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Tale of the Tait

Is KU big man Udoka Azubuike nearing a decision?

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike by Nick Krug

It appears as if decision time may have arrived for Kansas center Udoka Azubuike.

Sources told the Journal-World on Wednesday that the KU big man could announce his decision about testing the NBA draft waters or returning to KU for his junior season by the end of the week, perhaps as soon as Thursday.

Thanks to a new rule put in place in 2016, underclassmen are now allowed to test their standing with NBA teams and still return to school if they do not like what they hear, provided they do not hire an agent.

The deadline to declare for early entry in this year's draft arrives Sunday. The date to for early entries to pull their name out of the draft is June 11. And this year's NBA Draft will take place June 21 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The 7-foot, 280-pound center who started 34 of 39 games for Kansas this season has not appeared on any mock drafts throughout his time as a Jayhawk.

Azubuike, who missed time because of injuries during both his freshman and sophomore seasons at KU, averaged 13 points and seven rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game this season while leading the nation with a 77 percent field goal percentage.

Azubuike said at last week's team banquet that he hoped to make a decision in the next week or so.

“Yeah it is. It definitely is,” he said when asked if it was a tough decision. “Like I said, I spoke to my family about it and all that, and right now it's pretty much my decision. Probably the next couple of days or the next week, I'll make my decision about what I'm going to do.”

Graham, Svi pick agents

Former Kansas guards Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte' Graham have selected the agencies that will represent them throughout the upcoming NBA Draft process and the early part of the pro careers.

Graham, who leaves Kansas as one of the most beloved players of all-time and the reigning Big 12 player of the year, signed with CAA Sports, an agency that has a client list of more than 1,700 professional athletes, including some of the best NBA players in today's game.

Those players include: Former Jayhawk Joel Embiid, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Karl-Anthony Towns, Paul George, Tony Parker and dozens more.

Mykhailiuk, who finished his career as the single-season record holder for 3-point makes, with 115 this season, and in fourth place on KU's all-time list with 237 threes, has signed with SIG Sports as his representation ahead of this summer's NBA Draft.

SIG also represents former Jayhawk Tarik Black, who boasts on the agency's web site that, “SIG is not just an agency, it’s a family. From Day 1, everyone in the agency has accepted me, not only as a client, but into the bond that they all share. I know I’m not supposed to be anywhere else or with anyone else. With this agency is where I belong. They’ve worked extremely hard and have been very professional in representing me. They are a major part of my success.”

Early entrees Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman, who announced earlier this month that they would forego the rest of their college eligibility, have yet to sign with agents.

Vick's mother, LaLa Vick, said her and her son were discussing his options Wednesday night. And Malik Newman's father, Horatio Webster, said his son could have his plans finalized by the end of the week.

ESPN updates rankings

The 2018 KU recruiting class features a trio of Top 25 prospects, according to ESPN.com's recruiting rankings, which were updated and released this week.

Five-star guard Quentin Grimes (No. 8) made the Top 10, while five-star point guard Devon Dotson (No. 22) and four-star center David McCormack (No. 25) both cracked the Top 25.

Earlier in the week, Rivals.com also released its updated player rankings, with Grimes, Dotson and McCormack ranking Nos. 8, 18 and 33.

That group puts KU's overall haul at No. 6 in ESPN's team standings, with Duke and Kentucky finishing 1-2 for the fifth consecutive year.

Reply 2 comments from Brian_leslie Eric Dawson

G League salary bump good news for KU’s current and future NBA draft hopefuls

NBA G League logo

NBA G League logo by Matt Tait

Wednesday morning, SIG Sports announced on Twitter that it had signed on to represent KU senior Svi Mykhailiuk in the upcoming NBA Draft process.

Mykhailiuk is one of four players from KU's 2017-18 Final Four roster who will be trying to make it in the NBA this summer — five if you count freshman-who-never-was Billy Preston — and that group will joined by dozens of other seniors, Europeans and college underclassmen who will be trying to earn one of the 60 spots available in the two-round NBA Draft.

In reality, it's those first 30 spots that are coveted most because they represent guaranteed money. Any deals made after that are non-guaranteed and do not give the player — whether drafted in the second round or signed on as an undrafted free agent — any promise of NBA paychecks.

It remains to be seen how the KU crew — Mykhailiuk, Preston, Devonte' Graham, Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick — will fare in this year's draft, but even if things don't go as well as they might hope, those players will have other options as they pursue the start of their pro careers.

And thanks to some news from the NBA's G League on Tuesday, one of those options just became a little sweeter.

Although the G League does not function in quite the same way as Major League Baseball's minor league system, where players are supposed to pay their dues, spend their time and work their way up through the ranks, the NBA's de facto minor league is becoming more and more of a viable option for professional basketball players in this country to make a decent living.

The league announced on Tuesday that it was raising its base salary per player for the 2018-19 season to $7,000 per month for the five-month season, which works out to $35,000 salary for any given player. That's in five months. Not bad for less than half a year of work.

Right now on glassdoor.com, you can find the following jobs that offer a starting salary of $35,000 a year — Front Desk Associate, Administrative Assistant, Data Entry Clerk, Assistant Restaurant Manager, Warehouse Clerk and more.

I don't know about you, but I know I'd rather make that kind of money as a five-months-a-year ballplayer than any of those other options.

The point is this: Even though it can be seen as risky for guys like Malik Newman or Lagerald Vick to leave school early in search of a pro contract, there are now better and better options, even right here in this country, that significantly increase the odds of their decision being a good one.

Let's say those two guys don't get drafted by an NBA team this summer but some franchise likes them and tries to sign them to its G League affiliate. Could be worse. In addition to a pretty solid living for a young man fresh out of college, G League players also receive a housing stipend, travel per diem and health insurance.

That's a pretty good life in a hurry.

And that's to say nothing of the handful of guys who are lucky enough to receive two-way contracts from the G League and the NBA, which sets their salary at $77,250 (also up from last year's rate) and gives them a better shot of making the jump up to the NBA at some point.

What's more, with the G League now having official NBA affiliates in 28 cities, Tuesday's announcement of higher salaries promised that the amount would go up when the NBA gets all 30 franchises locked in with affiliates. So even more money is on the way.

As the NBA heads toward the elimination of its minimum age rule that often requires players to spend at least one year in college, this whole trend will become even more important.

As high school stars such as Darius Bazley, a McDonald's All-American who was headed to Syracuse but now plans to jump right to the G League, start to explore the option of skipping college altogether even if the NBA is not in their immediate future, the financial part of the equation begins to make better sense.

And all of this does not even include the idea of playing overseas, where even bigger contracts can be found.

It's no longer a situation where life after college basketball (or high school in some cases) has to come with an NBA or bust mentality. Yeah, that's where you'll become a star and that's where players become millionaires.

But other pro contracts throughout Europe, in Australia and now even in the G League can provide a pretty good living.

Here's a quick look at the official release about the increase in salaries from the G League, which includes some interesting statistics about the rise in G League players getting a crack at the NBA. Oh, and for what it's worth, I do think Newman, Graham and Mykhailiuk will all be drafted in this June's NBA Draft.

___

NEW YORK, April 17, 2018 – The NBA G League announced today the salaries for the 2018-19 season: players under NBA G League contracts will earn a base salary of $7,000 per month – or $35,000 – for the five-month regular season.

In addition to their salaries, players under NBA G League contracts will continue to have the opportunity to earn additional money through affiliate player bonuses and NBA Call-Ups. This season, about one quarter of players under NBA G League contracts also earned an average of $44,000 in NBA affiliate player bonuses – a total of more than $3 million on top of their NBA G League salaries. A record 50 NBA G League players earned a record 60 GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA this season, generating earnings of more than $11 million, or approximately $225,000 per player.

The NBA G League also pays bonuses to players on NBA G League playoff teams and to those recognized as end-of-season performance award winners. The league awarded more than $225,000 in bonus money this season.

Further, in accordance with the NBA and National Basketball Players Association collective bargaining agreement, NBA players will continue to be able to enter into two-way contracts. NBA two-way players will earn $77,250, prorated for days spent on an NBA G League roster, and the NBA rookie minimum salary, prorated for the days with their NBA team, for maximum potential earnings of $385,000 next season. This season, 83 players across all 30 NBA teams signed two-way contracts.

A record 53 percent of players on 2017-18 NBA end-of-season rosters have spent time in the NBA G League during their careers. Every NBA team had at least six NBA G League veterans on its end-of-season roster and seven had 10 or more such players. A record 101 NBA players were assigned to the NBA G League for development or rehabilitation this season, including 13 players selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft.

The 50-game NBA G League regular season – which includes the NBA G League Showcase, the league’s premier in-season scouting event – runs from November to March. All NBA G League players receive in-season housing, travel day per diem, continuing education opportunities, life skills development offerings and health insurance benefits.

Reply 5 comments from Tony Bandle Barry Weiss Pius Waldman Harlan Hobbs

Father of KU’s Lawson brothers talks Memphis return

None by John Martin

File this away under the category: Worth Keeping an Eye On.

Keelon Lawson, the father of Kansas transfers Dedric and K.J. Lawson appeared on Memphis' 92.9 ESPN Radio recently and told sports talk host John Martin that he would not rule out a return to Memphis by the KU forwards should things go south with Kansas and the FBI.

To date, there is no reason to believe that will happen, as the Kansas program has merely been listed as having been defrauded by an Adidas executive in a federal indictment that outlines some of the details into the FBI's ongoing investigation into corruption in college basketball.

But it's definitely worth noting that these kinds of thoughts are (a) being considered and (b) being tossed out there publicly.

In the interest of full disclosure here, Keelon Lawson is on 92.9 FM ESPN Radio every Monday to talk with Martin about the ins and outs of basketball in the city of Memphis. During today's segment, Lawson was talking about the return of Penny Hardaway to Memphis as the Tigers head coach and hinted at some more exciting recruiting news coming in the near future for Hardaway's program.

When asked then, by Martin, if that meant the return of Dedric and K.J. to their hometown, Keelon Lawson laughed.

"Oh, nah. Ha ha ha ha," he said before elaborating on what his sons have been told by KU coach Bill Self about the FBI investigation.

"The only thing I could tell when talking to Dedric, he just said Coach Self said everything is fine," Keelon Lawson said on the air. "You could read the report that says Kansas is a victim, meaning somebody did something behind Kansas' back to make us be a victim. But he said, as far as everything with the coaching staff, they didn't have anything to do with it. And then they'll just let their attorneys handle the procedure.

"He told Dedric, if something were to come down, they (Dedric and K.J.) would be the first ones to know because, you know, they would be the first ones to know so they could have the opportunity to do whatever they have to do."

Asked, point blank, if he were ruling out a return to Memphis by his sons, Lawson said: "If something goes down with Kansas, if Penny would open the door to them to come back, as far as Coach Self being fired, I think the boys would entertain it. But as of right now, they're at Kansas."

The Lawson father was not shy about going on the radio and discussing his son's very public departure from Memphis and then-coach Tubby Smith last spring. On both the local airwaves and a national podcast with CBS Sports' Gary Parrish, Keelon Lawson talked openly about his sons' plans and the reason behind them.

With Hardaway, one of Memphis' favorite sons, now leading the Tigers program, a return to their hometown cannot be ruled out the way it might be if Smith were still leading the program.

But that's a lot of ifs and it seems as if there still would be a lot that would need to happen for this to become something other than idle chatter by the father of a couple of KU players. Beyond that, even if the Lawson brothers eventually did want to head back home, they would have to sit out yet another season before being eligible to play again.

Both Dedric and K.J. Lawson are in line for big roles with the 2018-19 Jayhawks, with Dedric, a potential future NBA Lottery pick, expected to start alongside KU center Udoka Azubuike, should he return for his junior season as many expect, in the KU front court next season.

___

LISTEN FOR YOURSELF: Jason & John Hour 3, 4/16/18 — Keelon Lawson, who appears on the show every Monday to talk about the ins and outs of basketball in the city of Memphis, jumps into the mix around the 30:00 mark and the specific stuff about KU starts around 37:00 and goes to about 41:00.

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Kansas basketball signee makes major jump in updated Rivals rankings

Oak Park High guard Ochai Agbaji drives to the rim during a recent high school game against Liberty North in the William Jewell Tourney last December. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound wing recently became one of the hottest unsigned prospects in the country after picking up offers from Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, Agbaji committed to KU during a ceremony at his high school.

Oak Park High guard Ochai Agbaji drives to the rim during a recent high school game against Liberty North in the William Jewell Tourney last December. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound wing recently became one of the hottest unsigned prospects in the country after picking up offers from Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, Agbaji committed to KU during a ceremony at his high school. by Darryl Woods/810 Varsity

The updated Rivals.com recruiting rankings for the Class of 2018 came out on Monday and one future Jayhawk made a monster jump.

Unranked when he committed to Kansas earlier this year, three-star guard Ochai Agbaji, of Oak Park High in Kansas City, Mo., cracked the Top 150 in Rivals' latest release, moving all the way up to No. 141.

Agbaji, a shooting guard with good size and a versatile skill set that inspired KU coach Bill Self to compare him to former Jayhawk Travis Releford, officially signed with the Jayhawks last week. He became the fourth player in the 2018 class to make his commitment official and sign a letter of intent with KU.

Two of the other three prospects — combo guard Quentin Grimes and center David McCormack — moved up, with Grimes jumping two spots from No. 10 to No. 8 and McCormack moving up one spot to No. 33.

Point guard Devon Dotson was the only future Jayhawk in the 2018 class — for now — who dropped in the updated rankings, falling one spot from No. 17 to No. 18.

Dotson, Grimes and McCormack all played in last month's McDonald's All-American Game, while Grimes and McCormack followed that up by playing in the Nike Hoop Summit game for Team USA.

Grimes also competed in the Jordan Brand Classic.

One other notable ranking for the Jayhawks came in the form of the top remaining player in the class, five-star guard Romeo Langford, staying in the No. 6 spot overall.

Duke, which previously had locked down the top three players in the class — R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish and Zion Williamson — now has the Nos. 1, 3 and 5, as Williamson dropped two spots from No. 3 to No. 5 and UNC-bound small forward Nassir Little jumped up to No. 2.

Reply 9 comments from Sean_sw Brian Skelly Maxhawk Matt Tait Marius7782 Pius Waldman Sam Allen Phil Leister Ashwingrao Metaljhawk

Could KU freshman Silvio De Sousa’s situation become Billy Preston Part II?

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa comes in for a dunk during practice on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa comes in for a dunk during practice on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan. by Nick Krug

When it comes to the concept of worst case scenarios, the thought is so subjective that it can mean different things to different people.

In the world of sports, when you're talking worst case scenarios, you could be talking about outcomes, injuries, seasons and more.

For the Kansas men's basketball team, which is coming off of its first trip to the Final Four in six years and facing the very real scenario of losing four of its five starters from that team — with one more, in sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, still contemplating his future — the idea of worst case scenario for the 2018-19 season has quickly morphed from wondering who would start and how the team would look, into bringing the FBI's investigation of college basketball into the picture.

To this point, according to a superseding indictment released last week by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, KU's link to the investigation is limited to a couple of unnamed players and their parents/guardians allegedly taking money from one of the defendants named in the indictment.

While the identity of the two KU players referenced in the document is unknown, specific dates, sources at other news outlets and general speculation have pegged Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa as the likely identities of those two unnamed players.

Time will tell if that is accurate, but let's assume for a second, while looking ahead to next season, that it is.

It remains to be seen whether KU (a) will find itself linked further in the ongoing investigation, (b) will face any NCAA penalties as a result of the investigation when all is said and done, whenever that is, or (c) will move forward with any kind of internal investigation that might lead to a better understanding of KU's link to this mess.

And it's far too early to know or even speculate about any of that at this point.

But getting back to the idea of worst case scenarios, let's dive into that topic a little more, as it pertains to the two players mentioned in the indictment.

If one of them is Preston, KU may be in the clear on that one, at least moving forward. For one, the indictment does not allege any wrongdoing by KU. For two, Preston never played an official minute for that Jayhawks. So his involvement, if proven and later revealed, is almost irrelevant for Kansas at this point.

If De Sousa is the other player, that becomes a different story. The biggest reason many believe that the 6-foot-9 freshman from IMG Academy who joined KU midway through the 2017-18 season is one of the two players referenced stems from the date of his commitment — Aug. 30, 2017 — which the indictment uses when introducing a second player.

Because De Sousa did play in several games — 20 to be exact — and because he could be deemed ineligible if the allegations are proven true, De Sousa's future with the Jayhawks becomes a little bit murky.

Again, with the FBI investigation still ongoing, it's unlikely that KU or any other university will face any kind of penalty from the NCAA until there is concrete proof of an infraction or some kind of ruling.

Sources told the Journal-World that the FBI, in no uncertain terms, has told the NCAA to stay far away from its investigation until it is closed.

That leaves the De Sousa situation in a strange spot.

In monitoring Twitter, messages boards and general conversation about De Sousa, it seems clear that most people believe that the worst case scenario for KU — again, as things stand today — would be that De Sousa eventually is ruled ineligible and does not play another game for the Jayhawks.

While that would be a blow to KU's roster, there actually is a worse worst case scenario out there. And it involves De Sousa staying on the roster.

Here's how that would play out.

If the investigation somehow wraps up and the allegations are proven true — or worse — and KU is forced to part ways with De Sousa, the KU program would get his scholarship back — provided KU is not found to be culpable in any way — and Bill Self and company would at least be able to find a replacement for his spot.

Granted, that replacement probably would not be a 6-9, 245-pound physical specimen with serious skills and a pro basketball future, but somebody is better than nobody.

The real worst case scenario for Kansas has the case still ongoing and De Sousa's status in limbo entering the 2018-19 season. And it's not hard to envision that happening. Sure, the 2017-18 season just ended, but the start of next season is just six months away and I have yet to talk to anybody who believes the FBI will be wrapped up in six months.

So what KU could be facing is Billy Preston Part II, a situation where the Kansas coaching staff has to decide whether to play De Sousa and risk using an ineligible player or hold him out, like they did Preston, until the whole thing is cleared up.

That, at least in my eyes, would be the true worst case scenario because it not only would keep a player's status in limbo, but it also would eat up a scholarship and keep a major distraction hovering around the program.

Time will tell how it all plays out. On one hand, KU could be cleared entirely and, on the other, KU could be dragged down a path that has the program wishing for the De Sousa dilemma. And then there's the in between.

Regardless of where KU falls on that spectrum, the guess here is that none of it is going to be resolved quickly.

Reply 94 comments from Navyhawk Sasquatch2310 Marius7782 Jay Hawkinson Carsonc30 Shannon Gustafson Mike Riches Jim Stauffer Brian Babcock David Morrison and 27 others

Former Jayhawk Nick Collison shown some love by Russell Westbrook, OKC fans

His NBA career may not have matched what people would expect from the No. 12 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, but there's not a person alive who can say that former Jayhawk Nick Collison's pro career has not been a rousing success.

Success, of course, can be defined in a number of different ways. Rings. Wins. Stats. And even fame are the most often talked about measurements when it comes to pinpointing the success of professional athletes.

But Collison has become a star in much different way, one that seemingly will have a lasting impression on those he played with for years to come.

Drafted by the Seattle Supersonics (five years before the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City) after a stellar four-year career at Kansas, Collison recently completed his 15th season with the same franchise, though playing more of a bench-coach role on a one-year, minimum-contract salary during the 2017-18 season.

Collison's career with the Sonics/Thunder included 895 appearances — 177 of them starts — and career averages of 6.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game. Collison's career totals include more than 5,300 points and 4,700 rebounds.

But those numbers — including a career year in 2007-08 when he played in 78 games, started 35 and finished the season averaging 9.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game — pale in comparison to the measure of the impact Collison has had on his teammates throughout the years.

Never was that more obvious than earlier this week, after the final regular season game of the season, when OKC guard Russell Westbrook, who had just completed becoming the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in back-to-back seasons, was on the microphone thanking the fans and took a moment to bring Collison onto the floor with him.

In doing so, Westbrook referred to Collison as his "friend, mentor and brother," and told the roaring Thunder crowd, "He's somebody I always looked up to, it's a real pleasure to have him here. I just wanted to make sure you guys show him some love."

With that, Westbrook lowered the mic and raised his arms, encouraging the crowd to get even louder in their ovation for the former Jayhawk and franchise's favorite son.

"I'm not sure if it's his last season or not," Westbrook continued. "But he's somebody I always looked up to as a brother. He's done so much for this organization, I just wanted to make sure you guys gave him a standing ovation for the things he's done for this city."

As for whether this will be Collison's final season in the NBA, the former KU standout addressed that with reporters prior to the Thunder victory in that regular season finale.

"I still enjoy playing, enjoy being out there," Collison said. "And we've got one regular season game (and then) the playoffs and I'll figure out what I'm doing after that."

None by Royce Young

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KU target Romeo Langford says latest FBI news hasn’t hurt Kansas

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

In the wake of the latest news in the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, this time involving a mention of players and parents associated with Kansas, there was some movement in the 247 Sports Crystal Ball prediction world regarding unsigned, five-star prospect Romeo Langford.

Langford, the top remaining available prospect in the 2018 recruiting class — ranked No. 5 overall by 247 Sports and No. 6 by Rivals.com — is closing in on making a decision between finalists Kansas, Indiana and Vanderbilt.

The New Albany, Ind., native, who has become a Hoosier State hero throughout his stellar high school career, revealed earlier this week that he would announce his decision during a ceremony at his high school on April 30.

While the news of KU's potential involvement in the federal investigation led some to switch their prediction from Kansas to Indiana this week, the recruit himself went on record as saying that the investigation was not weighing on his mind.

“They’re still in my top three,” Langford said of Kansas in a Thursday interview with USA Today's Hayes Gardner. “It doesn’t hurt them. It doesn’t make them any better — Well, I don’t know why it would make them better — but it doesn’t hurt them at all.”

Langford told Gardner that he had not been in contact with KU coach Bill Self since news of the indictment tying KU to the investigation was released Tuesday.

Langford, who is in Portland participating at the Nike Hoop Summit, with KU signees Quentin Grimes and David McCormack, among others, also told Gardner that he had not yet made a decision but reiterated that his choice would come from his final three.

As for the approaching end to what has been a wild couple of years on the recruiting trail, Langford said he never was bothered the attention from media members, adoring fans and recruiting analysts who constantly checked in with him about his recruitment during the past several months.

“It’s been enjoyable,” Langford told Gardner. “I feel like me and my family have handled it real well, so it hasn’t been too overwhelming at all.”

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Class of 2018 shooting guard Ochai Agbaji officially signs on with Kansas

None by OakPark Basketball

A bit of positive news for Kansas basketball on Wednesday might have gotten lost in the whirlwind that is the FBI investigation into college basketball and, at this point, specific mentions of the KU program.

With Wednesday being the first day of this year's regular signing period for college basketball, Ochai Agbaji, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound shooting guard from Oak Park High in Kansas City, Mo., made his commitment to Kansas official by signing his national letter of intent.

The 3-star prospect committed to KU in early February after a recruitment that picked up steam faster than any major college recruit in recent memory. After beginning his senior season at Oak Park with next to no interest from Division I programs, the smooth shooting guard with a wide range of skills ended the process by holding offers from Nebraska, Oregon, Texas A&M, Wisconsin and, of course, Kansas.

Regarded by many as the best all-around player in the Kansas City area, Agbaji, who played AAU ball for MOKAN Elite, has drawn comparisons to former KU wing Travis Releford, who played at Kansas from 2008-13 after an incredible high school career at Bishop Miege High.

Agbaji told the Journal-World at the time of his commitment that even KU coach Bill Self said he reminded him of Releford and the Oak Park senior said he wanted to bring many of the same things to Lawrence that Releford delivered during his time as a Jayhawk.

Still unranked nationally by Rivals.com, it will be interesting to see where the 3-star Agbaji winds up when Rivals releases its update rankings in the coming months. It is not uncommon for a player to receive a major bump in the rankings after committing to a power program like Kansas.

Agbaji's signing makes his commitment to KU official and KU coach Bill Self on Thursday offered the following thoughts about his newest player via news release.

"Coach (Norm) Roberts went to watch Ochai play a couple times and was really impressed," Self said. "I had a chance to go see him in late January and thought he was terrific. I love his demeanor. He has a maturity about himself. He has a terrific frame and is an explosive athlete who can shoot."

Self continued: "When we offered Ochai a scholarship, he jumped on it and that also excited us because you want to coach guys who are excited to be in your program. I see him as a Travis Releford type. A guy that comes in and has the body to be a major college player. Ochai could be a high major defender early in his career and his skill set is such that I think he could be an immediate impact player for us. We're fortunate to get a player locally of this talent who possesses all the intangibles you want in a student-athlete."

Agbaji, who was named The Kansas City Star's All-Metro Player of the Year, averaged 27.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game his senior season.

He becomes the fourth player in the 2018 class to sign with KU — fifth if you count current KU freshman Silvio De Sousa, who initially was in the 2018 class but graduated early from IMG Academy and played with the Jayhawks throughout the second semester this season, helping KU reach the Final Four — joining five-star guards Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes and four-star big man David McCormack.

After adding Agbaji, Kansas officially has one scholarship still available and remains in pursuit of five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford, who revealed Wednesday that he will announce his college choice between KU, Indiana and Vanderbilt on April 30 at a ceremony at his high school in New Albany, Ind.

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Prized 2018 recruit Romeo Langford to announce decision April 30

None by Evan Daniels

We've known for a couple of weeks now that New Albany, Ind., shooting guard Romeo Langford planned to make his decision between Kansas, Indiana and Vanderbilt before the end of the month.

And now we have an exact date.

Sneaking in just under the gun, Langford, according to Evan Daniels, a national recruiting analyst for 247 Sports and FOX Sports 1 Insider, plans to announce his decision on April 30, the final day of the month.

The top remaining unsigned player in the 2018 class, Langford, ranked No. 5 overall by 247 Sports and No. 6 by Rivals.com, has had his list of three finalists for several weeks and appears to be waiting for the end of an All-Star circuit that saw him play in the McDonald's All-American game and Jordan Brand Classic in recent weeks and will see him compete at the Nike Hoop Summit this weekend.

After that, Langford has said he will sit down with his family, get serious about his three finalists and make a final decision.

KU, which currently has the No. 6-ranked class in the 2018 class per Rivals, is believed to still be alive and in the hunt for Langford's services, but it remains to be seen whether Tuesday's news of Kansas being tied up in the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball will have any impact on Langford's decision.

The good news for KU coach Bill Self and company is that, with 19 days remaining before Langford makes his choice known, they will have time to gather more information about the FBI's case and communicate that clearly to Langford and his family.

Playing time at KU certainly does not seem to be an issue for Langford, who would likely be pencilled in as an opening day starter in KU's backcourt and a major player to inherit the minutes vacated by the departure of both Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick, who announced last week that they were leaving KU early to turn pro.

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KU big man Udoka Azubuike still mulling over decision to stay or go

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike signs an autograph for a fan following the Kansas basketball banquet on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Lawrence.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike signs an autograph for a fan following the Kansas basketball banquet on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Lawrence. by Nick Krug

At one point during Tuesday's postseason banquet, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self took a minute to praise sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, not only for his solid season and all of those dunks, but also the hard work and fight he put in to come back from a knee injury before the Big 12 tournament in time to help Kansas reach the Final Four.

“Dok, we are all very proud,” Self told his 7-foot center in front of the entire room. “You have grown up and you are one bad man.”

“That was great,” Azubuike said after the banquet. “That was nice, seeing that come from him.” Asked if he had heard any such compliments from his head coach before, Azubuike grinned before answering.

“I have,” he said. “Something like that, probably in games, some games when I was playing good.”

With the season now behind him and Self at least temporarily having to wonder if he has coached Azubuike for the last time, the way he has seniors Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk and underclassmen Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick, who decided to leave early to turn pro, the KU coach said he was uncertain about where Azubuike's head was at regarding his future.

“I think it could be in the next week or so, but I don't think it'll be tomorrow or anything,” Self said of a possible Azubuike announcement. “I don't know exactly where he is right now.” That makes two of them.

“I'm still thinking about it,” Azubuike said of the decision to try to declare for the NBA Draft or return to KU for his junior season. “I'm still thinking about what I'm going to do. I haven't made my decision.”

Azubuike said he spent some time last week talking it over with his family but believes now that the rest is up to him.

“Yeah it is. It definitely is,” he said when asked if it was a tough decision. “Like I said, I spoke to my family about it and all that, and right now it's pretty much my decision. I've just got to start thinking about it probably the next couple of days or the next week, I'll make my decision about what I'm going to do.”

One thing that is certain is that the knee injury that plagued him throughout March has continued to improve since the end of KU's season.

“It's getting better, way better than it was,” Azubuike said. “Way better. Right now I can sleep without the brace on so that's good news for me. It's pretty much just staying in the brace right now. That's pretty much it.”

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