With Duke picking up commitments from two of KU’s biggest remaining targets the past 10 days in Cassius Stanley and Matthew Hurt, many KU fans have begun to sweat about their team’s chances heading into next season.
Don’t count Kansas head coach Bill Self as one of them.
“Oh, I think we’re going to get some guys,” Self said after KU’s annual end-of-the-year banquet. “I think we’re going to better ourselves, without question.”
In fact, Bill Self is no stranger to adding top talent in late spring. Josh Jackson committed to KU on April 11, 2016. Andrew Wiggins committed to KU on May 14, 2013. Cheick Diallo signed on April 29, 2015. Xavier Henry signed on April 23, 2009. All of these players were 5-star recruits by one recruiting site or another.
Speaking of getting players late, the Jayhawks recently got a player who’s essentially better than a 5-star recruit when C Udoka Azubuike announced that he would be returning for his senior season. I say “better than” because he’ll be a senior, he knows the system, and he’s proven to be a great college basketball player when healthy. He’s more of a certainty than most 5-star talents who have proven nothing yet on the college level.
But Bill Self is going to need more than just the big man returning for this team to have a chance to reach the Final Four. Luckily, there are plenty of prospects left for him to choose from.
Here’s a look at some of the players they could add in the next month:
Tristan Enaruna – Forward
Enaruna is a 4-star forward who is down to Miami (Fla.), KU, and Creighton. The 6-foot-9 stretch player out of Utah visited Miami and Creighton earlier this week and began his visit to Lawrence yesterday.
KU is certainly the biggest name of the three remaining schools but there is no clear-cut leader at this point. Enaruna wouldn’t likely be an impact player in year one but could be a good developmental piece for 2020 and beyond. The fact that he’s visiting Kansas last is nothing but beneficial for their chances and I expect Enaruna to commit to KU relatively soon after his visit.
TJ Holyfield – Forward
Holyfield is a grad-transfer from Stephen F. Austin who just completed his visit to KU earlier this week. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 54.8 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point range during the 2017-18 season. He sat out the 2018-19 season due to shoulder surgery.
There hasn’t been much word on when Holyfield will announce his decision or who is leading for him but he is scheduled to visit Illinois on Wednesday.
Rayjon Tucker – Guard
Tucker is a high-scoring wing from Arkansas-Little Rock of the Sun Belt Conference. Tucker (6-foot-5) has declared for the NBA Draft so visiting schools appears to be a backup plan for him if he decides not to stay in the draft. He averaged a mere 20.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season while averaging 41.1% from 3-point range. (Swoon)
He would be the perfect addition to this Kansas team which severely missed a consistent 3-point shooting threat a season ago. ESPN rated him as the second best transfer available among those transfers who are eligible to play immediately.
Tucker started his career at Florida Gulf Coast under former KU assistant coach Joe Dooley so perhaps that connection could work towards KU’s advantage. However, Tucker has stated that “Auburn is definitely the place to beat.”
RJ Hampton – Guard
There was some interesting news that came out about point guard RJ Hampton this weekend during the Nike EYBL games in Georgia.
Hampton is currently a top-five player in the 2020 class but as we discussed recently, it’s looking more and more likely that he will reclassify to 2019 – assuming he receives all the necessary credits this summer.
According to Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com, Hampton will make his decision on whether he’s reclassifying after this summer’s Peach Jam tournament July 10-14. He will then make his college decision sometime in early August.
If you read the comments by Hampton’s father in Zagoria’s piece and picking up from what others have said, it’s very clear that – while he can play either the one or two-guard spot – Hampton definitely prefers playing point guard because that’s where he projects to play in the NBA.
Kentucky and Duke are set at point guard for 2019 with the players they have returning and joining their teams so right now it looks like a two-horse race between Kansas and Memphis. Hampton also said he wants to compete for a national championship during his presumed one year in college and if that’s the case, that should bode well for KU – in addition to the plethora of open spots at guard right now.
A lot could change between now and August but KU appears to be in really good shape with one of the top talents in all of high school basketball.
Precious Achiuwa – Forward
Achiuwa is the top available recruit for the Jayhawks in the 2019 class. The 5-star 6-foot-9 power forward visited KU back in February. He has a final list of KU, UCLA, Georgia, North Carolina, and Memphis and will make his decision in late May after taking more visits.
Like Hampton, many believe this is a race between KU and Memphis. However, Rivals recruiting experts Eric Bossi and Dan McDonald said recently that they believe KU will ultimately land Achiuwa. It will be interesting to see if this could change should Silvio De Sousa be ruled eligible for the 2019 season.
Johnny Juzang – Forward
Juzang is a relatively new prospect on the radar after he recently announced that he would be reclassifying to the 2019 class. The 6-foot-6 small forward out of California has offers from KU, UCLA, USC, Virginia, Kentucky, and several others.
Juzang is now the 21st ranked prospect in the 2019 class according to 247sports. He’s already visited Virginia and is scheduled to visit Kentucky tomorrow before making a decision in the next few weeks.
Kyree Walker – Forward
Walker is another 2020 prospect thinking of reclassifying to 2019. The 6-foot-5 5-star small forward is rated at the 19th best player in the 2020 class.
Bill Self was in attendance for his game today and KU – along with the Arkansas Razorbacks – are rumored to lead for his services should he reclassify.
So as you can see, Self still has plenty of great options to fill out the 2019-20 roster. Adding talent late into the spring is something Self is used to doing and he’ll likely do it again.
All is not lost KU faithful! It should be a fun month of recruiting news and announcements.
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