Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, who scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds on Thursday in his opening scrimmage at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, turned in a near-identical performance on Friday.
The 7-footer from Nigeria — he’s debating whether to keep his name in the 2018 NBA Draft or return to KU for a junior season — scored 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting (1 of 2 from the free-throw line) and grabbed four boards in Friday’s scrimmage. He had hit 7 of 10 shots in Thursday’s contest, misfiring on four free throws without a make.
Azubuike’s team actually defeated KU teammate Svi Mykhailiuk’s squad, 98-66, in Friday’s action. Mykhailiuk, who had a big game on Thursday (20 points, 6 of 9 from three) cooled off considerably. The 6-8 shooting guard scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting (0 of 4 from three) in 20 minutes Friday. Mykhailiuk had five rebounds, two assists and four turnovers vs. Azubuike’s squad.
KU’s Billy Preston and Malik Newman attended the NBA Combine for measurements and interviews but elected to not participate in the scrimmages. Here’s a KC Star report on Devonté Graham’s performance Friday and other aspects of his first NBA Combine.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Borzello included Azubuike in a piece on Friday regarding the importance of certain players possibly returning to their college teams: “The Jayhawks won the Big 12 tournament without Azubuike, so what's the big deal, right? Not so much. Azubuike is essentially irreplaceable, given his 7-foot, 280-pound size and nation-leading 77.0 percent 2-point shooting. He's a dominant rebounder and just provides a dimension very few teams possess. Bill Self is bringing in David McCormack at the 5 and Silvio De Sousa should be ready for more minutes, but the Jayhawks would be awfully thin down low if Azubuike departs. Most of the newcomers — a group that includes three sit-out transfers and five-star guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson — play on the perimeter. If Azubuike returns, this might be the preseason No. 1 team in the country."
NBA intrigued by those who don’t scrimmage
Why do some players only agree to be measured and interviewed but not scrimmage at the NBA Combine? The Washington Post addressed the issue in a story on Friday.
“Anfernee Simons, a 6-foot-4 guard making the leap from a postgraduate high school year to the NBA, did not scrimmage Thursday and remains a mystery to the franchises considering taking him with a first-round pick. Mystery, while unquantifiable, is one of the most leverageable assets an NBA prospect can hold; scrimmaging at the combine is fumbling it away,” wrote reporter Jesse Dougherty.
Jayhawks galore at Combine
Svi Mykhailiuk told The Star’s Aaron Reiss he’s enjoyed going through the Combine with four former Jayhawks.
“It’s great to see my teammates here,” Svi said. “I hope everyone is doing well. It’s great to see them play. All of us are trying to make it to the next challenge and make Jayhawk nation proud.”
The Big 12 has been represented by 10 players at the Combine.
“Analytics say the Big 12 is the power conference of the NCAA and we’ve got a lot of good players there. That’s why we’ve got 10 in the Combine,” Mykhailiuk said to The Star.
Svi feels he’s faring better at this year’s combine than he did at last year’s. He withdrew his name from the draft after the combine a year ago, electing to complete a four-year career at KU.
“Just everything,” Mykhailiuk said of improved areas to his game. “Just being in college one more year and coming back here more ready, mentally, physically, just overall.”
He said he left last year’s combine knowing he had to work on, “trying to be more aggressive with the ball, trying to play better defense. But the main thing is being more aggressive with the ball.”
Grimes is Mr. Basketball
KU basketball signee Quentin Grimes, a 6-5 shooting guard from The Woodlands High in College Park, Texas, on Thursday night was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Texas as voted by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. He received the award at a banquet in San Antonio.
Grimes is the country’s No. 8-ranked recruit in the Class of 2018 by Rivals.com.
Grimes averaged 29.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game his senior season for (21-13) The Woodlands, which won a District 12-6A title and appeared in the Texas University Interscholastic League area finals. Grimes, a McDonald’s All-American, was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year.
Hall, Dante to headline Saturday game
KU recruiting targets N’Faly Dante and Malik Hall, a pair of players from Wichita Sunrise Christian Academy, will play for MoKan Elite in the feature game of the KC Classic AAU Tournament at 7:55 p.m., Saturday at Sports Pavilion Lawrence at Rock Chalk Park.
Fans may attend the event, however no Div. I college coaches are allowed in the building unless they have children participating in the tourney. It’s an NCAA-mandated dead period for college coaches in recruiting.
Dante, a 6-10 junior-to-be center, is ranked No. 4 overall in the Class of 2020 by Rivals.com. He’s being recruited by KU, Kentucky and others. Hall, a 6-7 senior-to-be small forward, is ranked No. 49 nationally in the Class of 2019 by Rivals.com. He’s being recruited by KU, Oklahoma and many others.