Kansas center Udoka Azubuike will withdraw from the 2018 NBA Draft and return to Kansas for his junior season.
Azubuike’s decision is good news for the Jayhawks’ 2018-19 front court, which will include Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson and highly touted incoming freshman David McCormack.
Kansas coach Bill Self confirmed the news to the Lawrence Journal-World on Wednesday.
“He prepared as hard as anybody we’ve had in the combine and went and helped himself,” Self said of Azubuike’s week in Chicago in mid-May. “But he probably didn’t help himself to the point where he would be a guaranteed first-round draft pick. … But I think he’ll be more motivated now.”
Azubuike averaged 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last season.
The junior was smart to test the NBA waters with the NCAA’s rule that allows underclassmen to participate in pre-draft workouts, but still retain their eligibility if they don’t sign with an agent and they withdraw before the early entry deadline.
If he decided to leave, however, it would’ve been understandable as each prospective pro player has different financial and personal situations that factor into the decision.
Azubuike was one of the best rim protectors in the Big 12 last season and not much should change next year.
The junior has plenty to prove on the offensive end, and his free-throw shooting was a liability at points. But the 7-foot, 280-pound center will benefit the most from another year under Self, who could help Azubuike secure his place in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft.