Kansas’ four-player men’s basketball recruiting Class of 2022 currently ranks as the third best of all teams in the country according to both Rivals.com and 247sports.com.
“I think we’ve actually done pretty well recruiting to be honest with you,” KU coach Bill Self said Wednesday, a few hours before 6-foot-10 Ernest Udeh, Jr., orally committed to KU over runner-up UCLA.
Self and his assistant coaches have landed commitments from Udeh, Gradey Dick, Zuby Ejiofor and MJ Rice one year removed from signing a high school class ranked No. 16 in the country by Rivals.com (Zach Clemence, KJ Adams, Kyle Cuffe Jr., Bobby Pettiford).
“We haven’t gotten everybody we’ve recruited. You recruit the best players, you get one or two, you are really happy regardless if you are recruiting 10 or 12. I think actually my guys, our assistants have done a good job getting us in on good players. I don’t want to say we have lottery picks. We’ve got quite a few good basketball players,” added Self who has been able to attract top talent to Lawrence despite an ongoing, lengthy NCAA investigation into the program.
Rivals.com’s team rankings which will be updated at various times during the 2021-22 season have Duke, Kentucky and Kansas ranked 1 to 3 followed by Arkansas, Ohio State, Michigan, Villanova, North Carolina, Virginia, UCLA, Vanderbilt, UConn, USC and Oregon. 247sports.com’s team ratings have Duke first, Arkansas second and KU third followed by Ohio State, Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Villanova, Syracuse, USC, Indiana, Vanderbilt and Baylor.
The four players who have committed to KU and are expected to sign during the Nov. 10-17 early signing period are: Udeh, a 6-10, 230-pound center from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida who is ranked No. 27 in the Class of 2022 by 247sports.com, No. 29 by Rivals.com and No. 38 by ESPN.com; Gradey Dick, a 6-7, 195-pound forward from Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, ranked No. 25 by ESPN.com, No. 35 by 247sports.com and No. 37 by Rivals.com; Zuby Ejiofor, a 6-8, 215-pound senior forward from Garland (Texas) High School, ranked No, 41 by 247sports.com, No. 47 by Rivals.com and No. 77 by ESPN.com and MJ Rice, a 6-5 combo guard from Prolific Prep in Napa, California, who is ranked No. 20 nationally by ESPN.com, No, 23 by Rivals.com and No. 25 by 247sports.com.
KU’s recruiting Class of 2021 ranked No. 16 nationally by Rivals.com. It consisted of current freshmen Clemence (No. 49 individually by RIvals.com), Adams (No. 93), Cuffe Jr. (No. 109) and Pettiford (No. 124).
“KU’s Class of 2022 is definitely one of the top 10 classes in the country. It’s a huge class so far,” said recruiting analyst Shay Wildeboor of Rivals.com. “This class has a chance to be a really good group. Kansas got a difference maker in Ernest Udeh, Jr. Some see MJ Rice as a top 10 guy. Gradey Dick is a Kansas kid who loves the school — great athleticism who can shoot the ball. Zuby Ejiofor is a tough inside player who will get to the rim, protect the paint, rebound and score,” Wildeboor added.
“All four members of the class are in our top 41,” noted analyst Eric Bossi of 247sports.com. “Bill Self has a dynamic class, the kind of class that really could be the core of a program that does great things like Kansas fans are expecting.”
At No. 3 overall, KU’s recruiting Class of 2022 currently is the Jayhawks’ best class since 2018. The group of Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson, David McCormack and Ochai Agbaji were also ranked No. 3 by Rivals.com. Grimes, who transferred to Houston after one year, was ranked No. 8 overall in the class. Dotson was No,. 20, McCormack No. 35 and Agbaji No. 145.
As far as other recent classes … KU’s Class of 2020 was ranked No. 14 in the country by Rivals.com. Bryce Thompson was No. 21 overall, while Gethro Muscadin was No. 140, Latrell Jossell unranked and Tyon Grant-Foster the country’s No. 1 junior college player. Thompson has since transferred to Oklahoma State, Muscadin to New Mexico, Jossell to Stephen F. Austin and Grant-Foster to DePaul.
KU’s five player Class of 2019 was ranked No. 14 nationally by Rivals.com. It was led by Tristan Enaruna (No. 44), Jalen Wilson (No. 47), Christian Braun (No. 93), Issac McBride (No. 106) and Dajuan Harris (unranked). Enaruna is now at Iowa State and McBride at Oral Roberts.
KU’s Class of 2017 was rated No. 14 nationally by Rivals.com. Billy Preston was No. 11, Marcus Garrett No. 41 and Silvio De Sousa unranked. Preston never played in an actual game at KU and turned pro after one season, while and De Sousa now plays at Chattanooga.
Led by No. 1-rated Josh Jackson, who turned pro after one season, KU’s Class of 2016 was ranked No. 7 by Rivals.com. Udoka Azubuike was ranked No. 31 and Mitch Lightfoot No. 107 in the class.
Back to 2022, KU is recruiting Mark Mitchell, a 6-8 forward from Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas (ranked No. 11 nationally by Rivals.com and 247sports.com and No. 30 by ESPN.com); Brandon Miller, a. 6-7, 190 forward from Cane Ridge High School in Nashville, Tennessee (ranked No. 12 by Rivals.com, No. 13 by ESPN.com and No. 16 by 247sports.com) and Chandler Jackson, a 6-4, 200, point guard from Christian Brothers High in Memphis (ranked No. 56 by 247sports.com, No. 80 by ESPN.com, No. 90 by Rivals.com).
The Jayhawks figure to have at least two available scholarships left to award in 2022.
KU, which has 14 players on scholarship (the NCAA limit returns to 13 next season), will lose Super Seniors Mitch Lightfoot, Remy Martin, Jalen Coleman-Lands and Cam Martin.
They also figure to lose to the pros seniors McCormack and Agbaji, who are eligible to return for a Super Senior season.
Sophomore Wilson and junior Braun could be early entrants in the NBA Draft.
There’s also the possibility KU could for the second straight year recruit players who enter the transfer portal.
“The Jayhawks seem to be climbing back toward recruiting at the level they did prior to the NCAA investigation that cast a bit of a dark cloud over the program,” said Rob Cassidy of Rivals.com. “Bill Self’s bunch could receive yet another boost of momentum should they perform at the level most expect this season.”