The 2018 NBA Draft Combine is just a day away, and some college basketball teams have more at stake than others when the invited participants show off their skills.
And two of those schools happen to reside in the current gauntlet that is the Big 12 Conference.
FanRag Sports’ Jon Rothstein listed Kansas and West Virginia as two of the 12 schools with the most at stake in the draft combine when it comes to the 2018-19 season. The event will take place from May 16-20 in Chicago, Ill.
So why is the bar raised higher than others for the Jayhawks and Mountaineers once the action begins in the Windy City on Wednesday? It just happens to be that Kansas center Udoka Azubuike and West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate, two of the participants at the draft combine, have yet to sign with an agent. Thus, their performances at the event could be influential in whether or not they may change their mind and return to their respective schools this fall.
Here’s what Rothstein had to say.
Rothstein on Kansas:
“The Jayhawks are currently the number one team in the FRS Sports Preseason Top 25 and that’s with the idea that Bill Self will start an all-freshman back court — Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes — next season. It’s never a comforting things to rely on first-year guards, but it makes it much easier if you have a front court like Kansas hopes to have next season; that’s why Udoka Azubuike’s presence is so critical. If he returns to school, the broad-shouldered big man will anchor a Jayhawks’ baseline next season alongside a pair of transfers in Memphis in K.J. and Dedric Lawson, which would instantly be one of the sports best three-four-five alignments based on size, power, and experience. But if Azubuike for some reason kept his name in the 2018 NBA Draft, Kansas would take a major hit.”
Rothstein on West Virginia:
“Bob Huggins told FRS Sports during this past season that Sagaba Konate was probably the second-best shot blocker he’s ever coached in his career next to Kenyon Martin and that’s some pretty serious praise. The 6-8, 260 pound big man averaged 3.2 blocks last season as a sophomore and had nine games with five or more blocked shots; that’s the type of stuff that could translate in Chicago. If Konate returns to school for his junior season, the Mountaineers will likely have the best shot blocker in college basketball next season. If he doesn’t, Huggins will have to fill a gaping hole in the middle.”
Both teams were among the Big 12’s best during the 2017-18 season, as Kansas defeated West Virginia to capture the Big 12 Tournament title. Both made considerable runs in the NCAA Tournament, as West Virginia advanced to the Sweet Sixteen while Kansas made it all the way to San Antonio, Texas for the Final Four. Both, however, saw their seasons come to an end at the hands of eventual-national champion Villanova.
Both will look once again to bring home the Big 12’s first national title on the hardwood since 2008 when they take the court for the 2018-19 season. But for now, it remains a waiting game in determining the respective rosters for each team.