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Starter Naadir Tharpe expected to transfer from Kansas

Smart leads Oklahoma St past No. 5 Kansas, 72-65
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Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart (33) pressures Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe (10) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, March 1, 2014. Oklahoma State won 72-65. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

With Kansas in hot pursuit of one Brewster Academy point guard, another appears set to leave the Jayhawks.

Naadir Tharpe, a senior-to-be who started for Kansas this past season, will transfer, Kansas confirmed Thursday afternoon. Tharpe portrayed the move as an attempt to be closer to his daughter, who he said has medical issues that require weekly visits to the doctor.

"Naadir and I have talked numerous times since he's been here about his role and about his situation back home with his daughter," Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement. "He's told me many times how much he misses his little girl and she's had some health issues that has certainly made it difficult for him to be away from her for this extended period of time. She's doing very well now, but Naadir approached me after the season was over about him wanting to be closer to her. This is his decision to try and accomplish that."

Tharpe's departure could potentially make Kansas a more attractive destination for Devonte Graham, by far the best available point guard in the class of 2014. Graham, a late-blooming consensus top 100 recruit who became available when Appalachian State released him from his letter of intent three weeks ago, has named Kansas and NC State as his finalists after initially also considering Virginia, Xavier, Creighton and numerous other schools.

A fresh start at point guard might not be a terrible thing for a Kansas program that suffered because of the inconsistency of Tharpe last season. The 5-foot-11 junior briefly lost his job to backup Frank Mason in early December, regained it with sporadic good performances in Big 12 play and finished with a whimper, going 6 of 24 from the field in Kansas' final five games and finishing with as many turnovers as assists in a round of 32 NCAA tourney loss to Stanford.

Tharpe also did not endear himself to the Kansas coaching staff with an Instagram photo featuring a shirtless Tharpe and a partially nude woman that went viral in late March. Self told the Kansas City Star he was "extremely disappointed" in Tharpe's judgement afterward.

Without Tharpe, the two returners with the best chance to start for the Jayhawks would be Mason and fellow sophomore-to-be Conner Frankamp. Mason is a traditional drive-and-kick point guard with an ability to attack off the dribble but a marginal outside shot. Frankamp is a brilliant shooter who would need to prove he can get in the lane and distribute for his teammates.

Were Graham to choose Kansas, he too would likely be in the mix. At Brewster Academy, Graham emerged as the best remaining available Class of 2014 point guard by adding muscle and showcasing the ability to sink shots from the perimeter or get to the rim.

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