Kansas has appeared on the early lists of several college basketball players who have entered the NCAA’s transfer portal.
These are guards and forwards who conceivably could continue their careers in Lawrence during the 2023-24 campaign. The Jayhawks are expected to be in the market for up to four portal players.
KU as of Sunday night had one spot available on the 2022-23 roster. More could open if the squad loses up to two more players to the portal and if Gradey Dick leaves college for the NBA after one season.
So far KU has lost 2022-23 team members Cam Martin, Bobby Pettiford, Zach Clemence and Joseph Yesufu to the portal, with no announcement yet on the futures of MJ Rice and Kyle Cuffe. The Jayhawks’ 2023-24 roster as of Sunday night had seven scholarship players (KJ Adams, Zuby Ejiofor, Ernest Udeh, Dajuan Harris, Rice, Cuffe, Gradey Dick), as well as four incoming freshmen (Elmarko Jackson, Chris Johnson, Marcus Adams, Jamari McDowell).
KU has stripped itself of one scholarship each of the next three seasons as a self-imposed sanction in the ongoing NCAA case against the Jayhawks, meaning 12 scholarship players (instead of 13) will be on next year’s Kansas team.
Here’s a look at some players in the portal who have told various recruiting services they currently have KU on their list of prospective schools.
• Khalif Battle, 6-foot-5, 180-pound fourth-year sophomore combo guard from Temple:
Battle, who has two years of eligibility remaining, tells Jayhawkslant.com he’s participated in a Zoom call with KU coaches.
In 27 games last season, Battle averaged 17.9 points on 41% shooting with 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He hit 77 of 220 three-pointers for 35.0%. He made 89.8% of his free throws.
According to On3.com, he’s visited UCF and Rhode Island and also has heard from KU, Arkansas, Villanova, Arizona, Ohio State, Florida, Memphis, Florida State, Louisville, USC, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon and others.
Originally from Trenton Catholic School in Metuchen, New Jersey, Battle was ranked No. 82 in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com. This past season, the former Butler University player (2019-20) left Temple’s team after being benched Feb. 16 versus North Carolina State.
Battle, the younger brother of former Syracuse standout Tyus Battle, entered his name in the 2022 NBA Draft but ultimately elected to return to school.
“Khalif Battle is arguably the best bucket-getter in the transfer portal right now. He averaged 17.9 points a game and inflicts his damage at all three levels but particularly the three-point line where he drilled 35% of his 8.1 attempts a game this season,” writes Travis Branham of 247sports.com.
Battle is currently ranked No. 3 on the list of available transfers by Rivals.com.
• Graham Ike, 6-9, 255, junior forward, Wyoming:
Ike is one of the top prospects in the portal despite playing in just one game this past season because of a lower right leg injury. He averaged 19.5 points (on 51% shooting) and 9.6 rebounds a game as a sophomore in 2021-22.
Ike two seasons ago scored a career-high 35 points against Denver. He grabbed a career-best 18 rebounds at San Jose State. He scored in double-figures in all but one game.
He totaled 14 double-doubles during the 2021-22 campaign. He scored 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Boise State, scored 25 points with 11 rebounds against Stanford and had 26 points and 10 rebounds against Washington.
Ike went for 17 points and nine rebounds in an NCAA Tournament loss to Indiana.
Ike originally is from Aurora, Colorado. He initially chose Wyoming over Washington State, Saint Louis, UMass, Air Force, Bucknell, Akron, Loyola Marymount and others.
He told 247sports.com that in recent days he’s heard from KU, Missouri, West Virginia, Indiana, Iowa State, Arkansas, Arizona, Arizona State, Butler, Colorado, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Indiana,San Diego State, Seton Hall, Tennessee and Xavier.
“I am looking for the right fit for myself,” Ike told 247sports.com. “I want to come in and be around great people and a great coaching staff within a great university. I want to be around players who understand winning and want to win. I have to get back to the NCAA Tournament and I have to win games. I have not won a game there and I would love to win games to push for a national championship.
I want to be coached,” Ike continued. “That in addition to post touches, being developed, and being held accountable is what I am looking for.”
Ike is currently ranked the No. 5 available transfer according to Rivals.com.
• Nick Timberlake, 6-4, 205 senior combo guard, Towson:
Timberlake averaged a team-leading 17.7 points a game last season on 45.5% shooting. The two-time, first-team all-CAA selection hit 92 of 221 threes for 41.6%. He made 84.5% of his free throws and had 79 assists to 78 turnovers, chipping in 3.9 rebounds a game.
The Braintree, Massachusetts native scored 34 points versus College of Charleston, 32 against Hofstra. 31 versus Hampton and 29 against Delaware.
He’s scheduled a visit to North Carolina. According to 247sports.com he’s recently heard from Indiana, Kansas, LSU, Ohio State, UCLA and Xavier. He’s also been contacted by Auburn, Boston College, Connecticut, Clemson, Iowa State, Maryland, Memphis and West Virginia.
“Playing in the CAA, I would like to take a step up,” Timberlake told 247Sports.com. “Whether it be a power five school or a high-level team, I want to go somewhere where I feel comfortable. I am open to all options but my main goal is to play at the highest level. That stuff plays a big role. I am looking to be an impactful player on a winning team. I want to compete in March Madness and get my feet wet in the tournament. It would be a great thing to accomplish.”
“I feel I can bring a scorer’s mentality and veteran leadership. I have played in over 100 games in my college career and have been a part of a winning program at Towson for the last two years. I have been the main guy for those two years and I feel that will help me impact winning at an even higher level.”
Timberlake is currently ranked the No. 6 available transfer according to Rivals.com.
• Dayvion McKnight, 6-1, 195 junior point guard, Western Kentucky:
McKnight, a second-team all-Conference USA pick, is originally from Shelbyville, Kentucky. He averaged a team-leading 16.5 points a game on 45.6% shooting this past season. He cashed 19 of 56 threes for 33.9%. He also gathered 5.0 rebounds per contest and for the year dished 125 assists against 110 turnovers. He had a season high of 33 points came against Middle Tennessee in February.
According to On3.com McKnight has heard from KU, Iowa State, Memphis, Purdue, N.C. State, Xavier, LSU, Louisville, Oklahoma and Mississippi State.
He had offers from USF, Northwestern, Murray State and Saint Louis coming out of Collins High School located right outside of Louisville.
McKnight is currently ranked the No. 18 available transfer according to Rivals.com.
• Reese Dixon-Waters, 6-5, 210 sophomore combo guard, USC:
The Long Beach, California native averaged 9.8 points a game on 43.8% shooting in 2022-23 for USC. He hit 24 of 81 threes for 29.6%. He also dished 33 assists against 55 turnovers.
In high school he was ranked No. 50 in the recruiting Class of 2020 by 247sports.com.
Yahoosports.com reports that KU, Alabama, Texas, UCLA, Arkansas and Louisville have reached out to Dixon-Waters. Rivals.com has also included Missouri, Kansas State, Stanford and Santa Barbara on his list of schools.
• Paxson Wojcik, 6-5. 200 senior combo guard, Brown:
Wojcik, who is originally from Charleston, South Carolina, tells On3.com he’s heard from KU, Stanford, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Butler, Nebraska, Auburn, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Cal and others.
Wojcik spent two years at Loyola of Chicago before heading to Brown. He averaged 14.9 points per game on 46.1% shooting (57 of 150 threes for 38%) in his senior season with an impressive 7.2 rebounds per game. He dished 87 assists to 49 turnovers.
• John Tonje, 6-5, 210 senior point guard, Colorado State
Tonje, who is originally from Omaha, Nebraska, averaged 14.6 points per game this season while shooting 39% from three-point range and 47.3% overall. He dished 43 assists against 61 turnovers.
Tonje tells Stockrisers.com several schools have reached out including KU, Michigan, Illinois, Memphis, Xavier, Utah, LSU, TCU, Nebraska, Iowa State, Virginia, Ohio State, and Arkansas.
• Walter Clayton, 6-2, 195, sophomore combo guard, Iona:
Clayton, who is originally from Lake Wales, Florida, averaged a team-leading 16.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.8 steals this past season. He was named the MAAC Player of the Year.
Clayton hit 45.5% of his shots, including 43.1% of his threes (72 of 167). He had 103 assists to 57 turnovers.
Clayton told the New York Post he likely will either follow former Iona coach Rick Pitino to St. John’s or attend Florida. Earlier it had been reported he’d heard from KU and Mississippi
“There isn’t anybody else that’s trying to get involved really,” Clayton told Zagsblog.com.
Clayton is currently ranked the No. 14 available transfer according to Rivals.com.
There are some interesting names in the portal — players not yet mentioned as possible targets for KU.
Those players include Fardaws Aimaq, 6-11, 245 senior forward from Texas Tech (11.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg); Chris Ledlum, 6-6, 225 senior forward, Harvard (18.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg); Kerr Kriisa, 6-3, 190 junior point guard, Arizona (9.9 ppg, 51 apg); Jaemyn Brakefield, 6-8, 220 junior foward, Mississippi (11.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
The portal opened March 13 and runs until May 11. Graduate transfers were able to enter prior to the 13th. Obviously if the past is any indication, there will be a continuous stream of players entering the portal in upcoming days/weeks. It should be noted KU coaches cannot comment on possible transfer targets in accordance with NCAA rules.