Udoka Azubuike to Return to Kansas for Senior Year, Will Forgo 2019 NBA Draft

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2019

LAWRENCE, KANSAS - DECEMBER 01:  Udoka Azubuike #35 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates after scoring during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Allen Fieldhouse on December 01, 2018 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike will return to school for his senior season instead of testing the waters of the 2019 NBA draft.

Head coach Bill Self announced the decision Monday, via the team's official site:

"We're all very excited about Udoka making the decision not to enter the (NBA) draft. Unfortunately for him, injury is the reason as he still cannot participate what would be the NBA combine or workouts for the NBA teams. We really anticipated that this would be the year he would enter the draft but that was also based on him having an injury-free year."

Azubuike only appeared in nine games in 2018-19 before a wrist injury ended his season.

The 7-footer has been a difference-maker when on the court, averaging 13.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in just 20.4 minutes per game last season. His 26.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per 40 minutes led the Jayhawks.

Unfortunately, the team struggled without him as depth became an issue outside of Dedric Lawson. Kansas finished 26-10 but failed to win a share of the Big 12 regular-season title for the first time since 2004.

A run of three straight Sweet 16 appearances also ended this year.

The return of Azubuike could help provide some stability after a lot of expected changes going into next season, especially if Dedric Lawson, Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes remain in the NBA draft after declaring this month.

His injury likely hurt his draft buzz as he isn't ranked among the top 101 players in the class by Jonathan Givony of ESPN. However, his size and shot-blocking ability could allow him to raise his profile for the 2020 draft if he can stay healthy.

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