Royce Woolridge, who committed to Kansas University’s basketball program back as a sophomore in high school, on Friday announced plans to transfer at the end of his freshman year.
“I love Kansas, but I just really want to play more,” said Woolridge, a 6-foot-3, 182-pound guard out of Phoenix Sunnyslope High. “I feel like I will have more of an opportunity to play if I went somewhere else.
“I mean it’s sad that it happened like this. I committed so early. Playing at Kansas was my dream. I’m happy I had a year living out my dream. I have no regrets. You can never have regrets. It was a great year. It’s a great place to be, but it’s important to me get more of an opportunity to play.”
Woolridge — he scored nine points all season while playing 44 minutes in 16 games — said he had no specific school in mind.
“It would be nice to be closer to home, to my mom, but I really have no idea,” said Woolridge, who informed coach Bill Self of his decision on Thursday.
Self explained the transfer decision-making process on Friday.
“When Royce and I met after the season, we talked openly and honestly of the potential role he would have for our team moving forward,” Self said. “After the meeting, he wanted to visit with his family. He then came back to me yesterday and said he wanted his release and was seeking to transfer.
“Royce works hard and is deserving of an opportunity to play more,” Self added. “Although his play was limited this season, he did have an impact on our team. We wish him nothing but the best and we know he will do well wherever he attends. He is a good teammate and a great student.”
Woolridge had a 3.6 grade point average first semester.
“The KU coaches have taught me so much. Coach Self is an amazing coach. All the assistant coaches have taught me a ton this year,” Woolridge said. “I’ve learned more about basketball that I had no idea about. I look at basketball from a whole different perspective because of the coaches. I really understand it more.
“I want to thank all of my teammates,” Woolridge added. “They are family. I want to thank the fans. They have been amazing. I didn’t even play and they still showed me a lot of love and accepted me as part of the KU family and I appreciate that. I want to thank the wives of the coaches for helping me. My mom was back in Phoenix and they helped me from that standpoint.
“Kansas made me better, no doubt. I am so much better and this place helped me become more of a man and I appreciate everything it has done for me.”
Woolridge’s mom, Victoria, says there are no hard feelings.
“This is amicable. There’s not a bad reason for this,” Victoria said. “Royce came at a time there were a lot of seniors in front of him. He wants to play now. He and coach Self came to an understanding. We have some options (of other schools) that we will look at because Royce really wants to play.
“I want to stress there’s no better fans than (at) Kansas. You have the greatest fans in America. They stood behind Royce after he signed and after he got there. We have nothing against Kansas. We will miss everyone tremendously.”
Woolridge said no matter where he lands he’ll always consider himself a KU fan.
“Of course,” he said. “My brothers are here. I love KU.”
The Jayhawks, who lost three seniors as well as the Morris twins and Josh Selby off a 35-3 team, now have six returning scholarship players (counting Conner Teahan, who received a scholarship last season after arriving as a walk-on) to go with signees Braeden Anderson, Ben McLemore and Naadir Tharpe.
Thus, KU has four additional scholarships still to give during the spring signing period, which lasts until May 18. Self has said he would like to sign at least one more perimeter player and one more frontcourt player.
Players still on KU’s wish list include DeAndre Daniels, 6-8, 180, from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.; Jamari Traylor, 6-7, 210, also from IMG; and Trevor Lacey, 6-3, 190, from Butler High in Huntsville, Ala. Daniels is visiting Duke this weekend.