Unfortunately, Udoka Azubuike has had some issues with staying healthy over the course of his Kansas career, but in his lone full season, all Azubuike did was lead the nation in 2-point shooting at 77 percent, and on a whopping 274 attempts.
I could probably end it there, but let’s continue. Azubuike has struggled a bit rebounding over his career, but in his sophomore year he ranked 6th in the Big 12 in offensive rebounding and 7th in defensive rebounding and also 5th in the league in block percentage.
Here’s the downside: Azubuike’s love of fouling (5.1 per 40 minutes) and lack of being in shape meant he was limited to just 23.6 minutes per game. He’s also not a great rebounder, although his rebounding numbers in his sophomore season weren’t awful.
Still, I keep coming back to Azubuike’s insane efficiency inside the arc. He took 274 twos in 2018, most on the team, and as a reminder he made 77 percent of them. He’s one of just five Jayhawks under Bill Self to make 211 twos in a season, and his 274 attempts are almost 100 fewer than anyone else. He also has the fewest attempts of anyone with 200 makes, and 175 makes. Darnell Jackson has the fewest attempts of anyone with 150 makes, at 273, one fewer than Udoka.
It’s fair to point out Azubuike got a lot of easy looks at the basket, and hey how hard is it to catch and dunk? But, he had to do the work before the pass to get open, and it’s not like throwing it to the post for a dunk is a new concept at Kansas.
At the end of the day, shooting 77 percent from two is shooting 77 percent from two, no matter how you slice it. Kansas got Joel Embiid a ton of looks inside as well, and he “only” shot 64 percent on twos. Darrell Arthur never shot higher than 55 percent from two. In Wayne Simien’s senior season? 56 percent.
This list is all about looking backwards, but since Azubuike is the lone active player on this list, let’s look forward a bit: While Devon Dotson is maybe the biggest key to the upcoming season due to a lack of point guard depth, if I could keep one player healthy for a full season, it’s Azubuike. The attention he commands from the defense gives indescribable help to the players around him, his rim protection provides cover for the perimeter defenders, and oh yeah HE SHOT 77 PERCENT IN HIS LONE HEALTHY SEASON.
He doesn’t even have to do it over a long period of time. As I mentioned, Azubuike averaged just over 23 minutes per game his sophomore year. He’s played at least 23 minutes in 24 games over his career thanks to the aforementioned injuries and foul trouble. Kansas has won 22 of those games, with the lone losses coming in the Sprint Center vs Washington and in the Final Four loss to Villanova. He’s a weapon no other team in college basketball has, and if he can stay on the floor the Jayhawks should go deep into March.