Comparing potential point guard transfers for KU


Kansas basketball coach Bill Self and his assistants remain in the hunt for a high school player who can help the Jayhawks in the upcoming 2016-17 season. In the meantime, it seems increasingly likely they will also add a transfer with college experience.

Reports surfaced in early April of KU’s interest in Kory Holden, formerly of Delaware. News on the transfer front heated up Monday, though, with the names of San Francisco’s Devin Watson and Duke’s Derryck Thornton being linked with Kansas, as well.

All three play point guard, and if any were to join KU it would mean sitting out a season. It seems as though Self wants to bring in an experienced ball handler to share the backcourt with Devonté Graham in 2017-18, after Frank Mason III completes his senior season with the Jayhawks.

Here’s a look at what each potential transfer could bring to KU.

Kory Holden | 6-2, 180

Delaware's Kory Holden in action during an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Delaware's Kory Holden in action during an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

2014-15 34.1 .395 3.2 8.0 .401 0.8 2.2 .375 3.5 4.7 .756 3.1 5.0 0.6 0.1 3.3 12.4
2015-16 36.3 .395 3.7 9.3 .400 2.3 5.9 .388 3.4 4.2 .795 3.0 4.2 0.4 0.1 2.9 17.7
Career 35.2 .395 3.5 8.7 .400 1.6 4.1 .384 3.4 4.4 .775 3.1 4.6 0.5 0.1 3.1 15.1

In two seasons at Delaware, Kory Holden didn’t experience much team success. The Fightin’ Blue Hens went 10-20 in his freshman year, and finished 7-23 in 2015-16.

However, Holden, rated a three-star point guard out of high school, proved to be one of the program’s few bright spots. While Holden distributed the ball well, dishing 4.6 assists a game in 59 appearances (55 starts), he also increased his scoring average from 12.4 points in Year One to 17.7 points as a sophomore.

Holden shot 38.8% from 3-point range in his final year at Delaware, connecting on 69 long-range bombs.

Against some of the stiffest competition the Hens faced this past season, Holden more than held his own. The lead guard scored 35 points and shot 6-for-13 from deep in a loss at Boston College. In his very next game, Holden put up 23 points, going 6-for-10 from 3-point distance, in a road loss to eventual national champion Villanova.

Devin Watson | 6-1, 165

San Francisco guard Devin Watson (1) drives around Pepperdine guard Amadi Udenyi during the first half of a West Coast Conference tournament NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

San Francisco guard Devin Watson (1) drives around Pepperdine guard Amadi Udenyi during the first half of a West Coast Conference tournament NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

2014-15 23.6 .383 2.1 4.8 .440 0.5 2.1 .250 2.6 3.6 .730 1.7 2.5 1.0 1.9 8.4
2015-16 34.7 .418 4.2 9.1 .465 2.2 6.2 .349 5.3 7.2 .733 2.5 4.9 0.9 3.0 20.3
Career 29.1 .407 3.2 6.9 .456 1.3 4.1 .324 3.9 5.4 .732 2.1 3.7 1.0 2.4 14.2

A significant jump in minutes also meant a massive leap in production for second-year San Francisco guard Devin Watson, who will be moving on from the Dons.

None by Jeff Goodman

Watson, playing for former Kansas guard and since-fired coach Rex Walters at USF, became a workhorse for the West Coast Conference program as a sophomore. Playing 34.7 minutes a game, the small guard passed out 4.9 assists a game while also scoring 20.3 an outing.

Not quite as good a shooter as Holden, Watson (also rated as a three-star point guard in the Class of 2014) connected on 65 of his 186 3-pointers for San Francisco this past season (34.9%).

Watson tied his career high with 33 points in what turned out to be his USF finale, a WCC Tournament loss to Pepperdine, a game in which he went 4-for-7 from 3-point land.

His other 33-point outing came in January, when Watson also distributed 7 assists and shot 5-for-12 from downtown in a loss to Gonzaga.

Derryck Thornton | 6-2, 175

Louisville's Donovan Mitchell (45) guards Duke's Derryck Thornton (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Louisville's Donovan Mitchell (45) guards Duke's Derryck Thornton (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

2015-16 26.0 .390 1.9 4.4 .421 0.8 2.3 .329 1.1 1.6 .690 1.8 2.5 0.8 0.2 1.6 7.1
Career 26.0 .390 1.9 4.4 .421 0.8 2.3 .329 1.1 1.6 .690 1.8 2.5 0.8 0.2 1.6 7.1

After playing 36 games for Duke as a freshman, Derryck Thornton might be on the move from one college basketball blue blood program to another.

None by Jeff Borzello

Thornton’s numbers — 7.1 points, 2.5 assists, 27 of 82 on 3-pointers in 26.0 minutes (20 starts) — might not be as eye-popping as those of Watson and Holden, but Delaware and San Francisco certainly don’t have the type of talented teammates Thornton had at Duke.

What’s more, Thornton was much more highly regarded coming out of high school, with a five-star rating and offers from the likes of Duke, Arizona and UCLA.

The Blue Devils, who finished 25-11 and lost in the Sweet 16, were 15-5 with Thornton in the starting lineup.

His most productive games, however, came against inferior competition. Thornton only turned out one double-digit scoring performance in the final three months of the season — 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists at Georgia Tech.

During Thornton’s brief stay in Durham, N.C., his best showings came in the non-conference, with a career-high 19 points against VCU, and 18 points against Long Beach State on 8-for-12 shooting (2-for-3 from 3-point range).


Joe Ross 6 years, 1 month ago

...and this is one of the reasons you worry about players transferring from high-profile schools. After Coach K has you in practice, witnesses you in games, and then judges that you're not the player people thought you were, there's no reason for Coach Self to have to rediscover it for himself. It's good to learn from your mistakes. It's better to learn from others'.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 1 month ago

Correct me if I'm wrong, butI believe Thornton was a late, reclassification commit to save Coach K from going into the season without a PG. That is the same situation Cal found himself in the Robert Morris year IIRC. The crazy thing is K is now going to have exactly 1 pg for next year - and that's only if you classify Frank Jackson as a pg. Sounds to me like that's a stretch. Great BB player, but not really a 1. This will doom them - again (2-15).

Bolden may well be a better player than Thornton, but he can't play the point, and there aren't really better options. IMO, it's worth noting that a year ago he was still planning to be playing HS BB. He's still really young, and has plenty of time to develop and help Frank and Devonte develop for a year as well. I would be ecstatic to have Derryck join the team. Heck, I say, because we're likely loosing virtually our entire back court after this year, sign 2 of them and teach both to be combos.

Joe Ross 6 years, 1 month ago

We certainly are going to have to fill some holes after this season, which makes bringing in proven transfers better than recruiting freshmen or OADs (without experienced players to complement them). While I disagree with the Michael Bennett's overall point below (that we are off-topic in the comments), I believe he raises a legitimate point that Coach Self has proven himself in recruiting. Somehow we all share the sense that the continuity is not going to be disrupted greatly because we are Kansas and we have the coach we do. But for now it is definitely interesting to muse about how it's all going to play out.

With respect to Thornton, I suppose Im playing devil's advocate above because each of us has different reasons for wanting one player here more than another. But I do get the sense that there's this whole passing cards under the table with Thornton, where Coach K just doesn't want him. That gives me pause. Kind of the same thing with Ojeleye, who ended up with a blueblood coach in Larry Brown at SMU. We will see how he pans out this upcoming season.

Finally, I admit I could be wrong about Thornton. My pride doesn't extend so far as to feign that I can see the future. My intuition says Holden would fit the style better and that he would be more productive.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 1 month ago

No and yes on the because - IMO. There are some that seem to think what we have is a birthright or something like that (We are Kansas.). Personally, I go back just far enough to realize and appreciate that it's not. (AKA, What are the pre-Larryville years?)

A resounding YES though, with respect to Coach and his staff. He's somewhere between a dad and a general. (Suddenly getting an image of the most senior officer in "Good Morning Vietnam".) Part of that is also the repeated history of pulling rabbits out of nowhere. Occasionally, they're just practice players, and transfer away when the scholarship is needed, but he's found some gems recently. It seems that more recruits are playing that angle. Which amazing program will interested more later because they've missed on other elite players.

It doesn't hurt to have the backdrop of what AFH has become, and the universal endorsement of it by commentators and even competitors.

WRT Thornton in particular, I'm rooting for him simply because it seems that K went pleading to him last year, so the kid (took an opp that wouldn't have been there otherwise) sort of bailed him out, but now gets kicked to the curb. I'd love to see him come to KU, learn from Coach and develop in a year on the practice squad, while pushing F&D in a way that Tyler & Co just can't, and then step in and step up to sink the devil folk with a last second buzzer beater. K would have a comment about how much he appreciates DT, yada, yada, yada, but inside we all know he'd be pizzed and cursing up a storm.

I'm also all for Holden coming as well, as long as that doesn't stop us from getting Trae Young and Porter.

More importantly though, what is your varietal of imported Italian wine of choice?

Joe Ross 6 years, 1 month ago

It's a Vietti Barolo Roche. I have a ex-military friend (the "ex" refers to the military, not the who served in Europe and he came across this. He knows Im a wine drinker and recommended it to me. I'm not a connoisseur of European wines, but the Barolo is very good.

Vernon Riggs 6 years, 1 month ago

Thornton left because he was the low man on the totem pole. Coach K and Duke needed a scholarship for Bolden and Thornton was expendable. Not only has Coach K jumped into the One-and-Done market, he is better at the Kentucky Way of clearing room on the roster than Cal.

Joe Ross 6 years, 1 month ago

I dont know who's better, but I grant you: they both know how to clear a room!

It's kind of amazing to me, really. I mean that Coach K seems to have embraced the OAD era so comfortably. He's been coaching a long time, and with many coaches like that, you observe that they don't change their style at the same pace that other coaches do. No matter how you feel about the age limit mandate, you gotta hand it to Coach K for being flexible and changing with the game.

As far as Thorton, yes. He became, as you say, the "low man on the totem", and was therefore expendible. Coach K may have had one of those talks with him like, "Im pursuing other guys at this position, competition for playing time is going to be very tough, we'd like you to stay here (cough cough) but the reality is that playing time is going to be hard to come by with as crowded as it figures to be. We will support your decision either way (cough cough), but at Duke we care about our players and will assist you in whatever you decide to do."

Im guessing Thorton saw the handwriting on the wall in this season last and wants to go somewhere where he has the chance to be featured. Problem is, when you want that place to be a blueblood program, unless youre a top dog alpha male personality you can find yourself getting caught in an undertow. You either have to be REALLY GOOD or REALLY PATIENT.

Jay Scott 6 years, 1 month ago

Or play for a coach that doesn't play OAD point guards over experienced capable ones....

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 1 month ago

Tyus Jones was the lead guard for their national title. He played next to Quinn Cook who was their off ball guard that season.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 1 month ago

The backcourt at Duke is not crowded at all. In fact, it is more like the forest in the middle of the prairie. Frank Jackson is it.

K may want Bolden, but he is most definitely not recruiting him over Thornton, because they are completely different. The devils will fall next year as they did this year for lack of point leadership. Combos can work well together, but not alone.

Steve Corder 6 years, 1 month ago

Blueblood programs are always recruiting to replace (read: upgrade)....those leaving AND those staying. Joe is right, Thornton was replaced by what coach K believed was a better player. Frankamp & White are recent examples at KU.

Freddie Garza 6 years, 1 month ago

Interestingly, Andrew White III was an honorable mention all B1G selection this year. Not that it wasn't in everyone's best interests that eventually transferred, just wanted to point out that he's doing fairly well at his new school.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 1 month ago

Hadn't seen honorable mention, though I have been watching and happy for AWIII. Glad he found a place where he was needed to stay in the game.

I'm expecting even better from Connor, but also am fine with his decision to leave. Our backcourt is stocked last year and this year, and I'm confident in Coach's ability to bring in more quality guards. I'm sure some will point to Connor's future success as support for criticizing Coach, but we'll be fine.

It's built. They're coming.

Michael Bennett 6 years, 1 month ago

Ok, this may be the dumbest series of comments ever. 12 straight Big XII titles, 2 final fours and a NC and you all are questioning who Bill Self recruits? Question Beatty all you want because he hasn't done crap, but questioning who Bill Self recruits is just dumb.

Joe Ross 6 years, 1 month ago

Don't you think that the title and the article kind of lend themselves quite naturally to a discussion on the merits of the players potentially coming to Kansas, as well as any factors that cause them to leave their current schools (since they're transfers and not freshmen)? The thread so far doesn't seem out of line with the subject of the article.

J.L. Forge 6 years, 1 month ago

Agree with Joe, I don't think this article or any comments thus far are calling out Coach Self regarding his recruiting efforts and strategy. Just a round table discussion on some of the target players they are researching, interviewing and considering in respect for the current and upcoming needs of the program. I think there are some obvious strengths and weaknesses of each of these young men as to how they fit the needs and can mesh with the talent in place now and for the next year or two.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 1 month ago


In the past, there have been plenty of peeps criticizing Coach's recruiting. I'm not seeing it here. In fact, it sounds like a general endorsement.

In contrast, who is it that normally criticizes Coach because he doesn't have a complete set of top 10-20 recruits committed by this point in the 16-17 recruiting? Ah, that silence is golden. (Where's the jazz and wine?)

Greg Ledom 6 years, 1 month ago

Agree with Joe. I would also suggest that it's more pertinent to be able to question a program that has had some consistency than one that hasn't (specific to the current regime), i.e.your comment about Beaty. Beaty at least deserves a pass (imo) until he's had time to either prove he can or can't run his program. Provided there's progress, he gets his 5 years. All that said MB, I also trust in Self completely, but that doesn't mean there can't be debate among those not in the program as to what we think should happen. That's kind of what these message boards are all about really.

Ryan Zimmerman 6 years, 1 month ago

so what about transfers for this season? Any news? Barry?

Layne Pierce 6 years, 1 month ago

Joe Totally agree that Coach K did not seem to care if he left or not. A little bit like Diallo with us. Either the coach believes in you and trusts you, or you are not getting much PT.

He obviously went to Duke to be a star. He still wants to be. Problem is he could not beat out Grayson Allen. Or maybe K just like Grayson better.

Anyway, we definitely need one of the three.

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 1 month ago

Dirk, I predict that Connor Frankamp will not make a serious impact at WSU. He's pretty much a one dimensional player who doesn't have the speed and quickness to create a shot. In some respects, it's not all that different from Brannen Greene in my opinion.

I actually hope that I am wrong because I don't dislike Connor and certainly don't begrudge his decision to transfer from KU. The fact is that he just didn't fit into our plans. If he does at WSU, more power to him.

Will be interesting to see if WSU can remain highly competitive without Baker and Van Fleet. If not, Greg Marshall may have wished that he had moved on when the grass was greener. Then again, maybe he is so happy at WSU that nobody can snatch him away. However, I doubt it.

Jay Scott 6 years ago

At some point, the choice was his. If he wanted to be a Jayhawk he could have shut up and play.

Steve Macy 6 years ago

All would be viable resources to KU in the coming years. I like Thorton, mainly because he is the only one I have seen play. RCJH, but keep recruiting Coach Self, as I know you will.

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