Kansas Jayhawks

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Four-star forward Jalen Wilson asks out of Michigan letter of intent

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John Beilein isn’t the only loss Michigan sustained this week.

Jalen Wilson, a top-50 guard in 2019, has requested out of his National Letter of Intent with the Wolverines, he announced Thursday.

“Due to the sudden head coaching change, I have requested my release from The University of Michigan, and will re-open my recruitment,” he wrote on social media.

Beilein’s decision to leave Michigan for the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the college basketball world earlier this week, and there’s little surprise to see it shake the Wolverines’ recruiting class as the head coaching position remains vacant and Michigan conducting a search of its next coach.

Wilson, a 6-foot-8 forward, is now considering Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Florida along with the Wolverines, according to 247Sports. The Texas native suddenly becomes one of the most desirable players left available ahead of the upcoming season.

Cole Bajema, a top-150 wing from Washington, is the lone remaining signee in Michigan’s 2019 class.

Kansas lands top-50 Class of 2019 wing Tristan Enaruna

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Kansas landed a commitment from one of the best available high school seniors on Tuesday night as top-50 Class of 2019 wing Tristan Enaruna pledged to the Jayhawks.

The 6-foot-9 Enaruna is a native of The Netherlands as he’s been playing high school basketball in the United States since the middle of last season at Wasatch Academy in Utah. After a strong appearance at Basketball Without Borders in February, Enaruna vaulted into the national top 50 of a couple of prominent recruiting services.

The top-rated Kansas pledge in the Class of 2019, Enaruna is an upside forward with length and a workable skillset. The Jayhawks will continue to recruit for some open scholarship needs for next season as Enaruna joins four-star prospects Isaac McBride and Christian Braun in the Kansas recruiting class.

Kansas and Adidas extend apparel contract despite recent controversial history

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Despite facing a likely NCAA investigation due to previous recruiting practices by an Adidas employee, the University of Kansas opted to extend its apparel contract with the shoe giant on Wednesday.

Signing a lucrative 14-year extension worth $196 million total, the Jayhawks will stay in Adidas gear for the foreseeable future — despite the company damaging the program’s reputation during the first college basketball corruption trial.

Former Adidas runner and AAU coach T.J. Gassnola testified in federal court last October that he made payments on behalf of the company to Kansas basketball players Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa. Preston never ended up playing for the Jayhawks while De Sousa was suspended two seasons by the NCAA — something Kansas appealed and hopes to shorten after he already missed the 2018-19 season. Kansas will likely hear from the NCAA about an investigation shortly as the trial created national headlines.

But even after Adidas put the school in an uncomfortable light, the company gave Kansas a sweet deal that is tough for them to pass up. Worth $14 million annually, the deal will be one of the largest by an apparel company in college sports as Kansas and Adidas have already been partners since 2005.

The extension will pay the Kansas athletics department an average of $3.86 million more per year in base compensation and an astounding $4.12 million more per year in product allowance. The new extension also allows for Kansas to get a significant amount of early money in the deal as the school will receive $11 million annually in base compensation from Adidas in each of the next two years before the number drops back down to around $4 million.

While Adidas certainly hurt the Kansas brand (and maybe even recruiting for the 2019 class) the company clearly felt it needed to make a grand gesture in order to keep the Jayhawks apart of the brand. As one of the flagship Adidas programs for the past 14 years, the Jayhawks have gone on a record-breaking Big 12 regular-season title streak while also winning a national championship.

It’s controversial for Kansas to continue its business ties with a company that hurt them, but the significant boost in annual compensation — coupled with significant money the next two years — was clearly too good for the school to pass up.

Udoka Azubuike returning to Kansas for senior season

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Injuries have robbed Kansas center Udoka Azubuike of nearly two full seasons of college basketball. They also likely played a major part on while he’ll be back for his fourth year on campus.

The 7-footer will return to Lawrence and the Jayhawks for his senior season rather than declare for the NBA draft, the school announced Monday.

“We’re all very excited about Udoka making the decision not to enter the draft,” Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement released by the school. “Unfortunately for him, injury is the reason as he still cannot participate (at) what would be the NBA combine or workouts for the NBA teams. We really anticipated that this would be the year he would enter the draft but that was also based on him having an injury-free year.”

Azubuike was averaging 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 70.5 percent from the field before a wrist injury cut his season short in January after just nine games. He also played just 11 games as a freshman due to injury.

In his lone full healthy season, Azubuike averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds per game as he made 77 percent of his shots from the field, making him nearly an unstoppable force for teams across the Big 12. His return makes Kansas, the 10th-ranked team in our preseason Top 25, an even stronger favorite to regain its Big 12 crown after Texas Tech and Kansas State shared the league title last year to deprive Kansas of its spot atop the league for the first time in 14 years as it battled injuries, suspensions and lackluster play.

Kansas guard Quentin Grimes declaring for 2019 NBA Draft

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Kansas freshman guard Quentin Grimes is declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft he announced on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-5 Grimes had an up-and-down first season in Lawrence as he went from a very-hyped McDonald’s All-American into an inconsistent player. Although Grimes showed flashes of greatness at times during the 2018-19 season — including 21 points in the season-opening Champions Classic win over Michigan State — he was never able to become the consistent double-figure scorer that many believed he would be.

Grimes put up 8.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 38 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range on the season. In a draft that doesn’t feature a lot of players with long-term upside, Grimes could be an intriguing name in the first round because of his size and ability to play multiple spots on the perimeter.

Shooting from the perimeter and the lack of consistent play this season will be questioned by NBA personnel, but there’s also a reason Grimes was highly-regarded entering the season. Grimes has the type of talent and upside to turn things around if he opts to stay in the draft and turn pro.

If Kansas loses Grimes then they’ll need to figure out who to pair along with guard Devon Dotson for the future. The Jayhawks also lost guard Charlie Moore to a transfer this offseason as Kansas is looking a little thin on the perimeter at the moment.

Bryce Brown, Auburn blitz Kansas to advance to first Sweet 16 in 16 years

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Auburn advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 16 years as the No. 5 seed Tigers blitzed Kansas for an 89-75 victory on Saturday night in the NCAA tournament’s Midwest Region.

Jumping out to a 51-25 halftime advantage behind 9-for-17 three-point shooting in the first half, Auburn seemingly broke the will of the No. 4 seed Jayhawks before the second half even began. After nearly collapsing and blowing a big lead on Thursday in a harrowing one-point win over No. 12 seed New Mexico State, the Tigers made sure not to take their foot off the gas in the second half on Saturday.

One of the tournament’s hottest teams, Auburn (28-9) extended its winning streak to 10 games with a dominant effort on both ends of the floor. Known for its perimeter shooting prowess (13-for-30 on Saturday) and national-best turnover percentage on defense (15 Kansas turnovers), Auburn played to its strengths to cruise into the tournament’s second weekend.

Senior guard Bryce Brown had 17 first-half points as he finished with 25 total to lead the Tigers as he was a red-hot 7-for-11 from three-point territory. Brown also had plenty of help as lead guard Jared Harper (18 points), wing Chuma Okeke (12 points) and forward Anfernee McLemore (10 points) also finished in double-figures.

Following last season’s co-SEC regular-season title, the Tigers were blown out by Clemson in the Round of 32 to stop a promising season short. Things didn’t appear particularly promising at times this season as Auburn went from top-ten team to unranked thanks to a sluggish 2-4 start in the SEC.

But head coach Bruce Pearl and the Tigers have turned things around as a dangerous rotation of veteran players have figured things out during the final weeks of the season. With Auburn firmly entrenched in the middle of the FBI’s college basketball corruption scandal with former assistant coach Chuck Person pleading guilty earlier this month, the Tigers were able to stay focused and reach a level the program has seldom seen.

For Pearl to take a football school into the Sweet 16 shows how far Auburn has come as a basketball program during his five seasons as head coach. One of college basketball’s more underappreciated coaches, Pearl can be associated first-and-foremost for his loud-and-brash approach to generating publicity and gaining the attention of elite recruits. Never afraid of a publicity stunt, the ever-quotable Pearl is a regular when it comes to memorable sound bites and quirky gimmicks. As a coach, he’s now taken three different programs to the Sweet 16 — including a Horizon League team (Milwaukee) and a historically-weak SEC program that doesn’t have consistent basketball success.

Auburn could very well continue to advance this March as they try to make the Elite Eight for only the second time in program history (1986). If Auburn shoots like this, while continuing to force turnovers, they’re going to be a nightmare for any team to play.

The Tigers move on to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003 as this is only the fifth Sweet 16 appearance in program history. The Tigers await the winner of No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 9 seed Washington as they advance to Friday’s Midwest Regional semifinal in Kansas City.

Kansas (26-10) came out flat and never recovered after one of the first round’s most impressive wins over No. 13 seed Northeastern on Thursday. All-American forward Dedric Lawson had another double-double to close a memorable season as he finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds — notching the NCAA tournament’s first back-to-back 25-and-10 games since Blake Griffin did it for Oklahoma. Freshman guards Quentin Grimes (15 points) and Devon Dotson (13 points) along with freshman big man David McCormack (11 points) also finished in double-figures for the Jayhawks. A lackluster defensive effort and cold perimeter shooting hurt Kansas’ ability to rally in the second half as they were 6-for-19 (31 percent) from three-point range on the night.

After many predicted a repeat Final Four appearance for Kansas this preseason following last season’s deep tournament run, things didn’t go according to plan thanks to injuries and other issues. The loss of big man Udoka Azubuike to a season-ending injury was a devastating blow to the Jayhawks’ early hopes as he only played in nine games. Senior Lagerald Vick also left the team in early February and never returned. Without its starting center and best perimeter shooter, Kansas lost the Big 12 regular-season crown for the first time in 14 years as its season officially ends with a second-round exit.

The highly-touted freshman class also didn’t perform up to expectations. Although Dotson was a double-figure scorer and tough defender, Grimes, the team’s most celebrated incoming freshman, failed to meet lofty preseason standards. McCormack also wasn’t ready to replace Azubuike in the middle. Kansas even had to burn the redshirt of promising guard Ochai Agbaji to infuse more athleticism into the Jayhawk backcourt. Transfer rotation players like Charlie Moore and K.J. Lawson were inconsistent after the former top-100 recruits sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Entering into a fascinating offseason, for the first time in a long time, Kansas might have more questions than answers. The Jayhawks haven’t slipped too far — the program still has made a national-best 30 straight NCAA tournament appearances. Bill Self’s program is still a perennial top-25 program. A No. 4 seed during a season with so many issues is nothing to scoff at. College basketball’s best home-court advantage isn’t going away.

But the end of the Big 12 title streak means the program has to find a bit of a new identity heading into next season. Kansas will still be one of the Big 12’s hunted programs. The Jayhawks also have to prove they can win away from home. A number of returning players need to get better during the offseason — particularly if Dedric Lawson turns pro. And Kansas doesn’t have a five-star, blue-chip recruit at the current moment to rely on as recruiting has perhaps been slowed by Self’s alleged involvement the FBI’s corruption case.

The future of Self, and Kansas basketball in general, will be one of the subplots to watch this offseason as one of college basketball’s blueblood programs faces a fascinating and uncertain next few months.