Saturday, January 7, 2017

Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe picks Kansas

Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe, right, watches the action during the second half of Tuesday's game between the Jayhawks and Wildcats.

Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe, right, watches the action during the second half of Tuesday's game between the Jayhawks and Wildcats.


Chalk up another transfer for the Kansas men’s basketball team. And this one will be eligible next January after sitting out the second semester this season and first semester next season.

Arizona State freshman Sam Cunliffe on Saturday afternoon confirmed that he had committed to KU to continue his college basketball career.

Originally the No. 36-ranked player in the Class of 2016, Cunliffe, from Rainier Beach High in Washington, chose Arizona State for the opportunity to play for ASU coach and former Duke star Bobby Hurley. However, despite starting 10 games this season and averaging just under 10 points per game, Cunliffe decided to look around for another place to play.

That’s when the 6-foot-6, 195-pound shooting guard, who has AAU ties to current KU freshman Mitch Lightfoot got involved with Kansas and, after visiting Tuesday for the KU-K-State game, Cunliffe made a quick decision to join the Jayhawks.

“I prayed about it a lot. I slept on it. But I also went out to Kansas and saw the way they played,” Cunliffe told Shay Wildeboor of “The way they played was the biggest thing. They’ve got a lot of talented players out at Kansas. The way they move the ball and the way they are coached and the way the players act, both on and off the court, it’s just something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Although he will not be immediately eligible, Cunliffe will officially become a part of KU’s 2017 recruiting class, which already includes Top 10 forward Billy Preston and Top 30 combo guard Marcus Garrett, with the likelihood of more to come.

Matt Scott, recruiting analyst for, told that Cunliffe's addition figures to bring the Jayhawks added "toughness" and a player who is a "great athlete and potentially a really good defender."

Despite sitting out initially, Cunliffe will be allowed to practice with the Jayhawks this winter, throughout the summer and during the first semester next season. Cunliffe told Wildeboor he planned to move to Lawrence late next week.

It’s clear that getting to campus as quickly as possible is a priority for the shooting guard who seems more than a little eager to get started with his new coach and team.

“Coach Self was a big influence on my decision,” Cunliffe told Wildeboor. “He was straight-forward with me and straight up. He will tell you everything that you need to know and he’s honest with you. That’s what I really like about Coach Self.”


Karen Mansfield-Stewart 3 years, 5 months ago

This kid looks super athletic. Good get. Welcome!

Mallory Briggans 3 years, 5 months ago

Good pick up.Now that the Kentucky got a commitment from Hamadou Diallo another guard today ......Trae Young may have to choose now between Oklahoma and Kansas . OU is down this year and given the use of the 4 guard set and the loss of Mason and maybe Graham Young may take a longer look at where he may fit best He knows that he wont have to fight for minutes at KU and just an overall better team than Oklahoma.

NEWMAN. VICK CUNLIFFE GARRETT ........GRAHAM ? A good start ADD YOUNG pretty good stable of guards

Brett McCabe 3 years, 5 months ago

It will be an interesting dynamic to have a potential big contributor come into the rotation as conference play begins in mid-season. It could be great timing to add some fresh legs, a new skill set, etc. to the team for the stretch run. Should be fun to watch.

Jay Scott 3 years, 5 months ago

If Trae Young is willing to commit before Graham decides that would be great, but surprising.

The choice between having Graham back or having Young sign isn't difficult.

A roster of Graham,, Vick, Newman, Garrett, Cunliffe, Svi, Bragg, Preston, Lightfoot, Dok and Coleby is a real possibility....

Kent Richardson 3 years, 4 months ago

That would be pretty hard to beat. Pick your poison.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm recalling Young saying he won't decide until Spring. He's good enough that whatever team he chooses will make room for him. My guess is he's wisely waiting to see who declares early.

We already have Newman to replace Mason, so if Svi and Devonte both stay for their sr yr then Trae likely goes elsewhere. If one leaves, then it is probably a challenging decision. Both declare, and I'd bet he signs in a minute.

Chris Booth 3 years, 4 months ago

I wouldn't count on Graham and Svi returning next year. It certainly doesn't seem like Bill Self thinks they will return and they are both currently projected to go early in the second round of the NBA draft. I also think Bill Self views Newman as more of a SG that can occasionally play a few minutes at PG if needed. That's why he is desperately trying to sign a PG (hopefully Trae Young) that can start for us right out of the gate.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm definitely not counting on either returning. Maybe if we come close, but guessing that Svi in particular is more to go. Especially with his recent improvements in productivity.

Newman played quite a bit of point his freshman year. I think it was a bit too much 1, but the beauty of Coach Self is he loves the tweeners/scoring-pt. Newman would fit in beautifully right alongside Graham if he chose to return, or Young if they all leave.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 4 months ago

Why is that the choice? Mason is gone, Self loves having multiple PG's on the floor together. Newman is much more of a 2 than a 1. Young is a multi-year player so him mostly backing up Graham and occasionally playing next to him with Newman as the off ball guard sounds like a much better option than having one or the other.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Does Young believe he's a multi year player? Is he looking for a place to play "occasionally"?

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 4 months ago

Trae Young is not OAD good. He's rated between 15-20th by most services in this class. Hamidou Diallo just committed to Kentucky which has pretty much eliminated Kentucky from the Trae Young sweepstakes so it's now between KU and OU. OU is in full rebuild mode so while they have minutes available next year, they will suck probably worse than they do this year.

While Trae Young doesn't start at KU if Graham returns, Young would still get Lagerald Vick type minutes subbing for Graham and Newman next year. Lagerald Vick gets 26 mpg this year subbing for Mason and Graham. 26 mpg off the bench for a title contender is still plenty of chances for Young to play.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Aaron, I agree with you almost completely. He's not a likely OAD. Do you mean "Vick minutes" based on Vick's frosh or soph season? Can't see Young getting 25 mins (or only 5) with Graham, Newman, Vick and Cunliffe. If Svi returns....

You and I aren't being recruited. Trae Young is. Does he realize all these things?

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

Yes, that's why he's not committing til the Spring, after he finds out who is declaring. It will take at least 1 of Svi & Graham leaving to have a chance with Young, and both leaving sews it up.

Gerry Butler 3 years, 4 months ago

Trae stated that he hopes to make his decision sometime in January, and ya people in the Kentucky area stated that they have been out of the picture for some time, and everything they are hearing is that he will land at KU. - -We shall see. Also in the latest projected NBA draft SVI is rose to a 1st round pick, projected to go # 27 to Houston I believe, Didn't see Devonte anywhere on either boards - Draft Express OR Draft net

Kent Richardson 3 years, 5 months ago

Cunliffe from deep... it's a Samage a Trois!!!

Randy Glenn 3 years, 4 months ago

Can`t he start in the middle of December when semester ends??

Brett McCabe 3 years, 4 months ago

Good question. If the answer is yes, the extra month would be huge.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

I believe others have been eligible once the first semester is over. Withey is one that comes to mind, but he got sick or injured, or something like that and didn't end up playing for another year IIRC.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 4 months ago

Withey didn't play much when became eligible because KU had Aldrich, Morris twins, and T-Rob ahead of him.

Kent Richardson 3 years, 4 months ago

At the end of first semester is what was said on ESPN.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 4 months ago

Yes, Cunliffe will be eligible in mid-December. This year, he would've been eligible for the Davidson game.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

Reread the first paragraph/sentence of the article.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 4 months ago

Random transfer trivia...

Andrew White III is the leading scorer for Syracuse. Conner Frankamp is avg. 6.1 points for WSU.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

Loved seeing Andrew lighting it up. Definitely cheering for him.

Mallory Briggans 3 years, 4 months ago

Sam doesn't lack confidence and isn't camera shy either . I watched his documentary about him and what motivates and drives him. Hard work and effort is no stranger so Hudy will love working with this kid. He has a YouTube documentary that is a 2 part series that is more focused on Sam his thoughts his training and his workouts as well as his family and not so much a mixed tape of his games in high school. it was done before he went to ASU but after his commitment so there isn't any ASU game tape. He seems to have that alpha gene in him so I'm curious to know what happened at ASU . Playing time wasn't the issue because he got that but knowing how cocky Coach Hurley was during his Duke days and how he played in the NBA they both have the same personality so I would imagine they may have had a difference in opinion . If that was the case Coach Self has a way of keeping egos in check If he is on campus and with the team rather soon and able to practice that's even better .

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Rhetorical question? Haven't you heard? He's been nominated as Secretary of Agriculture...

Bryce Landon 3 years, 4 months ago

Glad to have Cunliffe aboard, but I gotta wonder what's going on at Arizona State that has him so eager to get up here ASAP...something going on with Bobby Hurley?

Jack Joiner 3 years, 4 months ago

One thing you can count on when he takes the court 2nd semester next year, regardless what his problem at ASU was, BS will have him playing Jayhawk brand basketball.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 4 months ago

I know you mean "Bill Self" when you say "BS", but my inner 7th grader is struggling to stifle laughter from seeing that.

RJ King 3 years, 4 months ago

From Coach Hurley regarding Cunliffe's departure:

“It just makes us work harder to try and identify the right people that want to be here that appreciate the opportunity of being here, that don’t feel think it’s beneath them to be here, that want to be a part of winning championships,” he added.

“And as a product of winning championships and contending and being in a winning program, then the individual glory comes there as a result of that.

“We’re hoping we can do a good job of finding those guys that wanna do it here.”

Seems like Hurley was hinting at ego and attitude issues. But given Sam's statements about KU players "on and off the court" and the culture of the Kansas program, I'm guessing that those elements simply did not exist to the level he hoped at ASU.

Reminded me of Tarik Black's episode of walking out of practice at Memphis (due to disappointment and frustration with players and program) before his transfer here.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

Hurley's comments sounded more as it his ego was on the line. Most coaches usually take the high road and wish the departing player the best.

I'm sure this wasn't an easy decision for Cunliffe. Sometimes things just don't work out and no one is to blame.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 4 months ago

Wow! A lot of good questions and insight. If Devonte leaves after this year, the only true point guard that we have committee is Marcus Garrett, the incoming freshman. Newman, Vick, Svi (if he returns) and Cunliffe seem to be more suited to the SG position. Therefore, Trae Young is a highly prized recruit.

The fact that Coach Self just went to pay him another visit demonstrates how bad KU wants him. Also, showing him a video in the Roy Williams era of his dad (Rayford Young from Texas Tech) scoring 40+ against KU during their recruiting visit to KU certainly didn't hurt. Regardless of the outcome, it was a master recruiting stroke by Coach Self.

As several have said, my gut tells me that Devonte will leave after this year, which would make Young's recruitment all the more important. Remember, shortly after Wayne Selden announced his departure, KU signed Josh Jackson.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago


Realize though that Newman did play point a lot last year. I'm guessing he realizes he's not a true 1, but Coach Self loves those tweeners. None on this team are true 1's, and he loves it that way.

Jack Joiner 3 years, 4 months ago

Maybe Tuesday night's game against OU will have an effect on Young's decision.

Joseph Bullock 3 years, 4 months ago

About Graham and Svi leaving, remember that 2nd round Draft picks, don't have guaranteed contracts!

Joseph Bullock 3 years, 4 months ago

Also, the one thing I am concerned about with Young, is if he already knows where he is going, which could be to play with his buddy, Michael Porter Jr., at Washington!

Joseph Bullock 3 years, 4 months ago

I just watched 2 mix tapes of Sam Cunliffe, and he is the real deal. Pure shooter with range, solid scorer, and he has a surprisingly good handle-with both hands. He also has really good quickness! I'm impressed! Or as Coach Self would say, it's a really good 'get'!

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 4 months ago

I am perfectly aware that second rounders do not have guaranteed contracts. However, in Devonte's case, the likelihood of his stock rising during a senior year seems a long shot given his size and the fact that he would be called on to be the point guard first rather than a scorer, in my opinion.

Svi is a different case. Being taller, he could be a more versatile choice who might benefit from a senior year, if he becomes a more consistent scoring threat.

I don't have the statistics, but I would bet that the majority of the second rounders in this last NBA draft were individuals who left college early.

I would think that the expectation is for Malik Newman to be a primary scoring threat next year, along with perhaps Vick and Cunliffe when he becomes eligible. Furthermore, with Billy Preston and Udoka Azubuike, you can expect KU to emphasize the inside game which has always been Coach Self's trademark.

In short, Frank and Devonte have been billed as maybe the most cohesive guard combination in the country. They seem to feed off one another to make the "whole greater than the sum of the parts." Therefore, I will continue to predict that Devonte will leave after this year. If we don't get Trae Young, then I will of course hope that I am wrong.

Joseph Bullock 3 years, 4 months ago

Harlan, you make a lot of good points, but don't take my comments personal. Besides, I don't get on here enough to fight back. ha ha ha ha ha Also, I was merely making a point, as it is very dangerous for kids to leave early, if they are not pretty sure they will be drafted in the first round-and of course, even if they are projected to go in round one, that does not always come to fruition! Also, the way Svi is playing, his stock may be rising, but I really think if his defense does not improve, he needs to stay!

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