Udoka Azubuike will enter the NBA draft without hiring an agent, the school announced on Friday. The Kansas Jayhawks big man said his priority is to gain feedback from NBA officials about his draft stock.
With Azubuike, a reconfigured Kansas squad could start the 2018-19 season as the No. 1 team in the country.
“I want to declare for this year’s [NBA] draft, but I am not going to hire an agent,” Azubuike said. “I’m going to wait and see where I stand among other bigs out there. I appreciate everyone’s support, but I’m not saying goodbye. I’m saying I want to find out. Like many other players, I’m curious.”
All early entrants for the NBA draft must declare by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday. Players who have not hired agents are eligible to return to school if they withdraw before May 30.
Azubuike was a pivotal player for the Jayhawks throughout the season. The most efficient player on the roster during the 2017-18 campaign averaged 13.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 1.7 BPG.
He also made 77 percent of his shots, the top mark in college basketball. He was unreliable at the free throw line (41 percent), but the Jayhawks made 52.4 percent of their shots inside the arc during the NCAA tournament when he was on the floor, according to hooplens.com.
Kansas will enter next season with a new lineup after losing Lagerald Vick, Malik Newman, Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham off last year’s Elite Eight squad. Bill Self will welcome the most fruitful talent pool in America, however, with five-star talents Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson joining a fleet of impactful transfers (Charlie Moore, K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson).
The Jayhawks hope to extend their Division I record of 14 consecutive conference championships in 2018-19. Azubuike is a key element in those aspirations.
“Udoka has been thinking about this since the end of the season and he feels it’s in his best interest to declare and test the waters which we, as a staff, totally understand and encourage him to do,” Self said. “He’s leaving the option to come back. Doke has improved a tremendous amount this year and we all look forward to seeing how his progression is until it is his time to make a decision on whether to stay in [the draft] or pull his name out.”