduated high school in Ukraine, participated at the Nike Hoop Summit as its youngest member, surprisingly committed to play at the Kansas University for the next two years (due to his June birthday, he will only be eligible for the 2016 draft at the earliest), led his country to a second place finish at the European Championships U18 Division B and Mike Fratello kept him on the group that will compete in the FIBA World Cup that starts on Saturday.
Mykhailiuk is a gunner, capable of pulling up from anywhere on the court but not yet consistently able to hit these shots at a high rate. He was mostly responsible for creating his own shot playing in his age group and because of his strong confidence, his shot selection was erratic and responsible for the very average shooting percentages he posts on every summer competition he plays; 38 percent shooting on 193 attempts in the Euro U16 last year, 42 percent shooting on 122 attempts in the Euro U18 B last month.
He is better off the catch, hitting 44 percent of 45 three-point attempts in his 460 minutes in the Ukrainian pro league last season, according to RealGM. Mykhailiuk has an unusual motion in the sense that he doesn’t angle his body straight towards the basket, which is something you usually see from left handed shooters, which is not his case. He doesn’t get much elevation, though, and the American athletes effectively bothered his shot when they closed out at him on a couple of his attempts at the Hoop Summit.
Mykhailiuk has an average first step and isn’t particularly explosive on straight line drives, but has good side-to-side dribbling speed and has flashed a nifty hesitation move to attack the basket in isolation. He hasn’t played above the rim against length yet, but looks to finish strong in transition and has flashed the ability to be a target for lobs on the weak side, which suggests he could at some point. With the ball, Mykhailiuk hangs in the air with good balance and has nice touch to finish at rim level.
Mykhailiuk also displays a nice handle in transition and impresses with his passing out of pressure, not just at the European junior level but also in a couple of instances against a higher level of athleticism at the Hoop Summit. In the half court, he is a decent passer out of dribble penetration but can also be careless with the ball, averaging over three turnovers per game these last two summers and giving it away on 20 percent of his possessions at the Ukrainian pro league last season.
He has taken players his own age into the post, where he created separation through very good footwork. It was another vehicle for him to launch the stepback and fadeaway jumpers he loves so much but also led to efficient scoring at the foul line. Mykhailiuk drew 72 fouls and took 75 free throws in nine appearances at the Euro U16 last summer and 36 fouls and 39 free throws at the Euro U18 B last month. As a result, he led one tournament in total scoring and ranked second in the other.
Regarding his defense, what’s impressive is how he plays with his arms up when pressing full court. It seems like a small thing, but most players don’t really do it and it often led to deflections that net him some steals. Mykhailiuk has posted a high steal rate in every tournament he’s played. Due to his (confirmed) six-foot-six wingspan and short range quickness, Roy Rana played him at the top of a 1-2-2 zone he broke out for a few possessions at the Hoop Summit. That’s interesting because Bill Self used a 1-3-1 zone with Andrew Wiggins at the top in some instances last season.
It has been said Mykhailiuk isn’t particularly consistent with his effort and focus on this end but that’s usually the case with most 17-year-olds. At the Hoop Summit, he looked engaged and worked hard to help and recover when Team USA swung the ball against the zone. A superior athlete in these last two summer tournaments in Europe, Mykhailiuk has flashed the ability to play above the basket as an asset in rim protection and contributed on the boards. We’ll see how much of his athleticism translates at the highest level of college basketball.
It has been rumored Mykhailiuk could potentially redshirt his first year at Kansas. The Jayhawks certainly have a lot of options on the wing, with Wayne Selden, Jr. and Brannen Green returning for their sophomore seasons and the highly touted Kelly Oubre joining the team. Conner Frankamp and Frank Mason sharing minutes is also always a possibility with Self. It’s also worth mentioning that Myhailiuk seems to have grown to at least 6’7, and possibly even 6’8, which means the Jayhawks may be able to find unique ways to get him on the floor even with their guard depth.
Ultimately, I think Mykhailiuk is simply too talented to sit out a full year, unless he struggles adapting with the move to the United States. We should see him suit up for the Jayhawks at some point in the near future.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.