Sam Cunliffe, a 6-foot-6 guard from Seattle, who announced plans to transfer from Arizona State to Kansas on Jan. 7, has joined KU’s team, Kansas coach Bill Self said Friday.
Cunliffe — who averaged 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game across 10 games in this, his freshman season at Arizona State — will be able to practice with Kansas immediately and will be eligible to play in games as a sophomore following the fall 2017 semester in December.
“We’d seen Sam play in high school and thought he was a great prospect,” Self said Friday in a news release. Cunliffe, who attended Seattle Rainier Beach High his senior year, was ranked No. 36 in the recruiting class of 2016 by Rivals.com.
“Sam is a guy that is very athletic and can really shoot the basketball,” Self said.
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“He will be a player that will impact our program the day he becomes eligible. A lot of people view the year sitting out as a negative, but I think Sam is looking at it as a positive — to come in here, get acclimated and practice against some really good players. He wants to get better and will have an impact on our program that enhances our opportunity to have a good team next year,” Self added.
Cunliffe hit 15 of 37 threes (40.5 percent) with five steals and four blocked shots at Arizona State. Cunliffe scored 10 points or more in five games, including a 23-point, 10-rebound outing against The Citadel.
“I knew I was going to either stay home and go to Seattle U. (University where he is close to coach Cameron Dollar) or go to a school like Kansas,” Cunliffe said in a release. “I feel my brand of basketball is how they play at Kansas. They move the ball, under a great coach, and I will be able to play with guys who play at the highest level. I wanted to play somewhere where I could be comfortable and I got all that on my visit.
“I’m an unselfish player who wants to win,” Cunliffe added. “I want to get better every day. I feel sitting out a year is good because I can just come in and not worry about playing, just worry about doing things the right way. I want to practice hard and make this team better. I want to make sure to pick stuff up so when I am ready, I can step right in.”
Cunliffe averaged 21.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game during his senior season at Rainier Beach. In 2016 he led the Vikings to their fourth state title in five years and was named Class 3A state tournament Most Valuable Player. Cunliffe was the Seattle Times 2016 Player of the Year in the state of Washington.
“We’ve recruited a lot kids out of Rainier Beach before. (Kansas assistant) Kurtis Townsend knows everybody up there,” Self said.
Cunliffe transferred to Rainier Beach after his junior season. He played for Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet the previous two seasons. He averaged 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game during his junior campaign at Bishop Blanchet.
Cunliffe has seven sisters, including Hannah Cunliffe, who is a two-time track and field All-American at Oregon.
Cunliffe joins guard Marcus Garrett and forward Billy Preston in Kansas’ 2017 recruiting class. Kanas this semester has 12 players on scholarship, one under the limit of 13.