New-look Jayhawks impress assistant coach Kurtis Townsend: ‘We’re going to be deep’

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Kansas assistant basketball coach Kurtis Townsend likes the makeup of the Jayhawks’ 2018-19 roster.

“We’ve got veteran guys. We’ve got young guys. We’ve got talented guys. We’re going to be deep,” Townsend said, offering impressions of the hoops squad Saturday after rappelling the 888 Lofts apartment building in downtown Lawrence as part of a fundraiser for Boys and Girls Club.

“Right now, everybody’s happy,” he added of the Jayhawks’ morale after the first week of the school year. “But when you start dishing out playing time, you’ve got to make sure the chemistry stays good.”

KU’s 12 scholarship players (four freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors, one senior) and three walk-ons have been plenty busy competing in unorganized pickup games. They’ve also been allowed to lift weights and work out with coaches up to eight hours per week prior to the start of the official season (Sept. 28 Late Night in Phog) in accordance with NCAA rules.

“It’s great because they go against each other and everybody’s on the floor and they play against other really good players,” Townsend said. “So, I think, in practice, it (depth) is great. It’s when the game comes they look at the stat sheet (and see) they played eight minutes instead of 20.”

Regarding leadership ... Townsend noted that the first week, “Doke (Udoka Azubuike) is doing a good job and Lagerald (Vick) has become more vocal. The Lawson brothers (Dedric, K.J.) both have been through it. They’re pretty talkative. There’s not a real leader yet. It’ll come.”

KU coach Bill Self said Saturday at the rappelling event: “We’ve got a lot of really nice players.” He cautioned the squad needs to develop consistent outside shooting to perhaps reach its full potential.

Jacobs nets new offers

Markese Jacobs, a 5-11 senior point guard from Chicago Uplift Academy, was offered scholarships by Nebraska, Illinois, Florida State DePaul and Virginia Tech just hours after decommitting from KU on Friday, according to the Champaign News-Gazette and 247sports.com.

Jacobs averaged 18.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.6 steals per game as a junior last season for (18-10) Uplift. Saint Louis is expected to recruit Jacobs, who is ranked No. 92 in the Class of 2019 by Rivals.com. His brother, Demarius Jacobs, will be a freshman at Saint Louis during the 2018-19 season.

Junior says KU is interested

Jabri Abdur-Rahim, a 6-foot-5 junior small forward from Blair Academy in Short Hills, N.J., is being recruited heavily by Kansas, Villanova, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio State and Harvard, he told Zagsblog.com. Abdur-Rahim is the No. 32-ranked prospect in the recruiting Class of 2020 according to Rivals.com.

“I took a visit there last year and really enjoyed myself,” he said of KU, adding, “I love the campus. The fans were great and I watched practice. I really liked the team they had. It was just an overall great experience.”

Tshiebwe cuts KU from list

Oscar Tshiebwe, a 6-8, 235-pound senior forward from Kennedy Catholic High School in Hermitage, Pa., has narrowed his list of colleges to Kentucky, West Virginia, Baylor and Illinois. He made the announcement Sunday on Twitter. Tshiebwe, who once had KU on his list, is the No. 45-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2019 according to Rivals.com.

Tre Mann update

Some consider KU and North Carolina the front runners for Tre Mann, a 6-4, 185-pound senior point guard from Village Charter High School in The Villages, Fla.

The No. 30-ranked Mann will visit North Carolina on Sept. 14-16 and KU the following weekend.

He also has Florida, Tennessee, Iowa State, USC, Indiana, Auburn, Texas, North Carolina State and Louisville on his list.

“I can’t guarantee that he will be next (to commit), but top 30 point guard Tre Mann sure looks to me like he’s getting close to making a decision,” Eric Bossi of Rivals.com wrote in a recent article. “First of all, we all thought the high-scoring Floridian would have been off the board by now, but after spring visits to Florida and Tennessee and a final three that also included Kansas, Mann elected to open things up late in the summer.

“As far as I can tell, the opening has basically amounted to the door being opened for North Carolina to jump in and make a play. Now that Mann has visits set up with the Tar Heels and the Jayhawks, I feel like we’ll be seeing him move towards making his decision in the relatively near future. If that happens, Carolina looks to have some momentum going in its favor,” Bossi added.


More from this section