Tarik Black (Getty Images)
Tarik Black, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound big man who played at Memphis the past three years, has chosen Kansas over Duke, Oregon and Georgetown, among others, CBSSports.com reported Monday. The rising senior has graduated from Memphis and will be eligible immediately for the Jayhawks.
It's a testament to the laws of supply and demand that Black had all these powerhouse programs pursuing him considering he lost his starting job at Memphis last season and averaged a modest 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds off the bench.
One reason he was in such high demand is there simply weren't many available big men with size and athleticism that teams could plug into their rotation right away. The other is that teams felt he has untapped potential he was never able to fully utilize at Memphis.
Once projected as a potential NBA draft pick early in his college career, Black fell out of favor in Memphis because his production plateaued after his freshman season and he was often foul-prone and inconsistent. His NCAA tournament performance was a microcosm of his Memphis career: 12 points and seven rebounds on perfect 5 of 5 shooting against Saint Mary's in a round of 64 victory gave way to six points, two rebounds and four fouls in a loss to Michigan State two days later.
Nonetheless, Black may yet be a significant addition for Kansas if a change of scenery and Self's history of success developing big men can help.
With all five starters from last season graduating or turning pro and a wealth of young talent set to play immediately, Kansas had a clear-cut need for a veteran big man it can plug into its rotation. Black will team with promising sophomore Perry Ellis, reserve Jamari Traylor and shot-blocking freshman Joel Embiid to form a talented and versatile frontcourt nucleus.
It's a bit surprising Black would choose Kansas over Oregon or Duke simply because those programs appeared to have a greater need for him. The Blue Devils are lacking a true back-to-the-basket big man and Black would only have had to beat out Waverly Austin to start alongside fellow transfer Mike Moser for the Ducks.
Credit Self for being able to persuade him to come to Kansas anyway. Now the Jayhawks are even better positioned to start the season in the preseason top six and to make a run at another Final Four.
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