Kansas Jayhawks Q&A: Jason Bean, Bill Self update and NCAA transfer portal targets

·7 min read
Nick Wagner/nwagner@kcstar.com

Backup quarterback Jason Bean is KU football’s Swiss army knife.

Lately, Bean has been more than just a quarterback at spring football practice. He’s played snaps at quarterback, wide receiver, running back and even returned some kicks.

The QB is the fastest player on the team — hitting 23.5 miles per hour — and the Jayhawks’ coaching staff wants to use that to its advantage.

“Bean is a wonderful guy,” said KU QB Jalon Daniels on Thursday. “He’s a guy who’s able to make a lot of things happen whether he’s throwing the ball, whether he’s running the ball or whether he’s catching the ball. You never know with Bean.”

Bean, of course, had a chaotic end to his 2022 season. His pass sailed high on a two-point attempt in triple overtime of the Liberty Bowl, ending Kansas’ 2022 season.

After leaning toward not returning early on, Bean decided to return for a sixth and final season.

How much did the way KU’s season ended factor into him coming back?

“None at all,” Bean said in early March. “I think for me, mainly, I just wanted to come back to just be around guys in general. I think that’s one of the more fun things about football. Just being in the locker room every day or doing the workouts with guys that you’re going to work with is pretty fun.”

Fun enough to do it for six years, now.

Anyway, it’s time for another Kansas Jayhawks Q&A. Some questions are from the KU Sports Twitter Spaces I host each Wednesday at 7 p.m. As always, thank you for all the questions!

Now that KU guard MJ Rice is in the transfer portal, is there any hope of him coming back or has this ship just sailed? — @ELidison

I don’t think Rice will return to KU for multiple reasons. First, he was snakebitten with various ailments throughout the season, affecting his confidence on the court.

His body language wasn’t great when he played and I think that goes back to him not being ready because he missed so many practices and games. So, he justifiably looked frustrated.

Second, I don’t see a big role for him next season. The Jayhawks bring in four new freshmen, including five-star guard Elmarko Jackson. Dajuan Harris is returning and KU will likely pick up at least a couple guards/wings in the transfer portal.

I said it last week, but I believe for Rice to unleash his full potential, he needs the ball in his hands more. He won’t be the focal point for KU, so if he’s looking for a significantly larger role, it makes sense to move on.

Still, there’s always a chance, however small, of a return. If so, you’d expect to see some development.

Obviously, coach Bill Self is going to get guys in the transfer portal, but am I crazy for thinking almost the entire success of next season rides on the development of Ernest Udeh Jr. and KJ Adams? — @NoneChiefs_KU

I think that’s a bit of hyperbole, but I tend to agree for the most part.

Udeh wants to improve his scoring and overall defense, while Adams knows shooting is the way forward for him. If they can take the next step in those areas, that’s a big deal for Kansas.

They are both clear in their intentions and Bill Self has commented about their stellar work ethic before, so I expect leaps from both of them. And their roles may be worth monitoring, too.

KU will likely move Adams to power forward next to Udeh at the center spot, but that, of course, could change depending on how the transfer portal shakes out, as well as how they develop. If things go well, that’s one big question answered for Kansas.

I’m not sure, but KU not doing media appearances after a season isn’t exactly new.

I think the only times Kansas has done a real postseason media tour were in 2008 and 2022, both years the Jayhawks won the national title.

Kansas has an end-of-year banquet next week, and Self will likely be there. I’ve talked to some parents of KU players and a commit, who confirmed they’ve been in contact with Self of late.

The parents even met with him, which is a good sign.

I also asked KU Athletics for a health update, but they said there isn’t one at this time.

Great question, but there are two guys in particular that I am interested to see how they fare.

The players I’m looking to watch at the Spring Showcase are two offensive linemen: Wisconsin transfer Logan Brown and Cal’s Spencer Lovell.

The coaching staff has raved about both of these players throughout the spring and they are crucial to KU’s success as a team next season.

I’ve said it before and will repeat: As long as Jalon Daniels is healthy and around, KU football is in good hands. I truly believe Daniels is a special QB and Kansas is very lucky to have him.

How does KU keep him healthy? By limiting the number of times Daniels gets hit — which largely falls on KU’s offensive line.

The Jayhawks lost star left tackle Earl Bostick to the NFL, so they brought Brown and Lovell to help replace him.

Both are very big in stature and weight — Logan is 6-foot-6, 285 pounds, and Lovell is 6-7, 315 pounds.

Heck, the first time Daniels saw Lovell, he believed he was a coach and then quickly asked if he was coming to Kansas after seeing how big he was.

Kansas’ offense was excellent last season, but if those two guys can help anchor a line that gives Daniels more time to throw and limit his injuries, it should be even better.

The KU coaching staff seems very busy talking to guys from the transfer portal.

Right now, Kansas has three scholarships to give out, potentially more if Gradey Dick doesn’t return (as expected) and Kyle Cuffe were to enter the transfer portal.

The Jayhawks’ biggest need is wings; I expect them to pick up a wing or two in the transfer portal.

I like Graham Ike for Kansas — he could help alleviate some of the scoring concerns that exist with Wilson, McCullar and potentially Dick departing.

If all three players were to leave, Kansas would need to replace around 45 points per game between them.

Ike only played one game last season due to a leg injury, but he averaged 19.5 points (on 51% shooting) and 9.6 rebounds a game as a sophomore in 2021-22.

Culture-wise, he seems like a great for KU as well.

“I am looking for the right fit for myself,” Ike told 247sports.com. “I want to come in and be around great people and a great coaching staff within a great university. I want to be around players who understand winning and want to win. I have to get back to the NCAA Tournament and I have to win games.

“I have not won a game (at the tournament) and I would love to win games to push for a national championship. I want to be coached. ... That in addition to post touches, being developed and being held accountable, is what I am looking for.”

He’s one transfer portal prospect I think could help the program next year.