- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - In the course of a week, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk went from playing against some of his biggest heroes on the U.S. team at the World Cup to figuring out where all his classes were on the hilly, tree-filled campus at Kansas.

Talk about a whirlwind for the 17-year-old shooting guard from the Ukraine.

“I’ve been sleeping a lot,” he said with smile, shortly after arriving this week.

Mykhailiuk may be the most tantalizing enigma in college basketball this season. The rangy swingman can handle the ball and hit the outside shot, and many draft experts believe he’ll jump to the pros in a couple years. Yet he didn’t merit a blip on the recruiting radar until late in the process, even in an era in which top talent is often discovered in grade school.

When he committed over the summer, he did so after considering Virginia and taking a single visit to both schools. His only other trip to the U.S. had been for the Nike Hoops Summit, which means his arrival this week was his third trip across the Pacific Ocean.

“His skill level, knowledge and aptitude for the game are way beyond his years,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He’s a guy that can play all three positions on the perimeter. At 6-foot-8, he can play the point, play the No. 2 or the No. 3. He allows us to be more versatile next year and certainly, there would be few people that would shoot it better than him.”

Mykhailiuk rose to prominence on the international circuit, where players often sign with professional teams right out of high school rather than attend college. But his dream is to play in the NBA, and Mykhailiuk thought playing at Kansas gave him a better chance of realizing it.

He certainly got a taste of what that would be like in Spain.

Mykhailiuk played 11 minutes for the Ukrainian team against the Americans last Thursday, hitting a 3-pointer and pulling down a couple of rebounds. His team actually led after the first quarter before wilting late in the first half in a 95-71 loss to the tournament favorites.

Still, it gave him a chance to play against the Bulls’ Derrick Rose and the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving, two of the players he rattled off as his biggest idols.

“It was pretty hard,” Mykhailiuk said, “but pretty fun.”

Mykhailiuk also played in the under-18 European championships in Bulgaria this summer, which had to make what awaited him in Lawrence feel like a downer: mountains of paperwork. He dug into that earlier this week, but still managed to squeeze in that nap along with a couple of trips to Allen Fieldhouse, the venerable arena where he will eventually play.

He’s the final member of a heralded recruiting class to arrive, joining the likes of five-star forward Cliff Alexander, shooting guard Kelly Oubre and point guard Devonte Graham.

Throw in a list of returnees that include Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis and Brannen Greene and suddenly, a team that lost Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid after one season to the NBA would seem to have enough firepower to make another run at the national championship.

That prospect sounds a whole lot better than sticking around Ukraine, where a shaky cease-fire with Russia has finally taken hold. Mykhailiuk is from Cherkasy, a city near the center of his country, so his family has been insulated from the political turmoil to the southeast.

“It’s not affecting my city,” he explained, “but the cities near the border, it’s affecting them - the bombings, killing people. So it’s horrible.”

Mykhailiuk arrives at Kansas with a confidence that comes off as brash. When asked what he does best, he replied, “Everything.” But the young shooter also arrives with little fanfare, and that could allow him to blossom into one of the intriguing stories of the upcoming season.

“We have a great recruiting class, great players,” he said. “We’ll have a good team.”

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