With family members surrounding him inside the Sunrise Christian Academy gymnasium, four-star Class of 2021 forward Zach Clemence made his commitment to Kansas official on Saturday morning by signing his national letter of intent.
"This day has been great so far," Clemence told Jacob Polacheck, a contributor to Zagsblog.com, who was at the Saturday morning signing. "Everything has happened just how I wanted it to."
Decked out in a blue KU hat and a black Kansas T-Shirt, Clemence signed on the dotted line and officially became the second new addition to the KU program this week.
He joined four-star Westlake High forward KJ Adams, who signed with the Jayhawks on Wednesday, the first day of college basketball's early signing period.
“We've got two versatile players in Zach and KJ,” KU coach Bill Self said in a news release announcing Clemence's signing. “Both will be very good players for us (and) they will be impact players for us immediately.”
Neither player will be on the roster until next season, but that versatility Self spoke of falls in line with some of his other recent signings, which have added long, athletic players who can play multiple positions to the KU roster.
Clemence is known mostly as a stretch 4 type of player, who has the ability to play down low because of his height but is just as comfortable playing — and especially shooting — on the perimeter.
“Zach is a 6-foot-10 youngster that can really shoot the ball,” Self said of the No. 29-ranked player in the nation per Rivals.com. “We haven’t had anybody here like Zach that is truly a 4 that can maybe be the best shooter in a game.”
Self praised the coaching Clemence has received throughout his prep career, calling him “very well drilled,” and saying that he sees him being able to play a number of different roles for the Jayhawks during his KU career.
“I anticipate him coming in and being able to play multiple positions on the perimeter and if we decide to go really small he would be a nightmare-type matchup for 5 men,” Self said. “He’s got a chance to be an impact player that we will be counting on for sure.”
It remains to be seen if Self will add to KU's 2021 recruiting class, which currently ranks 34th according to Rivals' team rankings.
Future decisions by KU seniors Marcus Garrett and Mitch Lightfoot, as well as the NCAA's decision on how to handle roster limits in the wake of the extra year of eligibility granted to all winter sports athletes because of the COVID-19 pandemic likely will play a role in whether Self adds another player or two or wraps up the class with Adams and Clemence.
Self said recently that the extended recruiting dead period, which has kept coaches from going on the road and prospects from visiting campus, has not hurt the program's efforts.
“I kind of like it,” he said of the virtual visits and world of Zoom-call recruiting. “I like the fact that you can get in front of families and (talk) face to face and have it be more than a phone call. I don't miss recruiting at all, but I miss the opportunity for families and kids to come to our campus.”
The Kansas men’s basketball coaches will conduct a virtual visit with four-star Class of 2021 big man Sam Ayomide Onu on Friday evening, reports Jake Weingarten of stockrisers.com.
The 6-foot-11, 255-pound center from Phelps School in Malvern, Pa., is expected to announce his six finalists on Sunday.
KU almost certainly will be one of them.
In addition to the virtual meeting with KU today, Ayomide Onu was expected to meet with Memphis coaches sometime Friday morning.
Ranked No. 103 in the 2021 class by Rivals.com, Ayomide Onu is known for his ability to dominate inside. However, he also moves well enough to fit into the way the modern game is played.
In a recent write-up about some of this summer’s standouts, Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi noted that Ayomide Onu “loves contact, attacks rebounds with both hands above the rim and makes the most of his offensive opportunities.”
“He looks like a multi-year starter for a high major program,” Bossi added.
In mid-September, in a breakdown of the updated positional rankings, Bossi highlighted Ayomide Onu as the center who is making waves on the national scene, saying, “He’s not trying to float around the perimeter, he just wants to rebound the ball, play tough defense, set crushing screens and then score around the rim when given the opportunity.”
Ayomide Onu’s stock is on the rise. After hovering around the No. 145 mark from January through August, the bruising big man jumped 43 spots in Rivals.com’s most recent rankings and is knocking on the door of becoming a Top-100 player overall. He also jumped several spots in the Rivals positional rankings, where he current projects as the 17th best center in the class.
In addition to KU and Memphis, Ayomide Onu also holds offers from Illinois, LSU, Providence, Seton Hall, TCU, Temple, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, VCU and Wake Forest.
According to Stockrisers, Ayomide Onu conducted virtual meetings with coaches from Illinois and Wake Forest earlier this week.
Originally slated to announce his college pick on Oct. 31, five-star, Class of 2021 point guard JD Davison has moved things up and instead will make his choice known this weekend, according to 247 Sports analyst Travis Branham.
Davison is now expected to reveal his decision on Saturday, and the No. 13-ranked player in the 2021 class per Rivals.com is choosing between Kansas, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Michigan and Memphis.
According to the Tipton Edits Twitter account, Saturday is also Davison's birthday.
Davison, who hails from Calhoun High in Letohatchee, Ala., trimmed his list to his final six in late August.
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Dan McDonald recently called the 6-foot-3, 180-pound lead guard “a highlight reel play waiting to happen,” and noted that Davison is “a threat to do something, from an athletic standpoint, that few others can, so you can’t take your eyes off of him.”
McDonald and Rivals.com’s Russ Wood both recorded FutureCast picks for Alabama on Thursday, and the in-state Crimson Tide have long been considered one of the leaders for Davison’s services. Auburn, another Alabama school, also has been a popular pick among prognosticators.
With that said, the 247 Crystal Ball predictions are currently empty for Davison.
No exact time has been given for Davison’s announcement on Saturday.
After being cut from his list of finalists a couple of weeks ago, the Kansas men’s basketball program returned to Class of 2022 point guard Skyy Clark’s top 10 earlier this week.
While most programs Clark dropped when announcing his final eight simply went away, the Kansas coaching staff stayed in touch and grabbed Clark’s attention by doing so.
“Even though they didn’t make the top eight, they went harder in recruiting me and that meant a lot to me,” Clark recently told JayhawkSlant.com. “A lot of schools I never heard from again, but Kansas turned it up a notch, which I loved. It showed me how they thought of me as a player and a person.”
KU and DePaul both were added to Clark’s list of finalists, bringing the total to 10 — KU, DePaul, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee State, UCLA and USC.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound guard who will attend Brentwood Academy in Nashville this season averaged 25 points and four assists per game as a sophomore at Heritage Christian in Los Angeles.
A five-star prospect ranked No. 16 overall in the 2022 recruiting class by Rivals.com, there is some talk in recruiting circles that he is considering reclassifying into the 2021 class.
The Jayhawks are still heavily pursuing at least two other top tier point guards in the 2021 class, Omaha’s Hunter Sallis (6-5, 175, ranked No. 11 per Rivals) and Alabama prep standout JD Davison (6-3, 175, No. 15).
New offer goes out
According to Rivals.com’s Corey Evans, Kansas on Thursday extended a scholarship offer to Class of 2022 point guard Kyle Cuffe Jr.
Cuffe announced the KU offer with a message on Twitter earlier this week.
Cuffe is a four-star prospect ranked No. 68 overall by Rivals. The 6-foot-2, 173-pound guard attends Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J., and currently has 16 offers, most of them coming from back east.
Pitt and St. John’s are believed to be the current leaders for Cuffe, whose father, Kyle Cuffe Sr., played at St. John’s in the early 2000s.
True big man in the mix
With the Jayhawks already holding commitments from athletic Class of 2021 players Zach Clemence and KJ Adams, the door is open for Kansas to add another player or two in the 2021 class.
KU would like to add a point guard as one of those pieces and might pursue size as well.
Class of 2021 center Sam Ayomide certainly would bring that to campus.
At 6-foot-11, 255 pounds, Ayomide is an athletic and powerful player near the basket.
Currently ranked No. 144 in the 2021 class, — up 21 spots from the last round of rankings — the three-star center holds 13 offers and is receiving more and more interest from major programs each week.
Included among the schools joining Kansas in offering Ayomide are: LSU, Illinois, Seton Hall, Wake Forest, TCU, Virginia Tech and Memphis.
Other names to watch as KU continues to explore the idea of adding size to the class are four-star Atlanta big man Daimion Collins (6-9, 205 No. 20) and four-star power forward Arthur Koluma (6-7, 200, No. 59) of Glendale, Ariz.
New to the game?
According to JayhawkSlant.com, the KU coaching staff conducted a Zoom call visit with 6-9, 190-pound small forward Langston Wilson of Georgia Highlands College in Rome, Ga., on Wednesday.
Now, because he did not play high school basketball, Wilson’s name is not one you’ll find on any of the recruiting rankings. But he has emerged as an intriguing prospect and attracted more than 40 scholarship offers because of his athleticism and natural ability.
Despite not playing in high school, Wilson told JayhawkSlant’s Shay Wildeboor that he landed a scholarship at Georgia Highlands after film of him playing pick-up ball made its way to the head coach’s office.
Wilson made the most of his first year of college ball. Not only did he find a way to play, but he also averaged 10.1 point and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Originally from Bonner-Prendie High in Philadelphia, Wilson, who graduated high school in 2018, slowly became an option for coaches at schools of all sizes.
One of his first offers came from Iona, now coached by Rick Pitino, and his first major offer came from Maryland in late May.
“Around June, it just went crazy,” he told Wildeboor. “I think in one day Wichita State, Oregon, Ole Miss, and a few others offered me. I had like five offers in one day. It was just ridiculous, and everything just started picking up, picking up, picking up and picking up.”
Late last week, his recruitment reached a level that included Kansas and KU coach Bill Self and assistant coach Jerrance Howard informed Wilson that KU wanted to offer him a scholarship.
“I was at a loss for words for a long period of time,” Wilson told Wildeboor. “I called my coach and had tears in my eyes. I called my dad and I was balling and crying after the scholarship offer from Kansas. Not just because of the school itself, but also because of the level of basketball and being recognized at that level.”
Wilson, who calls himself “a positionless forward who can do a bunch of different things,” told Wildeboor that he would like to take as many visits as possible if things ever open up to the point where visiting college campuses is allowed.
Class of 2021 shooting guard Tamar Bates, from nearby Piper High in Kansas City, Kan., sent out a message on social media on Wednesday that teased the potential end of his recruitment.
“Decision coming soon,” Bates wrote on Twitter.
To be thorough, a decision and an announcement are two different things, but the implication, both from the Tweet and those who have analyzed it, is that Bates is ready to make his college choice known.
We don’t know exactly what “soon” means, of course. So it could be this week, by the end of this month or sometime in early September.
We also don’t know which school Bates will pick yet, but there are a couple of different schools of thought on that.
Throughout the past several months, many have pegged Kansas as the likely landing spot for the 6-foot-5, 180-pound four-star talent.
The connection is obvious, given how close Bates grew up to KU’s campus. And his length and skill set fit in nicely with the players KU coach Bill Self and company have added to the roster in recent recruiting classes.
But in the past week, there has been a lot of talk about Bates eyeing Texas as his destination.
Three of Rivals.com’s FutureCast picks that were made this week went to the Longhorns, including two analysts who switched their pick from KU to UT.
Beyond that, over at 247 Sports, Bates’ to Texas is currently at 100% likely in their Crystal Ball predictions.
Anything can still happen, of course, but it seems like we’ll know the outcome sooner rather than later.
Bates, who will finish his prep career at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., this season, is ranked No. 83 overall by Rivals.com and No. 112 nationally by 247 Sports.
He trimmed his list to a top seven 10 days ago, with Alabama, Creighton, Iowa State, Missouri and Oregon joining Kansas and Texas on his list of finalists.
3:05 p.m. Update
Looks like "soon" means Friday, Aug. 28. Here's more from Rivals.com's Eric Bossi...
It was a busy week for point guards in the 2021 recruiting class, with one top prospect coming off the board and two others including Kansas while trimming their lists of finalists.
Nolan Hickman, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound from Wasatch Academy in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, committed to Kentucky on Saturday.
The four-star guard who is originally from the Seattle area, is ranked No. 76 overall in the 2021 class by Rivals.com and was also considering KU, Arizona and UCLA. His connection to Kentucky was not widely known until he pulled the trigger on his commitment.
Hickman became the first player in the 2021 class to commit to John Calipari’s Wildcats and, like always, UK figures to be in the mix for several other top targets as well.
One of them is five-star talent Hunter Sallis, from Omaha, Neb., who cut his list of suitors to 12 on Sunday evening.
Both Kansas and Kentucky are on the 12-school list, joining Michigan, Oregon, Gonzaga, North Carolina, Auburn, Iowa State, Alabama, Creighton, Louisville and UCLA.
Interestingly enough, the hometown Creighton Blue Jays made the most recent cut for the 6-5, 175-pound point guard from Omaha’s Millard North High while in-state Nebraska did not.
Rivals ranks Sallis No. 11 overall in the 2021 class, and he is listed as the No. 2 point guard in the class behind Sunrise Christian Academy’s Kennedy Chandler, who is ranked No. 10 overall and recently committed to Tennessee.
The Jayhawks area also still alive in the hunt for third-ranked point guard JD Davison (No. 15 overall), who trimmed his list to a final six last week — KU, Auburn, Alabama, Michigan, LSU and Memphis.
While the Jayhawks have added a bunch of versatile wing pieces in the past couple of classes — Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna, Tyon Grant-Foster, Bryce Thompson and K.J. Adams — the coaching staff continues to prioritize the point guard position in the 2021 class because of KU’s desired style of play.
KU coach Bill Self has always preferred to have multiple ball handlers on the floor at the same time, and that approach makes it entirely possible for the Jayhawks to keep two, three or even four true point guards on the roster at any given time.
Heading into the 2020-21 season, the Jayhawks have senior Marcus Garrett and redshirt freshman Dajuan Harris pencilled in as their top point guards.
Braun and Thompson also can initiate offense and handle the ball, but those two are equally as effective off the ball, as well.
Garrett’s departure following the 2020-21 season and the versatility of those other players would create plenty of opportunity for any incoming point guard to have an immediate impact at Kansas. That’s especially true for top-15 talents like Sallis and Davison.
Both recruitments are worth watching closely, both because of their elite talent and the fact that Sallis and Davison are just two of the five 2021 point guards still available on Rivals’ list of the top 25 point guards in the current recruiting class.
Twenty others already have given verbal commitments to their schools of choice.
Four-star prospects Carter Whitt (No. 10 point guard, No. 62 overall), Ty Ty Washington Jr. (No. 17 point guard, No. 99 overall) and Wade Taylor (No. 20 point guard, No. 111 overall) are the three other point guards who are undecided on Rivals’ list of the top 25 players at the position.
But, according to the Rivals database, KU is not currently listed as being involved with that trio.
Three Big 12 programs, including the University of Kansas, made the cut for four-star Class of 2021 guard Tamar Bates on Monday.
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard from nearby Piper High trimmed his list to a final seven that included KU, Iowa State and Texas along with Alabama, Creighton, Missouri and Oregon.
Bates, who is ranked No. 83 overall in the 2021 class per Rivals.com, will play his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
He currently is ranked one spot ahead of recent KU commitment K.J. Adams, who announced Kansas as his pick on July 31.
The Kansas Class 4A player of the year as a junior, Bates set school records with his 490 total points and a 21.3 points per game average.
He also averaged five rebounds, four assists and two steals per game.
Despite those numbers, Bates recently told Shay Wildeboor of JayhawkSlant.com that he was looking forward to facing a greater challenge his senior season.
“I definitely just wanted to get out and play against the best competition,” Bates said. “I want to get better and do what I can do to best prepare myself for my freshman year of college. It’s hard to simulate the competition, the workouts, and the work you put in at a prep school than I would have had at Piper. I just wanted to go somewhere where the school could help me as much as I could help them. I want to show people that I don’t just play at a high level against where I’m at in Kansas, but that I can play at a high level against anybody in the country.”
Four-star forward and current Kansas basketball target K.J. Adams is expected to announce his college of choice at 6 p.m. on Friday evening, according to 247 Sports recruiting analyst Brian Snow.
A 6-foot-6, 220-pound power forward from Westlake High in Austin, Texas, Adams narrowed his list to a final 10 in May and appears to be ready to pick one. His list includes Arkansas, Baylor, Georgetown, Iona, Iowa, KU, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Central Florida.
Ranked No. 83 overall in the class of 2021 rankings by Rivals.com, Adams to Kansas has picked up some momentum this week.
All six of the Crystal Ball picks registered for Adams on the 247 Sports network belong to KU, including one from Snow.
Adams is ranked No. 73 overall in the class by 247 Sports’ composite rankings and is pegged as the 16th best power forward available and the sixth best 2021 prospect in Texas.
According to 247 Sports’ Dushawn London, the athletic and versatile Adams already has taken visits to Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor. But Adams noted in London’s July 19 report that he did not feel that visiting a school was necessary for him to commit.
“Family oriented and consistency will be the things I use to start to narrow down my list.” Adams told London. “If coaches are keeping the consistency in recruiting me and the same game plan they had when they first started recruiting me then I’ll probably end up going to their school.”
As for where he might fit in college, Adams told London that half of the programs pursuing him envision him playing small forward and the other half picture him at the 4. However, with the game headed to more four-guard lineups and with Kansas using more stretch 4 players during recent years, Adams likely would have a variety of different paths to playing time at KU.
According to Snow, Adams “is known for his toughness and ability to rebound at his size,” and has been “a very consistent producer” throughout his high school career.
Snow projects Adams to be a four-year player in college and other analysts throughout the recruiting scene have noted how strong Adams is around the rim and how hard he runs the floor in transition. Video highlights also show that Adams has a reliable mid-range jump shot that can extend out to the 3-point line.
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.
Four-star shooting guard Matthew Cleveland, of Pace Academy in Atlanta, announced on Twitter on Tuesday that he was headed to Florida State.
Kansas had been one of the final five schools — along with FSU, Michigan, Stanford and North Carolina State — vying for Cleveland’s services, but the Seminoles won out.
As is typical of these announcement videos, Cleveland thanked his coaches, family, friends and trainers, along with everyone who recruited him, before walking into an empty gym to unveil the Florida State gear underneath his sweatshirt.
As he walked into the picture, his parents flanked him, wearing FSU shirts of their own.
Ranked No. 25 in the 2021 class by Rivals.com, Cleveland is a 6-foot-6, 190-pound shooting guard who figures to bring good size and versatility to the Seminoles’ backcourt for the 2021-22 season.
Meanwhile, KU remains at one commitment in the 2021 class, with four-star forward Zach Clemence (No. 29 in the 2021 Rivals rankings) having committed to Kansas back in May.
The Jayhawks remain in the hunt for several four- and five-star prospects in the 2021 class, including Top 15 point guards JD Davison and Hunter Sallis.
KU is also pursuing three-star prospect Jordan Riley, a 6-3, 195-pound combo guard from Brentwood, N.Y., who is expected to make his college announcement on Friday morning.