Here are latest updates on KU basketball’s recruiting class of 2022 at summer workouts

Gary Bedore/gbedore@kcstar.com
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Kansas’ highly acclaimed men’s basketball recruiting Class of 2022 — the one ranked No. 3 nationally by Rivals.com, No. 4 by 247sports.com and No. 5 by ESPN.com — has lived up to its billing approaching the halfway mark of the June 7-July 29 summer session on KU’s campus.

“Our newcomers are good. They are just young,” 20th-year KU coach Bill Self said of incoming scholarship freshmen Gradey Dick, Zuby Ejiofor, MJ Rice and Ernest Udeh.

The four freshmen have been soaking up information during the four hours of on-court instruction (four more with strength staff) they’re allowed weekly with KU’s coaches, per NCAA rules. They’ve also done their best to impress during unsupervised pickup games.

“Everything has been going well at practice. I’ve been trying to make a name for myself, showcase myself,” said Ejiofor, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound power forward from Garland (Texas) High.

He arrives ranked No. 43 in the Class of 2022 by 247sports.com, No. 44 by Rivals.com and No. 75 by ESPN.com.

“It’s different from high school, I’ll tell you that,” Ejiofor said, speaking to The Star at Brett Ballard’s Washburn basketball camp, where Ejiofor worked Tuesday as a camp counselor.

“I’ve been adjusting, getting used to it. I’ve been getting better every day, so that’s really good.”

Ejiofor averaged 22.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 4.0 blocks, and 2.0 steals per game last season in Texas. He impressed Self’s campers and media onlookers a couple of weeks ago when he made two threes and scored 28 points in the Self campers game (a team intrasquad scrimmage) at Allen Fieldhouse.

“In our practices, we start with bigs workouts,” Ejiofor said. “We go about 30 minutes. The guards are on their own. Toward the end (of an hour workout four days a week), we practice together, run some (with scrimmaging). I’ve been adjusting to defense down in the post, how to guard down there as well. The good thing is I’m learning every day.”

Ejiofor said the feedback from his new college coaches has been positive.

“My strongest point that every coach says I do well is run the floor,” Ejiofor said. “It’s hard to find bigs who run the floor much. That’s the strongest part about me. What I’m improving on is conditioning, getting rebounds and post moves.

“There’s always something to improve on — my handles and some of my shots as well. Just rebound the ball and play with energy a lot. That’s really what I feel will get me where I want to be at. I’m improving every day.”

Fourth-year KU junior forward Jalen Wilson likes what he’s seen from Ejiofor, as well as from KU’s other freshman big, Udeh.

Udeh, a 6-10, 220-pound McDonalds’s All-American out of Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, averaged 13.2 points (on 65.1% shooting) and 9.2 rebounds per game in his senior season.

“They’ve been battling every day. It’s high-level competition as far as them wanting it,” Wilson said of Ejiofor and Udeh.

Wilson also worked Ballard’s Washburn camp Tuesday.

“Rebounding, running the floor … that is big with these new bigs,” Wilson said. “They really run the floor well. They know what they want to do, know what they need to do and know what coach wants them to do. That’s a head start.”

Udeh and Ejiofor are developing a strong friendship during the summer session.

“We joke around a lot. That’s really good,” Ejiofor said, noting Udeh, “is a good lob catcher. That’s his strongest ability about him. He can catch lobs.”

Udeh entered college ranked No. 23 by ESPN.com, No. 30 by 247sports.com and No. 32 by Rivals.com.

The new wing additions are McDonald’s All-Americans Dick and Rice.

Dick, a 6-7, 200-pound shooting guard out of Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, averaged 18.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in earning Gatorade National Player of the Year honors his senior season.

“He is a really talented kid. He can spot up and shoot the ball. He shoots really well. He can attack at times as well. Spot up and off the dribble, he’s a really good shooter,” Ejiofor said.

Wilson has also been impressed with the shooting of Dick, who entered college ranked No. 14 nationally by ESPN.com, No, 20 by 247sports.com and No. 27 by Rivals.com.

“I’ve seen him in the corner,” Wilson said. “Gradey rarely misses from the corner, “ Wilson said. “He’s a guy I think will be huge for us as far as being able to stretch the floor with his length and slashing ability. He shows real good signs of being athletic.”

Rice, a 6-5, 225 combo guard out of Prolific Prep in Napa, California (though originally from Durham, North Carolina), averaged 17.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game during his senior season.

“Mj is a talented kid as well,” Ejiofor said. “His strong suit is attacking the paint — attacking for sure — and spot-up shooting.”

Wilson offered his take on Rice’s game.

“He is very confident being able to shoot the ball and make different plays for guys,” Wilson said of Rice, who entered college ranked No. 28 in the Class of 2022 by Rivals.com, No. 30 by ESPN.com and No. 35 by 247sports.com.

“He’s a strong guard. I think he’s very underrated in his strength and being able to get to his own spots I think he is very aware of where he wants to be on the on the floor as far picking and choosing shots. He is a bigger guard that can get to the cup and use his body to maneuver where he wants to go.”

Self last week talked about the newcomers at a Topeka Jayhawk Club golf event.

“Both have bounce, both have decent hands. Both can run. Both are very competitive,” Self said of Udeh and Ejiofor. “If they realize what their role would be this year,” he added, primarily referring to rebounding and playing defense, “they could both be really good players as freshmen. I don’t predict them starting but I think they could be in the mix for a lot of playing time.”

“MJ and Gradey … they are good. They are good,” Self added. “That’s like us recruiting (Wayne) Selden and (Kelly) Oubre or somebody like that. They are legitimate good players that both have a chance to play all they want right off the bat if they continue to work hard.”

KU also has added first-year Jayhawks in former Texas Tech wing Kevin McCullar (from the transfer portal) and freshman walk-on guard Wilder Evers.

The players will return to their respective hometowns at the conclusion of summer school before reporting back to campus for the 2022-23 school year by the start of classes on Aug. 22.

“I still get calls from my parents every single day. I’m not homesick yet,” Ejiofor said, smiling.

He said he especially has enjoyed working at recent camps like the one at Washburn. And, of course, at Self’s KU camp.

“It’s really good. You can see the excitement and joy in the kids’ eyes,” Ejiofor said. “For me to make an impact on their lives, I’ll do that any day.”