Looking at the Jayhawks 2019-20 recruiting class
Barring any setbacks, Kansas center Udoka Azubuike should be able to participate in summertime basketball practices and pick-up games, KU coach Bill Self said on Thursday.
“We are hopeful Doke will be on the court with no restrictions by the time summer school starts (on June 4),” Self said from his eighth-annual Bill Self Basketball Fantasy Camp at Allen Fieldhouse.
“It’s limited,” Self added of Azubuike’s being able to shoot the ball four months after his Jan. 9 surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right hand/wrist area. “He is able to catch the ball,” Self added.
Azubuike, a 7-foot, 270-pound native of Delta, Nigeria, announced on April 22 his plans to return to KU for his senior season. His hand injury prevented him from attending the NBA Combine and taking part in individual workouts with NBA teams.
Thus, Azubuike will be back after averaging 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in nine games his junior season. As a sophomore in 2017-18, Azubuike averaged 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while playing 36 games.
“I believe this … I don’t think there’s a more dominant or powerful or better back-to-the-basket player in college basketball than Udoka Azubuike. When he got hurt, it was a big blow to all of us,” Self said recently. “I am so proud how he has handled everything (including torn tendon in his left hand his freshman year). I tell Doke all the time he’s going to get the last laugh on everybody,” Self added.
Self seeks more signees
KU coach Self, who has awarded three scholarships (guards Christian Braun, Issac McBride and guard/forward Tristan Enaruna) in the recruiting class of 2019, is hoping to add a few more players to the 2019-20 roster.
“We are obviously very excited about Tristan, Christian and Issac, but it’s still incomplete,” Self said. “We are still actively pursuing multiple guys.”
KU on Wednesday announced the signing of Enaruna (prounounced Eh-nuh-Roo-nuh), a 6-8 senior guard/forward from Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah.
“Maybe Kelly Oubre and a little bit Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins),” Self said of former KU players that may remind him of Enaruna, who has a 7-foot wingspan.
Self cannot comment on individual recruits who remain available (until they sign), in accordance with NCAA rules.
It is known that KU finds itself in a recruiting battle with Memphis (and others) for three highly-sought prospects: guards Rayjon Tucker and RJ Hampton and forward Precious Achiuwa.
Tucker, a 6-5 graduate transfer from Arkansas-Little Rock, has a final five of KU, Memphis, Auburn, Iowa State and West Virginia. Hampton a 6-5 senior guard from Little Elm (Texas) High School who is ranked No. 6 in the recruiting class of 2019 by Rivals.com, has a list of KU, Memphis, Kentucky and Texas Tech.
Achiuwa, a 6-9, 215-pound senior power forward from Montverde Academy in Florida, who is ranked No. 17 in the class of 2019 by Rivals.com, has a list of KU, Memphis, North Carolina, UConn and Georgia.
It is believed KU is not heavily pursuing TJ Holyfield, a 6-8, 227-pound graduate transfer out of Stephen F. Austin, who recently announced a list of KU, Illinois and Texas Tech. Johnny Juzang, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound senior small forward from Harvard Westlake High School in North Hollywood, Calif., is expected to announce for Kentucky on Friday over KU, Virginia and Oregon.
The spring signing period ends Wednesday. Players still can sign financial-aid agreements if they decide on a school after that date. Teams are allowed 13 scholarship players.
Scholarship players who at this time are expected to be on the 2019-20 KU roster: Azubuike, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot as well as McBride, Braun and Enaruna. Freshman point guard Devon Dotson is testing the NBA waters, but there is a strong possibility he will return to school.
Freshman Quentin Grimes and junior Dedric Lawson are expected to remain in the NBA Draft. Sophomore Silvio De Sousa has said he will pull his name out of the draft pool if he wins an eligibility appeal with the NCAA.
Self on NBA workouts
KU’s Dotson, Grimes, De Sousa and Dedric Lawson have entered their names in the NBA Draft and signed with agents. They can return to school if they remove their name by May 29. They must disassociate with their agents if they do return to college.
“Based on what I’ve been told and we talked to the teams that worked them out is they’ve done well,” Self said of the Jayhawks on Thursday. “I don’t know to the extent of what that means. I still think we’ll know a lot more after the combine (next week in Chicago). They’ve fared well so far in their limited workouts.”
Grimes, Dotson and Lawson will attend the NBA Combine.
Grimes worked out for the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, a day after Dotson’s workout in Atlanta.
“I don’t anticipate knowing anything on Devon until probably close to the 29th or Silvio (also close to the 29th),” Self said. Asked specifically about Dotson, he added: “I think everybody would like to see him come back. If it’s in his best interests to go (to NBA), he should go. If not, he’ll certainly be back.”
Lawson, a junior who is projected as a possible second-round pick, has said he will keep his name in the draft no matter what.
Asked if Grimes also is planning on staying in the draft no matter what, Self said: “I haven’t been told that at all. I think all indications are that’s the direction he’d like to go if at all possible.”
Self had no update Thursday on De Sousa’s eligibility appeal with the NCAA. The Atlanta Hawks had indicated De Sousa would work out for the team Thursday. Instead, De Sousa was in Lawrence working as a coach at Self’s fantasy camp.
Graham working camps
Former KU guard Devonté Graham, who just completed his rookie season with the Charlotte Hornets, was working Self’s camp Thursday through Saturday.
“It’s great to get Devonté back,” Self said. “He looks good. Certainly it will be a treat for all the campers to get a chance to work with him.”
Graham has his own camp for youths Saturday in Tonganoxie.
Bradford leaves Olathe North
Former Kansas guard Nick Bradford has been named assistant boys basketball coach at Fayetteville (Arkansas) High, Fayetteville High School athletic director Steve Janski has announced.
Bradford, 40, worked the past two seasons as girls basketball coach at Olathe North High School. He’s a graduate of Fayetteville High.
“It was an honor coaching these wonderful kids at this school. There’s only one high school that I would have left for & so I will be coming back home to FHS and resigning at ONHS,” Bradford wrote on Twitter.
Bradford, a 2000 KU graduate, played pro basketball in Iceland, France, Romania and Finland from 2001 to 2011. He has worked as a men’s assistant coach at Labette County Community College and Missouri Southern and was boys head coach at Mexico (Mo.) High School.
Olathe North athletic director Josh Price said: “I appreciate everything that coach Bradford did for our basketball program. He is leaving the program in a better position to compete than when he came here. He has taught our girls how to play at the highest levels of competition. I wish him the best of luck as he moves back to his hometown to coach at his alma mater in Fayetteville, Arkansas.”