Friday, April 9, 2021

KU freshman Jalen Wilson to test NBA draft process while retaining college eligibility

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) watches his three from the wing drop before Creighton forward Christian Bishop (13) during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) watches his three from the wing drop before Creighton forward Christian Bishop (13) during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Freshman forward Jalen Wilson on Friday became the second key member of the Kansas men’s basketball team’s 2020-21 roster to announce his intentions to enter his name into the NBA draft pool.

Like teammate Ochai Agbaji, who declared for the draft on Thursday, Wilson plans to retain his college eligibility through the process.

“I am excited for the opportunity to learn, workout and receive valuable feedback on my game that will allow me to make a solid decision on whether to remain in the draft or return to the University of Kansas for my sophomore year,” Wilson wrote on Twitter, where he announced his plans.

Wilson officially referred to his plans as a move “to test the NBA draft process.”

After missing most of his true freshman season to injury, Wilson broke out as a redshirt freshman this season. Particularly early in the season, when he was called by many national college hoops analysts as one of the stories of November and December, Wilson helped the Jayhawks race out to an 8-1 start to the 2020-21 season.

He had his ups and downs from there, but remained a key part of KU’s lineup, often playing the 4 spot — and sometimes the 5 — as the Jayhawks transitioned into a team that used smaller, quicker lineups to create mismatches or matchup with their opponents.

Wilson finished the 2020-21 season as the Jayhawks’ leading rebounder at 8.2 boards per game. He also averaged 12.1 points per outing while appearing in 28 games, with 26 starts.

He was named to the 2021 Big 12 all-newcomer team and was a unanimous choice for the conference’s all-freshman squad after posting eight double-doubles in his first full season with the Jayhawks.

“Jalen had a terrific freshman year and played a critical role in our success,” KU coach Bill Self said in a news release Friday. “We knew as the season progressed there would be interest in exploring the NBA process. I fully support his decision and know that he will handle this experience properly. Like Ochai, Jalen will keep his remaining eligibility so he has the option to return based on what he learns throughout this process. This will be great for him to learn what people say about him and ways in which he can improve.”

Added Wilson in his Tweet: “I am ready to get to work and have put all things in God’s hands.”

Agbaji and Wilson both have until July to go through the pre-draft process before having to decide whether to return to KU.

Their potential departures, along with the recent transfer plans announced by freshman guard Latrell Jossell, leave Kansas with as many as three scholarships to hand out to players who remain unsigned out of high school or who have entered the transfer portal.

Whether Self elects to use all three remains to be seen, but the Jayhawks are still in the mix for a handful of high-level prospects, including prep guard Ty Ty Washington and Creighton transfer Christian Bishop.

None by jwill


Andy Godwin 1 year, 7 months ago

Clearly important for players who want to play at the next level get constructive feedback. Although he slumped at time with his offensive game, Wilson provided strong rebounding and solid defense. He was one of only a handful of players I looked forward to watching improve next year. As stated during and at the end of the season, although finishing second in the Big 12, they were not always fun to watch. KU clearly needs to become more athletic and more efficient offensively. Time will tell what KU will look like by July/August, but Self might have a number of new faces playing major minutes when the season starts.

Adam Bengtson 1 year, 7 months ago

Personally this really reveals your long term plan. Next year will be his last year in a Kansas uniform.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 7 months ago

There's almost no downside for him for doing this.

I think that under the new rules he can test the NBA draft process every year that he's in college and keep coming back until he runs out of his eligibility.

He and Ochai both if they are probably second rounders, should come back to KU and improve.

If they are sure-fire first rounders then they should go.

Perhaps they can improve their draft stock through workouts, but as of now they both intend to protect their college eligibility. They are getting good advice.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 7 months ago

Jalen, showed lottery potential at times, but was inconsistent. I think this is good for players that have aspirations to the NBA to be able to get real time evaluations. It gives them a second opinion on what Self is telling them. My guess is most of the time, it reinforces the things that Self is already telling them to do.

Jalen set the tone for the team, when he struggled the team seemed to fight it, and when he was good, the team stood by. I even think there were a couple of games where he willed the team to win.

He will be appreciated coming back next year. I don't think he really is on draft boards, so this is truly a 2nd opinion of what he needs to work on.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 7 months ago

If I had to bet on this, I'd bet both JW and Ochai will be back.

Tan Hong Woon 1 year, 7 months ago

All players should declare for draft and go through the pre-draft process, even if they do not intend to go NBA. Just treat it as a free consultation to improve their skills. So, even player like Lightfoot should go.

Robert Brock 1 year, 7 months ago

Declare. Test the NBA waters. Get a free evaluation of your drastic shortcomings. Sign a contract to play in Vladivostok.

Dale Stringer 1 year, 7 months ago

I may be to only that thinks this... our athleticism was just fine.

What we need are three or more 40% plus 3-pt shooters. 60% 2-pt shooters. 80% layup conversion.

Opposing defenses were not afraid of our offense.

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 7 months ago

The evaluation process is to me the problem with basketball nowadays. Kids playing in AAU and circuits like it are being evaluated all the time Services rank kids all over the country .But what i see are kids being ranked higher than they should be that in turn gives the player a false sense that they are better than they really are. What we are seeing now in regards to the transfer portal are kids who are told how great they are ,that they are NBA material that they are 5 star material ......only to get to a school and get limited playing time ......or not be a "good fit " for them other words their egos are bruised so they pack up and leave. A 4 or 5 star player feels he should be playing right away. Newman was projected 1 and done out of high school ,Selden high praise ....went undrafted , then we have Frank Mason and Devonte Graham not highly touted or recruited but both were drafted . we have Ogbaji no where on the radar ranked 334 but excelled enough in 3 years to test NBA waters Joel Embiid ......who Self himself said was raw and a project at the time Wasnt getting playing time at Monteverde and transfered Rock high ......I believe Self knew that if he played Jojo he may not have him but 1 year because he was NBA ready ...he may have been ,but his body wasnt thus he didnt play his first 2 years .......but that only gave him time to mold his body. Now we have Wilson ......who can rebound as good as Dennis Rodman and at times shoot as bad as Dennis Rodman ......Players arent honest with themselves at times because they buy into the hype that they keep getting told...... It takes more than putting your name in a hat have to put in the work.

After all Micheal Jordan got cut because his coaches evaluation was that he wasnt good enough .......

How did that work out ?

RJ King 1 year, 7 months ago

Who is "Jojo" who didn't play his first two years? (Whose body wasn't NBA ready?) Embiid played his freshman year, and was drafted third that summer.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 7 months ago

hope he gets some autographs so its not a complete waste of time

Matt Lindaman 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree with the assessment above on ratings garnered from the summer circuit. The portal is operating on another level as well. Unranked players go to schools ranked between 100-300 in D1 and get playing time right away, then want to prove they were overlooked in the earlier ratings by moving to a bigger stage. I think the wide open portal might be a two year pandemic deal. If so, it would be less used than this year which is providing a whole new recruiting period.

Chad Durbin 1 year, 7 months ago

Fire Bill Self, losing all his star players, and recruiting only players under 3 fr tall.... the sky is falling! Everyone in the starting 5 should be testing the NBA waters, except D-Mac who needs to heal his foot and prep for next season.

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