When Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self talks about recruiting local and in-state prospects, he uses a common refrain: There aren’t many of them, Self says, so you don’t want to miss on any player in your own backyard.
Mitch Lightfoot isn’t a local recruit — but he’s closer than you might think.
Lightfoot, one of the top power forwards in the 2016 class, is a senior forward at Gilbert Christian School in Gilbert, Ariz. But he retains plenty of ties to the Kansas City area.
Lightfoot was born in Kansas City, spent five years in the area, and still has family in the metro. What’s more: He’s a huge Chiefs fan, going as far as watching the season opener with Self during a KU in-home visit last week. The local connections are one reason the KU basketball staff has made Lightfoot a priority for its 2016 class.
Now Lightfoot will begin his official KU visit on Thursday evening in Lawrence, continuing a busy month of recruiting and visits for Self and his staff. In addition to Lightfoot, top big man Udoka Azubuike will also visit KU this weekend.
Lightfoot, who is listed at 6 feet 8 and 210 pounds, is rated as the nation’s 118th-best recruit, according to Rivals.com. Azubuike, a 6-foot-11 center who plays for Potter’s House Christian in Jacksonville, Fla., is rated as Rivals’ 27th-best player in the 2016 class.
Kansas’ staff paid an in-home visit to Lightfoot last week, and while his recruiting ranking is a little lower than your traditional five-star KU target, Lightfoot has attracted interest from schools such as Arizona, St. John’s, Stanford and Utah.
The list of official visitors will grow in the coming weeks. Top big man Marques Bolden of DeSoto, Texas, is slated to take his official visit to Kansas next weekend, and a large group of high-profile recruits is expected for Late Night in the Phog on Oct. 9. Among the highlights: Top-five recruit Harry Giles, a five-star big man from Winston-Salem, North Carolina; point guard De’Aaron Fox of Katy, Texas; big-man Schnider Herard of Plano, Texas; and combo guard Malik Monk of Bentonville, Ark.
Best team in the country?
Is Kansas a favorite to win the NCAA title in 2016? At least one national publication believes so. KU took the No. 1 ranking in the Sporting News’ preseason basketball preview, which is set for release. The magazine slotted a reloading Kentucky program at No. 2, while Maryland, North Carolina and Duke rounded out the top five, respectively.
Kansas will face Kentucky at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 30 in the Big 12-SEC Challenge.
Late Night in the Phog details
Earlier this week, KU officials announced one change to its annual “Late Night” festivities, which are set for Oct. 9. KU students will be allowed to enter Allen Fieldhouse at 4:30 p.m., using their usual entrance on the northeast side of the building. Doors will open to the general public at 5 p.m.