Bill Self on KU’s future and how Auburn ran away with NCAA Tournament win
Kansas’ basketball roster figures to undergo some significant change prior to the start of the 2019-20 season.
What’s known at this time — just hours after the Jayhawks’ 89-75 season-ending loss to Auburn in a second-round NCAA Tournament game in Salt Lake City — is KU on paper has a full allotment of 13 scholarship players following the departure of senior Lagerald Vick and addition of freshmen guards Christian Braun and Issac “Mackey” McBride.
There are several non-seniors, however, who could move on and be replaced by prospects currently considering KU in recruiting.
For instance …
Junior Dedric Lawson could be NBA Draft-bound after leading the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding. Junior Udoka Azubuike could leave for the pros as well despite missing all but nine games because of injury this season.
Lawson’s brother, K.J. Lawson, has two years of eligibility remaining, but could conceivably follow Dedric to another locale. K.J. is getting married in July — Dedric is the best man, by the way. If K.J. elects to turn pro or continue his college career elsewhere, he would be immediately eligible at the school of his choice in accordance with graduate transfer rules.
Freshman Quentin Grimes could leave as a one-and-done college player. At the time of his signing with KU, the McDonald’s All-American was considered a projected lottery pick.
Sophomore Silvio De Sousa obviously would have to consider leaving Lawrence if his appeal to the NCAA for immediate restoration of eligibility is denied. It’s hard to imagine the skilled 6-foot-9 sophomore electing to remain in college yet another year if not allowed to play in games.
This past season, the Angola native practiced but did not play in any games because of allegations his guardian accepted money from an Adidas rep during De Sousa’s recruitment. The NCAA ruled he also must miss games next season before being eligible for competition in 2020-21.
De Sousa declined comment after Saturday’s loss, as did Azubuike.
If all players in this above scenario turn pro or transfer, KU would have as many as five additional scholarships available in recruiting, with coach Bill Self possibly bringing in as many as seven new Jayhawks in the Class of 2019.
The scholarship returnees figure to be: freshman guard Devon Dotson, sophomore guard Marcus Garrett, sophomore guard Charlie Moore, freshman guard Ochai Agbaji, freshman forward David McCormack and junior forward Mitch Lightfoot. Walk-ons Garrett Luinstra, E.J. Elliott and Chris Teahan also figure to be back.
Let’s take a look at the newcomers and potential newcomers.
▪ Braun, a 6-7 senior guard from Kansas 6A state champion Blue Valley Northwest, averaged 27.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals his senior season. He was MVP of the state tournament after scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the title game win over Topeka Washburn Rural.
▪ McBride, a 6-1 point guard who goes by his nickname of Mackey, averaged 28.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists a game this past season at Little Rock (Ark.) Baptist Prep.
Both Braun and McBride were chosen Gatorade player of the year in their respective states.
KU is still in the running for several highly regarded high school players.
Matthew Hurt, a 6-9 senior forward from John Marshall High in Rochester, Minn., is considering KU, Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky. He is the No. 7-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com. He averaged 15.0 points and 4.0 rebounds a game last summer for Self’s USA Basketball team that won the FIBA Americas U18 title in Canada.
Cassius Stanley, 6-5 senior from Sierra Canyon High in Chatsworth, Calif., has a final three of KU, Oregon and UCLA, though there has been talk other schools might be trying to get involved. The No. 33-rated player in the Class of 2019 by Rivals.com, at one time considered USC, Texas and Arizona. The elimination of USC came as somewhat of a surprise, considering his dad attended USC and he’s been around the school a lot. His mom ran track at UCLA.
R.J. Hampton, a 6-5 senior point guard from Little Elm (Texas) High School, is said to be considering reclassifying to 2019. Rivals.com’s No. 5 rated player in the Class of 2020 is considering KU, Duke, Kentucky, Memphis and TCU.
Tristan Enaruna, a 6-7 senior small forward from Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, who is unranked, has been offered a scholarship by KU, Texas Tech, Illinois, Creighton and Grand Canyon, perhaps others. He hails originally from the Netherlands.
Precious Achiuwa, a 6-9 senior forward from Montverde (Fla.) Academy, who is ranked No. 16 by Rivals.com, has a list of KU, North Carolina, Memphis, St. John’s and UConn.
There are other possible high schoolers to sign and/or transfers and graduate transfers.
Of KU’s future, senior-to-be Lightfoot said: “We will do what we always do, work to get better in the offseason. We have a lot of good players who gained a lot of experience this year.”
Freshman Agbaji on Saturday wanted to “thank my coaches, teammates and fans, everybody for a great freshman year.”
He added: “I think the freshmen can take this year as a learning experience for next season. It was a whirlwind. It was all a blessing.”