Friday, January 13, 2017

Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe officially joins Jayhawks

Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe made his commitment to Kansas official on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017.

Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe made his commitment to Kansas official on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017.


When it comes to recruiting, there are few things as valuable as making it official. And on Friday evening, that's exactly what the Kansas men's basketball team did with Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe.

Cunliffe, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound Seattle native who transferred from ASU after the first semester of his freshman season, officially joined the Jayhawks Thursday and is eligible to begin practicing with the team immediately.

He will sit out the upcoming semester and the first semester of the 2017-18 season and be eligible to compete for the Jayhawks one year from now.

KU coach Bill Self said the opportunity to add a player of Cunliffe's ability is great news for the Jayhawks both now and in the future.

"We'd seen Sam play in high school and thought he was a great prospect," Self said in a press release. "Sam is a guy that is very athletic and can really shoot the basketball. He will be a player that will impact our program the day he becomes eligible. A lot of people view the year sitting out as a negative, but I think Sam is looking at it as a positive — to come in here, get acclimated and practice against some really good players. He wants to get better and will have an impact on our program that enhances our opportunity to have a good team next year."

Cunliffe started all 10 games he played at Arizona State in the fall of 2016 and averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. He was 15-for-37 (40.5 percent) from 3-point range with five steals and three blocked shots. Cunliffe posted five games with 10 or more points, including a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds against The Citadel in November.

Once Cunliffe made the decision to leave ASU, the next step came down to two options.

"I knew I was going to either stay home and go to Seattle U. or go to a school like Kansas," Cunliffe said in the release. "I feel my brand of basketball is how they play at Kansas. They move the ball, under a great coach, and I will be able to play with guys who play at the highest level. I wanted to play somewhere where I could be comfortable and I got all that on my visit.

"I'm an unselfish player who wants to win," Cunliffe added. "I want to get better every day. I feel sitting out a year is good because I can just come in and not worry about playing, just worry about doing things the right way. I want to practice hard and make this team better. I want to make sure to pick stuff up so when I am ready, I can step right in."

Coming out of nationally-known Rainier Beach High in Seattle, Cunliffe was ranked No. 36 in the final 2016 ranking, No. 41 in the ESPN100 and No. 45 by

He averaged 21.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists his senior season at Rainier Beach and in 2016 led the Vikings to their fourth state title in five years as he was named Class 3A state tournament Most Valuable Player. Cunliffe was the Seattle Times 2016 Player of the Year in the state of Washington.

"We've recruited a lot kids out of Rainier Beach before and (KU assistant) Kurtis Townsend knows everybody up there," Self said.

Cunliffe transferred to Rainier Beach after his junior season, having played for Bishop Blanchet the previous two seasons. He averaged 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game during his junior campaign at Bishop Blanchet.

Cunliffe has seven sisters, including, Hannah, is a two-time track and field All-American at Oregon.

Originally a member of the 2016 recruiting class, Cunliffe's addition to a 2017 class that includes Dallas combo guard Marcus Garrett and Top 10 forward Billy Preston brings depth to an already good class.

Garrett, No. 37 according to Rivals, and Preston, No. 8, each signed their national letters of intent during the early signing period last November.


Robert Brock 5 years, 4 months ago

"I knew I was going to either stay home and go to Seattle U. or go to a school like Kansas..."

Wut? No good-quality player has gone to Seattle U. since Elgin Baylor.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 4 months ago

Good catch Brock.

Hard player to top: At Seatle U, Baylor became the primary show, putting up double-doubles that seem unfathomably impossible today: 53 points, 22 rebounds against Montana State; 60 points, 14 rebounds against the University of Portland; 43 points, 22 rebounds in a rematch with Portland; 42 points, 19 rebounds and 46 points, 30 rebounds in a pair against Gonzaga; 51 points, 37 rebounds against Pacific Lutheran.

Baylor finished 1957-58 with a 32.51 scoring average, second nationally to Oscar Robertson’s 34.76 and well ahead of Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged 30.1 for Kansas.

(After Baylor dropped 60 on Portland, its coach, Al Negratti, jokingly told Castellani, “John, we almost had you. If we could have held Baylor to 54 points, we’d have won.”)

Has there ever been 3 players of such quality (Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robinson and Wilt Chamberlain) to play in the NCAA at the same time?

John Randall 5 years, 4 months ago

Robert, you ignored the words 'home' and 'or' ... you may want to read your comment over again and retract it.

Kent Richardson 5 years, 4 months ago

1958 Consensus AA Team

Consensus First Team

Player Position Class Team

Elgin Baylor F Junior Seattle

Bob Boozer F Junior Kansas State

Wilt Chamberlain C Junior Kansas

Don Hennon G Junior Pittsburgh

Oscar Robertson G Sophomore Cincinnati

Guy Rodgers G Senior Temple

Kent Richardson 5 years, 4 months ago

To date KU has the most consensus AA's with 28. Last being T-Rob in 2012.

Kent Richardson 5 years, 4 months ago

John Wooden, who is important to KU fans this year, was asked who was the best HS player he ever saw. He said that Oscar was the most advanced HS player he ever saw. We know all about Wilt of course. Elgin Baylor was a tidy 6'5 235.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 4 months ago

Clearly, something wasn't right for this young man at ASU. By any measure, his first semester Freshman season was as total success on the court. What was going on off of it? Something.But who cares? Come to Kansas and become one of our star players. Only the best come to Kansas to see how much better they can become while wearing a target on night in, and night out.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 4 months ago

He was playing 25 minutes per game at ASU and his stats were all decent. 4.8 rebounds per game is a pretty good hustle stat so whatever led to his decision to leave wasn't an on the court issue. Whatever was the reason, glad he chose Kansas. He definitely has a lot of talent and is right in the mix being ranked #36. Marcus Garrett is ranked #37 and I think Vick's final ranking was in the mid-30s also. These are the players that usually stick around 3 to 4 years and make a solid impact on the program.

Mike Schell 5 years, 4 months ago

Sam is the real deal!! He has a documentary on YouTube called "Sam I am" I suggest the die hard ku fans watch it! It really shows his work ethic and his overall game! The kid has absolute bounce!!! He's explosive with a great jumper! He really will be an impact player at kansas, if you listen to the way he talked when he was interviewed during media day at ASU you can really tell that he didn't fit in with the team. It's all about chemistry on and off the court. That's something you can really tell that the Kansas players have it's a family atmosphere here and the players have a Brotherhood I think Sam will fit in nicely here! Rock chalk Jayhawk

Jason Roberts 5 years, 3 months ago

Excellent video. There are some very good teaching points that I will bring up to my kids.

KU's backcourt will be loaded with hard working SGs next year!

Dirk Medema 5 years, 4 months ago

Let's not forget the '17 class also includes Newman. That's really strong and will get even stronger after we win the NC and underclassmen declare prompting Young to commit.

Shannon Gustafson 5 years, 4 months ago

Here is a good article about Sam's transition from being an elite track star as a youth to basketball, growing up with 7 sisters, and some insight into his family. Gives you a good idea what sort of personality he and his father have:

Steve Zimmerman 5 years, 4 months ago

Welcome Sam! Looking forward to watching your explosiveness on TV!!

Steve Macy 5 years, 4 months ago

It will be interesting to see him work into the rotation while the season is in progress.
RCJH, it won't show up in recruiting stats, but this is a good get for Coach Self and KU.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 4 months ago

He will have a good head start as he can start practicing this semester and then in the fall. By then, I would think Coach Self will have a pretty good feel on how he will fit in. With Malik Newman, Marcus Garrett and now Cunliffe, that's an impressive class of recruits.

Eliott Reeder 5 years, 4 months ago

Sam Cunliffe, Rio Adams, Roderick Stewart, C.J. Giles.Interesting line-up of players all from Ranier Beach High.

Freddie Garza 5 years, 4 months ago

Kid looks really talented. Good size, really good ball handling skills, a nice stroke and a good distributor based on what I've seen. Defensively, I have no idea, but this is the staff to get the best out of him on that end of the floor.

Should be a solid contributor when he's eligible. I just hope is head is on straight.

Darold Whetzel 5 years, 4 months ago

If you knew Bobby Hurly you would probably have a pretty good idea why he left Arizona St. I have met Hurly and he is an obnoxious jerk. Maybe that is why he left.

Erich Hartmann 5 years, 4 months ago

Hey look, he has contributed at the Div.1 level. We know he can come in and easily provide Xavier Henry type stats, yet stay for multiple seasons, instead of being a OAD distraction.

Different discussion, but wish all "OADs" played as hard as JJackson, who is by far the best contributing OAD or frosh that Self has had at KU. No protecting the goods there...JJ isnt afraid of nuthin'.

Addison Hustedde 5 years, 4 months ago

The way I see it, these are the impact players I predict will be with us in the Fall of 2017:

Vick, Graham, Svi, Newman, Bragg will most likely stay, Udoka, Preston, Cunliffe, and Garrett.

That is a pretty nice lineup for Self. Udoka will be a strong post, with Preston also contributing very well being a versatile 6'10 forward. Add them with quick Graham and Svi and you got a solid offense.

Any predictions for the starting 5?

PG- Graham SG- Newman or Svi SF- Bragg and Cunliffe PF-Preston C- Udoka

What are your thoughts?

Jason Roberts 5 years, 3 months ago

Unless HCBS boots him from the team, I think Bragg will be the starting PF and Cunliffe will be the starting SF. If Svi has a great tournament run I have a feeling he will declare for the draft.

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