Kansas Jayhawks sophomore center Udoka Azubuike recently made the decision to test the NBA waters and enter the draft process.
Azubuike will do so without hiring an agent, though, which means he retains the opportunity to return to Kansas next season, should he elect to do so. Of course, which decision the 7-foot center ultimately makes will have a notable impact on Kansas’ upside entering the 2018-19 season. That isn’t to say the Jayhawks will be without talent, as that’s certainly not the case as Bill Self’s 2018 class is ranked No. 5 nationally.
But as detailed by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Johnson, Azubuike isn’t easily replaceable and could bolster Kansas’ 2018-19 roster considerably.
“You can make a credible argument that the Jayhawks—thanks to a talent infusion including multiple blue-chip recruits and transfers—will have a better team in next year than the one that just won the Big 12 and reached the Final Four,” Johnson said. “That argument becomes less persuasive if Kansas’s primary big man leaves the program.As a sophomore last season, Azubuike served as the lynchpin of Kansas’s thin frontcourt, leading all qualified Division I players in two-point field-goal percentage, protecting the rim and propping up the Jayhawks’ otherwise feeble rebounding efforts,” Johnson said.
“Although Kansas may have a solid replacement for Azubuike in incoming freshman David McCormack, a 6’9″, 255-pound low-block force out of famed Oak Hill Academy who was named a McDonald’s All-American, his presence wouldn’t do much to lessen the sting of missing out on the chance to watch Azubuike blossom in his second full season,” Johnson added.
As a sophomore, Azubuike anchored the paint for a Kansas team that was largely dependent upon its perimeter play, and did so to the tune of 13 points, 7 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game. Should he elect to return to Kansas for a third season, Azubuike would likely inherit an increased role, as well, as the Jayhawks will be without much of their 2017-18 production with Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk out of eligibility, and Malik Newman off to the NBA. Legerald Vick is testing the NBA waters, as well.
Even without Azubuike, Kansas will likely enter next season as the Big 12 favorites and a threat to make yet another deep tournament run. With Azubuike, however, Kansas may be the most talented team in the nation.
Azubuike has until June 11 to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft if he hopes to return to Kansas next season.