Kansas Basketball Record Watch 2018-19: Udoka Azubuike
A couple of months ago, when KU junior Udoka Azubuike announced he would return for his junior season at Kansas instead of trying to make it in the NBA, the first thing that popped into my head was where Azubuike stood in KU’s record books in a few key areas.
Granted, because he missed all but 11 games of his freshman season and also missed time during his sophomore season, Azubuike has not exactly played the kind of games or logged the amount of minutes to make a real push for any of KU’s biggest records.
But surely there are some that, after a monster junior season, could be a factor for Azubuike, right?
And if that’s the case, couldn’t that be true for just about every scholarship player on KU’s roster?
I mean, we all can agree that Quentin Grimes isn’t going to finish his first year at Kansas — and possibly his only year here — as the school’s all-time leading scorer, but could he make a push for KU’s freshman scoring record?
Last year’s KU media guide featured 19 full pages of school records. So over the next several days, we’re going to take a look at (a) what records some of these guys might be closing in on, if any, and (b) which record(s) each KU player could realistically make a run at during the 2018-19 season.
Some of it might be a stretch. But, hey, it’s August, and even if some of what you’ll read in the next couple of weeks isn’t all that likely, it’s still kind of fun to think about the best case scenarios in a sort of what-if mentality.
First up: Udoka Azubuike
A season ago, Azubuike shattered Mark Randall’s school record for single season field goal percentage (64.6) by knocking in 77 percent of his field goal attempts (211 of 274) during the 36 games he played for the Final Four-bound Jayhawks.
That mark, which also led all of Div. I, will be awfully tough to top during the upcoming season. But if there’s one record that Azubuike seems to have the best shot at breaking, that, without question, would be it.
For starters, Azubuike figures to get even more easy looks at the basket this season because of the skill set and depth around him. No more will the Jayhawks have to force everything they get inside through Azubuike. Silvio De Sousa and Dedric Lawson, along with freshman forward David McCormack, will be a factor in KU’s frontcourt scoring during the 2018-19 season. And their skills — particularly those of Lawson and De Sousa, who both can play away from the rim, creating more space for Azubuike to work — could actually benefit Azubuike even if their presence takes away a few shots and points from the 7-foot center.
Azubuike shot 77 percent or better in 21 of the 36 games in which he played last season, with 120 of his 211 2-point makes coming via the slam dunk.
Although Azubuike no doubt would like to showcase a little more range and all-around game for the NBA scouts watching him this season, the dunk figures to continue to be both his weapon of choice and most effective shot during his junior season.
With that in mind, Azubuike is well on his way to becoming KU’s career record holder for field goal percentage, as well.
His current mark of .754 (233 of 305) is more than 13 full percentage points better than Randall’s, who is KU’s current leader with a .620 mark on 643 makes and 1,037 career attempts.
In order to qualify for the career mark, Azubuike will have to attempt 195 shots during his junior season, a feat that likely will only come into question if the injury bug hits him yet again.
With the talent and depth around him, it’s not crazy to think the number of Azubuike shots could dip from last season’s 274. But even if he only takes 195 exactly, he would have to make just 78 of them to finish ahead of Randall at .622.
Making 78 of 195 shots would mean Azubuike shot just 40 percent for the season. So, again, as long as he stays healthy, the career record is as good as his.