Here's what type of player KU is getting in Tarik Black


Former Memphis forward Tarik Black will be transferring to Kansas University, the school announced Monday.

Former Memphis forward Tarik Black will be transferring to Kansas University, the school announced Monday.

There's a saying in baseball that goes, "There's no such thing as a bad one-year contact."

If you were wondering why teams like Duke and Kansas were in on Memphis forward Tarik Black, who started just five games for the Tigers a year ago, it's mostly because of this same concept.

Because Black has graduated and will be eligible immediately, he essentially became like a one-year contract player. A team with a hole on its roster — and an extra scholarship it wasn't going to use anyway — had nothing to lose in recruiting Black.

The commitment gives KU additional depth in the post, where the Jayhawks have quite a few options but not many proven ones.

As you'll see from his numbers, Black comes to KU as an interesting project: A player that has shown distinct strengths while at the same time being held back by glaring weaknesses.


Two-point shooting: Black has been an excellent field-goal shooter during his entire career, peaking during his sophomore year when his 68.9 effective field-goal percentage ranked second nationally.

One of the reasons for his success is shot selection. The last two years, he took just 17.4 and 18.5 percent of Memphis' shots when he was on the floor.

Breaking it down further, Black is a player that is especially lethal at the rim. Here are his numbers on layups/dunks/tipins from

Black's shots at rim

Black's shots at rim by Jesse Newell

To give you an idea of how successful Black was at the rim ... no KU rotation player in the last three seasons had a field-goal percentage of 79 percent on close shots (the highest was 77 percent from Travis Releford last year).

Black isn't bad when he shoots two-point jumpers, either, as you can see from the middle column below.

Black on two-point jumpshots

Black on two-point jumpshots by Jesse Newell

The forward was an above-average two-point jump-shooter in each of his last two seasons, but also be aware that most of his shots were assisted by teammates. KU's Kevin Young and Jeff Withey both had a high percentage of their two-point jumpers assisted last year (73 percent each), and both players were mostly reliant on others to get their points.

A similar high number in that stat from Black — and his low shot percentage overall — means he's not a guy that creates his own shot often.

• Getting to the free-throw line: One of Black's best offensive skills is getting fouled, as last season, he drew 5.2 opponent whistles per 40 minutes (197th nationally). That trait has led to a high free-throw count for the forward each year. During his sophomore year, he posted the nation's 29th-best free-throw rate (68.4), and he wasn't far behind that number last year (66.3).

Offensive rebounding: Black has proven to be a tough guy to keep off the offensive glass. After grabbing 14.3 percent of the available offensive rebounds his freshman year, Black pulled down 10.8 percent (247th nationally) his sophomore year and 10.1 percent (302nd nationally) his junior year. Kevin Young (13.2 percent) and Perry Ellis (11.4 percent in limited time) were the only Jayhawks to post higher offensive rebounding percentages than Black a year ago.

Shot-blocking: Though Black didn't block as many shots as a junior, he showed the ability to be a greater defensive presence his first two years. During his freshman year, he blocked 7.3 percent of opponents' twos (79th nationally), and his sophomore year, he rejected 6.2 percent of those attempts (113th nationally). Though that percentage dropped to 3.1 percent his junior year, you'd have to figure Black still has the ability — based on the past — to have some defensive impact in the paint.


Free-throw shooting: After posting a strong 119.5 offensive rating his sophomore year, Black's offensive rating plummeted to a mediocre 100.8 last season.

The biggest reason? Free-throw shooting.

Black's free-throw percentages

Black's free-throw percentages by Jesse Newell

Black's 44.8-percent free-throw shooting was the seventh-worst out of 724 NCAA players who shot 100 free throws or more.

If Black can even get back to a 59-percent free-throw shooter, he'll greatly enhance his offensive value.

Fouling: Black is a hacker, as he has committed at least 5 fouls per 40 minutes in each of his three seasons. Last year was his worst season in that regard, as he posted 6.3 fouls per 40 minutes — a number that would have been tops out of KU's rotation players a year ago (and even above that of Jamari Traylor at 6.1 fouls/40).

Defensive rebounding: Though Black has been strong on the offensive boards through his career, he's never excelled on the defensive glass.

After grabbing just 11.3 percent of the available defensive rebounds his freshman year and 12 percent his sophomore year, Black pulled down a career-high 16 percent his junior year. That percentage still wasn't good enough to crack the top 500 nationally.

Bottom line

Memphis forward Tarik Black dunks against Michigan State forward Adreian Payne (5) in the second half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Saturday, March 23, 2013, in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Memphis forward Tarik Black dunks against Michigan State forward Adreian Payne (5) in the second half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Saturday, March 23, 2013, in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Black provides KU with some additional depth at the 4 and 5 positions and also should help take some of the pressure off KU's young players in the post.

Though Perry Ellis' stats indicate he is ready for a bigger role, guys like incoming freshman Joel Embiid and sophomore Jamari Traylor (good defensive numbers but high turnover rate and limited offensive skills) will be able to ease their way into the rotation instead of being forced into it at the start of the season.

The Jayhawks aren't getting a go-to scorer in Black, but his skill-set might play well on a team like KU's next year, especially if mega-recruit Andrew Wiggins can draw defensive attention then dish to a guy who has been deadly when he gets it in close to the rim.

Because Self had an extra scholarship, this becomes a low-risk, potentially high-reward addition for the Jayhawks — all on a team-friendly, one-year contract.

More from Jesse Newell

  • Seen it? The nation's reaction to top recruit Andrew Wiggins choosing Kansas
  • Here's what type of player KU is getting in Hunter Mickelson
  • Ranking the top 10 dunks of 2012-13
  • How a fingertip, a late rotation and a great player contributed to Michigan's frantic comeback over KU
  • Five plays that show how Releford shut down Bullock — and how KU’s ‘D’ forced UNC into ‘one bad shot’
  • Comments

    KatnissHawk 9 years, 6 months ago

    Very nice assessment. For sure, to have a veteran in the lineup early on next year will pay eventual dividends in B-12 play and later. Nice addition to the mix.

    wrwlumpy 9 years, 6 months ago

    KY joined Landen in Vegas to workout. Evidence of Hudy influence tells me that Landen wants to be the starting center at KU. Also the other picture is from @colouringku a great place to steal a creative artists takes on KU basketball.

    Tom Gillaspie 9 years, 6 months ago

    On paper it sounds like a no lose situation. Hopefully he will mesh with the returning players early and get up to speed quickly. If nothing else it should be good for more competitive practices,

    Bob Forer 9 years, 6 months ago

    The guy sounds like Gravy Train in almost every aspect, including his poor free throwing. A Big Banger like this guy fits in nicely with the Bill Self style of basketball. A very nice get.

    JayHok 9 years, 6 months ago

    Same height but Tarik outweighs Randle by 20 pounds of muscle!

    DRsmith 9 years, 6 months ago

    Are you seriously comparing Black to Randle? Wow. Get real. Randle will have Black fouled out in 10 minutes. Black is a lazy underperformer, that is what KU is getting.

    KGphoto 9 years, 6 months ago

    Well, Pastner isn’t exactly coaching all these great recruiting classes to actual greatness. He has one NCAA tournament victory and one NIT victory in 4 seasons. He may be improving but he’s not elite. Not even close.

    Bill Self and Coach K are elite, and they wanted Tarik badly.

    Besides calling a kid lazy after he just graduated in 3 years is odd.

    DRsmith 9 years, 6 months ago

    Lazy with attitude problems on the court. And I completely agree on Pastner. He is a terrible coach. Time will tell if Black can turn the corner. The way I look at it, unless Black really improves he will be nothing more than a guy you can throw in there to use up some fouls.

    Shaen Allen 9 years, 6 months ago

    You're right that Pastner is not Elite, but he tried everything he could to motivate Black, including taking him out of the starting lineup and reducing his minutes. As a player, if that doesn't motivate you, then it's not the coaches fault.

    KGphoto 9 years, 6 months ago

    @ sdallen24 and DRsmith:

    It could be that he just really hates Pastner. We have no idea exactly what happened. He could’ve known full well he would be transferring when he walked out of that practice. Maybe Pastner is just a putz, and Black is completely right.

    We don’t know. But we do know Self and Coach K wanted him, even if it was to absorb some fouls and have a guy to bang when we don’t matchup well.

    What we DO know is Self won’t take any crap from this kid. It’s his way or the highway, and I think Black knows this. I think he respects this.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

    Um....doesn't AT ALL sound like he's comparing them to me!

    Sounds like he's saying that's who'd get the defensive assignment and use up some hard fouls! :)

    DRsmith 9 years, 6 months ago

    Sounds like he thinks that Black would pose a challenge to Randle. I assume since KU was one of his finalists that you all have seen Randle play? Randle will eat Black's lunch. There is a reason Black was coming off the bench in CUSA.

    vann_dango 9 years, 6 months ago

    I am excited to add another big man to our rotation, but.... can any one explain why his numbers dropped significantly in his JR year? I understand that his minutes were cut. Was he just under performing or does anyone know the issue was?

    Dirk Medema 9 years, 6 months ago

    He struggled with his role as a team leader starting his soph year, then walked out of practice and into the doghouse his jr year. His mind wont right.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

    I heard some others in another thread say that he walked out because much of the rest of the team was "doggin' it" in the practice and it upset him.

    DRsmith 9 years, 6 months ago

    Black was the only one dogging it that is why he was the one coming off the bench.

    DRsmith 9 years, 6 months ago

    He is lazy. Never lived up to his potential. Maybe Self can motivate him.

    Shaen Allen 9 years, 6 months ago

    He wasn't injured. I personally think he struggled because of the guard oriented offense at Memphis. Combine that with poor rebounding and foul trouble and it wasn't necessarily a happy place. He definitely contributed, but did not live up to his potential.

    I think he will benefit from being in Self's offense. The High/Low movement and post passing will help his offensive game as much as Wiggins presence (as noted above.)

    Nathan Scholl 9 years, 6 months ago

    Nice informative article Jesse. Black sounds like a great get for team depth and added experience. Always glad to steal a player from Coach K (A.K.A. Gargamel)!

    Scott Smetana 9 years, 6 months ago

    I'm thinking Jeff Graves. BIG body down low. Can't play him late in the half or game with that kind of FT%.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

    If he gets it back to 59% that's not far off of what to expect from a big man down low like that.

    Michael Auchard 9 years, 6 months ago

    Why mention free throw rate as a positive and then note how Tarik Black is a terrible free throw shooter in the next segment? That doesn't make sense to me unless the idea is to build to some advanced statistical idea -- something I didn't see here. I mean, if he's awful at shooting free throws then who cares how often he shoots them? Still, great article; always great to know the facts about new players.

    kj_hawk 9 years, 6 months ago

    I agree, but getting the opposing team in foul trouble can be seen as a positive.

    justanotherfan 9 years, 6 months ago

    Ideally, he plays in the middle parts of each half - first big off the bench in both halves, plays 8-10 minutes each half.

    If he draws 3-4 fouls per game, that could mean KU gets into the bonus at the 9 minute mark instead of the 6 minute mark of the half. And once we get in the bonus, Black comes out, Ellis goes in and shoots FTs at a 75% clip. Perry could get an extra couple of points a game just because he goes to the FT line on a bump a few possessions sooner each night.

    There's no way to really award that to Black statistically, but forcing the other team to foul (or play inferior big guys) has a benefit.

    Jesse Newell 9 years, 6 months ago

    Good question, Yahweh. kj_hawk touches on the idea, but drawing fouls is inherently a good thing. You drive the opponent's foul total up, you get yourself to the bonus quicker, and when you're a big man, you have a chance to potentially get a shot-blocking presence in foul trouble. So in that case, having a free-throw rate that high is definitely a positive.

    As you mention, though, it goes hand in hand with his free-throw percentage. I think the point is that if Black can get his FT% up from dreadful to tolerable (say 60 percent), then his free-throw rate becomes an even bigger bonus.

    NCAA teams score about a point per possession. So if Black gets two shots, you're expecting him to score 0.9 points, which is a below-average possession. If he's up to 60 percent, you're expecting him to score 1.2 points, which is a good possession (one-and-ones will change those numbers as well, but you get the point).

    A main point is that it's hard to "teach" a player to draw fouls. Last year, Self targeted this as a weakness in Elijah Johnson's game, and the senior never was able to improve in this aspect. He just wasn't the type of player. A guy like Tyshawn Taylor was.

    To me, free-throw shooting is a much more "teachable" skill. If Black can improve that weakness, then the free-throw rate will become an even greater strength — even beyond that of drawing fouls and getting his team closer to the bonus.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

    Ummmm, maybe because it COULD foul out or get players from the other team in foul trouble?!?!?! Oh, yeah, but that wouldnt' be a positive. Whatever.

    JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 6 months ago

    You are confusing free throw rate with free throw percentage.

    Scott Smetana 9 years, 6 months ago

    I'd take Ellis and Tharpe with experience over any Freshman that Kentucky has. Both were playing amazing come tourney time last year. I think Tharpe could be the best point guard we've had since Mario.

    Robbk1066 9 years, 6 months ago

    Again Jesse right on spot. Nice data too! Great Job!

    Jeff Coffman 9 years, 6 months ago

    I'll be interested in seeing how Perry Ellis does as well. Remember that last year a lot of doubling happened to Jeff Withey. Perry was able to score because he could beat his man from the outside driving in for scores. Without a double on JW, will Perry Ellis be closer to what he was at the beginning or end of last season. All I am saying is that we need the help in the frontcourt. The real questions I have is Lucas and Embiid. If both of them are solid than the jayhawks are in good hands.

    What about the advantage that Duke among others don't have a bruiser on their team. Even if he doesn't play a huge amount of minutes and is only a banger in practice, that is better than someone else having the player.

    Shaen Allen 9 years, 6 months ago

    Good point. Ellis will have to be the one drawing double teams this year (for the benefit of Black). Black is not a guy that has a lot of moves, but he is pretty good at getting open around the basket.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

    Um, doesn't have to JUST be Black.....could have Wiggins, Selden or Greene cut to the rim too.

    Shaun Hardie 9 years, 6 months ago

    Is it too early for Championship or Bust t-shirts? Seriously, with the addition of Black this team is oozing with talented pieces. Hopefully this team gels overt the off-season and come into the fall ready to lay claim to another conference banner and play as Self calls it "high stakes" at the end of the year.

    Kevin Huffman 9 years, 6 months ago

    Championship might be too high of expectations, but at this point I think I actually WOULD be disappointed if they didn't at least make it to the Final Four.

    Less than a 2-seed would be disappointing as well.

    Thinking Sweet 16 or worse and I'd DEFINITELY be disappointed.

    Neom 9 years, 6 months ago

    Anyone can graduate in 3 years is respectable, regardless what school or major.

    Colby Hebert 9 years, 6 months ago

    At worst he is Kevin Young but an inch and half taller with 60 more pounds. Sold!!

    Commenting has been disabled for this item.