Unfortunately for the Kansas Jayhawks basketball program, losing freshmen before they have even played a game with the team seems to be a trend at this point. Earlier this summer Chris Johnson decommitted from KU and decided to go closer to home and signed with Texas. Just this week, Marcus Adams Jr, a highly touted four-star prospect from California, announced he was asking to be released from his National letter of intent. Adams had been practicing with the Jayhawks all summer and had received some praise from head coach Bill Self.
Self said “He’s good with the ball in his hands and can make plays for others. We think he’s underrated and can find immediate minutes with the departure of our wings.”
That isn’t going to be the case now with Adams gone. No one should fault a kid for leaving to go someplace where he could get more immediate playing time. That’s just the way things go in this day and age with the transfer portal the way it is set up. This leaves KU with two players for the incoming freshman class, Elmarko Jackson and Jamari McDowell, five-star and four-star players respectively. It feels like Adams was going to have a tough time breaking the rotation and instead of learning and working with the KU staff, he decided to head elsewhere. The Jayhawks should be just fine without him and fans should not be worried at this point. Adams was just going to be a depth piece this year. Here is what the roster looks like now:
Dejuan Harris Jr, Kevin McCullar Jr, KJ Adams, and Zach Clemence are your only returning players from last year’s roster. Harris, McCullar, and Adams were starters on the regular season Big 12 championship team and the #1 seeded team out West in the NCAA Tournament. Clemence played sparingly, and initially announced he would transfer to UC-Santa Barbara, but ended up back with the Jayhawks. Self announced Clemence would redshirt this season.
Hunter Dickinson, the nation’s consensus top player in the transfer portal, joined the Jayhawks and is expected to be one of the starters for Kansas this season. Nick Timberlake, Artereo Morris, and Parker Braun round out the current transfer players on the roster. Timberlake will battle for the final starting spot. As mentioned earlier, Jackson and McDowell will be the lone freshmen on campus for the men’s team this fall. There is speculation Jackson will push for the final starting spot as well.
The Jayhawks also have six walk-on players: Charlie McCarthy, Justin Cross, Wilder Evers, Michael Jankovich, Dillon Wilhite, and former Kansas basketball manager Patrick Cassidy. Even though it is late in the summer, there is still time for Self to add a couple more players to the mix, if the fit is right.
Here’s why Jayhawk fans shouldn’t be worried about Adams leaving: he wasn’t going to play much this season barring some significant injuries on the roster ahead of him. Losing someone of his caliber may have hurt more in the past when considering the long-term development of players. However, in today’s transfer portal era, it’s easier for both parties to move on. If Self is looking to add new players at this point, late July is cutting it close but it can be done. One player to keep an eye on is Australian small-forward Johnny Furphy. There are many similarities between Furphy and Adams. Furphy is 6 ‘7 ” and 180 lbs and is a versatile piece with tremendous athleticism. Like Adams, he also reclassified from the class of 2024 to the class of 2023 with the hopes of improving his game to make the next step toward a professional career.
While it used to be fun seeing freshmen join the team and work their way up the depth chart during their collegiate careers, today’s game of college basketball is trending in a different direction. Will this hurt Kansas long-term or will they be able to re-tool and reload in the transfer portal every year like they did this offseason? That remains to be seen.
One thing we know for sure, Kansas is still projected to be a top-five basketball team heading into the 2023-2024 campaign. It’s a year-to-year sport and the Jayhawks will be able to compete for another Big 12 title and national championship this season. That’s all you can ask for if you are a Jayhawk fan in 2023.