University of Kansas

‘I’m staying home.’ Why former KC high schooler says he committed to KU basketball

First-team preseason junior college All-American Tyon Grant-Foster has set some lofty goals for himself heading into the 2019-20 season.

“To be national player of the year (and) the ultimate goal is to have a great season and win a national championship,” Grant-Foster, a 6-foot-7 sophomore guard/forward from Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College told The Star on Monday morning after announcing his commitment to KU.

The former Kansas City Schlagle standout, who averaged 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds a game his freshman year at Indian Hills CC, recently earned his preseason first-team honor from Street and Smith Magazine.

“It’s a great accolade,” Grant-Foster said. “That’s just one part of my step, my development. It means a lot to me to come from where I was (as unranked high school player). I did what I needed to do. I feel if I work hard this year and at KU, I can get to the league.”

Grant-Foster — he wrote “I’m staying home — 110 percent committed” — on Twitter on Monday chose KU over Iowa State, Kansas State, Miami, Texas A&M, LSU, SMU, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Wichita State, Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Texas and others.

He actually committed to KU coach Bill Self and assistant Jerrance Howard at 3 p.m., Saturday in KU’s locker room. He was on the second day of his weekend campus visit.

“I feel like since I am going to get the same opportunities at Kansas as other schools, I can do things to show everybody in my city that if you work hard and follow your dreams you can make it like I did,” Grant-Foster said, indicating Self and Howard “both were fired up when I said I was committing to Kansas. Coach Howard recruited me. He is a great guy.”

Self told Grant-Foster he should be able to make an immediate impact in 2020-21 at KU.

“Coach Self tells me I can play like Malik (Newman) in that I can create my own shot. I don’t need a screen or anything,” Grant-Foster said. “Coach told me I’d be a little bit of everything, mostly play the 1 and the 2. He told me I’d have a huge impact on the season early.”

Grant-Foster said he was going to work on “becoming a better point guard,” and maybe play some lead guard as well as wing at KU.

He said he grew up a KU fan.

“Growing up in Kansas City … it’s my hometown team,” Grant-Foster said, noting his favorite Jayhawks of the past include Ben McLemore, Svi Mykhailiuk and Kelly Oubre.

“I just like their playing style,” he said. “They had great personalities too.”

Grant-Foster happens to be a good friend of former Blue Valley Northwest standout Christian Braun, who is a freshman guard/forward at KU.

“Christian was my host on my visit. He’s one of my closest friends,” Grant-Foster said. “He told me everything about KU, about campus, the living arrangement, everything. I had a great time over the weekend meeting the players and being around the coaches. I am very excited. I feel I made the right decision at the right time.”

Grant-Foster came on strong at the end of last season. He had 25 points and 11 rebounds in a season-ending loss to Southwestern (Florida).

“A native of Kansas City, Kansas, Grant-Foster is extremely versatile, athletic and still developing physically,” writes Eric Bossi of

“ ... Big time athlete, plays 1 through 3 for his juco team and is improving rapidly,” Bossi added on Rivals. “Still has a baby face and is at least one of the top two to three players in JC ball and has started to raise NBA eyebrows. (He’s a) classic late bloomer who had a late growth spurt, didn’t play for a shoe team in the summer and has just kind of kept developing.”

Brendan Walker of recently praised Grant-Foster.

“Tyon is definitely one to watch this year. At 6-7, Grant-Foster has great athleticism, length and natural ability. He is able to play multiple positions at a high level, on both ends of the floor. As a freshman for Indian Hills in 2018-19, he showed flashes of greatness and steadily improved, finishing the year with 25 points and 11 rebounds against Top 5 team Southwestern (Florida) in the National Tournament,” writes Walker.

“With added strength and great work ethic, he is ready to perform and play whatever position is needed to help his team win.”

Indian Hills coach Hank Plona said of Grant-Foster: “He is a special player, and has grown and improved as much as any two-year kid we have ever had. I always thought he had the ability to develop into a very high-level player, but I am happy that his focus, character, and hard work has made it happen this fast. I would not trade him for any player in junior college. He is everything a coach looks for in a person and a teammate, and I think the sky is the limit for him as a player.”

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Gary Bedore covers all aspects of Kansas basketball for The Star — the current team as well as former players and coaches and recruiting. He attended KU and was born and raised in Chicago, as well as Lisle, Ill.