KU voted preseason No. 1 in AP Top 25

photo by: Missy Minear/Kansas Athletics

Forward KJ Adams Jr. of the Kansas Jayhawks during the game between Kansas and the Puerto Rico Select team in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Aug. 3, 2023.

The votes are in and after months of offseason speculation, the Kansas men’s basketball program finally has a highly coveted number it can affix to its name: No. 1.

The Jayhawks were selected for the top spot in the Associated Press’ preseason poll Monday, earning 46 of a possible 63 first-place votes from the AP’s panel of media members. It is the fourth time that KU has been anointed as preseason No. 1, after 2004, 2009 and 2018, and the first time that KU has come in at No. 1 in an AP poll since the conclusion of the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.

The team brings back key starters KJ Adams Jr., Dajuan Harris Jr. and Kevin McCullar Jr. and throws in a highly touted freshman class highlighted by guard Elmarko Jackson, plus a key group of transfers featuring center Hunter Dickinson.

“With our returning starters and the players we’ve added, I can see the writers putting us high in the rankings,” KU coach Bill Self said in a press release. “We welcome being preseason No. 1, but the goal is to be playing to that rank when it counts the most, at the end of the season.”

After winning the national championship to conclude the 2021-22 season, KU saw its follow-up campaign come to an end in the second round against Arkansas, with Self unable to coach due to health issues. The Jayhawks then saw their roster shaken up in the offseason due to transfers in and out. It didn’t reach its current form until September.

The other teams to receive first-place votes were No. 2 Duke (11), No. 3 Purdue (3), No. 4 Michigan State (1) and No. 6 UConn (2). The rest of the top 10 includes No. 5 Marquette, No. 7 Houston (a new addition to the Big 12 Conference), No. 8 Creighton, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 10 Florida Atlantic.

Besides Houston, the other Big 12 foes in the rankings are No. 18 Texas (which departs for the Southeastern Conference after the season) and No. 20 Baylor. TCU and Kansas State received votes but were not ranked.

KU will take on several other ranked teams in nonconference play, including No. 16 Kentucky at the Champions Classic in Chicago on Nov. 14 and UConn at Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 1. In between those matchups, the Jayhawks could have a chance to face Marquette and potentially Purdue or No. 11 Gonzaga at the Maui Invitational in Honolulu just before Thanksgiving.

The nationwide No. 1 ranking follows the conference No. 1 ranking that KU received on Friday, to go along with Big 12 player of the year and newcomer of the year nods for Dickinson, a first-team all-conference selection for Harris and an all-conference honorable mention for McCullar.

The Jayhawks will travel to face No. 25 Illinois for a charity exhibition on Oct. 29. The season opens officially when they host North Carolina Central on Nov. 6.

Preseason poll

1. Kansas (46) – 1,548

2. Duke (11) – 1,466

3. Purdue (3) – 1,436

4. Michigan State (1) – 1,346

5. Marquette – 1,283

6. UConn (2) – 1,243

7. Houston – 1,117

8. Creighton – 1,099

9. Tennessee – 1,032

10. Florida Atlantic – 1,011

11. Gonzaga – 830

12. Arizona – 776

13. Miami (Fla.) – 750

14. Arkansas – 685

15. Texas A&M – 597

16. Kentucky – 530

17. San Diego State – 529

18. Texas – 493

19. North Carolina – 474

20. Baylor – 431

21. USC – 427

22. Villanova – 395

23. Saint Mary’s – 335

24. Alabama – 163

25. Illinois – 104

Also receiving votes: Wisconsin 53, Colorado, 49, UCLA 47, St. John’s 47, Maryland 34, Virginia 27, Auburn 27, TCU, 24, Mississippi State 20, Kansas State 13, Xavier 8, Memphis 7, Missouri 6, Boise State 4, Indiana 3, Florida 2, Charleston 2, New Mexico 1, Drake 1


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