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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Sophomore big man David McCormack the latest Jayhawk to announce return to Kansas

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) looks to shoot between BYU forward Kolby Lee (40) and guard Zac Seljaas (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) looks to shoot between BYU forward Kolby Lee (40) and guard Zac Seljaas (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

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The Kansas men’s basketball program may be losing its biggest player this offseason, but one of the few guys on the roster who can stand face to face with departing senior Udoka Azubuike will be back.

KU sophomore David McCormack on Thursday joined teammates Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett in announcing his return to Kansas for the 2020-21 season.

“Me and my family have looked into my NBA draft prospects the past few weeks to get some input from the NBA teams on what areas of my game I need to improve on,” McCormack said in a news release. “It was a great opportunity to hear from them and I’m looking forward to putting those on display this next season at Allen Fieldhouse. We have a great coaching staff who can help me and my teammates reach that next level.”

A junior-to-be from Norfolk, Va., McCormack played in 29 of KU’s 31 games this season, starting 18 and averaging 14.6 minutes per game.

The 2020 Academic All-Big 12 selection delivered seven games with 10 or more points and six games with seven or more rebounds. That included a career-high 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting against Kansas City and his first career double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds in 16 minutes against Monmouth.

His overall numbers, which included season averages of 6.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, fell slightly short of what many people expected going into the 2019-20 season and were a direct result of KU coach Bill Self’s decision to shift to playing more four-guard lineups during the second half of the season after starting out with McCormack and Azubuike in the starting lineup together.

“David had a really good year this past season,” Self said in the release. “The reason he didn’t play as many minutes was he had a first-team All-American (Azubuike) who had a really good year (in front of him)."

With Azubuike and his 13.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game now gone, the 6-foot-10, 265-pound McCormack stands to be the first player to get a crack at filling the void.

A former McDonald’s All-American who started the final 13 games of his freshman season when Azubuike was injured, McCormack has appeared in 63 games during his first two seasons with the Jayhawks.

Similar in size, but different in terms of style of play, McCormack has spent much of his first two seasons at Kansas playing alongside Azubuike while trying to keep from clogging up the paint. With Azubuike gone and the Jayhawks in need of a player to fill his role, McCormack’s junior season could look a lot different from what Kansas fans have seen in the past.

In addition to being more of a focal point of the offense, McCormack figures to plant himself much closer to the basket on both ends of the floor, to be in position for easy buckets on offense and to clean up the glass and protect the rim on defense.

"I anticipate David being a guy we can play through," Self added. "And I believe he could be a double-double guy, similar to what Dok was, or real near to those numbers. He’ll get them in ways Dok did not, which could also make our team more versatile.”

With McCormack becoming the third Jayhawk in the past three days to announce his return for the 2020-21 season — and the fourth Kansas player to announce a decision about his future this week — Self said he was looking forward to fielding a lineup with a good mix of experience and incoming talent next season.

The Jayhawks have filled all 13 scholarships for the 2020-21 season, with seniors Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot and Silvio De Sousa joining juniors Agbaji and McCormack as the core of the team.

They'll be backed by top returning sophomores Christian Braun and Tristan Enaruna, incoming junior college transfer Tyon Grant-Foster, redshirt freshmen Dajuan Harris and Jalen Wilson and true freshmen Bryce Thompson, a 5-star prospect from Tulsa, Okla., Gethro Muscadin, a 4-star big man, and 3-star point guard Latrell Jossell.

“To have the remaining team returning and a good recruiting class, it puts us in a position not to take a step backward at all in our program," Self said in the release. "I look forward to Marcus, Ochai, David, Mitch and Silvio, our upperclassmen, taking ownership of everything that goes with this team and see where they can take it.”

Comments

Blake Brown 6 months, 2 weeks ago

What's up with all of the no brainers declaring to return at least as far as going into the NBA is concerned? Ochai was a "duh". Maybe Garrett and Mac were more in the category of testing the market, but it should be clear, neither would go in the first 2 rounds.

Regardless, we have some quality guys coming back and another rebuilding job for Self and all to fit al of the parts together. We will be decent. Will we be a top 10 team? TBD

BTW, I am returning as an avid KU fan next year.

Dirk Medema 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Unfortunately, there have been plenty that have left before a variety of experts thought it appropriate. One good bit of confirmation is that no one is transferring, which has surprised some in the past.

On a more positive note, the program is far, far from rebuilding with a great group returning. Sure, we lose our 2 best, but there’s so much that remains. One of the few programs where a 5* will be challenged to start, though I do expect it from a player described as the best shooter in the entire class.

There is always the challenge of making the pieces work together, defining new roles, etc. I think I have even seen some doubters listing us 2nd, 3rd or even 4th in the conference. I think this group will thrive on that doubt. Thrive!

Rock Chalk!!!

Adam Bengtson 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I was on the edge of my seat for this decision.

Why are these stories written?

Len Shaffer 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Seriously????? Are you saying that they should NOT inform us when a player makes an announcement like that????? Even if you (and most people) think the decision is obvious, the player has still chosen to make the announcement. It's the job of the media to REPORT on that. What the hell do you think the media's job IS?????

Mike Hart 6 months, 1 week ago

No reason to get so excited, Len. Adam's initial point is right. I actually chuckled when I saw the title of the article. It's the idea that the player in question actually felt it was NECESSARY to make the announcement, as if people were "on their edge of their seat" and biting their nails agonizing over this obvious decision. Did the media ask him to initiate the news or did he seek out the media... because if he felt it necessary to seek out the media to make this announcement... then Adam has every justification to feign his anticipation and trepidation over this "What's he gonna do?" announcement.

Joe Joseph 6 months, 2 weeks ago

There's been no actual sports in a month.

Could be part of it.

RJ King 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe because it somewhat relates to the fact that today is the deadline to request evaluation from NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee. Maybe because it's a way for those players to show love for KU, and celebrate the fact that they are looking forward to next year. And that we can too.

Maybe because there are folks like me who have been indefinitely laid off. We are earning no income, anxious about the future, and can escape for a few moments to read about a few kids we care about (until we run into your whiney, juvenile, not funny comments).

Maybe because without March Madness and the draft timing uncertain, our dedicated young journalists look for something - anything - to write about.

I work in sports television production. My friends and co-workers are out of work, and many are in dire straits. My family works in the travel, hospitality and entertainment industry and are laid off. My neighbors are in health care or veterinary care, and are risking their lives by working overtime.

How about you just answer your own snarky question, and shut the F up unless you have something intelligent or positive to add.

Mike Hart 6 months, 1 week ago

RJ, don't get your panties in a bunge... lighten up, pal. While you're offering advice to others to shut up unless they have something intelligent or POSITIVE to add... then how about following your own advice?

Adam Bengtson 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Is Lightfoot coming back? Or did he declare? Braun? Maybe Wilson?

RJ King 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Really, Adam. Go read an actuarial report if this is too boring for you. God, I hope you live alone for the sake of others.

Mike Hart 6 months, 1 week ago

RJ, quoting YOU: "Shut the F up unless you have something... positive to add". So angry... and then you get so personal.

Len Shaffer 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I can't wait to see what Big Mac can do next year. I think he's going to have a TREMENDOUS season. Although his game averages might not look that significant, if you take into account his minutes played they're actually very good. And he will be even BETTER next year -- of course all of that is assuming that we have a season, which is very much in doubt at this point.

Robin Smith 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The three guys who've had articles penned about their returns could have decided to play professional basketball and have presumably had people asking them. Better to confirm what's expected than leave it unclear imo. These guys will each be looking seriously at the next level next year, in terms of having the opportunity. I expect excellent years from all three and am glad they have made it clear they're coming back!

Adam Bengtson 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Get a sense of humor. You writing a novel on here explains your mindset.

Robin Smith 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Are you you referring to me? And my four-sentence paragraph?

Mike Hart 6 months, 1 week ago

He's referring to RJ... aka Mr Pleasantries

Scott MacWilliams 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Hey folks, the way the transfer/free agent market has blown up, you can't just assume that those who aren't NBA material are going to be back. I'm glad they are all coming back, we have the nucleus of a great team once again. Let's just pray that this pandemic is diminished by next fall so everybody's favorite game can resume. Right now, I'm not so sure it will. Meanwhile, Rock Chalk all day!

Chad Smith 6 months, 1 week ago

Honestly feel like if everyone stays healthy you are going to see a much more offensively dynamic team that won't rely heavily on one or two players like KU did this past year.

McCormack will get plenty of opportunities. De Sousa needs to step it up defensively.
But this team will have verstaile scoring options in foster, wilson, enaruna. and thompson.

I would expect a little bit of regression defensively as we won't have a dominant shot blocker or an underrated on ball defender ( dotson). But we still have Garrett, Braun and Agbaji locking the perimeter along with Dmac, Lightfoot and De Sousa able to handle the frontcourt.

I think the offense will improve with good floor spacing and the defense should still be really good, just maybe not elite. I know KU was efficient on offense this past season, but they weren't as explosive as past squads and you will see an uptick in PPG this next season.

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