A closer look at new KU big man Udoka Azubuike


All right. By now, you guys surely know how these highlight videos work.

They're exactly that. Highlights. You don't see the mistakes, the benchings, the rough stretches or the moments of confusion and missed steps. And, frankly, with most of the top high school prospects, guys who dominate the competition because of their superior size, athleticism and skills, there are not a ton of games that produce anything but highlights.

Such seems to be the case with Udoka Azubuike, the 6-foot-11, 260-pound center from Potter's House Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, who moments ago announced on ESPNU that he would play his college ball at Kansas University.

The five-star Azubuike is the No. 27-ranked player in the Class of 2016 and the top-rated center and he chose KU over UNC as his finalists but also seriously considered North Carolina State and Florida State.

His addition to the KU program not only gives KU an exciting prospect to look forward to in the future, but also someone Jayhawk fans can salivate over right now. That's because, if it were allowed, Azubuike absolutely would be able to suit up and help this program today. He might not be a star, mind you (we've learned our lesson there, right?) but with that frame, he certainly would help.

At 6-11, 260, he's considerably bigger than anything the Jayhawks have down low today, standing an inch taller and 20 pounds heavier than the Jayhawks' biggest body (6-10, 240-pound Landen Lucas).

Beyond that, Azubuike plays a style that none of KU's current players seem to be able to play. In short, he likes to dunk and he likes to dunk very, very hard.

Like most of you, I have not actually seen Azubuike play. But I have watched plenty of film on him and have been impressed by how well he moves. Sure, in these highlights, you're mostly treated to an endless buffet of Azubuike dunking the ball with authority and anger — and let's face it, KU could use some of that — but in some of the clips (and even when you're watching him hurt the rim) you can see how well this guy moves on his feet, how well he runs the floor, how good his balance is and how you could see him turning into a handful in the paint with the proper training.

He figures to get that and more at Kansas and his arrival will be one of the more exciting things to look forward to before the 2016-17 season.

Now that you've watched those, I want you to take a look at this gem I found — God bless the Internet — that was taken when Azubuike was just 14 years old.

He stood 6 feet, 10 inches tall and already showed strong affection for the slam dunk.

The thing I want you to pay attention to in the following clip is not his ferocious form or how mind-blowing it is that a 14-year-old can dunk like that, but instead look at his frame.

Watching this clip and then watching the one above shows you just how much Azubuike's body has developed in the past few years. And that's without the help of Andrea Hudy. Imagine what the KU body-shaping guru will do with this guy when he gets here.

Finally, for a little better perspective on Azubuike's actual skills and talent, here are a couple of videos where you can actually see Azubuike go up against players of similar size and skill.

In the next couple of videos, Azubuike is facing off against DeAndre Ayton, the No. 4 ranked player in the Class of 2017.

In the first one, Ayton is No. 0 in black and Azubuike is No. 35 in white. In the second clip, Ayton is No. 92 in white and Azubuike is No. 105 in red.

Here's another one, from 2014, of Azubuike going up against Stephen Zimmerman, who last year chose UNLV over Kansas.


Brett McCabe 5 years, 8 months ago

Too bad he won't be here to play against Rico. That would be fun to watch!

Also, did he really say "Kansas University"? I can't believe that the LJW got to him!

I'd like to see all of the coaches at KU work with their recruits to announce like this:

"Well, I have three things to say......Rock Chalk Jayhawk!"

John Myers 5 years, 8 months ago

Not to be overly cynical, but what's the story on "Potter's House Christian Academy" and the over/under on how long until eligibility questions arise?

Jonathan Briles 5 years, 8 months ago

Looking at his film he looks like at least a three year guy. Year one will be conditioning and shaping his body for this level of play and working on the fundamentals of his game. Year two will be perfecting those fundamentals while adding post moves and a mid range shot to keep defenders honest. Year three will be where he dominates with his superior size and strength and shows the fruits of his labor. I'm expecting very little of him his freshman year. He does not have near the defensive presence Self wants and it will take time for him to develop that. His size alone is enough to have me really happy though. I've grown so tired of the lack of size these past two seasons and it will be nice to see a Jayhawk big doing the punishing.

Clara Westphal 5 years, 8 months ago

I hope he gets to play. KU gets the big recruits and then they seem to be on the bench much of the time instead of in the game. It is a waste of talent to have Bragg and Diallo on the bench. Surely by now, they should be ready to play. They are not dumb.

Jay Scott 5 years, 8 months ago

When players come to teams with an abundance of experienced and talented other players, they have to wait until they are the best option to play. The person that decides who plays is the Head Coach. This decision is made based on ability to perform in game situations and the skills of the players on the opposing team. Kansas has one of the best coaches in all of basketball, according to experts. His winning percentage since coming to Kansas is the best!

Does that help Clara?

Dirk Medema 5 years, 8 months ago

They're not dumb, but CD in particular misses all the time pre & early season when he wasn't eligible. Team D has many many facet that don't get learned at D1 speed in a matter of weeks.

Cedric Spire 5 years, 8 months ago

Good we will have another 5-star recruit that comes in and set's for a year. Really Tait you think he could come in and help right now? Wow haven't you seen what's going on right before your eyes. No way would he come in and help right now Self wouldn't allow it!! The Big 4 wouldn't allow it!!

Jay Scott 5 years, 8 months ago

Coach Self and some of the veteran players believe that certain players on the deep and talented roster can help MORE than other players. Only five can be on the floor at a time.

That isn't to say that any player couldn't help.

Mark Rein 5 years, 8 months ago

Per this article, which states Landon is our biggest player however, Landon Lucas isn't our biggest player. Hunter Michelson is but, he has been benched for the last four games. Somehow, the media has forgotten all about him because they refuse to ask Bill Self WHY??????

Jay Scott 5 years, 8 months ago

There are several recent articles where Coach Self discusses this.

Matt Tait 5 years, 8 months ago

First of all, Self was asked about Mickelson yesterday. As in less than 24 hours ago. That's when he told us he's injured and beyond that, he didn't say much about him, which should be telling.

Secondly, there's about five pounds difference between Lucas (240) and Mickelson (245) according to the media guide, but I would not be surprised at all if Lucas has passed him. Either way, Lucas plays more because he's often called a bigger body, so that's what I'm going with.

Mickelson is a lot of things and many of them are good. But I'm pretty sure no one ever thinks of him as a load inside.

Hope that helps. If Mickelson gets back into the rotation, you can bet we'll be asking about him. If not, don't expect to hear much. You don't hear us asking about Lagerald Vick, right? Same thing.

Jay Scott 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm guessing Lucas has a longer wingspan? Any info on that Matt?

Brian D. Steward 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm starting to get a bit irritated by all of the comments about Self sitting recruits. KU has one of the best coaches in the league right now and for whatever reason every year people criticize him. He has lead his team to places we KU fans couldn't have imagined. 11 straight B12 titles. Sure, that looks in jeopardy this year, but when hasn't it. The B12 is an absolutely packed conference almost every year, yet somehow Self finds a way to run it through Lawrence. Self will do what is best for the team and his decision should be welcomed and sought by all. There, I'm done with my rant.

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