KU to meet Marquette in NIT Season Tip-Off; Jayhawks offer two-sport standout

Kansas head basketball coach Bill Self. | Rich Sugg | rsugg@kcstar.com

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Kansas basketball will meet Marquette in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Nov. 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a KU official confirmed on Thursday.

Tennessee will take on Louisville in the other semifinal with the two winners meeting in the Nov. 23 finals following a consolation game between the semifinals losers.

Times of the games have not yet been announced by ESPN.

Marquette, which went 21-14 last season, returns junior guards Markus Howard and Sam Hauser. Howard, a 5-foot-11 player from Chandler, Ariz., averaged 20.4 points per game last season, while Hauser, who is 6-8 and from Stevens Point, Wis., averaged 14.1 points.

The 2018 Tip-Off will be held in Brooklyn for the fourth-straight year. The NIT has been played in New York every November since 1985.

The Jayhawks also have two preliminary games in the Tip-Off, both to be contested at Allen Fieldhouse. KU will meet Vermont on Nov. 12 and Louisiana on Nov. 16.

In other nonconference games on the 2018-19 schedule previously announced: KU will meet Villanova on Dec. 15 at Allen Fieldhouse in a rematch of the Jayhawks’ Final Four semifinals loss. KU will meet Kentucky on Jan. 26 in Lexington, Ky. The Jayhawks will meet Michigan State in the Champions Classic on Nov. 26 in Indianapolis.

KU also will play Stanford on Dec. 1 at Allen Fieldhouse, Arizona State on Dec. 22 in Tempe, Ariz., and New Mexico State on Dec. 8 at the Sprint Center. KU will play Wofford on Dec. 4, South Dakota on Dec. 18 and Eastern Michigan on Dec. 29 at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU offers Jalen Suggs

Jalen Suggs, a 6-3, 180-pound junior point guard from Minnehaha (Minn.) Academy, has been offered a scholarship by Kansas, Suggs reported Thursday on Twitter.

Suggs, who is also a blue-chip football quarterback recruit, has received hoops offers from KU, Baylor, Iowa State, California, Clemson, Creighton, Florida, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Marquette, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Xavier and others, according to Jayhawkslant.com.

“Yes, Kansas offered me a scholarship. I talked to Coach Rob (Norm Roberts) and he let me know,” Suggs, told Jayhawkslant.com. Suggs is ranked No. 10 in the Class of 2020 by Rivals.com. “I’m not sure if I’ll visit this fall, but I’m very excited about my offer from Kansas,” Suggs added. “It’s my first blue-blood, which is huge for me and was one of my goals.”

Suggs, the country’s No. 225-ranked football prospect, has received football offers from Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Iowa and others according to Rivals.com.

“I don’t know which (sport) is better, right now, for me,” Suggs told Rivals.com in June. “That is going to be something me and my family will have to decide when that time comes. For right now I am just enjoying them both, continuing to get better each day and putting myself in the best situation for when I have to make that decision.”

Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi says Suggs is a strong hoops prospect.

“Suggs has the size and strength of a John Wall but isn’t quite as speedy,” Bossi wrote in June. “He’s crafty and tough off the dribble like a Kyle Lowry but maybe not quite as clever, and he’s got some of the fire and explosiveness of an Eric Bledsoe.”

Bossi also addressed the two-sport aspect of Suggs’ future choice.

“With such great options in both football and basketball, the question becomes why should Suggs choose basketball over football?” For one, he already seems to have placed much more emphasis on basketball. While he’s done some football training during the spring and summer, he’s spent much more time playing grassroots basketball, traveling with USA Basketball and hitting elite hoops camps. That right there suggests that his heart is with basketball and in terms of long-term impact to his body, basketball is certainly the safer route.

“Ultimately, though, Suggs’ desire is to be a professional and the path toward an NBA career has proven to be a bit more likely, direct and faster for a player ranked as highly in basketball as Suggs is than it has for a player who is ranked where he is on the football field. Also, should hoops not work out, football would be an easier sport to make a return to than would basketball from football.”

Zeke Nnaji nets Kansas offer

Another highly-touted player from Minnesota, senior forward Zeke Nnaji, was offered a scholarship by KU on Wednesday, he reported on Twitter.

Nnaji, 6-10, 215 and from Hopkins High in Lakewood, Minn., averaged 19.9 points per game last season. He is ranked No. 34 in the recruiting Class of 2019 according to Rivals.com. He will visit Kansas State unofficially on Saturday, Rivals.com reported. He also has unofficial visits set up to Creighton, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue and plans on visiting KU, UCLA, Baylor, Oklahoma and Georgetown.

“What makes Nnaji such an impressive prospect is his ability to guard the heavily used high ball screen thanks to his length, fine lateral skills and quick reaction skills. He can protect the basket in a whim, run the floor from rim to rim and also score efficiently within the half-court setting,” writes Corey Evans of Rivals.com.

Nnaji averaged 14.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a game in 11 games on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit this past spring and summer. He hit 12 of 24 three-pointers for 50 percent and 60.6 percent of his shots overall.


More from this section