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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Kansas guard Joe Yesufu eyeing a bigger leadership role in his second year as a Jayhawk

Kansas guard Joseph Yesufu (1) goes up for a shot over West Virginia guard Malik Curry (10) during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Joseph Yesufu (1) goes up for a shot over West Virginia guard Malik Curry (10) during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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As the Kansas men’s basketball team awaits the final stay-or-go NBA draft decisions from Jalen Wilson and Kevin McCullar Jr. — both are expected sometime Wednesday — the Jayhawks who have been on the path to returning are preparing for the start of summer workouts.

Kansas coach Bill Self told the Journal-World on Tuesday that workouts with KU's returners are slated to start Monday, with the incoming freshmen trickling in throughout the week, as well.

Kansas was one of a handful of Division I schools that did not have at least one player enter the transfer portal this offseason, meaning that, even with the departure of so many upperclassmen, the 2022-23 Jayhawks still will have a handful of familiar faces on the roster.

What those players do, how quickly they develop and how ready they are to take on the ownership role for the defending national champions will go a long way toward determining how next season goes. They will get some help in the form of the four-man freshman recruiting class ranked No. 3 overall by Rivals.com, but that quartet will need at least a couple of players to show them the Kansas way.

Enter junior guard Joe Yesufu.

Although he played sparingly throughout the 2021-22 season, Yesufu was always a factor and a potential option off the bench. He filled in with big minutes in a couple of key spots and spent much of the season learning how to play in the Kansas system and figuring out what KU coach Bill Self wants from his players.

With that knowledge, and a year of familiarity under his belt, Yesufu believes he has the potential for a breakthrough next season.

“I’m very motivated,” he said this spring. “I can’t wait to get back in the gym. I know what I need to work on, and you guys are going to see a different me next year.”

Yesufu appeared in 34 of KU’s 40 games this season but averaged just 9.3 minutes per game because of KU’s loaded lineup ahead of him. That came after he averaged 13 points in 24 minutes per game one season earlier at Drake.

His season-high for playing time came when he played 23 minutes in a road win at Iowa State. That sparked a stretch of double-digit minutes in eight of the next 10 games. But because of the depth of KU’s more experienced players, Yesufu never could hold down a regular spot in the rotation.

Next season, with Kansas looking to replace 91% of its scoring if Jalen Wilson stays in the draft and 78% if he returns for his junior season, Yesufu will have an opportunity to pick up some of that slack.

“I think he’s just got to be a scorer,” Self told the Journal-World on Tuesday. “Everybody can say point guard because he’s short, but the bottom line is he’s a scorer.”

Never one to lack confidence in his ability, Yesufu’s focus this offseason has been more on how he can help KU replace the departure of so many leaders, from Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun to Mitch Lightfoot and Remy Martin.

“I feel like I’m in the gym enough that my game is going to speak for itself and whatever I do in workouts is going to transfer to the game,” Yesufu said. “I’m not worried about that. I’m just focusing on leadership and leading us back (to another parade).”

Comments

Dirk Medema 2 months, 1 week ago

I’m glad/relieved he’s back. He did seem really hesitant most of the time. Probably not completely comfortable with understanding everything he was supposed to do with each little twist of the action. He’s one that needs to strengthen his shot so that he can raise the % by 10-ish. That will do wonders for his confidence.

It would seem that both he and Pettiford are vying for Remy’s support role behind/alongside Harris. Bobby is more of the pg as noted, but it would seem that all 3 have only 1.5 spots to fill, and Dajuan has probably 70-80% of those minutes.

It is tough to lead from the sidelines, but some have done it, and there’s a lot of time before there’s any PT awarded.

Blake Brown 2 months, 1 week ago

About mid season, it looked like Joe was gone. His courtside manner seemed almost disinterested. And certainly, his limited performance was pretty shabby. The question still remains, where is there a spot for him? Of course, if he can become an offensive force, that place will open up. I'm hoping he gets it together. Same thoughts for quite a few others returning.

Tony Bandle 2 months, 1 week ago

Matt or anyone else. Could someone please post a roster listing of who is returning with their positions, who maybe returning, who may transfer in, who are the walk-ons and who are the new kids coming in, please? I've caught bits and pieces of each category but a full list would be much appreciated. Thanks and GO HAWKS!!

Eliott Reeder 2 months, 1 week ago

Probably makes more sense to wait a few days till it all shakes out and the roster is solidified one way or the other.

Robin Smith 2 months, 1 week ago

Returning

[Forwards] Jalen Wilson (maybe), KJ Adams, Zach Clemence, Cam Martin,

[Guards] Dajuan Harris Jr., Joseph Yesufu, Bobby Pettiford, Kyle Cuffe Jr.,

Newcomers

[Forwards] Ernest Udeh Jr., Zuby Ejiofor,

[Guards] Kevin McCullar Jr. (maybe), Gradey Dick, Marquise Rice,

Walk-Ons: Michael Jankovich, Charlie McCarthy, Dillon Wilhite

Potential Transfer: Isiaih Mosley (guard)

2 months, 1 week ago

"Kansas was one of a handful of Division I schools that did not have at least one player enter the transfer portal this offseason" wow. great stat. rcjh

Tony Bandle 2 months, 1 week ago

Robin, thanks so much. This really helps and now with Jalen coming back, the McC man is the last piece of the puzzle.

Dirk Medema 2 months, 1 week ago

Well done Robin.

So what do you think? Assuming Kevin comes (Let’s Jalen have today and confirms tomorrow?), it would seem those are 3 of the starters, or at least the top 8 that make the end of year rotation. Who are the bets on the others? Probability of starting? Reserve? Early season rotation whittle down?

Robert Brock 2 months, 1 week ago

Self said, a couple of months ago, that Bobby Pettiford would be the next great guard at Kansas. If so, that has to impact the minutes that Joseph Yesufu wants to play.

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