During Tuesday's appearance on "Rock Chalk Sports Talk" with Nick Schwerdt, we talked about a number of offseason KU basketball topics, including prep standout R.J. Hampton and other KU recruiting news.
Other names and topics that came up included Silvio De Sousa, Udoka Azubuike, the NBA Draft and, of course, the KU coaching staff.
It's a busy time of year for college basketball coaches everywhere. But the Kansas staff, which has been all over the country during the past week or so, is still trying to fill a bunch of spots in the 2019 recruiting class to set the roster for the 2019-20 season.
The options are many and visits are happening left and right and, in a matter of weeks, KU could have a few new faces and also may gain some clarity from the four players who have declared for the NBA Draft and have until May 29 to pull their names out if they so desire.
All of that and more in the latest conversation on KLWN's "Rock Chalk Sports Talk."
Give it a listen.
It was a big weekend for Kansas basketball recruiting, both in the 2019 class that still has plenty of holes to fill, and beyond.
The KU coaching staff welcomed Class of 2019 forward Tristan Enaruna to town for an official visit over the weekend and also was busy tracking some of the top players in future classes all over the country.
Here’s a quick recap of one of the biggest stories that came up this on a vibrant recruiting trail.
Class of 2020 guard R.J. Hampton, in a starring role at the Nike EYBL event in Atlanta, Hampton delivered a monster night in one of the showcase games, going for 41 points and 6 assists in a loss by AAU squad Drive Nation.
While the loud performance on the floor certainly was noticed, it was comments made by Hampton and his father off the court that likely stood out more.
With the 6-foot-5 guard from Little Elm, Texas, still trying to decide whether to reclassify into the 2019 class of stay in the 2020 class (where he is ranked No. 5 overall by Rivals.com), Hampton offered a hint at where he might be headed.
“I don’t think I have anything left in high school to prove to anybody,” Hampton said, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Borzello.
Shortly after that, Hampton’s father, Rod Hampton, met with a small group of media members in attendance and, according to Borzello, said there was “a better than 50 percent chance” that his son reclassifies and is playing college basketball somewhere this winter.
Hampton, who has a final four of Kansas, Memphis, Duke and Kentucky, reminded people over the weekend that KU held a special place in his heart.
“Coach Self has been on me real hard,” said Hampton, according to CatsIllustrated.com. “He was my first blue blood type of offer. With him, (it’s), ‘You can come in and get us back to the Final Four.’ With the guys they might have coming back, they don’t have any commitments from any top guys yet. They could be scary.”
One other notable Hampton soundbite from the weekend came from his father, who talked about his tight relationship with the KU coaching staff.
"Coach Jerrance Howard is like family to me," Rod Hampton said, according to JayhawkSlant.com. "I mean, we can talk about anything and be comfortable. It doesn't matter if I call him at 3 in the afternoon or 3 at night, he's going to pick up and vice versa. He's just like family.
"I would feel very, very comfortable dropping R.J. off at Kansas right now with Jerrance Howard and the coaching staff at Kansas. I would have no problem at all and would feel very comfortable with R.J. playing at Kansas with Jerrance and the staff. We are definitely comfortable with the coaching staff."
The next step has arrived for Kansas point guard Devon Dotson.
According to Dotson’s father, Dana Dotson, the KU freshman who finished as the Jayhawks’ fourth leading scorer and led the team in assists and steals during first season in Lawrence, has received an invitation to the NBA’s pre-draft combine, slated for May 14-19 in Chicago.
Dotson, who has spent the past couple of weeks working out in The Windy City in preparation for his shot at the combine, was one of four Jayhawks to throw his name into the draft pool before the deadline, joining Dedric Lawson, Quentin Grimes and Silvio De Sousa.
All four now have decisions to make and skills to showcase and each is taking advantage of the new rules that allow underclassmen to declare for the draft, hire an agent and yet still return to school if they desire. The deadline to pull out of the draft and return to school is May 29.
Whether you’re a lottery pick with a multi-million dollar future or a fringe player just trying to find his way into the draft, the decisions that are made leading up to team workouts, the combine and the June draft can be stressful, intimidating and overwhelming.
But that’s not the case for Dotson, who is moving forward with the idea of improving as much as possible and showcasing his skills to get accurate feedback from NBA folks about his chances in this summer’s draft.
Sure, the stakes are high and the situation is serious. But Dotson is looking at his current circumstances with a best-of-both-worlds view.
“Yeah, yeah. It’s a win-win scenario,” the 6-foot-2 point guard who earned all-freshman honors in the Big 12 this season said after the Jayhawks’ season-ending banquet earlier this month. “I feel like I can’t lose from this situation that I’ve put myself in and I feel like there’s no negatives to the process.”
Shortly after Dotson declared for the 2019 draft, his father told the Journal-World that his son was on “an information-seeking quest.”
Dotson confirmed as much during his recent meeting with the media and explained in a little more detail exactly what he was looking for from the next few weeks.
“Just feedback from NBA personnel and getting the feedback of where I’m at and things I can get better on,” Dotson said. “I’m taking the process very seriously and just hoping for the best.”
The full list of combine invitees has not been released and the process has changed a bit from years past. What used to include a total of around 70 combine participants now has been expanded to include invitations to likely G League candidates and alternates, as well.
Dotson, Grimes and Lawson received full combine invitations and De Sousa was invited to the G League combine, which also will be held in Chicago May 12-14, during the three days leading up to the main event.
According to ESPN.com draft expert Jonathan Givony, this year’s early-entry list included 233 prospects, 175 college underclassmen and 58 international players.
Considering the June draft includes just two rounds and 60 picks, there clearly are some tough decisions ahead for a bunch of draft hopefuls.
Reclassification is the in thing in college recruiting these days and the Kansas Jayhawks may benefit because of it.
In addition to waiting on a decision from Top 5 Class of 2020 prospect R.J. Hampton, two other hot names have surfaced lately in KU’s recruiting efforts.
One of them, like Hampton may, is reclassifying from the 2020 class into 2019, making him eligible to play college basketball later this year. And the other is considering it.
Here’s a look.
The first player is Johnny Juzang, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound, Top 25 prospect who is drawing interest from some of the top programs in the country, including Kansas.
Earlier this week, he announced his decision to enroll at the college of his choosing early and said he would pick a school “in the next few weeks.”
The North Hollywood (Calif.) prospect currently has offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Cal, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Marquette, Miami, Oregon, San Diego State, UNLV, USC, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
And he has a few visits on the books, as well, including Kentucky next week. According to Rivals.com’s Corey Evans, he already took an official visit to Virginia last year and landing Juzang figures to be an all-out battle for all of the programs involved, including UCLA and new head coach Mick Cronin, who have the hometown advantage.
No other scheduled official visits have been announced at this time.
Juzang played AAU ball with the Compton Magic and averaged 23 points 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for Harvard Westlake during his junior season.
Another relatively new name to watch on the recruiting trail is that of Kyree Walker, a Top 20 shooting guard in the 2020 class who also is exploring the idea of reclassifying to become eligible to play college ball during the 2019-20 season.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound 5-star prospect hails from Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix currently holds offers from Cal, Memphis, Arizona State, UCLA, LSU, Oklahoma, Illinois, Texas, Nevada, Arkansas and Kansas, with KU and Arkansas both receiving the most buzz from recruiting analysts of late.
Walker initially committed to Arizona State early in the process but has since de-committed and opened up his recruitment to both a number of schools and the possibility of enrolling in school a year early.
In an interview with VandySports.com, Rivals recruiting guru Eric Bossi called Walker “a physical scorer who can play above the rim” and “a tenacious competitor on the defensive side of the ball.”
“What stands out the most, though, is a big time first step,” Bossi told the site. “It’s the key to his entire game. Knowing that he can blow by just about anybody gives him confidence and then the strength to finish through contact and his ability to shift things on the fly make him a tough customer as a scorer.”
Obviously there’s still a long way to go for any program to land any of these players, Hampton included. But what has become crystal clear in this whole process is the fact that, like the grad transfer route of late, the reclassification option has become a serious part of teams’ recruiting plans and opened up other worlds entirely.
A Kansas class that two weeks ago looked to be a little thin and in need of some good news from Matt Hurt and/or Cassius Stanley, missed out on both of those Duke-bound prospects and yet still appears to be just fine given that the Jayhawks are very much in the running for all three players mentioned above, as well as others in the Class of 2019 and on the grad transfer path.
They may not get them. This trio may not end up reclassifying. But they do give Kansas and the other programs vying for their services options. And, in the recruiting game, that’s all you can ask for.
Things are starting to clear up a little regarding the future of Class of 2020 guard R.J. Hampton.
According to Rivals.com recruiting analyst Corey Evans things are currently “looking good” for a possible Hampton-to-Kansas-in-2019 scenario.
The 6-foot-5 guard who is ranked No. 5 overall by Rivals.com in the Class of 2020 has been considering reclassifying into the 2019 class for quite some time. And it now looks like that process is moving closer toward being a reality.
If it is, Evans believes the move could benefit Kansas big time.
“Hampton does have to gain the proper credits this summer to become eligible to enroll this fall,” Evans wrote this week. “But if everything aligns properly, the elite talent will be Lawrence-bound.”
Adding a player of Hampton’s ability and talent would be a huge lift for a Kansas recruiting class that currently has just two signees with an average ranking of No. 99 and lots of room to grow.
But there’s more to the Little Elm, Texas, prospect than his lofty ranking and big name. I found that out by chance earlier this year, when walking up to the KU-TCU game in Fort Worth, Texas, where I ran into a high school coach from the area who had long been a follower and fan of Kansas basketball and spent some time around Hampton.
Naturally, I asked him what he thought.
I didn’t write down the exact quotes or record the impromptu interview. The game that night, you might recall, tipped off at 8 p.m. on Big Monday and I was more interested in finding a way to prepare to hit a tight deadline than dive into a story about one of the best players in the 2020 class.
Had I known then that we were potentially this close to Hampton reclassifying and making a decision about his future, I might have chosen otherwise or jotted a few things down.
The main thing I remember about the short conversation was how the coach, who was an assistant in the league Hampton’s Little Elm team played in, gushed about Hampton’s character.
Great kid. Great family. Personable guy. Everyone loves him. Those descriptions, and more, came pouring out of the coach’s mouth, as if he himself were a member of Hampton’s family. He wasn’t.
Quickly, the conversation turned to basketball, too. And, as luck would have it, Hampton was coming off of a monster week during which he scored 84 points in two games, including a 50-point effort that featured 10 3-pointers and 10 rebounds.
So, yeah. Talking about his game was inevitable. The thing that stood out there was the coach’s perspective on Hampton’s size, smooth skills and ability to make the game easier for his teammates and also how it looked so easy for him, too.
At 6-foot-5, 180 pounds with serious hops, the coach said there was not a player in the prep ranks who Hampton could not elevate over for an uncontested jumper.
Add to that his athleticism, length and desire and the coach, somewhat predictably, classified Hampton as a special player.
The final thing I recall from the conversation that spanned a few hundred feet was how well the assistant coach thought Hampton and Kansas coach Bill Self would mesh.
The coach had worked a handful of Self’s camps over the years and followed Self’s career for the past couple of decades. In his opinion, Self was exactly the style of coach that could get the most out of Hampton during his college days.
Time will tell if that ever becomes an option. But it’s closer today than it was back in February.
Hampton is down to a final four of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Memphis and could make a decision, both about reclassifying and his college of choice, by the end of May if not sooner.
In addition to highlighting KU’s chances of landing him, Evans also recently categorized Duke’s odds as “nearly non-existent,” Kentucky’s as “on the outside looking in” and Memphis as being in “a great spot.”
The difference between Memphis and KU, according to Evans, is Self.
With the Duke decisions made by Matt Hurt and Cassius Stanley now a thing of the past, the Jayhawks, as expected, are moving on rather quickly in the recruiting game.
With two prospects visiting this week and a handful of other Kansas targets making news one way or another in the past couple of days, Bill Self and his coaching staff have no time to sit around and mope about missing out on the now-future Blue Devils.
Stephen F. Austin grad transfer T.J. Holyfield and Mount Pleasant, Utah prep prospect Tristan Enaruna are both visiting Lawrence this week.
And Arkansas-Little Rock grad transfer Rayjon Tucker and Class of 2020 Top 5 prospect R.J. Hampton, who may be reclassifying to join the 2019 crew, are both attractive options, as well.
And that’s to say nothing about top 2019 prospect Precious Achiuwa, who is expected to make his decision in late May.
Here’s a quick update on a few of the players mentioned above.
• R.J. Hampton
Let’s start with the biggest fish on this list. Hampton, you probably already know, is ranked as the 5th best player in the 2020 class and has been considered by some recruiting analysts to be the top prep guard available in the country, regardless of class.
If he were to reclassify and come to Kansas, it would be a monster lift for the Jayhawks’ 2019 class and their prospects for the 2019-20 season.
It’s still early and we don’t know yet whether Hampton will reclassify, but if he does, it looks like it might be down to KU and Memphis. John Calipari is expected to visit him today and KU has had their turns, as well.
The latest I read pointed out that Hampton has some pretty deep ties to the Memphis program and Penny Hardaway assistant coach Mike Miller. But there’s little doubt that Kansas can offer things that Memphis can’t, so it should be an interesting battle.
Hampton sent out a one-word Tweet on Tuesday, saying simply, “Decisions.”
As you might’ve expected, that set off a series of reactions from fans at all kinds of programs, including KU, trying to convince the young man to join their squad.
The most creative I saw pointed out what Hampton’s first name could stand for. It went something like this.
R – ockchalk J – ayhawk
His actions are worth tracking these days simply because he is an enormous talent and he could be a factor somewhere as soon as next season.
• Rayjon Tucker
This prolific scorer from UALR is one of the top grad transfers available according to most recruiting analysts and his list of suitors certainly suggests that.
Tucker, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound wing who originally hails from Charlotte, N.C., averaged 20 points and 7 rebounds a game while shooting 42 percent from 3-point range for UALR during the 2018-19 season.
The versatile guard who can play multiple positions started his career at Florida Gulf Coast playing under former Self assistant Joe Dooley.
According to multiple reports, Tucker, who has declared for the 2019 NBA draft, will make five visits before making his decision.
He checked out West Virginia first and was at Auburn last weekend. He plans to hit Memphis next and will also visit Iowa State and Kansas. His KU visit is slated for May 3.
I couldn’t find much about the West Virginia visit, but it’s clear that KU, Memphis and Iowa State have some work to do to move ahead of Auburn.
“Auburn is definitely more than I expected,” Tucker told Rivals site, AuburnSports.com, after his visit. “Auburn is definitely the place to beat.”
• Tristan Enaruna
As reported by KUsports.com recruiting insider Matt Scott a couple of weeks ago, Kansas, Creighton and Miami (Fla.) are the programs still alive for the rising wing’s services and his official visits to all three places will be behind him by the end of the week.
The 6-7, 205-pound wing will visit Miami today, is headed to Creighton on Friday and will visit KU on Sunday.
According to 247 Sports recruiting analyst Evan Daniels, Enaruna’s mother, Anneliese Breijer, will make the trip from Holland to join her son on all three visits.
Ranked No. 105 in the 2019 class by Rivals.com, Enaruna appears to be the type of player who could make a small impact right away but has serious long term potential.
His size, length and versatility would make him a good fit at Kansas, with the versatility that Self’s teams have recently employed, and Enaruna, who played his prep ball in Mount Pleasant, Utah, has seen both his stock and his game explode during the past couple of seasons, at both the prep level and on the international stage.
• Precious Achiuwa
No real news on the recruitment of Achiuwa, but I stumbled across this nugget the other day while looking at 2019 draft coverage online.
According to ESPN.com’s Jonathan Givony, Achiuwa is on pace to be a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Givony has the Montverde Academy star pegged to go No. 9 in the 2020 draft.
“Achiuwa is a hungry scorer who is aggressive attacking the rim in the open floor, pulling up off the dribble, shooting with his feet set and taking difficult shots from inside the arc,” Givony wrote in his breakdown of the 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward ranked No. 16 in the 2019 class by Rivals.com. “His ability to change speeds powerfully, finish above the rim and throw in jumpers is intriguing for a player his size, even if his tunnel-vision decision-making and shot selection still often leave a lot to be desired. Achiuwa also is a playmaker defensively who wows you at times with his versatility switching onto guards and protecting the rim. His feel for the game and overall consistency are still a major work in progress, though, and going to the right school will be paramount for him. Ultimately, his combination of tools and talent are just too tantalizing to not project as a lottery talent now.”
Monday’s news that junior center Udoka Azubuike planned to return to Kansas for his senior season was the best single bit of news the Jayhawks had received in quite a while.
Until then, most of the significant offseason, April news had been about guys leaving the program or choosing not to come altogether.
But Azubuike’s return stops that in its tracks and may very well wind up being the tipping point that sends the whole thing back in a more positive direction.
Commitments will follow. They have to. KU has at least three or four scholarships to hand out still — probably more — before they put a bow on the 2019 recruiting class. And while the commitments that lie ahead, whether they come in the next week or month, might not necessarily be the result of Azubuike’s decision to come back, his news certainly makes it easier for other guys to get on board.
With Azubuike, the Jayhawks are a Top 10 team again. Many college basketball analysts had Kansas flirting with that designation for next season even without Azubuike’s future fully decided. But now that we know he’ll be back, most have sent KU flying up the rankings as they look ahead to the 2019-20 season that’s still a more than five months away.
National writer Jeff Goodman, of The Stadium, redid his early 2019-20 rankings on Tuesday morning and plugged Kansas into the No. 3 spot, behind Michigan State and Duke and just ahead of Gonzaga and Oregon.
“There are plenty of question marks here regarding whether Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson and even Silvio De Sousa (pending an appeal) return,” Goodman wrote. “However, Bill Self got huge news when Udoka Azubuike decided to return for his senior campaign. Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot and David McCormack are also all back and my guess is the Jayhawks will add a couple more players whether it’s from the transfer wire or high school kids.”
With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the three most important things about Azubuike’s decision to come back.
Sure it’s always fun to have a familiar face and high-level play stick around your school for another season. And, yeah, Dok’s decision means there are a whole bunch of dunks in KU’s future again.
But there are other, much more important benefits of this news, as well.
Here’s a look.
1 – Kansas has a game-changing player again
Even with Dedric Lawson being as good as he was and putting up the numbers he did during the 2018-19 season, the Jayhawks were missing that type of unstoppable force that others simply could not handle.
Udoka Azubuike is that. And everyone knows it.
Forget about his well-documented struggles at the free throw line. There’s enough reason to believe that will get better — at least a little bit — and even if it doesn’t, Azubuike’s propensity for simply forcing other teams to foul — intentionally or otherwise — can put opponents in a tough spot.
Beyond that, Azubuike is the type of player who KU’s offensive players can throw the ball to whenever they’re in trouble.
Drive gets cut off and you’ve got nowhere to go? Toss it up to Azubuike and see if he can save the play.
Shot clock’s winding down and you haven’t been able to run anything that works? Force feed a pass to Udoka and see if he can bail out the bad possession.
Turn the corner and find an open path to the rim? Throw it high when the help defense comes and let Azubuike punish the rim and pump up the crowd.
All of that, and more, is now a regular part of game night again for the Jayhawks, who will benefit from the big man’s return in immeasurable ways during the next 11 months.
2 – The big man's presence makes life easier for others
In the first factor listed above, we went over a few ways that Azubuike’s teammates could get him the ball and make themselves — and the team — look good even when things weren’t going well.
But there are so many other ways that Azubuike’s mere presence on the floor makes life easier for his teammates, as well.
By far the biggest is how the attention that teams have to pay to Azubuike down low can open up space and shots for his teammates on the perimeter.
No team took better advantage of that the 2016-17 team that went to the Final Four and featured four elite shooters playing around the 7-foot Nigerian inside. And, no, the 2019-20 Kansas roster will not have the likes of Svi Mykhailiuk, Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick waiting to catch passes on the perimeter.
But Azubuike’s presence can give the players Kansas does have more time to get their shots off. And more time to shoot means better fundamentals, less stress and a higher percentage.
I can’t help but picture Devon Dotson in this scenario. Not exactly known as a great outside shooter — Dotson shot 36.3 percent (33 of 91) during his freshman season — Dotson’s percentage seemed to go up dramatically when he shot open 3-pointers and had time to set his feet, square his shoulders and release at the top of his jump.
He, along with Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, Christian Braun, Issac McBride and whatever other shooters Bill Self and company add to the roster in the coming weeks, should get a lot of shots where they can do just that next season.
3 – Azubuike’s return represents stability
Finally, more of a non-basketball benefit of Azubuike’s decision comes in the form of stability in the program.
And I’m not talking about Self and company knowing they have an anchor inside when they’re making up their lineups or brainstorming how they want to play.
I’m talking about perception, vibe and feel.
It’s no secret that the cloud surrounding the Kansas basketball program from the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball has had an affect on KU’s recruiting. Furthermore, the rumors of KU coach Bill Self leaving — which he squashed multiple times in the past few weeks — also have brought uncertainty to the program.
While concerns about the future or what’s ahead might not have been the primary reason for some of KU’s top targets picking other programs, there’s little doubt that they played a role in one way or another.
This could and should put an end to all of that.
If Azubuike were worried at all about what’s going to happen to the program or his head coach in the immediate future, would he be sticking around? Similarly, if suspended sophomore Silvio De Sousa were worried at all about KU’s immediate future, would he want to fight for his return to the program?
Yet, there they are; Azubuike already fully back in the fold and De Sousa promising to return if he wins his appeal with the NCAA.
That’s good news for Kansas, both in terms of the potential gains of having those two players in the lineup — I still can’t quite get over how dominant having those two out there could be — and the message it sends all other players who are considering signing with the program.
Virginia’s thrilling, overtime victory over Texas Tech in Monday night’s national championship game officially brought the curtain down on another season of college basketball.
I’m not sure we’ll ever get tired of telling the stories of the remarkable journey from first 1 seed to lose to a 16 one year and national champion the next, nor will we ever fully be able to comprehend exactly how the Cavaliers did it.
Facing win probabilities of 9 percent with 16 seconds to play in the Elite Eight against Purdue, 4 percent with 17 seconds left against Auburn in the Final Four and 11.7 percent with 22 seconds to play in the title game on Monday night, UVA somehow won all three games and claimed a remarkable national title.
The odds of winning all three of those backs-to-the-wall battles in consecutive rounds are an astonishing 1 in 2,500. And the Cavs did it. Hats off to them and the Red Raiders, who made a heck of a run and showed the college basketball world that there’s more in the Big 12 than just Kansas.
Having said that, with the world quickly shifting to the first glimpses of the 2019-20 season, it’s worth noting that Las Vegas odds have KU and Texas Tech as the two Big 12 teams with the best odds of winning the 2020 national title.
Neither are particularly good, either. KU and Tech are both listed as 30-1 favorites to win it all next season, with Texas, at 40-1 and Iowa State at 60-1 just behind them.
The six other Big 12 programs all have odds of 100-1 or worse, including 2019 co-champ K-State, which checks in at 500-1.
Rosters will change, time will pass and those numbers — along with all of the rest — will go up and down, down and back up in the next 11 months. And nothing will really matter until next March.
But in true end-of-season tradition, it’s time to take a quick look around the college basketball landscape to see where several national media outlets have the 2019-20 Jayhawks ranked entering the offseason.
I’ll be honest. When I started looking at these late Monday night, I was expecting Kansas to check in somewhere in the 17-23 range on most rankings. The fact that the Jayhawks were listed higher than that in all eight polls was somewhat surprising considering the roster is not anywhere close to set or complete.
The average KU ranking in the eight polls shown below is No. 11, with a high of No. 8 and a low of No. 14.
That early praise clearly speaks to the talent of the players expected to return and the faith that so many have in Bill Self and his coaching staff to not only put the right pieces together but also to coach them up once they’re on campus and in uniform.
Plenty of time to sort all of that out in the days, weeks and months ahead.
For now, here’s a quick glance at a few of those way-too-early Top 25 lists for the 2019-20 season, including KU's first-glance ranking and an explanation from each site about why they put the Jayhawks where they did.
KU’s ranking: No. 13
Why this high: "For the first time in 15 seasons, Bill Self is not coaching the defending Big 12 regular-season champions. Can the Jayhawks start a new streak next season? There are a lot of questions to be answered in Lawrence. Lagerald Vickis gone, Charlie Moore is gone, Dedric Lawson is likely gone, KJ Lawson is likely gone. What will Quentin Grimes and Udoka Azubuike decide to do? If both Grimes and Azubuike return, they will join high-level point guard Devon Dotson and part-time starters Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett and David McCormack."
KU’s ranking: No. 12
Why this high: "It’s hard imagine coach Bill Self is done roster-building with no signed impact recruits and so many players elsewhere lined up to transfer schools."
KU’s ranking: No. 8
Why this high: "There are plenty of question marks here regarding whether Quentin Grimes, Udoka Azubuike and even Silvio De Sousa (pending an appeal) return. However, Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot and David McCormack are all back."
KU's ranking: No. 14
Why this high: "To say this program is swirling in uncertainty is a vast understatement. Lawson and Grimes both have eligibility left, but from what I am hearing both are intent on entering the NBA Draft and staying there. Azubuike most likely will at least to test the waters. If he returns he will give the Jayhawks a badly needed anchor in the middle. Bill Self has yet to land a significant recruit, but KU is in the mix for several of the nation’s top unsigned prospects, most notably Matthew Hurt and Precious Achjiuwa. It is not clear just how much the program’s recruiting efforts are being impaired by the ongoing imbroglio with the NCAA stemming from the FBI’s investigation into college basketball, but it’s certainly not helping."
KU’s ranking: No. 11
Why this high: Although there’s no real blurb written, it’s worth noting here that Gary Parrish is taking into account the fact that he expects both Udoka Azubuike and Quentin Grimes to return to Kansas next season. I don’t see it — at all — but if they’re both back it’s easy to see how KU could have a Top 10-type team.
KU’s ranking: No. 12
Why this high: "Both Lawson brothers are out the door and Kansas’s season was weird as it was, but it's also getting a decent amount back. Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett should be back, and Quentin Grimes should probably stay. Although the Jayhawks' recruiting class looks underwhelming, this group should be expected to build on what was an uneven year overall. They may need a grad transfer or two to fill out the rotation."
KU’s ranking: No. 9
Why this high: No blurb given in this video breakdown of the Top 25, but there’s little doubt that Yahoo putting KU in its Top 10 is an indicator that they, too, are expecting the bulk of KU’s rotation — outside of Dedric Lawson — to return next season.
KU's ranking: No. 9
Why this high: "First-team All-American Dedric Lawson intends to keep his name in the NBA draft and that leaves coach Bill Self with a roster of youngsters that never fully developed this season.. Where it gets interesting is if 6-11 big man Udoka Azubuikecomes back for his senior campaign. That'd give Kansas a much-needed size. Quentin Grimes should break out as a sophomore."
It’s been on the schedule for a couple of years and was merely folded into the new initiative between the Big 12 Conference and the BIG EAST.
Still, next season’s KU-Villanova game in Philadelphia will be the headliner in the inaugural Big 12-BIG EAST battle, which will take place in December, with specific dates and times to be announced later.
The Big 12 Conference revealed the matchups for the rest of the challenge, which will feature all 10 Big 12 teams facing the top 10 teams in the BIG EAST, in the same way the Big 12 and SEC wage their challenge every season.
The matchups were jointly determined and include four games that were previously scheduled. According to a release announcing the pairings, the home school will have the right to determine the venue of its game, with broadcast rights of the games being determined by the home team in conjunction with the national television rights agreement in place for each conference.
The Big 12 television rights are controlled by ESPN and the BIG EAST’s men’s basketball television rights are controlled by FOX Sports.
The two conferences have signed a 4-year agreement, which will run through the 2022-23 season, with an equal number of games played in each conference’s home market each year.
The 2019-20 KU-Villanova matchup, slated to take place at Wells Fargo Center in Phily, is the second leg of a home-and-home series between the two college basketball powerhouses. Kansas won the first matchup this past season, 74-71, in a rematch of the 2018 Final Four battle and a meeting of two nationally ranked teams at Allen Fieldhouse.
Because that game was not part of the challenge, it’s conceivable that Villanova and Kansas could face off one more time in the second edition of the deal between the Big 12 and the BIG EAST. But no future matchups have been set at this time.
Here’s a look at the rest of the head-to-head games on tap for the 2019-20 season:
2019-20 Big 12/BIG EAST Scheduling Alliance Matchups
Butler at Baylor
Seton Hall at Iowa State
Kansa at Villanova^
Marquette at Kansas State^
Oklahoma at Creighton^
Georgetown at Oklahoma State
Xavier at TCU
Texas at Providence^
Texas Tech at DePaul
West Virginia at St John’s
^ = Pre-existing matchups