Of all the talented players who will run up and down the CenturyLink Center basketball court tonight, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III projects to have the brightest financial future.
That much was obvious at a very young age, according to a Kansas basketball player assigned to guard him three years ago when Bagley was a freshman in high school. (Bagley graduated high school in three years). James Sosinski, a walk-on football and basketball player at Kansas, was a senior at Hamilton High in Chandler, Ariz., when he faced Bagley.
In the video below, Bagley wore No. 35 in an orange jersey for Corona del Sol High of Tempe. Sosinksi is No. 33 in the white jersey.
Blink and you’ll miss that at one point Sosinski had Bagley boxed out.
Did he know his opponent, who led his team to a lopsided victory that day, would become a great player?
“For sure, no question about it,” said Sosinski, who guarded and was guarded by Bagley. He’s big, quick, he’s a smart player, knows what he’s doing with the ball. He just kept elevating, kept growing as a player. He was a dominant player when he was a freshman in high school and he still is as a freshman in college.”
Sosinski’s most significant contribution to the KU basketball team comes in practice, when he uses his football strength to lean on Udoka Azubuike.
“Udoka’s big, real big, real strong, real good touch around the rim. They’re two different type players. Bagley has more speed, Dok has more strength to his game, bigger body. Guarding Dok’s a huge challenge every day. It’s something I enjoy doing.”
An all-state quarterback at Hamilton, Sosinksi led the Huskies to a state championship his senior year and went to UMass on a football scholarship. He suffered an injury there and didn’t play.
Sosinski transferred to South Mountain Community College in Phoenix and averaged 19.1 points and 12.6 rebounds for the basketball team.
Still uncertain whether he wanted to play football or basketball, Sosinski rejected basketball scholarship offers from Washington State and Oregon State.
He ultimately decided to enroll at Kansas as a walk-on football player and became a reserve tight end who never made his way onto the football field this past fall. The Kansas basketball roster became thin up front because of Billy Preston’s situation, so Sosinski joined the basketball team in late November.
Sosinski has totaled four points, four rebounds in eight minutes of action spread out over six games.
If Kansas makes it to the Final Four, Sosinski will miss the first spring football practice. He said he intends to join the football team as soon as basketball season ends.
He declined to answer which season he has enjoyed more at Kansas.
“They’ve both been great,” Sosinski said.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said that he left Udoka Azubuike in at the end of the 100-54 exhibition blowout against Pittsburg State for conditioning reasons. Not a bad idea. Azubuike looked winded at the end of his 24-minutes night.
But as the season wears on, there will be games in which Self will want to rest all of his rotation players. As transfers from four-year schools, guard Charlie Moore and forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson are eligible to practice, but can’t play in games.
At the moment, Kansas has eight scholarship players and two walk-ons available to play in games. Once Sam Cunliffe becomes eligible second semester, his anticipated debut coming at Nebraska, Kansas will have nine scholarship players, plus two walk-ons. One more walk-on, particularly a big one, wouldn’t hurt.
Through the years, college basketball coaches have addressed roster shortages by hitting up the football coach for help.
A review of KU’s football roster reveals one former basketball player worthy of some late-game minutes once the football season ends.
James Sosinski, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound tight end from Chandler, Arizona, put up nice numbers for South Mountain Community College in Phoenix last season. He averaged 19.1 points and 12.6 rebounds for South Mountain as a freshman. He has not yet appeared in a game for the football team. He would get more playing time if he joined the basketball team.