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Kansas basketball program hosted highly coveted, Top-40 big man Adem Bona over the weekend

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

There was no upset or feel-good story that played out at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, but the Kansas-Baylor game still had meaning.

Highly touted, Class of 2022 basketball center Adem Bona was in attendance at Saturday’s game, and the lopsided loss by the home team did nothing to dampen his spirits about the visit.

“I had a great visit to Kansas,” Bona told Shay Wildeboor of JayhawkSlant.com. “It was my first ever visit to a college and it was awesome.”

There was, of course, much more to Bona’s visit than the football game. The 6-foot-10, 210-pound center from Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., toured campus, saw KU’s facilities and met with the coaches and current players.

“I had the chance to meet the whole coaching staff and the culture at Kansas is like one-of-a-kind,” Bona told Wildeboor. “I also had the chance to see and feel the history at Kansas, and the family atmosphere they have built at Kansas is really great. In general, I had a great visit.”

Bona trimmed his list of finalists to eight in late August, and his recruitment involves the cream of the crop in college basketball. KU, Baylor, Kentucky and UCLA are all listed in his final eight, with Arizona State, USC and Miami (Fla.) in the hunt, as well. It has been reported that Bona also is considering jumping straight to Australia’s National Basketball League the way R.J. Hampton did a couple of years ago.

Regardless of which programs stay in the hunt, it’s hard to view KU being his first visit — ever — as anything other than a good sign. It may not mean that the sixth-ranked center in the 2022 class (No. 33 overall) ultimately signs with KU, but no other program will get the opportunity to host him for the first college visit of his life. Because of that, you can bet KU’s staff did it up big and made him feel like the best player on the planet.

Whether he is or not, remains to be seen. Both 247 Sports and ESPN have Bona rated as a five-star prospect, with the latter ranking him 17th overall in the class.

According to Rivals.com’s Jamie Shaw, Bona’s strength is his defense and desire to go hard all the time.

“Bona is a big and strong prospect, who plays with a relentless motor,” Shaw wrote recently. “While his offensive game is raw, he has great timing on defense, both in the passing lanes and in blocking shots, and he is a very aggressive rebounder.”

Duke’s pickup of five-star center Dereck Lively on Monday evening likely means Kentucky will go even harder after Bona now.

John Calipari’s program had been in the final running for Lively, who is ranked as the No. 1 center in the Class of 2022, and has been in the Bona race for a long time, as well.

Bona has given no indication of when he might commit, and he still has at least three visits currently on his schedule for the upcoming weeks — Baylor this weekend, Kentucky on Oct. 15 and UCLA the following week.

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Class of 2022 SF Aidan Shaw to announce college choice Friday

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Aidan Shaw, a 6-foot-8 small forward from nearby Blue Valley High has announced Friday as the day he will reveal his college choice.

Shaw, who played AAU ball this summer for MOKAN Elite, is down to a final five of Kansas, Missouri, Maryland, Iowa and Oklahoma State.

He recently told recruiting analyst Joe Tipton, of On3.com, that KU’s family environment stood out to him on his visit back in June.

He said that his introduction to KU strength coach Ramsey Nijem was one of the highlights of his trip and added that he enjoyed watching KU’s playing style during practice.

“You kind of just go,” he said.

Earlier this summer, Shaw told various recruiting analysts on the AAU circuit that he was looking for a school that could both develop his game and provide him with an atmosphere of elite team chemistry among the players and coaches.

Ranked No. 57 overall in the 2022 class by Rivals.com, Shaw is a four-star prospect who spent time during his junior season ranked in the Top 50.

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KU commitment Gradey Dick brings home gold medal with Team USA at 3-on-3 World Cup

Sunrise Christian Academy junior Gradey Dick, a five-star prospect in the Class of 2022, orally committed to play basketball at the University of Kansas on March 3, 2021.

Sunrise Christian Academy junior Gradey Dick, a five-star prospect in the Class of 2022, orally committed to play basketball at the University of Kansas on March 3, 2021. by Photo courtesy of Sunrise Christian Academy

Kansas basketball commitment Gradey Dick added a gold medal to his collection of basketball hardware over the weekend.

Dick, a five-star prospect in the Class of 2022 who orally committed to KU in March, teamed with Duke commitment Kyle Filipowski and Baylor commitment Keyonte George and IMG Academy's Eric Dailey Jr., in leading Team USA to gold at the Under-18 3-on-3 World Cup in Hungary.

The event has been going for the past decade but the United States did not send a team until 2019. That year, the Americans won gold. And, after a cancelation in 2020 because of the pandemic, Dick and company put the U.S. team back on top again, making it two-for-two for the Americans.

Dick, who also has USA Basketball experience from minicamps he attended in 2019, was a highlight machine throughout the event.

He showed off both his outside touch and his ability to attack the basket in helping lead his squad to a 6-0 record and the gold medal.

Team USA knocked off Estonia, 21-14, in the gold medal game on Sunday, keeping alive its streak of not allowing a single opponent to top 14 points in the games played to 21.

Dick, a Wichita native, will now return home to begin his senior season at Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire. After a standout career at Wichita Collegiate to open his prep playing days, Dick played his junior season at Sunrise, filling a reserve role on a team loaded with Division I commitments.

This year, he is expected to have a much bigger role for coach Luke Barnwell’s team, which consistently plays a tough national schedule and generates all kinds of exposure for its players.

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Five-star KU hoops target Mark Mitchell to narrow list on Saturday

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Five-star prospect Mark Mitchell, one of the top-rated players in the prep class of 2022, has announced that he will trim his list of schools down to a small group of finalists on Saturday.

Ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 8 overall player in his class, Mitchell spent his first few years of high school at nearby Bishop Miege before transferring to Sunrise Christian Academy during the offseason.

The talented 6-foot-7, 190-pound small forward has been on the high-major recruiting radar since he was in eighth grade. He recently led Miege to a Class 4A state title, averaging 18 points and six rebounds along the way.

Mitchell took an official visit to KU in mid-June, shortly after things opened back up following an extended dead period, and also made visits to Missouri, UCLA and Duke in the past couple of months.

In addition to that group, Mitchell also holds offers from Arkansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas, USC, Wake Forest and others.

He did not reveal how many schools would make the cut on Saturday.

Mitchell’s move to Sunrise not only figures to give him the opportunity to face tougher competition and gain even more national exposure, but it also puts him on a roster with Gradey Dick, another five-star prospect in the 2022 class who already has committed to KU.

Kansas currently has three commitments in the 2022 class — Dick, Zuby Ojiofor and M.J. Rice — but could have room for as many as two or three more players before things are finalized, depending on who stays or goes following the 2021-22 season.

Mitchell views himself as a true wing with great versatility, and he recently told David Sisk of Rivals site Tarheel Illustrated that finding a school where he can be both challenged daily and developed for the jump to professional basketball would be key to his decision.

“I think where I fit in is a big thing,” he told Sisk in May. “(I want to go) somewhere where I can fit in, where I'm used and where I'm needed.”

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Class of 2022 prospect M.J. Rice to announce college choice on Tuesday

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Marquise “M.J.” Rice, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound small forward from Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., has pegged Tuesday as the day he will announce his college decision.

Rice is expected to first share the news with Jason Jordan of SI Now on social media around 11 a.m.

Although he has not put out a list of official finalists, there are plenty of recruiting analysts out there who believe that the University of Kansas is in as good a spot as anybody pursuing him.

Rice’s rankings, like his potential landing spots, are all over the place. ESPN ranks him as the 15th best prospect in the 2022 class. 247 Sports has him No. 20 on their list. And the folks at Rivals.com have him listed 28th.

Two of the three outlets rank him as a five-star prospect and most analysts believe that his choice will come down to Kansas, Pitt, Oklahoma State, North Carolina State and the NBA’s G League.

Rice made an official visit to KU’s campus in late June and came away from the experience loving everything about it.

“It was good. They treated me like family,” Rice told Rivals.com’s Rob Cassidy shortly after his visit to KU. “At Kansas, they’re all as one. Nobody is bigger than the group. It’s just one big family. They have a great program.”

Rice recently told Jordan that he liked the vibe

“Everyone really buys in there,” he said. “They work really hard, but they all really like each other, too. I just liked the program overall. The fans there are great, and the coaches really showed me how much they want me there.”

A native of Durham, N.C., Rice started his high school career at Durham Academy before moving to Oak Hill Academy for the 2020-21 season en route to playing out his senior season at Prolific Prep, the same school that produced former KU lottery pick Josh Jackson. Rice played for Team Loaded AAU this summer and he has developed a reputation as a fast and physical player who brings everything he has to the court.

“Rice is as tough as high school prospects come and seems to thrive on contact,” Cassidy wrote recently. “He routinely finishes with defenders draped all over him and has a knack for getting to the line. Rice, who has a knack for putting his matchups on the bench with foul trouble, is built like a brick wall and retains an incredibly quick first step for his size.”

KU currently has two commitments in the 2022 recruiting class — one from five-star Sunrise Christian wing Gradey Dick and another from four-star forward Zuby Ejiofor, from Garland, Texas, who committed to Kansas on July 1.

It remains to be seen how many players KU will sign in the class, but with the transfer portal and immediate eligibility reshaping the offseason and five spots likely opening up due to graduation, it’s clear that this class could still be just getting started for the Jayhawks.

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Kansas basketball program cracks top 6 for Kansas City-area prospect Aidan Shaw

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

The Kansas men’s basketball program made the most recent cut for local prospect Aidan Shaw of nearby Blue Valley High, a top-60 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-8, 190-pound wing who is ranked No. 56 in the 2022 class by Rivals.com narrowed his list to six on Thursday — Kansas, Missouri, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Iowa and Arkansas.

Shaw has visited all six of his finalists and he recently told Rivals.com’s Krysten Peek that he hoped to make a decision before the start of his senior year in August.

Shaw projects as a 3 or 4 in the college game. And during his visit to KU in June, he told JayhawkSlant.com’s Shay Wildeboor that he was able to sit down with KU coach Bill Self and talk about how he might fit in with the program.

“My visit to Kansas was great,” Shaw told Wildeboor back in June. “I went to coach Self's house and it was great because the players and coaches were there and I got to have fun and build relationships with everyone. I didn't really have a host, but I did hang out with the players. The thing that stood out to me was the family environment, along with a hardworking group of guys.”

Beyond his six finalists, Shaw had offers from nearly two doz-en other Power 5 college basketball programs.

With his visits behind him and August nearing, things are cer-tainly starting to heat up in the chase for the talented wing who is headed to Link Academy in Branson, Mo., for his senior year of high school.

Shaw recently told Mitchell Forde, of Rivals site PowerMizzou.com, that the visits he took this summer helped him learn more about each school but also made his decision harder.

He told Forde that finding a spot that will develop him into a pro and emphasize a family atmosphere would play a big role in his decision.

In a recent interview with Peek in Los Angeles, Shaw said his main goal on the summer circuit was to show the coaches how hard he works, how athletic he really is and how willing he is to do whatever is asked on the court.

He told Peek that the coaches at Kansas preached early playing time and also illustrated their plan for developing his game immediately after arriving on campus.

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Kansas basketball recruiting in full swing in 2022 & 2023 classes

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Highly coveted wing Mark Mitchell, a senior-to-be who will play his final season of high school basketball at Sunrise Christian Academy, was in town this week for a visit with the Kansas basketball program.

The athletic 6-foot-8, 205-pound small forward who started his prep career at Bishop Miege posted a couple of tweets during his visit, including three photos of him in the blue KU uniform.

Mitchell is ranked No. 9 in the 2022 class by Rivals.com. He’s headed to Sunrise, where he will team with 2022 KU commit-ment Gradey Dick next season.

Mitchell recently told Tipton Edits that Duke, UCLA, UNC, KU, Oklahoma State and Missouri were the schools currently re-cruiting him the hardest.

He has several other visits planned this summer and also is currently planning to visit KU for Late Night in the Phog on Oct. 1.

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Class of 2023 recruiting

Tuesday marked the first day in the current recruiting period that coaches could directly contact players in the 2023 class, and it’s been fast and furious since then.

Two of the more notable prospects contacted by KU’s coach-ing staff were five-star power forward Javonte Taylor, the No. 4-ranked player in the 2023 class per Rivals.com, and point guard Layden Blocker, who is headed to Sunrise Christian Academy for his junior season.

Rivals has Blocker ranked No. 33 in the 2023 class. He is also being recruited by Missouri, Kansas State, Arkansas, Oklaho-ma, Baylor, Gonzaga, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Stanford, Creighton and several others.

Taylor, a 6-foot-7, 195-pound power forward from Chicago, plays for the AAU program Mac Irvin Fire. The Mac Irvin social media accounts recently revealed that Taylor received 12 big time offers on Tuesday alone, including one from KU. The other programs who jumped in on Taylor were: Kentucky, Duke, Gonzaga, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, LSU, Michigan State, Maryland, Tulane and Nebraska.

Other Class of 2023 prospects KU recently reached out to in-clude: four-star guard Bryson Warren (No. 16 overall per Ri-vals), four-star guard Maki Johnson (No. 67), five-star forward Omaha Biliew, who hails from Omaha, Neb., and is ranked No. 2 overall by Rivals.com, and big men Jazz Gardner (No. 70) and Brandon Garrison (No. 32).

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Jayhawks expecting weekend visit from Top 5 Class of 2022 hoops prospect Chris Livingston

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

The Kansas men’s basketball program’s summer is set to heat up dramatically this weekend, when one of the top players in the 2022 recruiting class makes an official visit to campus.

Chris Livingston, the No. 4-ranked prospect in the class according to Rivals.com, is scheduled to make KU his first official visit of the summer.

A 6-foot-6, 190-pound small forward from Akron, Ohio, Livingston is regarded by many as the best player out of Akron since LeBron James. He first began receiving scholarship offers to major colleges at the age of 14 and has only seen his stock rise since then.

Not surprisingly, James has played an important part in helping Livingston’s development, serving as a mentor of sorts for the talented prospect for the past couple of years.

“He’s really opened up doors for me that I didn’t have before,” Livingston said in a recent feature by Jacob Polacheck for Zagsblog.com. “I still view him the same as how I did as a kid. I look up to him. He’s a role model. It’s kind of the same for me.”

KU offered the talented wing a scholarship in May, shortly after he completed his junior season at Buchtel High by averaging 31 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and 4 blocks per game.

“Physically, he’s just stronger and more athletic than his peers,” wrote Dan McDonald of Rivals.com after a recent AAU tournament in Atlanta. “He has deep range on his shot and he can bully his way to finish in traffic.”

Speculation about Livingston’s future has been all over the place. Some believe he could make a jump straight to profes-sional game and skip college altogether. Others believe he has certain schools in mind and has for a while. And still more think the G League route, which has become increasingly popular in recent years, could be next for the Akron star.

However, according to Polacheck’s feature, the five-star pro-spect has made no such decisions.

“I’ll consider every option in my recruitment process and as far as the next level goes,” he told Polacheck. “I haven’t really been rushing anything, but I’m always thinking about my fu-ture, always looking ahead and looking forward to what’s to come.”

Recently named the Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year, Livingston will play his AAU ball this summer with the “We All Can Go All-Stars.”

Livingston's visit will be just the start of a busy month for the KU coaching staff, which has flipped it into high gear now that the dead period has been lifted.

Other prospects who recently have announced plans to visit KU include:, five-star Class of 2023 forward Omaha Biliew (6-8, 205 Waukee, Iowa) on June 12; four-star forward Aidan Shaw (6-8, 190, Blue Valley) June 17-18; four-star combo guard Nick Smith Jr. (6-5, 175, Sherwood, Ark.) June 21-22; four-star forward Zuby Ejiofor (6-8, 220, Garland, Texas) on June 23; four-star point guard Jayden Epps (6-1, 170, Suffolk, Va.) on June 28; and three-star shooting guard AJ Storr (6-6, 200, IMG Academy) June 28-30.

Class of 2022 KU commitment Gradey Dick, a 6-foot-7 wing from Sunrise Christian in Wichita, also plans to visit KU on Thursday.

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Bishop Miege standout Mark Mitchell slated to visit KU next month

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

With the month of June arriving next Tuesday, prospects in the 2022 and 2023 recruiting classes are starting to look ahead to campus visits now that things will be opened up again following the extended dead period brought about by the pandemic.

Among the notable KU targets expected to visit next month are Bishop Miege junior Mark Mitchell, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound small forward ranked No. 9 in the 2022 class by Rivals.com.

Mitchell recently told Shay Wildeboor of JayhawkSlant.com that he was planning to visit KU on June 16.

“I don't know what capacity (official or unofficial), but I'm taking a visit on June 16,” Mitchell told Wildeboor. “I'm also planning to attend Late Night.”

The talented junior who has been on the high-major recruiting radar since he was in eighth grade recently led Miege to a Class 4A state title, averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds along the way.

In addition to Kansas, which was his second scholarship offer back in 2019, Mitchell holds offers from Arkansas, Duke, Kansas State, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Texas, UCLA, USC, Wake Forest and others. He told Wildeboor he plans to visit UCLA on June 6, Missouri on June 12, KU on June 16, Oklahoma State on June 19 and Duke at the end of the month.

Those are not likely to be his last visits, as Mitchell may take advantage of another round of visits — official and unofficial — during his senior year.

His trip to Lawrence certainly will not be his first, as Miege’s close proximity to KU’s campus has allowed the 2021 DiRenna Award winner (he shared it with Lawrence High’s Zeke Mayo) to come to KU for a handful of unofficial visits throughout his prep career.

Mitchell recently told Tipton Edits that Duke, UCLA, UNC, KU, Oklahoma State and Missouri were the schools currently recruiting him the hardest.

Combo guard Nick Smith Jr., who is ranked No. 36 overall in the 2022 class by Rivals, is also scheduled to visit KU the weekend of June 21-22.

The 6-5, 175-pound versatile guard hails from Sylvan Hills High in Sherwood, Ark.

Don’t expect these to be the only visitors coming through Kansas next month. After a quiet summer in 2020 that featured the rise of the virtual visit, things should be back closer to normal for coaches and recruits throughout the upcoming summer.

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Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler picks Kentucky

Georgia's Sahvir Wheeler (2) against Arkansas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Fayetteville, Ark.

Georgia's Sahvir Wheeler (2) against Arkansas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Fayetteville, Ark. by AP Photo/Michael Woods

Monday afternoon, on a live podcast with Jeff Goodman and The Field of 68 Media Network, Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler orally committed to Kentucky.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound point guard chose the Wildcats over Kansas, LSU and Oklahoma State.

Asked by Goodman what made the difference, Wheeler, who led the SEC in assists last season, said he was excited to join a program that would get him in the NCAA Tournament, adding, “a roster that’s set up to win a national championship.”

Wheeler called joining the UK roster “a point guard’s dream,” while adding that he was looking forward to playing with talented players all over the floor and wings who can shoot.

Wheeler is the second KU target to pick the Wildcats in the past week. Late last week, prep point guard Tyty Washington committed to John Calipari's program, picking UK over KU, Arizona and LSU.

Asked on Monday what he thought about following Washington to Lexington, Kent., Wheeler pointed out that Calipari has never been afraid to put multiple point guards on the floor at the same time.

That very idea is one Kansas coach Bill Self has had a lot of success with throughout his coaching career, particularly at Illinois and Kansas. And Self, in targeting another point guard to add to the 2021-22 roster, also is aiming to get back to that style of play after operating mostly with a primary ballhandler since the 2017-18 season.

The Jayhawks still have one scholarship to hand out and remain in pursuit of several guards, both true point guards and long-range shooters. Most notable on the list is Arizona State transfer Remy Martin, who announced last week that he was entering the transfer portal.

KU's current recruiting class is ranked No. 14 nationally by Rivals.com. It likely would crack the top 10 if the Jayhawks add another player, which is pretty much a certainty.

Most national publications have Self's 2021-22 squad as a top-10 team in the national rankings at this point in the offseason. KU is still waiting on NBA draft decisions from guard Ochai Agbaji and wing Jalen Wilson.

If either player elects to remain in the NBA draft pool, KU would have another spot to fill on its roster.

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