Jayhawks Q&A: Transfer portal, KU basketball roster decisions, Bill Self play calls

Nick Wagner/nwagner@kcstar.com

Boy, it’s been a busy week for Kansas basketball.

After KU lost to Arkansas in the Round of 32 on Saturday, it officially became the offseason ... which means NCAA transfer portal season has arrived.

The Jayhawks have already had four players enter the portal: guards Joe Yesufu and Bobby Pettiford, plus forwards Zach Clemence and Cam Martin.

At this rate, some other KU player will probably be in the portal when this piece gets published.

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Not to mention, Jalen Wilson and Kevin McCullar will depart the team for the professional ranks, with star freshman Gradey Dick likely joining them.

The only players I think will absolutely return are KJ Adams, Dajuan Harris and Ernest Udeh. Zuby Ejiofor has a good chance of returning but he isn’t a lock.

MJ Rice and Kyle Cuffe Jr. are somewhat unknown, but I think they will heavily consider leaving due to incoming talent and no real guarantee of minutes.

The Jayhawks will add plenty of youth to next year’s roster. That includes additions from the Class of 2023 in combo guards Elmarko Jackson, Chris Johnson and Jamari McDowell, plus newly reclassified forward Marcus Adams.


The Jayhawks are facing a self-imposed loss of three scholarships over the next three years, which could mean Kansas only has 12 spots to give this year.

If Cuffe and Rice transfer but Ejiofor returns, that puts KU’s roster at eight scholarships.

If Dick departs, that leaves an average of almost 45 points per game to replace between Wilson, McCullar and the sharpshooting freshman, so look for KU to go after scoring in the transfer portal.

I think the Jayhawks likely go after three things in the portal: a scoring-oriented wing (to help replace Wilson), a shooter (to replace Dick) and another big man to provide competition and depth.


Then, Self and his staff will likely rely on internal improvement and a freshman or two contributing to fill the gaps.

It’s easy to be alarmed by the players leaving KU, but it’s a much-needed roster update of a team that finished last season with maybe six reliable players.

Anyway, it’s time for another Kansas Jayhawks Q&A. As always, thank you for all the questions!

I don’t think it’s super likely for either, but I give Dick a higher chance of returning than McCullar.


McCullar has made it clear this is his last season and his emotions after the game reflected as such. I doubt Dick returns, but he could return for several reasons.

1. NIL has been instrumental in retaining college athletes.

2. He grew up a lifelong Kansas fan and loved playing under Self.

3. He wants to raise his NBA Draft stock from projected mid-lottery to firmly top-five by improving on his weaknesses.

Anyway, I put his chances of returning at 15% or so. It’s tough to turn down guaranteed NBA money and likely being picked in the lottery.

He has a season of eligibility left, but I put his chances of returning at nearly nonexistent. Right now, McCullar is a projected second-round pick in many NBA mock drafts.


If he can show he has a consistent three-pointer, he will have a long career as a role player in the NBA.

First and foremost, all of this is my opinion. I don’t think Rice will come back. Rice struggled with various injuries and illnesses this year — back spasms, COVID-19 and kidney stones — and didn’t look ready to contribute when playing.

I think for Rice to unleash full potential, he needs the ball in his hands more and that certainly is no guarantee in Kansas. He needs to be a focal point of the team for that, so transferring makes sense.


That being said, he could make a leap with a full offseason under the KU coaching staff.

Hey pal, I hope the Kentucky beat is treating you well! I need to explore more. I’ve mostly tried Asian food places, and none have let me down yet. Please let me know if you or anybody else knows a good Mexican spot in Lawrence that doesn’t overdo it with cheese on their enchiladas.

My favorite spot is Thai Diner. Their crab rangoons are absolutely legendary — like really, really good. Also, the “phad kee mow” (drunken noodles) are an absolute delight. If you like spicy food, the noodles don’t disappoint.

That’s honestly a great question.


First, acting coach Norm Roberts mentioned KU had multiple options on the play, where Wilson went for two points and got fouled.

“We were trying to go for a three, too, whatever we could get, and J-Will did a good job of getting fouled,” Roberts said postgame. “Both options were there and Jalen took the two-point option.”

I consulted KC Star assistant sports editor Scott Chasen for his expertise on this question (he covered KU dating back to 2013). After talking to him, I think Self turns to his ol’-reliable: “chop.”

Self used it against Texas in the Big 12 Title game in 2007, in the 2008 title game against Memphis to tie up the score and in numerous other instances.

First, Kansas runs a a dribble hand-off to a wing on either side of the court. Then, based on the defense, the wing can either shoot a jump shot or pass to a player on the opposite side — like the three Ben McLemore hit against Iowa State in 2013 that banked in to force overtime.

There are other options and variations that involve a screen from the center, but Self has that play — and a plethora of others — to get an open three.

That includes a pitch-back look Self has run in the past that resembled Gonzaga’s game-winning logo three-pointer on Thursday.