With a Monday commitment from junior college guard Tyon Grant-Foster getting the Kansas basketball program on the board in the 2020 recruiting class, the Jayhawks now turn their attention to a Thursday announcement from another prospect.
Five-star power forward Isaiah Todd is expected to announce his choice between KU and Michigan sometime Thursday, which is also his 18th birthday.
Todd, who is ranked No. 10 overall in the 2020 class by Rivals.com, is a 6-foot-10, 210-pound forward from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C. He trimmed his list to a final two on Oct. 7, when he cut Kentucky, Memphis and North Carolina from his group of finalists.
After competing at the USA Basketball minicamp last weekend, Todd sat down with recruiting analyst Corey Evans, of Rivals.com, to discuss his top two programs in detail.
Evans calls Todd, “a game-changing prospect that can work in a variety of systems and boasts the physical dimensions that will soon make an NBA Draft prospect.”
And while there has been a lot of talk of Todd skipping college and going the professional route overseas like R.J. Hampton did in New Zealand, some analysts believe that college is still very much in play for the talented big man.
While the commitment, to either program, is a key first step in landing him, whichever school Todd picks on Thursday will likely have to sweat out the overseas stuff all the way to the end.
For now, though, let’s focus on the decision.
Here’s a quick look at some of what Todd had to say about Kansas in the recent interview with Evans.
• Why did KU and Michigan make it to the end?
“These two schools, they were going to be my top two schools because they are really similar with what they are preaching and what they are selling to me. I like both coaches, both programs and both teams. Based on both of those visits, I still feel the same about both schools so it is going to be a tough choice.”
• How did your visit to KU for Late Night go?
“I was just excited to get there since they have been recruiting me since the beginning of my freshman year, and everybody just talks about the Kansas visit, especially Late Night. I was just excited to see the facilities that I heard so much about.”
• Any concern about the NCAA allegations against Kansas?
"(Self) just preached that he would be fine and if anything were to happen, that I would be fine. I honestly think that it could turn around and be a positive. If I was to go there, it would show that I really trust him and that he would obviously trust me."
According to Evans, Todd is unsure about whether he will sign a letter of intent during the early signing period that runs Nov. 13-20 or wait until the regular period next spring.
He told Evans his decision likely would come down to his final conversations with his family, particularly his mother.
KU basketball notebook: Vitale has Kansas at No. 1, Dotson on watch list and a recruiting decision coming?
The No. 1 team in college basketball resides in Lawrence, according to longtime ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale.
Vitale, who is set to begin his 41st season of calling college basketball games, on Monday released his Top 40 preseason rankings and had the Jayhawks on top.
“Bill Self has paid attention this offseason to an NCAA letter of allegations, and now Self is concentrating on competing for a second national title in Lawrence,” Vitale wrote next to KU’s position as his top team in the country entering the 2019-20 season. “Self was happy to have Udoka Azubuike return and if he stays healthy, watch out as the new rules should allow him more freedom in the paint. Devon Dotson will have more responsibility in the offense. It will be interesting to see how Silvio De Sousa contributes in his return.”
Self's Jayhawks consistently have been ranked in the top two or three by most national publications throughout the offseason and also have been the pick of many as the heavy favorite to win the Big 12 Conference.
Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke and Louisville rounded up Vitale’s preseason Top 5, and the Jayhawks could face two of those four programs in the first month of the season.
KU will open the regular season on Nov. 5 against Duke in the Champions Classic in New York. And KU and Michigan State are on opposite sides of the bracket in the Maui Invitation and could meet three weeks later if both reach the title game in Hawaii.
If you count Michigan State, KU’s schedule features 11 games against the Top 40 teams on Vitale’s preseason list.
Dotson on watch list
Kansas guard Devon Dotson has been named one of 20 watch list candidates to the 2020 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Monday.
This is the second straight year Dotson has been named to the award’s watch list, and he is looking to become the second Jayhawk to win the Cousy Award after Frank Mason III claimed the honor in 2017.
Dotson enters his second year as KU’s starting point guard on the heels of a strong freshman season that left him in the top 10 on several KU freshman lists. He was seventh in points (442), ninth in scoring average (12.3 ppg), tied for fifth in assists (127), seventh in steals (49), third in free throws made (115), eighth in free throw percentage (78.2), second in minutes played (1,168) and tied for second in games started (36).
Dotson is one of two Big 12 student-athletes on the 2020 Cousy Award watch list, along with Texas Tech’s Davide Moretti.
Thompson decision nearing?
With a visit to Oklahoma on the schedule this weekend and the Nov. 13 signing period nearing, five-star prospect Bryce Thompson, of Booker T. Washington High in Tulsa, Okla., is closing in on a decision.
Thompson, who visited KU the weekend of Late Night, is down to a final seven that includes KU, OU, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Texas and Michigan State.
He already has made official visits to KU, UNC, Texas and Oklahoma State this fall and plans to get serious about his choices next week.
“After the Oklahoma visit I will sit down with my family, we will go through the pros and cons of each school, see where I fit and see where I can contribute as a freshman and can win,” the 6-foot-4 shooting guard told 247sports.com at last weekend’s USA Basketball minicamp in Colorado Springs.
Thompson is ranked No. 19 in the 2020 class per Rivals.com.
KU also is awaiting a final decision from fellow five-star prospect Isaiah Todd, who is down to Kansas and Michigan and is expected to announce his choice on Thursday, his 18th birthday.
Todd, a 6-10 power forward from Raleigh, N.C., is ranked No. 10 in the 2020 class by Rivals.
The Kansas basketball program picked up its first commitment in the 2020 recruiting class on Monday morning, when Tyon Grant-Foster officially announced his pick for KU on Twitter.
The 6-foot-7, 187-pound guard from Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa, was in Lawrence for an official visit over the weekend and that was all he needed to make his decision.
Grant-Foster, a native of Kansas City, Kan., told the Journal-World during a Monday morning phone conversation that he made up his mind and told KU coach Bill Self about his decision on Saturday afternoon.
“I just felt like it was the best timing,” he said. “I felt like I would have the same opportunities at other schools, but if I can get this opportunity and I can do it at home, close to where I’m from, that’s a blessing. It would be a real bad idea if I turned it down.”
In 32 games with IHCC as a freshman, Grant-Foster made five starts, played significant minutes and had a strong second half of the season to finish with averages of 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
With his length, athleticism and versatility, Grant-Foster fits the mold of recent KU signees Tristan Enaruna, Jalen Wilson and Christian Braun, players who can play multiple positions and be used in a variety of ways.
The preseason juco All-American who also had offers from Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa State, Kansas State, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma State, Oregon, SMU, Texas and more, said Self and company told him he could play any of the three guard positions at Kansas.
Asked if he had a preference, Grant-Foster said he would pick the 2 if he had to decide. But he added that he also had been working on his point guard skills during the past several months, hoping to become good enough on the ball to open up even more possibilities down the road.
Indian Hills has a true point guard, but Grant-Foster said he was one of the team’s primary ball handlers. He said the way the Warriors run their offense is “exactly” like KU, with multiple ball handlers on the floor at the same time.
Another major factor in Grant-Foster’s decision to pick Kansas was his relationship with KU assistant coach Jerrance Howard. Not only did Grant-Foster and Howard form an immediate bond, but the juco guard also said seeing Howard’s connection to his entire family was fun to watch.
“I feel like I can really relate to coach,” Grant-Foster said of Howard. “Coming from where he came from and coming from where I come from, we connected right off the bat. Say we’re at practice or I had a bad day, I can go talk to him about anything because I can relate to him so well. My relationship with Coach Howard was huge.”
Grant-Foster said his two younger brothers, 15-year-old Trayvon and 16-year-old Trayon, are both good players at KC Washington High and he hopes they one day will follow him to Kansas.
Making this decision for them and for other young players in KCK high schools was also on Grant-Foster’s mind.
“It was really important,” he said. “It shows everybody if you just stick to your dream and work hard, you can make it come true no matter what. So I feel like I’m going to be a real great role model for them.”
When asked if he planned to make his commitment official when the early signing period arrives on Nov. 13, Grant-Foster said, “Oh yeah.”
As for the looming NCAA allegations against KU, Grant-Foster said he and his family asked about the situation during his visit. What he heard in response from the Kansas coaches put his mind at ease.
“They were totally honest about it,” he said. “Coach Self said he was going to take care of it, and I’m not worried really at all. I just want to hoop.”
Grant-Foster is the first player in the 2020 class to commit to Kansas. With three seniors on the current roster, one open scholarship and the potential for early departures after the 2019-20 season, the Jayhawks could look to sign as many as four or five players in the 2020 class.
Late Night visitor Davion Bradford has pegged Friday as decision day.
Three days after attending KU’s annual season tipoff event at Allen Fieldhouse, the 7-foot center from St. Louis announced on Twitter that he would announce his college choice at 5 p.m. Friday.
Bradford is a three-star prospect ranked No. 133 overall in the 2020 class by Rivals.com.
As a junior, Bradford attended Mehlville High in St. Louis and played last summer with the MOKAN AAU program. Prior to that, Bradford played for two other high schools, starting at Christian Brothers College High in St. Louis and transferring to Hillcrest Prep in Arizona for his sophomore season.
Today, a little more than a year after his mother died in a car accident, he’s back at Mehlville for the second season in a row and has zeroed in on several area programs for his potential college destination.
Four Rivals.com analysts, including Eric Bossi, logged their picks for Kansas State on Monday. Bradford also has been tied to Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma State and Tulsa throughout his recruitment.
Five-star power forward Isaiah Todd on Monday morning narrowed his list from a final five to a top two, keeping Kansas in the mix along with Michigan.
The 6-foot-10, 210-pound Todd, who hails from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C., revealed his two finalists in a Tweet early Monday and said he would pick between KU and Michigan on Oct. 17, which also is his 18th birthday.
Todd, who is ranked No. 10 overall in the 2020 class by Rivals.com, eliminated North Carolina, Kentucky and Memphis from his list.
“I liked all of the schools but Michigan and Kansas are the two schools that have really been standing out for me,” Todd told Jason Jordan of USA Today High School Sports. “I’ve gotten close with Coach (Bill) Self and Coach (Juwan) Howard and I know they can really help me take my game to the next level.”
It has been rumored that Todd, like former KU target R.J. Hampton, might consider going overseas to play instead of heading to college. But all of his attention today appears to be on his college decision.
“It’s going to be very tough because both schools have great coaches, great opportunity and have great programs,” Todd told Jordan. “It really comes down to the details now. I’ve got a little over a week to get my thoughts together and make my mind up.”
Todd, who averaged 28 points and 15 rebounds a game as a junior, will attend USA Basketball’s junior minicamp in Colorado Springs this weekend. He visited Michigan the last weekend of September.
The earliest Todd could make any commitment official is Nov. 13, the start of this year’s early signing period, which runs through Nov. 20.
It's worth noting that Rivals.com recruiting analyst Corey Evans on Sunday logged his pick for Todd's choice to Kansas.
Class of 2020 power forward Isaiah Todd was in Lawrence over the weekend for Late Night and now plans to narrow his list of finalists to two sometime Monday.
I think not.
The guess here is that KU will make the final two for Todd, the 6-foot-10, 200-pound, five-star forward from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C.
Where things go from here, and which of his four other finalists will crack the final two, is anyone’s guess, but you can’t be the school of choice without making the top two.
The No. 10-ranked player in the 2020 class per Rivals.com is down to KU, Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina and Memphis.
He visited Michigan a week ago, was in Lawrence over the weekend and also has made several trips to Carolina during the past 12 months.
Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi wrote recently that Todd is in no rush to make a decision and added the talented forward who sat right behind the KU bench for the featured acts at Late Night on Friday “is another player with speculation about the possibility he may end up overseas” like R.J. Hampton recently did.
Todd Tweeted on Sunday evening that he would be revealing his “TOP 2” on Monday but gave no further details.
The news is likely to drop sometime in the afternoon and if there’s any connection to Todd’s KU visit and the timing of the announcement, Kansas fans should feel pretty good about where the Jayhawks sit.
We’ll know soon enough. But it still could be several weeks before Todd makes his final choice known.
You can cross one top prospect off of the Late Night guest list for Friday night.
Class of 2020 power forward JT Thor, who had reclassified back into his original 2020 class after a brief move to 2021, is no longer making the trip, according to Rivals.com's Corey Evans.
Thor, a 6-foot-8, 190-pound athletic big man from Norcross, Ga., trimmed his list to a final five of Kansas, Georgia, Oklahoma State, UCLA and Kentucky about a month ago and already has made official visits to Georgia and Oklahoma State.
There has been no word yet on whether Thor has removed Kansas from his list of finalist or simply plans to reschedule his visit for a later time. What we do know, though, is he won't be there on Friday night.
While the absence of a Top 50-type player like Thor will always be noticed at any recruiting event by any program, it hardly means KU will be struggling to find prospects to entertain.
More than a dozen other top talents from the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes — including KU commitment Tre White in the Class of 2022 and top target Bryce Thompson from 2020 — are still scheduled to attend Late Night, which will be headlined by Snoop Dogg and, of course, will feature the first full look at the 2019-20 Jayhawks, who will enter the season ranked among the top two or three teams in the country.
Five-star Class of 2020 point guard Caleb Love on Wednesday trimmed his list of finalists to two — Missouri and North Carolina — and called off scheduled visits to Kansas and Louisville.
Evan Daniels, of 247 Sports, first reported the news and it should not come as a surprise to Kansas fans.
While Love was scheduled to visit KU the weekend of Oct. 11 — rescheduled from earlier this month because of a schedule conflict with USA Basketball — everyone I talked to in recruiting circles in recent weeks seemed to think there was next to no chance that the 6-foot-3, 175-pound point guard from Christian Brothers College High in St. Louis was coming to Kansas.
The No. 21-ranked prospect in the Rivals.com 2020 class has long been tied to Missouri, both because of the Tigers’ proximity to his hometown and his relationship with MU coach Cuonzo Martin. But it appears his visit to North Carolina last weekend really got things moving toward a final decision.
As of Sept. 17, in an interview with Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi, Love said he expected things to become clearer after he took “all of these visits.” At that time, the expectation was that he would visit all four of his finalists (he had already made an unofficial visit to KU this summer) and then make a decision, perhaps as soon as the November signing period.
But then the trip to UNC happened and Love cancelled his visits to KU and Louisville and trimmed his list to a final two. You’d have to be blind not to see how good that looks for the Tar Heels.
There will be some speculation that Love made the decision to cut Kansas in reaction to this week’s Notice of Allegations news, but I don’t think that’s the case here. I think this was coming the minute he made the trip to Carolina and I’d be surprised if the five-star point guard does not end up playing for Roy Williams next season.
Wrote Daniels of Love’s skill set: “Love can play either guard spot and shows significant potential on the defensive end. A score-first point guard, he has the ability to put his team on his back as a bucket getter or a facilitator. Right now, he is more comfortable taking shots than setting up teammates, but his passing has improved and he is doing a better job of running a team. Ultimately, it comes down to Love’s ability to run a team at the college level and beyond, but there is no doubt he can score.”
Class of 2022 small forward and Kansas commitment, Tre White, received a visit from KU assistant coach Jerrance Howard on Tuesday, one day after the program received a highly public notice of allegations from the NCAA.
White, who currently is the lone prospect committed to KU in future classes, posted a photo of Howard’s visit to his Instagram account with the caption “Family showing love,” written below a picture of White and Howard in the gym.
Reached by the Journal-World on Tuesday night, White said the visit from Howard “meant a lot” and he added that he was still solidly committed to Kansas.
“I tried not to listen to everything,” White told the Journal-World of the reaction to Monday’s news. “But it’s all good, man. I love Kansas. It’s a dream. My relationship with the coaches is crazy. It really is a family. I said family on Instagram, but it really is family. I don’t know how to explain it, but I knew everything was all right.”
White, who recently jumped into the No. 10 slot in the updated 247 Sports rankings for the Class of 2022, also revealed Tuesday night that he had made plans to make an unofficial visit to KU for Late Night in the Phog next Friday.
“I want to go,” White said with growing enthusiasm. “I’m going. I’ve always wanted to go.”
One reason for his desire to see KU’s season tip-off extravaganza in person is the recommendation of a former high school teammate who nearly came to KU himself.
“R.J. Hampton’s like a big brother to me,” said White of the former five-star prospect who chose a pro contract in New Zealand over Kansas and college earlier this year. “He texts me every day, making sure I’m in the gym and eating right, and he said I’ve got to go to that if I ever get the chance. He said that about a year ago and it’s finally right around the corner.”
With recruiting still in a live period, White said his team’s preseason conditioning sessions were drawing about five college coaches per day to watch the various prospects on White’s Cornerstone High squad in San Antonio. He also said none of the coaches had really spoken to him.
The young and still-growing forward, who said he recently measured 6-foot-6, 200 pounds and also is a straight-A student, said he had started to realized more and more in the months since his commitment in June just how big his commitment to KU was to others.
“It still hasn’t sunk in all the way, but it’s starting to,” he said. “I’m starting to grow a little bit, with the people and everything. I’m getting a lot more questions and a lot more fans so it’s starting to sink in.”
Thursday night, Class of 2020 KU target Bryce Thompson released his first official list of finalists and the Jayhawks made the cut as one of his seven programs still standing.
Thompson, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound shooting guard from Booker T. Washington High in Tulsa, Okla., is ranked 18th nationally by Rivals.com and is a five-star prospect who absolutely blew up this summer.
Kansas coach Bill Self and his staff have long treated Thompson as one of their top priorities in the 2020 class. But after another stellar summer in which he showed off his versatility, smooth scoring ability and ever-expanding athleticism, Thompson both jumped in the Rivals rankings and began to draw interest from more of the top programs in college basketball.
Those programs still in the running for Thompson are: in-state schools Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, perennial powers North Carolina and Michigan State and far-but-not-too-far programs Arkansas and Texas.
According to Rivals.com’s Corey Evans, Texas Tech may still be in the mix, as well. But the graphic that Thompson Tweeted out on Thursday night only featured those previous six and Kansas.
Although a date for Thompson’s final decision remains in the distance, the dynamic scorer has started to sort out his official visits and will get things started this weekend in Austin, Texas.
After that, Thompson will head to UNC the weekend of Sept. 6 — according to Evans, he’ll be the Tar Heels’ only official visitor at that time — and follow that up with a visit to Kansas on Oct. 4 (in time for Late Night) and a trip to Michigan State on Oct. 25, when the Spartans host their own version of Late Night.
Those dates, as long as they hold, would leave Thompson with the option of taking one more official visit to either OU, OSU or Arkansas.
Evans reported that Thompson and his family would like to have all of the official visits wrapped up by November and while that certainly suggests that a decision could be coming in time for the early signing period, which opens Nov. 13 and runs through Nov. 20, no one in Thompson’s camp has publicly said that he will sign early.