Kansas has missed out on another frontcourt recruiting target.
Charlotte center Mike Thorne Jr., a graduate transfer who will be eligible right away, reportedly is headed to Illinois, spurning interest from Kansas, Kentucky and Pitt, among others.
Thorne, who is listed at 6 feet 11, committed to Illinois this weekend. He averaged 10.1 points and 7.3 rebounds as a junior at Charlotte. He profiles as a big body who could provide immediate help (and experience) in the paint.
Kansas coach Bill Self made two trips to North Carolina this spring to meet with Thorne and his family. And Thorne reportedly was set to visit KU next week. Now that visit won’t happen.
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It’s the second recruiting domino to fall this week. Earlier this week, top high school center Stephen Zimmerman, a Las Vegas native, elected to stay home and attend UNLV.
Zimmerman’s choice was not a surprise, but it’s left little margin for error on the recruiting front.
For Self, the focus now remains on high school forward Cheick Diallo, who is rated as the No. 7 prospect in the country by Rivals.com. Diallo, a native of Mali, played his high school basketball at Our Savior New American in Centereach, N.Y. Listed at 6 feet 9 and 220 pounds, Diallo was selected as an MVP on Friday night in the Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn.
According to Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels, Self met with Diallo following the Jordan game on late Friday night.
The Jayhawks have four players returning in the frontcourt, including power forward Perry Ellis. Kansas has also signed Cleveland forward Carlton Bragg. But the frontcourt has remained a key priority for Self and his staff, especially after a season in which low-post scoring was often a troublesome issue. Besides Ellis, the Jayhawks will return big men Jamari Traylor, Landen Lucas and Hunter Mickelson in 2015-16.