Udoka Azubuike a legitimate center


Watching video clips of the 6-foot-11, 260-pound Udoka Azubuike, calls to mind Cliff Alexander dominating Chicago high school competitors with a series of dunks, plus three inches in height, 20 pounds in weight, less body fat, and broader shoulders.

In other words, he is tall enough, big enough and aggressive enough to give Kansas what it hasn’t had since Joel Embiid’s back injury ended his college career late in his freshman season: A legitimate center.

It’s easy to picture Azubuike playing alongside Cheick Diallo and/or Carlton Bragg. Either 6-10, 250-pound center Marques Bolden (ranked No. 16 by Rivals) of DeSoto, Texas (ranked No. 16 by Rivals) or 6-9 forward Jarrett Allen (ranked 20th) of Austin could be added to a recruiting class that started with 6-8 forward Mitch Lightfoot (No. 117) of Gilbert, Ariz. Strong rebounder Landen Lucas also returns for Kansas.

As Alexander and Diallo illustrated, high school dominance doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing as a freshman, but physically, at the very least, Azubuike looks like more advanced than most teenage post players.

Azubuike chose Kansas over North Carolina, which puts a premium on a big man’s ability to run the floor, so he should fit KU’s desire to pick up the pace as well.


Brett McCabe 2 years, 11 months ago

Wait, just realized where Diallo got his dunk from. Check out McLemore in Keegan's banner. I thought that "we don't do that here" was the message?

Lin Rahardja 2 years, 11 months ago

Welcome to Kansas, can't defense him under the basket...

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 11 months ago

In the musical 'My Fair Lady', Henry Higgins makes a bet he could convert the pretty cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a charming society woman by working on her phonetics, vocabulary, manners, and attire. Doolittle started with looks and desire (willingness to work) but not much else.

Bill Self is College Basketball's equivalent of Higgins in that he goes out and finds these big guys, like the Morri (Aldrige, Withey, TRob...) that have size and desire but not much else. Instead of a charming society woman, Self turns them into NBA players.

The common denominator is desire. The NCAA and the loan business got in the way of developing Alexander, although the effort at times did not meet the desire level. Guys like Azubuike (Bragg and Diallo) is a Bill Self kind of guy.

Jay Scott 2 years, 11 months ago

That's deep Suzi. Does anyone have to sing as part of this transformation?

Eliott Reeder 2 years, 11 months ago

I suppose Bragg can play the piano while Azubuike sings accompaniment...

Benny Armstrong 2 years, 11 months ago

I agree that there are a ton of success stories with bigs far exceeding their recruiting rankings and improving over their careers with KU and that a lot of that can be attributed to Self's use of the high low offense which showcases the bigs, but we cannot forget about the loss of Danny from the coaching staff and the impact that has had on player development pre/post Danny. Guys like Withey and TRob were the last to really get tutored by him, and since then with the exception of Embiid, there hasn't been a big that has really grown leaps and bounds during his time at KU. Not saying that we haven't had players improve, but there hasn't been that guy who junior year the light went on and he was suddenly unstoppable on offense and defense like we used to see and grew to expect.

I'm very happy for him and the success he's had at Tulsa and now Wake, but man I wish we'd have been able to keep him on staff. Imagine what our guys might look like if they had his knowledge and teaching on a daily basis. I think if any other coaches leave for new opportunities, our first target should be post specific coach to help regain that edge with our high low offense.

Jay Scott 2 years, 11 months ago

Any suggestions on who? Simien? It's tough to get a retired NBA player because they don't need the $$ most of the time. That was part of Danny's magic. He had enormous credibility and kids listened.

Benny Armstrong 2 years, 11 months ago

Jay, you're right about NBA players. They typically do not need the money and likely want to retire from all forms of basketball after the grind of their career. Wayne might be a good choice, but he seems pretty content with his ministry and role on with the team as a spiritual advisor. Don't think it has to be a KU guy, though that wouldn't hurt since they would understand the school/pressure/etc. Right now I don't have any names I can think of that would fit, just pointing out that our high low offense seemed to run at a much higher level when Danny was in charge of the bigs than it has in recent seasons.

Eliott Reeder 2 years, 11 months ago

How about Tim Duncan. He'll retire soon and since HCBS has such a good relationship with R.C. Buford, maybe there's a Duncan connection too... ;)

Rae Bricil 2 years, 11 months ago

Pollard might be an interesting choice if he is not too busy with his band or survivor.

Collison is due to retire soon--he would great.

David Lara 2 years, 11 months ago

Ecco that. Collison has just about everything you would want in a big man coach. Skills, experience in at the highest level in scoring, rebounding, defending, contributing effort in every aspect of the game, drive, hustle... Plus he has the smarts to develop into a great coach.

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