Loaded roster leaves Kansas basketball with flexibility on the recruiting trail


Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Three players in the 2021 college basketball recruiting class who had Kansas on their lists of finalists elected to go elsewhere this week.

But that does not mean it’s time for KU to panic — far from it, in fact.

All three prospects — five-star small forward Kendall Brown, four-star wing Matthew Cleveland and three-star guard Jordan Riley, who chose Georgetown on Friday morning — are perimeter players, and the Jayhawks are absolutely loaded at that position for the foreseeable future.

That’s not to say Brown, Cleveland and Riley could not have found a path to playing time had they picked KU. But all three very well may have been low-minute, luxury-type pieces in KU’s already stacked backcourt for at least their first year or two of college basketball.

And let’s face it; no matter how many stars they have attached to their names, very few prospects these days are interested in joining a program where they know they’ll have to sit before playing meaningful minutes.

That’s likely a big part of the reason all three committed elsewhere this week, with Brown picking Baylor on Monday, Cleveland picking Florida State on Tuesday and Riley electing to stay close to home on Friday.

Here’s a quick look at where KU sits on the perimeter for at least the next three seasons, which takes us through this trio’s sophomore year.

Christian Braun (6-6, 205) and Tristan Enaruna (6-8, 200) each have three years remaining and would be seniors when those three are sophomores.

Jalen Wilson (6-8, 215), who was injured for nearly all of the 2019-20 season, has four years remaining and would be completing his junior season two full seasons from now.

That’s three players, at a minimum, who all play the same position and all have more experience who would be ahead of Brown, Cleveland and Riley on the depth chart three seasons from now.

Four more current Jayhawks — juco transfer Tyon Grant-Foster, redshirt freshman DaJuan Harris and incoming freshmen Bryce Thompson and Latrell Jossell — also will factor in heavily during the next two seasons, leaving little room for anyone else.

In all, that’s seven guards who figure to be around past the 2020-21 season. And that number easily could grow to eight if current junior Ochai Agbaji sticks around for his senior season in 2021-22.

Just because a roster is loaded with numbers at any one position does not mean coaches stop recruiting that position. For instance, if a player like Brown, who is ranked No. 12 in the Rivals 150, is interested in coming to your school, you go after him and try to get him.

But the pressure to land him is not nearly as great as it would be if you were losing four or five guards from your roster after the upcoming season or had a glaring hole at his position. KU isn’t facing either of those realities.

Recruiting’s cyclical and there are certain rhythms that need to be accounted for that play a big role in how it all plays out.

The Jayhawks liked all three players or they wouldn’t have offered them scholarships. And they gladly would have welcomed any of the three to the roster for the 2021-22 season if they had chosen KU. But there’s a difference between liking a player and needing a player.

The only thing we know right now is that KU will be losing seniors Mitch Lightfoot, Silvio De Sousa and Marcus Garrett after the 2020-21 season. That leaves three open spots in the 2021 recruiting class and one of them is already spoken for via four-star Top 30 forward Zach Clemence.

KU may still look to add a wing player in the 2021 class, but it’s likely that the position will be a much higher priority in the 2022 and 2023 classes instead.


Gerry Butler 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree for the most part Matt however, I think your a tad off on playing time. I think Brown & Cleveland both or either or would step right in as Freshmen and play quality time just like Bryce. - These players are major talented and can play just about anywhere with quality minutes. - - Brown and Cleveland for sure Brown is just a freak athletic wise - was a huge miss for us, that whole situation is STILL just weird. - - It was seen as an almost lock for him to commit to KU and then turns into a DeAndre Ayton repeat - -something funny.

Matt Tait 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't know if I agree with the "something funny" part, but I will give you that Brown would have a chance to play anywhere he went to school.

It just seems to me that it would have been much harder for him to get the minutes he was looking for right away with Braun, Wilson, Enaruna, Grant-Foster and possibly even Agbaji ahead of him in terms of experience, age and understanding of the college game.

So much of the recruiting game is about timing and fit and the roster at his position is loaded ahead of him at KU.

Richard Wright 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Brown going to Baylor is karma for Darrell Arthur coming to KU!!. Darrell was a lock for Baylor until he had a "dream".

Jim Stauffer 4 months, 1 week ago

Yeah, it always looks like a very athletic kid who produces great numbers against 16 and 17 year olds would come in and take over pt in college. Then reality hits and he has to compete in practice against the best defender in college or against one of the strongest wing men in the game or an athletic freak who plays the game and is 2 years older and stronger than he is. We will be fine without these kids. Good article, Matt.

Gerry Butler 4 months, 1 week ago

here is a little news flash. - -were missing out on A LOT of these kids it's not just here and there the Reason ? - with this NCAA crap looming over our heads you can take it to the bank these opposing coach's are playing that to THE HILT. Baylor is not a KU - The School Jordan Riley committed to is NOT a KU - - - Florida IAS NOT A KU. - -when you compare history of the game - - the atmosphere , The Conference , no way should this be happening. Sure Baylor for what 2 years now just started being some what of a presence - -before that - - - psssssst , please -- let's compare shall we ? - - Bill Self/ Scott Drew lmao. -- Self Coach of a program with 14 straight Big 12 Championships , multiple , mulitple players sent to the NBA - - -NCAA Champion , Hall of Fame coach - - Scott ? - - zelch. -- Brown & Cleveland are just the two latest to go elsewhere. This NCAA thing is beating us up more then some people realize I think.

the uncertainty of whats ahead. Will Coach be suspended for a season ? or some of the Season ? - -Will KU be put on post Season Ban ? - - Will KU have reduction of Scholi's ? - these recruits want to know these things - -so their going somewhere where they know whats up with the program , a more solid foundation at present time - on top like Matt said about possible more playing time. - -I think this is another reason your seeing a trend from Coach as to why we are going after a somewhat lower ranked type 3-4 player, a solid player that Coach can develop.

Sure we will still go after the big 5 * types but were gonna see more and more of those shy away right now - -just the way it is

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