LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe, who started 30 games during last year’s Big 12 title run, is expected to transfer for his final season of eligibility.
A person familiar with the situation confirmed the news to The Associated Press on Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school had not announced his decision.
It was unknown where Tharpe would potentially land.
Tharpe was suspended for last season’s opener after playing in an unauthorized summer league game. He also was seen with a partially nude woman in a photograph that circulated on social media after the season, which prompted coach Bill Self to say he was “extremely disappointed with what’s transpired and the judgment that went along with it.”
Tharpe, a 5-foot-11 guard, was expected to be a key contributor this past season. But he averaged just 8.5 points and 5.0 assists as Kansas finished with a 25-10 record, losing to Stanford in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Along the way, he briefly lost his starting job to freshman Frank Mason.
The Jayhawks have plenty of depth in the backcourt, though Mason is the only prototypical point guard. Wayne Selden Jr. and Conner Frankamp could also play the position, though Selden is a slashing scorer and Frankamp a 3-pointer threat, both better suited to shooting guard.
Tharpe’s departure could sway Devonte Graham, the top unsigned player in the 2014 class, to choose Kansas. The 6-2 guard narrowed his choices Wednesday to the Jayhawks and North Carolina State, though it’s unknown when he plans to make a decision.
Graham played at Brewster Academy, the same prep school as Tharpe.
The Jayhawks only have two members in its upcoming recruiting class in bruising 6-8 forward Cliff Alexander, the Naismith player of the year, and 6-7 swingman Kelly Oubre. But both are five-star prospects who shined in the McDonald’s All-American game.
Kansas missed out on a commitment this week from 6-11 center Myles Turner, a top-10 prospect who chose Big 12 rival Texas instead. Turner would have helped Kansas compensate for the loss of 7-footer Joel Embiid, who declared for the NBA draft after his freshman season.