One prep decision and one transfer visitor highlight busy Monday for Kansas basketball


Stephen F. Austin forward TJ Holyfield (22) and Texas Tech forward Norense Odiase (32) battle for a rebound during the first half of a first-round game at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Dallas, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Stephen F. Austin forward TJ Holyfield (22) and Texas Tech forward Norense Odiase (32) battle for a rebound during the first half of a first-round game at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Dallas, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade) by Matt Tait

In a matter of hours, Class of 2019 shooting guard Cassius Stanley will make his decision official by announcing his pick from finalists KU, Oregon, UCLA and Duke around 2:30 p.m. central time.

Many recruiting analysts have Stanley headed to Duke, the last of the four programs to get in on the ultra-athletic shooting guard from North Hollywood, Calif.

While the Jayhawks wait for the official word, a player with a far lower profile but possibly even more importance will be on KU’s campus conducting an official visit and exploring the idea of joining KU’s roster in a few months.

His name is T.J. Holyfield. He’s a 6-foot-8, 215-pound graduate transfer from Stephen F. Austin. And while there’s no known time table for Holyfield’s announcement or decision, it’s possible that his visit could be among the more important events to take place on the recruiting trail during the next several weeks for a Kansas program looking to restock its roster.

Coming off a shoulder injury that cost him the 2018-19 season before it began and allowed him to become a graduate transfer in the first place, Holyfield represents the kind of size and experience that Kansas could need up front if Dedric Lawson stays in the NBA draft — as expected — and neither Silvio De Sousa (appeal) and Udoka Azubuike (uncertain future) are around to help Mitch Lightfoot and David McCormack hold things down in the post.

During the 2017-18 season, when he helped lead the Lumberjacks to the NCAA Tournament, Holyfield averaged 12.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, while chipping in with an assist here, a block there and steal or two somewhere else just about every game.

Beyond those numbers, Holyfield flashed the type of versatility and consistency that fits well with today’s evolving game, shooting 55 percent from the floor and 41 percent from 3-point range (28 of 68) while also knocking down 75 percent of his free throw attempts.

Kansas is far from alone in its pursuit of Holyfield, the type of player who would receive automatic playing time and fit well into just about any roster for the 2019-20 season.

Holyfield visited Texas Tech over the weekend — a program that made it all the way to the national title game last season with two grad transfers (Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens) playing major roles — and, before that visit, the smooth forward told Jarett Johnson, of, that he already had visited Miami (Fla.), as well.

Add Illinois and Oregon to his final five and expect Holyfield to make a decision after official visits to all five finalists have wrapped up.

Originally from Albuquerque, N.M., Holyfield played one prep season for Elev8 Sports Institute in Delray Beach, Fla.

When making his initial decision to attend Stephen F. Austin, Holyfield chose SFA over Southern Miss, Florida Atlantic, Boston College and Pitt.

Holyfield and Stanley — stay in touch with for the latest on his decision later today — are just two of the pieces in what could be a wild few weeks for Kansas recruiting.

The Jayhawks are targeting other grad transfers and still have a few highly ranked prep prospects on their wish list, as well.


Drew Doerfler 3 years ago

espn has Holyfield as the 25th best immediately eligible transfer available....i'm sorry, but it just seems that something is 'off' for KU basketball right now.......we are scraping the barrel with everyone and losing out on players that we have been in the lead for forever.......seems like Self is losing his recruiting mojo or something else is up with the program.......and for everyone thinking that our 2 recruits are flying under the radar and will be 'amazing' contributors right at the start....odds are that they won't....247 has them both in the 200's......247 had Frank Mason at around 50 while others' had him around 100....Devonte at 87 while other's a little over 100.......and the other programs recruiting these 2 were not very noteworthy at all....not saying they won't turnout to be key contributors down the road.....just don't look for that much out of them next year

Benz Junque 3 years ago

Frank Mason was ranked #118 on 247: before he committed to Kansas. They are wildly unpredictable in their recruiting rankings and seem to be much less in tune with the actual recruits. I think rivals does a better job of actually scouting and ranking recruits.

Drew Doerfler 3 years ago

if you actually read it a little more closely, that was the composite rankings of all the sites....247 has him at 52, rivals doesn't even have him in the top 150......look right under the composite ranking...a couple of years ago, you may have been right and Rivals was doing a better job....but if you ever hear recruiting analysts discuss rankings, it's usually from 247......

Mike Hart 3 years ago

I'd worry less about what a guy's ranking is... and more on what the guy can physically do. Case in point and as mentioned by others (Frank Mason). But look no further than last year's Quentin Grimes... who was a top 10 recruit. Raise your hand if you think Grimes PLAYED like a top 10 recruit? A better example than Frank Mason is Devonte Graham. He wasn't All-World in high school but he's one of the best PG's we had. Holyfield missing the entire season last year due to shoulder woes didn't help the perception of his value.. and may have lowered his prospect rating as a transfer. Either way, can't be any worse than Jack Whitman!!!

Layne Pierce 3 years ago

Drew Rivals has Braun at 94, and McBride at 104.

so I think you got your numbers a little wrong.


Drew Doerfler 3 years ago

i wasn't referring to rivals.....247 seems to have had the most accurate ratings and seems to be the top recruiting site right now.....i was stating that they were the best at judging having frank at 50 while rivals had him in the mid 100s and also having a higher ranking for Devonte......i think rivals jacked both of their ratings up simply because they signed with KU....espn, 247 have them both a lot lower ranked....and like i said, look at the other schools recruiting them and it's a bunch of nobodies... and nothing against either one of them...they could turn out to be amazing players and at least 4 year players that we can enjoy watching grow and improve over the years unlike the one and Grimes....i've been following KU basketball for 25 years and am a proud alumn and there just seems to be something going on right now that is not good.........i'm hoping Self can pull something out of the hat, but just looking at our top recruits and how we've missed out on every single one of them....Earl, Hurt, Stanley and Precious aren't picking KU just seems like he is struggling just to put together a functional basketball team for next season, not putting together a national title contender or even a big 12 contender, which we, as KU, should always be striving for

John Strayer 3 years ago

Ummm...head under a rock lately?? FBI??? NY trial full of Self text messages??? NCAA 2 yr suspension of Silvo??? Current NCAA investigation related to FBI and NY trial??? Adidas $s to Billy Preston???

Add to that current players in limbo...Dok, Silvo appeal and Dotson NBA draft...the problem is likely there is way too much uncertainty surrounding KU's program right now. Bill Self pretty much talked about the negative recruiting against KU at the B-Ball program last week...even said he'd use that type of info when recruiting as well.

It's gonna take time...and likely not going to clear up with this 2019 class. Get ready for "some guys" to join the roster later this summer....Bill Self's own words "some guys"...

Drew Doerfler 3 years ago

no, my head hasn't been under a Arizona had it probably worse than KU with the fbi, but has the number 1 ranked recruiting class right now, Lousville also doing well in doesn't seem to have hurt the other programs at all

Shannon Gustafson 3 years ago

Go look at Arizona's recruiting class last year (and Louisville while you're at it), the year news broke about their FBI stuff. Ours broke this year for comparison's sake.

Keith Gellar 3 years ago

SERIOUSLY...IS NO ONE TELLING THESE RECRUITS ABOUT THE STREAK???? Its the single greatest feat in College BBall and outdoes anything Duke, UK, UCLA, etc. have. Remember, the tourney is a crapshoot and totally a garbage indicator of greatness.

I'm confident if the recruiting staffed focused on the streak for 90% of the time during recruiting, we have have a lot more top notch talent in.

Freddie Garza 3 years ago

These kids don't give a rats behind about the streak. They care about one thing and one thing only. $$$$$$$$$$$$$

John Strayer 3 years ago

The streak probably says more about how bad the Big XII is in basketball than how good KU is.

Dave Roberts 3 years ago

John, I agree that the streak is probably, at best, a minor factor in recruiting. However, that doesn't mean that the Big 12's overall strength is poor.

Although the conference has been poorly managed ever since it came into existence, it's somehow maintained its TV and national status, particularly in basketball. imo, that's due to the fact that it generally has above average head coaches. From top to bottom, the teams are as strong as any other conference, with the exception being the ACC.

Matthew Coleman 3 years ago

Strayer, this is obviously not true. By nearly every measure, the Big 12 has been among the top 2 or 3 leagues in the NCAA every year. Many of the years we have been numerically the best top to bottom league.

Jim Stauffer 3 years ago

So your thought is we missed on these kids because our Coaches have failed to mention how good we have been in the last 15 years? Hey for that matter even the last 35 years.

Freddie Garza 3 years ago

I don't know why we insist on being so naive. We were the subject of an FBI investigation into players being paid. We know players WERE paid. The people paying them are looking at prison time. We have a very limited bagman game right now.

Oh no, I wasn't supposed to say that, was I?

Burying your head in the sand isn't a good look. If we're not bringing the cash, then we're not going to be bringing home the recruits either. Sad, but that's just the reality right now.

The silver lining is that it's about to hit the fan for several other programs as well, so we're far from alone in this predicament.

Craig Carson 3 years ago

Unless something miraculous happens, we are probably witnessing KU, first NIT team in well over 30 years..its like no-one wants to play here this season...scary thing is, if Dotson,obajai and McCormack have the kind of years we hope they do then they could leave as well..then Self definately can't afford to miss recruits like this year

Mike Hart 3 years ago

baloney... Dotson will be back. So will Dok. Grimes will wish he came back if he stays in the draft.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years ago

Somebody is trying for "dumbest post of the year" here.

You've got some competition because one other person said basically the same thing. We'll have to dissect the details of each post to decide the "winner".

Glen Miller 3 years ago

When TCU and Oklahoma State have more ESPN top 100 players than Kansas and OU has multiple top 100....... all while we have ZERO. Not your typical recruiting year here. I wish the school, coaches and everyone else would stop BSing their fans and just be straight up about what the hell is going on. If we're about to be sanctioned then let's just get it over with and move forward. I have always hated Adidas and thought Nike or Under Armour was a better partnership. But but but.... the money everyone said. Well, how much good is all that money doing now? We're no better than any other school who doesn't play by the rules and now all of KU is in panic and denial mode. We've been hammered by the NCAA in the last 3-5 years with our recruiting and suspensions. Embiid, Diallo, Azibuike, DeSousa....... all those guys had to sit games their first season. Something is amiss and all the lies and we're fines in the world by Self, the school and everyone else just don't cut it for me anymore. Nothing would surprise me at this point.

Jesse Johnson 3 years ago

Embiid didn't sit any games because of eligibility issues, and neither did Azubuike. Not sure what you're smoking.

Brian Skelly 3 years ago

Im sure KU is getting hammered on the recruiting trail with negative recruiting. We've earned it though. Self is going to have and the guys are going to have to get through it.

Pius Waldman 3 years ago

Stanley committed to Duke. If Coach K wants a recruit hard for other schools to overcome his picks. Even Calipari who in the past signed all top rated recruits is now 2nd fiddle to Duke, So can't blame Self. It appears to me that best solution is for all to return. Not a one is a 1st round pick and many aren't even 2nd round picks.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years ago

I doubt he'll come to KU. Holyfield will be better under TTech's Beard - he will benefit from Tech's bball play/style. He won't develop under BS, Dok will be the main focus again - high/low, post feeding style.

Jim Stauffer 3 years ago

I realize many think Self is rejecting the 3 point game. I don't believe so. I think he feels Dok is the perfect center to have to pull in defenses to open up the outside game. I do agree with him that teams that depend entirely upon making 3's are mining fool's gold. Teams need to play inside and out. We proved that when we went to the Final Four in '18. That team had 3 great outside shooters but had Dok and Silvio alternating inside and Silvio personally put the hurt on Duke as you may recall. If Dotson improves his shooting and we find one other wing we would be very powerful against anyone with Dok and Silvio.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years ago

We had our chances to score from 3s for a few years, but I don't think kids were encouraged to fire them at will. We had AW3, Frankamp, BIFM3, Tae's first 2 years. Only when Malik, Tae, Svi - trio, convinced him, shooting larger volumes of 3s wasn't bad of an idea at all. Look at our average per season in 3 shot attempts. No one can win without volume 3s (of course you have to have 30-40% 3pt shooters). I don't believe Self had hard time adapting to today's college evolving games, only time will tell.

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