According to Soren Petro, and now confirmed by Matt Tait, Scott Chasen, and Jeff Goodman, Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return for his junior season. Although he will be a junior, he will be just 19 during next year’s NBA Draft, so the extra year in college likely won’t hurt him.
Azubuike played in 36 games for the Jayhawks and led the country in 2-point shooting, making 78.7 percent of his attempts. He impressed at the combine, with the 2nd longest wingspan, and played well in 5 on 5 action as well.
Although he improved in both areas towards the end of the year, Azubuike could stand to work on his rim protection and rebounding. He had one of the highest block rates in the Big 12, but too often got drawn out of position to go for said blocks, which also took him away from the rebounding area.
He also needs to get in a little better shape, as he was exposed in KU’s Final Four loss to Villanova. While I think he has the foot speed to switch onto smaller defenders, something he will need to do at the next level, he can only do so for a possession or two before getting to tired.
As it pertains to Kansas, the Jayhawks now have the best 1-2 punch in the post in the country with Azubuike and Dedric Lawson, and that’s without getting to Silvio de Sousa, Mitch Lightfoot, and McDonalds All-American freshman David McCormack. It’s tough to know exactly who among that group will emerge as the alpha dog, but given how important he was to the team last year, Azubuike returning is a huge boost for Kansas’s national title hopes.