To state the obvious: It would be an intriguing transfer move.
Johnathan Williams III, the former Missouri power forward, confirmed on Thursday that he is now considering Kansas among a list of possible transfer destinations. Williams III, who requested a release from Missouri in late March, told The Star that he had recently heard from Kansas coach Bill Self, who reached out to the former Mizzou big man.
“They just said they were interested in me,” Williams III said on Thursday.
For now, Williams III has a list of potential landing spots that also includes Georgetown, SMU and Gonzaga. He said Thursday he would continue speaking with schools and sorting through the transfer process.
With two scholarships still available, Self and his staff have continued to scour the country for possible late additions to their 2015 recruiting class. Williams’ name hadn’t surfaced as a possible option until this week, but that was, in part, because Missouri had initially restricted him from transferring to a Big 12 school. That restriction was removed earlier this month.
Williams III, the Tigers’ leading scorer and rebounder last season, is a former top 50 recruit out of Southwind High School in Memphis, Tenn. After a promising freshman season, Williams III averaged 11.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore. He played most of the season with pain in his right knee after suffering a partial tear in his meniscus before the season. Mizzou, meanwhile, scuffled under first-year coach Kim Anderson, finishing 9-23.
Williams III will have to sit out one season before returning in 2016-17. He would have two full years of eligibility remaining.
While Kansas didn’t show much interest in Williams III out of high school, he said Thursday that he had become more familiar with the Kansas program while watching them on television over the last two seasons.
The Jayhawks, meanwhile, are playing host to two other recruits this week. Shooting guard LaGerald Vick, who also hails from Memphis, began a visit Wednesday on the heels of a visit to K-State. Vick, who previously committed to SMU and planned to attend prep school next year, is also reportedly slated to visit Kentucky. For now, it appears he is still deciding whether to reclassify back to the Class of 2015. Former Baylor commit Kobie Eubanks, a 6-foot-5 guard, is also set to be on campus this weekend, according to Rivals.com.
From a strict roster perspective, Williams III could be a fit for Kansas. The Jayhawks are set to lose senior forwards Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor and Hunter Mickelson to graduation following next season, while incoming freshman big man Cheick Diallo also profiles as a possible one-and-done prospect. The Kansas staff could perhaps favor a more veteran presence in the frontcourt in 2016-17. The interest in Williams III could also amount to due diligence after his Big 12 transfer restrictions were removed.
A Missouri-to-Kansas transfer — or vice versa — could also be unprecedented, at least in recent history. When the two rivals shared a conference in the Big 8 and Big 12, there were few scenarios in which a transfer between the two schools would have made sense. That, of course, has changed in recent years.
“We’ll keep talking,” Williams III said. “And we’ll see where it goes.”