Spring Bill Self has struck again (minus RJ Hampton – we’re not talking about that here).
After missing out on a number of big name recruits throughout the season, and several players not expected to return to school, the Kansas coaching staff had some work to do.
Isaac McBride and Christian Braun were the only incoming freshmen that had committed to Kansas by the time the season had ended. Dedric Lawson was all but gone for the NBA. Devon Dotson, Udoka Azubuike, and Quentin Grimes were all expected to at least test the NBA waters. Silvio De Sousa had filed an appeal against the the NCAA’s ruling on his eligibility but who knew how that would actually pan out. KJ Lawson and (oh my gosh thank goodness) Charlie Moore had transferred. The only players that we knew were going to be on the 2019-20 roster at one point were Marcus Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot, Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, McBride, Braun, and the walk-ons.
Everything changed when Udoka Azubuike announced his return. Instead of going the NBA combine again, Azubuike opted to return to school for his senior season. When healthy, Azubuike has been fantastic down low, averaging 11.5 points per game for his career, and he has shown consistent improvement each year he’s played. Azubuike’s return was a huge moral boost for fans as it put Kansas back in the Big 12’s driver seat.
In early May, Kansas landed a much needed freshman in Tristen Enaruna. Enaruna is a four-star wing out of Utah, though he originally hails from the Netherlands. At 6-foot-9″, Enaruna is a versatile wing, and I expect him to get time at both small forward and stretch four.
Then came the news we had all been waiting for. Silvio De Sousa was cleared by the NCAA. Did the NCAA just fix their own mistake? Yes, they absolutely did. Will I and 95% of all KU fans take it? Yes, we absolutely will. De Sousa has the potential to average a double-double this season. The only thing that might keep him from that stat line is the fact that Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack are also on this team and will demand a lot of playing time as well. Needless to say, KU is loaded in the paint.
Not even a week after the De Sousa news, another season-altering announcement was made when Devon Dotson pulled his name from the NBA Draft and revealed that he would return to Kansas for sophomore season. Dotson was always expected to return, but Kansas fans had become nervous after it seemed like Dotson was preforming well at the combine. 17 points per game or so seems like it’s on the table for Dotson. He feels like one of those players that we as fans will remember long after he’s left campus.
On that same day, Quentin Grimes pulled his name out of the NBA Draft as well. Though, not long after, it was announced that he would be transferring to another school. To me, this is a totally baffling decision. Maybe he wants to develop as a point guard, but he had to have known that wouldn’t be his primary position when he committed to Kansas in the first place. Grimes continues to be an enigma in every way. I wish him the best at the University of Houston, which is where he will play next.
At this point, Kansas looked to be in pretty good shape. They had a good portion of their roster returning plus a couple interesting incoming freshmen. Shooting looked like it was going to be an issue but with a stacked front court and versatile guards they had a high ceiling. One thing that would raise that ceiling is two great shooters, and it just so happened that there were two of those left on the market.
Isaiah Moss, a grad transfer from Iowa who had just de-committed from Arkansas, announced his commitment to Kansas in late May. This happened immediately after R.J. Hampton’s surprising decision to not play at Kansas. Moss was a 40% three-point shooter at Iowa and averaged 9.2 points last season. He’s exactly what Kansas needs: an experienced, three-point sniper.
The other great shooter was four-star recruit Jalen Wilson. Wilson had originally committed to Michigan but asked for a release when John Beilein took a head coaching job with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wilson is a 6-foot-8″ small forward who can shoot threes at a high percentage. He’s a player that gives Kansas a lot of lineup options as he can guard multiple positions and as a great offensive skillset.
I think Kansas’ starting five will be:
Silvio De Sousa
Kansas will have the flexibility to play big or small and at whatever pace they want to play at. That should be enough to give every Big 12 team a lot of trouble.
This Kansas team has Final Four written all over it. They have great depth, experience, shooting, post play, and should be better on defense than last year’s squad. The offseason has already been a wild ride but it’s shaping up to be a very entertaining season.