Kansas coach Bill Self landed a transfer big man on Sunday, a preemptive recruiting gambit that could bolster the Jayhawks’ frontcourt in the 2016-17 season.
Dwight Coleby, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward who spent the last two years at Mississippi, verbally committed to Kansas on Sunday after a weekend visit to the campus. Coleby made the news public with a post on his Twitter account on Sunday evening. A native of Nassau, Bahamas, Coleby will sit out the 2015-16 season before having two years of eligibility at Kansas.
Self announced the transfer on Monday.
“When Dwight became available, we researched it and watched tape. He’s a exactly what I think we need. He’s a big guy that can play either bigs position. He’s active. He reminds me of a lot of a bigger Jamari or Thomas Robinson-type body,” Self said in a release. “He’s got a great motor. I feel like he can play on the block. He can play facing. He can do a lot of different things. He’s raw offensively, but he’s a premiere athlete and should be a solid rebounder and defender right off the bat.”
As a native of the Bahamas, Coleby will also likely not be eligible to play in the World University Games, where Kansas will represent the United States in July in Gwanju, South Korea. Coleby is the younger brother of former Wichita State big man Kadeem Coleby.
The addition of Coleby provides frontcourt depth in the future and gives Self a head start in what should be a busy recruiting year in 2016.
The Jayhawks will lose senior forwards Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor and Hunter Mickelson to graduation after the 2015-16 season, while incoming freshman big man Cheick Diallo projects as a potential one-and-done player. This prospect left Self facing a shortage of big men in 2016-17, and earlier this month he stated his desire to use a remaining scholarship on a transfer who could use the 2015-16 season to develop in the KU program.
The addition of Coleby, in theory,will give Kansas another veteran presence in the frontcourt in 2016-17.
“Without question, we think his best ball is well down the road,” Self said. “I see him being a Darnell Jackson. I see him being a bigger Jamari, a guy that can have a big impact on our program and hopefully mature and develop into a starter for us.”
Coleby could also take up Kansas’ last remaining scholarship slot, assuming that shooting guard LaGerald Vick, who committed to KU earlier this month, is eligible to re-classify to the 2015 recruiting class and play this season. Vick, who has been waiting on academic paperwork, is expected to re-classify but hasn't officially announced the decision.
Coleby averaged 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while playing 16.5 minutes per game last season as a sophomore at Ole Miss. The Rebels advanced to the NCAA Tournament, getting a victory over BYU in a play-in game before falling to Xavier in the round of 64. An unranked three-star recruit out of Piney Woods, Miss., Coleby originally picked Ole Miss over a list of suitors that included Georgia, Memphis and Mississippi State.
Listed at 6 feet 9 and 240 pounds at Ole Miss, Coleby was an efficient scorer in limited minutes, shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 79.7 percent from the free-throw line. According to advanced metrics, his defensive rebounding ability is also a strength. His defensive rebounding percentage (19.3) would have ranked second on Kansas last season behind freshman forward Cliff Alexander, who opted to enter the NBA Draft after one season.
With the addition of Coleby, Kansas has pieced together a four-man recruiting class for 2015 — assuming that Vick officially joins the class in the coming days. The Jayhawks also added Diallo, a McDonald’s All-American forward who projects as a starter next season, and versatile forward Carlton Bragg, another McDonald’s All-American.
Before landing Coleby, the Jayhawks were also pursuing former Providence big man Paschal Chukwu, who was reportedly scheduled to visit KU in early June. If Kansas signs Vick and Coleby, it would not have another available scholarship.