KU freshman guard Ochai Agbaji on improving during the offseason
Kansas’ basketball team returns just four scholarship players who attempted at least one three-point shot last season.
One of those Jayhawks to exhibit range from beyond-the-arc is sophomore combo guard Ochai Agbaji. He plans on forming a potent three-point duo with sophomore point guard Devon Dotson in 2019-20.
“Our coach (Bill Self) is really emphasizing how much we (need to be) in the gym shooting,” former Oak Park High standout Agbaji said Tuesday from Washburn University’s Lee Arena, where he worked the morning shift as a counselor at Brett Ballard’s Ichabod basketball camp.
“When we go to workouts, that’s what we are going to be doing, just getting up shots — bigs, too. Shooting is definitely something we are going to focus on this offseason.”
Agbaji made 23 of 75 threes for 30.7% in 22 games his freshman season. Dotson was 33 of 91 for 36.3%. The others who attempted threes: Marcus Garrett (12 of 49 for 24.5%) and Mitch Lightfoot (2 of 10, 20%).
KU has added three guards in the 2019 recruiting class who figure to hoist some threes: Christian Braun, Issac “Mackey” McBride and Tristan Enaruna. The Jayhawks also are recruiting undecided 6-8 forward Jalen Wilson, whose range stretches past the three-point line.
“I’m confident in all my teammates to hit shots,” Agbaji said. “I think we’ll improve and definitely have better shooters (this year). I would hope to see Marcus develop a little bit moving forward. The freshmen coming in … Christian Braun can shoot it a little bit. Mackey (McBride) can, too.”
Agbaji — he nailed 25 of 36 free throw attempts for 69.4% his freshman season — said his primary goals this summer include, “shooting with them (KU coaches) always talking about that. That and being able to handle the ball, handle the pressure and create for others too.”
Agbaji dished 20 assists against 30 turnovers his freshman season.
“It’s fun getting back into it,” Agbaji said Tuesday, the first day of the first session of summer school at KU. “It seems kind of fast how my first year went. I remember as a freshman coming in here (Lee Arena last summer) for the first time. Coming back here … it’s always fun working these camps.
“I have the same mindset I did last year,” Agbaji added of a year that started with him redshirting. Self pulled the redshirt when it became necessary for Agbaji to enter the playing rotation because of injuries and also guard Lagerald Vick’s leaving the team in early February.
“I want to help the team any way I can. Obviously I might have a big role this season. I’m just working toward that.”
Agbaji said he’s elated that backcourt partner Dotson recently announced plans to withdraw from the 2019 NBA Draft and return to KU.
“I know everyone was (happy to get Dotson back),” Agbaji said. “All the news we had in a span of three weeks … Doke (Azubuike) coming back, Silvio (De Sousa being deemed eligible by NCAA), then Devon … moving forward that gives us some more energy and motivation moving into summer school,” Agbaji added.
KU sophomore-to-be David McCormack worked Washburn’s morning camp session with Dotson. The 6-10 native of Norfolk, Virginia, told the campers he has arrived for summer school at 260 pounds. He was listed at 265 last season.
Walk-on guard Elijah Elliott worked the afternoon session of Washburn’s camp with senior center Azubuike. Elliott, a guard who redshirted last season, has just been cleared for full-speed workouts following meniscus surgery on his knee. Azubuike, who has been cleared for full participation following rehab from hand surgery, declined to speak to the media Tuesday.
Mathis to consider KU?
KU has made recruiting contact with Anthony Mathis, a 6-3 graduate transfer out of the University of New Mexico, Rivals.com reports. Mathis averaged 14.4 points per game his junior season. He connected on 42 percent of his threes.
Mathis told Jayhawkslant.com he will visit Oregon on Wednesday and Thursday, then speak to KU coach Bill Self when he returns from that trip. There’s a good chance he’ll commit to Oregon on the trip as he has said he’d like to play with his buddy, fellow Oregon native Payton Pritchard.
Jon Rothstein of CBSsports.com says Mathis has heard from coaches from KU, Oregon, Texas, Houston, UCLA, Texas A&M, Michigan, Iowa State, Northwestern, Boston College, Auburn, Oregon State, Cal, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Washington State.
Houston, Texas A&M and Texas have been mentioned by Rivals.com as possible destinations for former KU guard Quentin Grimes, who has announced plans to transfer after one season at KU. Grimes is a 6-5 native of The Woodlands, Texas. Arizona and Marquette have also been mentioned as possible landing spots for Grimes.
Jalen Wilson, a 6-8 small forward from Denton, Texas, will wrap up his recruiting visit to North Carolina on Wednesday.
“Early indications are that the visit to Lawrence (last weekend) was quite strong and that Bill Self and the Jayhawks have put themselves in excellent position,” writes Eric Bossi of Rivals.com regarding the recruitment of Wilson.
“North Carolina may be able to turn him, but it has got some catching up to do if they are going to lure Wilson out of Big 12 country. As for Howard (Juwan) and Michigan, they are trying to get back in the picture but unless they are able to get in home for a visit really soon, odds appear to be stacked against them. There’s not a set time for a decision just yet, but I would expect Wilson to decide pretty soon after his return home from Chapel Hill.”
Wilson, the No. 47-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2019 according to Rivals.com, recently asked out of his letter-of-intent with Michigan. He has a list of KU, UNC and Michigan. Oklahoma State and Florida, who were on his list of schools, have not been mentioned of late by Wilson.