Wednesday, April 7, 2021

KU basketball lands former Drake guard Joseph Yesufu

Drake's Joseph Yesufu celebrates late in the second half of a First Four game against Wichita State in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Thursday, March 18, 2021, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. Drake won 53-52. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)

Drake's Joseph Yesufu celebrates late in the second half of a First Four game against Wichita State in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Thursday, March 18, 2021, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. Drake won 53-52. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)


The Kansas men’s basketball program once again has all of its scholarships currently spoken for, thanks to a Wednesday commitment from Drake transfer Joseph Yesufu.

A 6-foot, 180-pound, sophomore point guard originally from Chicago, Yesufu announced his commitment to KU on Twitter, just after noon on Wednesday.

By Wednesday evening, Yesufu told the Journal-World that his new reality had yet to sink in.

“This still feels like a dream,” he said. “I was recruited, but I wasn’t like that top prospect, and I just feel blessed. God got me to this point and I just have to continue to do the work.”

This season for the Bulldogs, Yesufu averaged 12.8 points per game, 1.8 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game in 31 games after appearing in just 13 games as a freshman in 2019-20.

He came off the bench in Drake’s first 24 games this season but finished as a starter, averaging 23.2 points per game over the final nine games of the season. That included four postseason games — two in the NCAA Tournament — and five of the final nine games with at least four made 3-pointers.

He shot 38.4% from 3-point range for the season and 48% from the field and 81.2% at the free throw line.

Yesufu topped the 30-point mark in both of Drake’s games against Evansville this season, scoring a career-high 36 points in the second meeting between the schools. In a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to USC, he knocked down a career-high six 3-pointers, which merely added to the experience of playing in the Big Dance.

“I’ve been dreaming about that since I was a little kid, making it to the tournament,” he said. “Just being there, being in that atmosphere and getting to play, is nothing but blessings. Coming to Kansas, I’m looking forward to getting to that same stage and winning a national title.”

Yesufu’s surname is Nigerian and he said he was aware of the connections to his father’s home country that Jayhawks Ochai Agbaji and Udoka Azubuike have.

Although he has not yet talked to either player about their experiences at Kansas — or their Nigerian roots — Yesufu said one of the things that attracted him to Kansas was the family atmosphere.

Another was KU’s head coach Bill Self and his vision for his new point guard.

“I know he's going to constantly push us to be a better, because, ultimately, we're trying to win a national title,” Yesufu said. “He wants me to bring toughness and leadership to the team. Being from Chicago, we pride ourselves on our toughness, our defense and just the way we play. We’re really just hungry.”

Yesufu played high school ball at Bolingbrook (Ill.) High and was a part of the MeanStreets AAU program.

Because of the NCAA’s decision to provide players with an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yesufu comes to Kansas with three years of eligibility remaining. He’ll compete for KU next season as a sophomore and plans to wear No. 1 for the Jayhawks.

In his commitment message on Twitter, Yesufu thanked his coaches, friends and family and also thanked the Drake basketball program for making him a better player and person.

He added that he “can’t wait to be part of this special program so we can make the fans proud.”

“I’m very excited,” he emphasized Wednesday evening. “I’m ready to get to work with the team and just be part of the family.”

Self and Kanasas remain in the running for a couple of other impact additions this offseason, most notably prep guard Ty Ty Washington and Creighton transfer Christian Bishop. Self said Wednesday that the rules for current players announcing whether they'll stay in school or stay in the draft leave open the possibility that Kansas could see another departure or two in the coming weeks.

He said he expected both senior Marcus Garrett and junior Ochai Agbaji to test their draft stock and get feedback from NBA brass and that he would not base any of his recruiting efforts on what they are or are not doing.

"I think you try to get as good as you can and those would be additions," Self said Wednesday.

None by Joe Yesufu


Dale Stringer 1 year, 5 months ago

Looks like Braun better step up his game if he still wants to be a starter.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 5 months ago

Sounds like a very good addition to the team!

Welcome to the Kansas family Joseph

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 5 months ago

With the addition of Joseph, Kansas would appear to be at it's scholarship limit for next season assuming the return of Ochai, J Wil, DMac, Dajaun, Braun, Bryce, and Jossell

So in order to add another commitment after Joseph someone else will have to free up a scholarship.

The newcomers: Joseph, Cam, Pettiford, Curry, Clemence, and Adams

Keith Gellar 1 year, 5 months ago

how does this impact TyTys recruitment?

Glen Miller 1 year, 5 months ago

I've seen and read that we are a long shot to land him. Looks like it will be Illinois or Kentucky.

Kenneth Johnson 1 year, 5 months ago

I'm a KU grad and live in Des Moines, so had the opportunity to see Yesufu play at Drake. He started the year as the 6th man, backup to Drake's starting point guard Roman Penn. After Penn incurred a season-ending injury, Yesufu took over and did a fantastic job of leading Drake to the NCAA tourney.

He will be a great addition to the Jayhawks.

Kenn Johnson, Ph.D., (KU MS ’70) Author of Kansas University Basketball Legends (2013) and More University of Kansas Basketball Legends (2014), both published by The History Press, and available at KU Bookstores and Amazon.

David Atchley 1 year, 5 months ago

This article from earlier today at 247Sports shows Kansas still in the mix for Forward Stanley Umade from South Dakota and Forward Christian Bishop from Creighton

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 5 months ago

Umude would be a great pick. He looks really fluid, can create his own shots, and does not look fear taking them at all. We want this kind of player. A very solid skill. No need training. Our player skills development coach sucks anyway.

Blake Brown 1 year, 5 months ago

Perhaps this explains why we did not get McKissic or some of the others being recruited who committed elsewhere. I liked what I saw of him in the tourney. He's got size, is very athletic and court savvy,

Ted Hume 1 year, 5 months ago

this looks like a pure "we need to be more like Baylor: tough as nails, agressive, small guards that can get after it and shoot 3s with confidence" Can't argue with the results there. He just looks a bit underwhelming and slow-ish athletically from the eye test, but maybe that's just because he's so wide...

Charlie Gaughn 1 year, 5 months ago

If he can put the ball in the basket we want him!

Ted Hume 1 year, 5 months ago

But hey it did work for Baylor- not a lot of size from those 3 star guards, but wow. When will we ever see 4 starters who average in the 40s from 3 on the same power-5 roster again? That was sick. An anomaly I hope...

Bville Hawk 1 year, 5 months ago

Baylor has at least 4 guards on their roster that are better than our best. Mitchell is like Marcus Garrett on steroids. Baylor doesn't ask their bigs to do anything except play D, rebound, dunk, and set picks.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

David needs to go into Self's office every morning and ask: Can you hire Danny Manning? I want to be great.

Brian Skelly 1 year, 5 months ago

Im a KU grad, but have a lot of connections with friends and business that are MVC school fans/alums.    This guy can play.    Have no idea if he'll be a star,  but after seeing him in the MVC tournament and the NCAA's,  he's going to make some level of impact almost assuredly.

It's an odd season of course, but the direction things are heading SEEM like it's going to be a situation where more and more P5 schools go after transfers.     Unless your bringing in high end freshman prospects, this might be the way more schools go.    Not saying that's good or bad, but it's happening.

Ted Hume 1 year, 5 months ago

no joke bville, that was a once-in-a-generation backcourt BU put together, that sure takes pressure off the typical "bigs" in such a system. It will be interesting to see what kind of Frankenstein rotation Bill puts in place to make the most of his new roster.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 5 months ago

Mkay, we either get a big, or a shortie. But looking at how Yesufu played last season.. A gutsy player - I like him already. This kind of player is what KU needs. With guts, with fire, with hops, with bounces. This kid has it all. He can shoot, he can pass, he can score, 2pt, 3pt, he can even DUNK!!!! He can teach the rest of current roster how to do it, those who are still sticking around....

On the other hand... BUH BY TY TY.. WE DO NOT NEED YA..

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 5 months ago

BTW, what do you or coaches see in Ty Ty? Such a mellow player. lame.. no offense. We want tigers not mice!!!

Keith Gellar 1 year, 5 months ago

IDK which Ty Ty you talking about - but he's an absolute beast. Clearly you haven't followed up. I'd take Ty Ty over Yesufu any day. Big miss with Ty Ty though, but Self is great at doing the ol' switcheroo.

Layne Pierce 1 year, 5 months ago

We already with these additions are 50% better than last year. We should all appreciate that Coach did not just say we'll be better next year. Fact is this team needed shaking up. The good news is we have nearly everybody back, and the bad news is ...

Yes, everybody returning should be better next year, if they aren't with this kind of depth, they may be playing less.

I especially like the emphasis on players who are not tentative and who can score around the basket. We were so bad at that last year. Watch Yesufu in the game against WSU for example. He was lights out. And yes he plays defense.


Dirk Medema 1 year, 5 months ago

It like the dogs from “Up” with the ability to type.


A couple years ago it was bigs that could shoot 3 because that’s what won that year. Heck, that was even the last game against us. Somehow, the latest squirrel didn’t fare so well the last game against us. Maybe it has something to do with match ups and getting hot.

Len Shaffer 1 year, 5 months ago

No, I think it mostly had to do with the fact that they'd been off for three weeks because of Covid and it was just their second game back. Remember, they were even worse in the game before playing us, but they barely escaped with a victory.

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 5 months ago

Sooooooo were going into next season with 1 proven big man .......Dave Mccormack ...I dont consider Mitch a true big although he has played the post his whole career . Self cant afford to not play and develop Clemence because I'm looking beyond next year we havent attracted any true big men that can play lately. Self said Muscadin was a great practice player but wasnt ready for game action Self plan to hold out Muscadin for next year didnt pan out because Gethro transfered out so we wont know if he would have helped next year ....but you did have him in house.We will have a good compliment of guards and wings but a rim protector and dominate inside presence you also need

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