Johnson officially decommits, further shrinking KU men’s basketball roster

photo by: Contributed photo

Four-star combo guard Chris Johnson committed to Kansas on Aug. 2, 2022, making him the Jayhawks' first commitment in the Class of 2023. He officially announced his decommitment Monday.

If nothing else changes before the start of the season, a scholarship penalty for Kansas men’s basketball that looked like it would last three years will get done a lot sooner.

NCAA rules allot KU 13 scholarships per year, but in connection with the school’s NCAA infractions case, it adopted last November a self-imposed reduction of three scholarships “to be distributed over the next three years.”

With the decommitment of four-star freshman combo guard Chris Johnson, which he officially announced Monday after reports over the weekend, Kansas is now down to 10 scholarship players — three below its maximum — for the 2023-24 season.

“Over the past several weeks, I’ve struggled internally with my initial decision and reached a point where I wasn’t completely comfortable,” Johnson wrote in a statement on Twitter. “I am very aware that the timing of this decision is difficult, both for myself and Kansas, but I strongly believe it’s the right decision for all parties.”

Johnson, who had previously been the Jayhawks’ first 2023 commitment way back in August, reversed his decision as the majority of KU’s newcomers were arriving on campus, including, per team social media posts, freshmen Elmarko Jackson and Jamari McDowell and transfers Hunter Dickinson, Arterio Morris and Nick Timberlake. (Dajuan Harris Jr. and KJ Adams Jr. are also in town; the remaining scholarship players are freshman Marcus Adams Jr., transfer Parker Braun and sixth-year senior Kevin McCullar Jr.)

KU could keep the roster as is and fulfill the requirements of its scholarship penalty, but more realistically, it could decide to replace Johnson with a late-arriving transfer of some kind to fill an 11th roster spot. The last day to enter the portal was May 11, and most top transfers have picked new schools already, but some high-level collegiate players like Grant Nelson, the former North Dakota State power forward who withdrew from the NBA Draft prior to last Thursday’s deadline, still remain.


The scholarship portion of Kansas’ roster may not be complete, but the Jayhawks continue to build a robust group of walk-ons. Every member of last year’s non-scholarship group of Wilder Evers, Charlie McCarthy, Michael Jankovich and Dillon Wilhite retains eligibility, and KU revealed in a series of social media posts that it has added Patrick Cassidy and Justin Cross to the roster.

Cross, a 6-foot-9 forward from Oak Park, Illinois, averaged 2.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game for a John A. Logan College team that won the national junior-college championship this past season.

Cassidy, a native of Columbus, Kansas, was a multi-sport athlete who played point guard in high school. Most recently, though, he served as a student manager for the very KU team he will now join as a walk-on. Previously, he and his fellow managers staged games against their counterparts at other schools the Jayhawks visited; now, he may get the chance to take part in real Division I basketball.

As of now, Cassidy will join Parker Braun as the lone Kansas natives on next year’s roster.


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