As it stands today, there are a lot of unknowns heading into the college basketball offseason for the Kansas Jayhawks. It remains to be seen who or if anyone will leave for the NBA, who might transfer out, and much more.
It’s easy to salivate at the thought of a Kansas roster that returns Dedric Lawson, Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, possibly Silvio De Sousa, and incoming recruits. But that dream is not likely to become a reality.
Dedric Lawson just had one of the best offensive seasons in Kansas basketball history. After the second round loss against Auburn the other day, Lawson became one of only five players in KU history to finish a season with more than 700 points and more than 370 rebounds. The other players? Wilt Chamberlain, Clyde Lovellette, Nick Collison, and Drew Gooden – all of whom have their jerseys retired in Allen Fieldhouse.
Despite a great season, in which he will surely win multiple All-American honors, Lawson is still only projected to be drafted late in the second round at No. 57 overall, according to NBADraft.net.
Lawson was also extremely emotional after their loss in the NCAA Tournament and put the blame on his shoulders – causing some to wonder if he might return to rectify the loss.
It’s hard to imagine Lawson coming back and putting up better numbers than he did this season. Again, he just had an historic year at KU and he would have to replicate those numbers again and then some in order to improve his stock.
His game seems to be what it is at this point. Other than maybe having a better three-point shooting percentage, I’m not sure Lawson can do much more to improve his game and I’d be shocked if he returns.
There’s also questions surrounding whether center Udoka Azubuike will return for Kansas. He suffered yet another injury that sidelined him for the season so in fear of further injury, he may leave for the NBA after seriously considering it last year. Azubuike decided at almost the last possible moment to return, which shows just how close he was to leaving.
He is projected as a second round pick at No. 49 overall according to NBADraft.net. Unlike Lawson though, Azubuike may not be able to practice until that wrist is healed, which may cause him to miss NBA workouts this summer. I wouldn’t be shocked either way, but I would put his chances at slightly lower than Lawson’s that he leaves for the NBA. Bill Self doesn’t expect him back.
Bill Self, in part, on how Udoka Azubuike will look next year when healthy: “I doubt we’re gonna get a chance to witness that.”
— TOM MARTIN (@TomKCTV5) March 7, 2019
Then there is the enigmatic Quentin Grimes. Grimes came to Kansas as projected lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft but he is nowhere to be found on draft boards now. He left a lot to be desired as a freshman – finishing the year averaging 8.4 points and 2.5 rebounds.
On the surface it would seem obvious that Grimes should return to school and improve his game but he has the size and intangibles to be a good NBA player. Teams love drafting guys with a lot of “upside” as well, and Grimes has plenty. I would hope he comes back with the rest of this great freshmen group but I’m sure he’ll at least test to see where he’s at. Let’s call this one 50/50.
Moore transferred to KU after starting as a freshman at Cal and averaging more than 11 points per game, but found himself on the bench as a backup to the freshmen this year. Lawson also came off the bench, but I would guess that his decision is more predicated on what his brother decides to do as far as going pro.
Kansas is still waiting to hear news on the appeal of Silvio De Sousa’s suspension handed down by the NCAA earlier this year. De Sousa was suspended for the 2018 and 2019 seasons because of $2,500 taken by his guardian from an agent.
During his second edition of “Hawk Talk”, AD Jeff Long said there was no new news on the situation but that it’s an ongoing process and one that they are monitoring daily.
If KU wins the appeal, then De Sousa could be eligible for the 2019-20 season, which would be a huge boost to this Kansas squad – especially if Azubuike and Lawson decide to go pro. If the appeal fails, then look for De Sousa to leave KU and explore his professional options.
I don’t know what the chances are of KU winning the appeal, but I expect De Sousa to at least stick around and find out what the NCAA’s final decision is and go from there. As usual with the NCAA, there is no timetable for a ruling on the appeal.
Kansas is also being investigated by the NCAA due to the Adidas trial that ultimately led to De Sousa’s suspension.
There is no timetable on when possible sanctions may be delved out to Kansas and other programs. There are two additional trials scheduled for April and June this year so they may be waiting for those to conclude before releasing their findings but either way it’s something to keep an eye on in the coming months.
Every year there are new additions to the roster. In fact, Kansas typically reloads as well as any program in the country.
This year, their incoming recruiting class is pretty thin. The Jayhawks have signed just two four-star prospects in 6’6” SF Christian Braun and 6’0” PG Isaac McBride. Braun is ranked as the No. 94 overall prospect in the 2019 class according to Rivals.com. McBride is ranked No. 104.
However, it’s not unusual for Bill Self to make big splashes in the spring. Both Josh Jackson and Andrew Wiggins didn’t sign with KU until late spring and there are still a couple of major prospects still unsigned in the 2019 class.
The Jayhawks have long been in pursuit of five-star PF Matthew Hurt (6’9”) out of Minnesota. Hurt is a consensus top 10 recruit in the country who just wrapped up a performance at the McDonald’s All-American Game last night where he contributed 8 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes of play for the West squad.
KU is one of four finalists for the skilled forward along with fellow bluebloods Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina. Most analysts seem to think this is a race between Duke and Kansas, with Kansas having a slight edge. Hurt will announce his decision on Friday, April 19.
KU is also hot on the trail of another five-star McDonald’s All-American, PF Precious Achiuwa (6’9”).
Achiuwa had a terrific game last night that arguably could have warranted an MVP nod. He finished the game with 22 points and 9 rebounds in 17 minutes of action for the East squad. Achiuwa is ranked as the 16th best prospect on Rivals and he plans on deciding in late May. Achiuwa visited Kansas about a month ago and by all reports, had a fantastic visit.
KU is also pursuing four-star SG Cassius Stanley, the No. 33 ranked prospect on Rivals. He is down to KU, Oregon, and UCLA – who still has not named their new head coach. The thought seems to be that he will remain on the west coast but if Grimes leaves for the NBA, KU’s chances could improve.
This is also the time of year where players decide to transfer and join other squads as either redshirts and play the following year, or as grad-transfers and be able to play right away.
Bill Self and staff will really have to get after it these next couple of months. Including Vick, the Jayhawks could lose anywhere from two to six players from the current roster heading into next season.
Stay tuned for what could be a really hectic spring for the Kansas Jayhawks.
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