Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Tristan Enaruna tests positive for COVID-19, KU’s roster status more clear for opening weekend of NCAA Tournament

Texas forward Greg Brown (4) heads in to the bucket against Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10), Kansas guard Tristan Enaruna (13), and Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas forward Greg Brown (4) heads in to the bucket against Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10), Kansas guard Tristan Enaruna (13), and Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas basketball coach Bill Self on Wednesday cleared up the status of the Jayhawks’ roster for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament in the wake of three positive COVID-19 tests in the program.

We now know that junior forward David McCormack, redshirt freshman forward Jalen Wilson and sophomore wing Tristan Enaruna, in that order, all tested positive for COVID-19 and that those three are on different schedules to join the team in Indianapolis.

McCormack, KU’s starting big man, is slated to join the team in Indianapolis on Friday and be in uniform for Saturday’s 12:15 p.m. tipoff between No. 3 seed Kansas and No. 14 seed Eastern Washington.

Wilson, who tested positive last Friday, is on track to join the team on Monday and, if KU advances to the second round, may still have an outside chance of playing in KU’s Round 2 game.

And Enaruna, who tested positive late on Selection Sunday will miss KU’s first two NCAA Tournament games and could rejoin the team next Wednesday if the Jayhawks advance to the Sweet 16.

“Good news, bad news,” Self called the situation during a Zoom meeting with reporters from Indianapolis.

McCormack and Enaruna, who are roommates at KU, were both held out of last week’s Big 12 tournament after entering COVID-19 protocols.


Kansas forward David McCormack (33) defends against a pass from Kansas State guard Mike McGuirl (0) during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU’s hope all along has been that both players would be available to rejoin the team this week in Indianapolis. And while that still holds true for McCormack, who Self said would be in uniform on Saturday, Enaruna’s appearance in the 2021 NCAA Tournament is now dependent upon his team advancing in the tournament.

Self said Enaruna’s positive test result came “after numerous negative tests in a row.”

“David will arrive here Friday morning, so he will practice with us Friday. We do know that,” Self said Wednesday. “Tristan will not make the trip so he will remain in Lawrence until the following week if we’re fortunate enough to advance.”

Although somewhat encouraged by the potential of getting two starters back at various portions of the opening rounds, Self acknowledged that KU continues to test every day in Indianapolis and that the recent positive tests had created a tense situation.

“We've done a really nice job,” Self said. “Our medical staff’s been unbelievable as far as keeping people away from people and isolated, so you know you start to worry if there's something that triggered something within our program that may not stop or could continue. Right now, I'm nervous about each test, but I'm also very optimistic that it is going to be OK, too.”

Because of McCormack’s late arrival in Indianapolis, not to mention the uncertainty about what kind of physical shape he will be in when he arrives, Self said the Jayhawks were preparing for Eastern Washington with the players they’ve had in Indianapolis since Monday.

“I haven't focused on anything other than this game,” Self said. “And in this game we're focused on being without David and David is a bonus, as opposed to playing through David.

“How much we can utilize David remains to be seen just because of how he feels and his timing and all those things. So (we’re) not going to be able to count on him for a significant number of minutes I don't believe.”

As for what it would take for Wilson to be cleared to play in KU’s second-round game next Monday, should the Jayhawks get there, Self said that remained up in the air.

“We don't know what time the game time is,” he explained. “There's certain protocols that have to be met. You know, if (his arrival is) later in the day, that would probably help. But we don't have any control over that.”

Wilson and McCormack are the Jayhawks’ top two rebounders and them being out or even just limited leaves the Jayhawks in the position of playing what Self deemed an “extremely, extremely small” lineup.”

Self said starters Christian Braun and Marcus Garrett, along with reserve wing Tyon Grant-Foster, would have to play big for the Jayhawks.

“Christian goes from being our starting wing to also our backup 5 or Marcus could play that and maybe Tyon could play that some, too,” Self said. “It won't affect as much offensively, but it'll certainly affect us defensively because we will be tiny.”

Braun, who also spoke with the media via Zoom on Wednesday, did not seem worried about being asked to do more this weekend.

"We don't think we'll take a hit," he said. "That's something that we need to focus on. Everybody's just got to step up, everybody has to crash the boards and help everybody out."


Andy Godwin 1 year, 8 months ago

Matt, This latest result is disappointing. Can you please define the method being used by the KU medical staff to test for SARS-CoV-2 (note COVID-19 is the disease resulting from the viral infection - does Enaruna have symptoms?). Some antigen testing platforms are not very accurate and can generates false positives. The gold standard is still NP swabs and rRT-PCR-based testing for viral RNA. What method of testing is being used across the teams participating in the NCAA tournament?

Blake Brown 1 year, 8 months ago

Even more important is what the medical staff is doing to help each player to keep his immune system up. It involves a lot more than just masking, distancing and cleansing. So, hopefully, they are addressing life style choices and actually providing sound direction here.

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 8 months ago

Matt I just want to thank you for keeping us informed all season Its been an unusual season and even though not everything you reported wasnt always good news you did your best to let us know . Information gathering isnt always easy or accurate and sometimes there are more questions than answers ,you have often tried to clarify as best you could . I enjoy reading comments by others when its just about our sports teams Your reporting of information is sometimes tarnished when it is turned into political opinions the back and forth by your readers .....What you report is about KUsports .....i wish others could keep it that way Thanks again Matt

Matt Tait 1 year, 8 months ago

Nice of you to say, Mallory. Thank you. Luckily for us, the job is still the same — find out what happened, explain how and why and add a little insight and color to it along the way. That helps keep things "normal" even while covering something that seems so abnormal.

It certainly has been a crazy year for us and so many people. But we appreciate you continuing to follow along with what we do and contributing to the site. It's more appreciated than you'll probably ever know.

Enjoy the tournament — whatever it looks like and whatever happens — and we'll keep cranking out content!

All the best, - Matt

Blake Brown 1 year, 8 months ago

Even more important is what the medical staff is doing to help each player to keep his immune system up. It involves a lot more than just masking, distancing and cleansing. So, hopefully, they are addressing stress management, diet and other life style choices and actually providing sound direction.

Michael Leiker 1 year, 8 months ago

Is there anyway of knowing what time they would play on Monday if they win?

Matt Tait 1 year, 8 months ago

Not yet. That won't get announced until the games are finished Saturday. All about putting the best games in the best TV slots...

Ted Hume 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm confused about the NCAA's stated protocol too. From what's been published here, it states that any player who contracts Covid can be eligible on the 11th day after "first onset of symptoms", but how can this be the criteria for starting the clock on the quarantine period, since people suffer vastly different courses of progress of the disease? What if the player is still symptomatic 6 days in and testing positive, can they really be cleared to play 5 days after that, regardless of whether they may be able to shed virus? I think some clarity on the exact protocol in terms of how many days of consecutive negative tests after first symptoms, or after "last symptoms", or last positive tests, would help us understand the various timelines for eligibility for those tested exposed vs. those players who were only in contact with a positive player.

At any rate this is a terrible bit of news as things could collapse like a house of cards at any time...

Bryce Landon 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm more and more worried that we're ripe for an upset.

RJ King 1 year, 8 months ago

At some point, it wouldn't really be an upset. Without Jalen and with David at who-knows-what physicality and energy level (50%?) we're down to 70% quality of our starters. Assume Thompson starts. Reduce our bench by half (no Bryce or Tristan ) and the odds change dramatically.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, I hope more positive tests don't pop up. I'm sure these 3 were around all of the others. Its confusing on the timeline with this covid as far as when someone is exposed and how far out in days it is before they test positive themselves. I'm guessing two of these players have been away from others for 5-6 days, but JW has been around others longer.

RJ King 1 year, 8 months ago

exactly. I dread the sound of other shoes dropping.

Chad Smith 1 year, 8 months ago

ok this is starting to grind my gears. I know it's out of anyone's control for the most part, but dammit, after playing a full big 12 schedule and not being the reason for the other games cancelled, why now for us? no other big 12 tournament team is having these issues. baylor got a vacation in the middle of the season and now is recharged ready to go win a title. I know its irrational on my part, but this timing just feels so unfair....

Shannon Gustafson 1 year, 8 months ago

OU recently had a player test positive as well (Wilson's former HS teammate and their second leading scorer).

Virginia's whole team is still in quarantine and not yet in Indiana.

We're not alone in this, though the timing is unfortunate. The timing could be worse though. If the positive tests were happening this week for example.

Chad Smith 1 year, 8 months ago

wasn't aware of the OU situation. Interesting.....The positive tests could still happen, really any time they test, so every day I just hope it's all negatives across the board. It's anxiety-inducing to say the least as a fan, can't imagine how the players must feel.

Shannon Gustafson 1 year, 8 months ago

Georgia Tech's leading scorer (ACC Player of the Year) is now also out for the first 2 games.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 8 months ago

So DMac tested positive sometime early or mid last week, and they started quarantining him and Tristan because Tristan is his roommate. Wilson tested positive Friday morning and Tristan tested positive Sunday.

Let's say theoretically that DMac tested positive Tuesday last week and they started quarantine on him and Tristan. He exposed Tristan on Monday, who didn't test positive till Sunday. That's 6 days between exposure and a positive test.

Jalen potentially exposed the whole rest of the team on Thursday night. But we haven't heard of new positive tests this week through Wednesday, so hopefully none of them got a strong enough viral load to trigger a positive result.

The fact that the last known exposure was 7 days ago is a good sign at this point, and will be a better sign with each passing day if there are no new positive cases.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 8 months ago

good analysis Jonathan, I hope the positive tests are done and all three get healthy fast. this covid jazz is a real bummer.

Ted Hume 1 year, 8 months ago

Again, I'm surprised that the protocol firmly sets the return date for all players for the 11th day after first positive indication (by symptoms or test), regardless of the subsequent course of progression of the disease in the individual over those 10 days. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that there apparently is clarity in the protocol that allows the team the plot the return date for each player and plan accordingly, I just hope things hold up as planned so far and all 3 confirmed players recover fully during the quarantine period and are ready to go. Fatigue and sharpness will definitely be a big negative but an 80% McCormack or JW will be better than nothing for the second round with luck...

Brian Skelly 1 year, 8 months ago

The reality is, even at our "peak" this year, I would have been somewhat surprised to make the 2nd weekend of the tournament. It's no different now, although probably the odds are less we'd make it there. Of course upsets happen.

I commend this team for sticking to protocols and making it THIS long into it without positive tests.     If im correct, KU played all it's conference games and a lot of non-con games.

The timing stinks,  but this wasn't a Final Four level team anyway.    I'd be ecstatic if they make the 2nd weekend.    And would have been with a full roster.

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