KU freshman Jalen Wilson not planning to go anywhere this offseason
photo by: Nick Krug
The end of any Kansas basketball season brings with it questions about the immediate futures of a handful of Jayhawks.
Despite the odd ending, the aftermath of the 2019-20 season is no different.
While seniors Udoka Azubuike and Isaiah Moss are done, a couple of underclassmen could have decisions to make. According to his mother, however, freshman wing Jalen Wilson is not one of them.
“Jalen loves KU and will definitely be back,” Lisa Wilson told the Journal-World on Friday, noting that concerns from KU fans on Twitter about her son’s future at Kansas were off the mark.
Wilson, who initially signed with Michigan and then changed his path to Kansas after former Michigan coach John Beilein left for the NBA, was the No. 47-ranked player in the 2019 class per Rivals.com. That put him as the highest-ranked player in KU’s freshman class this season and had plenty of people expecting him to be one of KU’s breakout players this season.
However, after breaking his left ankle in the opening minutes of KU’s second game of the season, the four-star wing forward from Denton, Texas, never got the opportunity to show what he could do for the Jayhawks this season.
“Sitting on that bench, not being able to go in, was one of the hardest things he’s ever been through,” Lisa Wilson said. “However, I’m grateful for that experience because while watching he was learning and learning at this level under Bill Self is the key.”
There was talk, throughout the latter part of his rehab, about Wilson returning in time to make an impact this season. But just when his ankle was rounding into shape, back spasms created yet another setback and Wilson and the KU coaching staff made the decision to shut it down.
He continued to practice, warm up and travel with the team, but was unable to play beyond the first two games of the season. He played 2:08 in the loss to Duke and missed his only shot while committing one turnover. And he was on the floor for just 27 seconds in KU’s home win over UNC Greensboro.
Prior to that, he played a combined 40 minutes in KU’s two exhibition victories, shooting 3 of 13 from the floor for 9 points.
Through it all, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound Wilson appeared to bond with his teammates and connect with KU’s coaches even though he was unable to help the team.
“Every since J was little, he’s always found the good in someone or made the best out of any situation,” Lisa Wilson said. “I’m so proud of his growth this year.”
Provided he is healthy, Wilson figures to factor prominently into KU’s outlook for the 2020-21 season.
As one of nine wings/guards likely to be on next year’s roster — Wilson, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, Tristan Enaruna, Dajuan Harris, Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster and Latrell Jossell — Wilson’s versatility and ability to play either the 3 or the 4, depending on the lineup, opens up a number of ways he can contribute.
If Self and company elect to play primarily with four-guard lineups, as they have done in recent years and did for most of the second half of the 2019-20 season, that creates an even easier path to significant playing time for Wilson.