KJ Adams confirms he’ll return for senior year

Kansas forward K.J. Adams Jr. (24) salutes Kansas guard Elmarko Jackson after Jackson threw a lob to Adams for a dunk during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 at Allen Fieldhouse. Photo by Nick Krug

Kansas junior KJ Adams announced Tuesday afternoon that he’ll return for his fourth and final year with the Jayhawks, posting a photo on social media captioned in part with the phrase, “Never was leaving.”

Adams was already the Big 12 Conference’s most improved player as a sophomore in 2022-23, but took another step forward this past season. Despite moving out of the center position to make room for highly touted transfer Hunter Dickinson, Adams was able to improve his averages to 12.6 points and 4.6 rebounds during the 2023-24 campaign.

He also dished out three assists per game, serving as an adept ball-handler for his position and frequently leading the Jayhawks on the break.

Adams managed several particularly memorable performances on the year, most notably scoring 18 points and five rebounds in a victory over UConn immediately before he was slated to fly home to Texas for his mother’s funeral.

Adams, who played every game for the Jayhawks and started all but two, also matched his career high with 22 points in a valiant effort during the Big 12 Conference tournament, serving as the team’s scoring leader with both Dickinson and Kevin McCullar Jr. out due to injury.

The native of Austin, Texas, has proven a significant asset to the Jayhawks thanks to his physicality, defensive versatility and emotional leadership, but still has room to improve.

As he returns for a final season in Lawrence, Adams will likely receive scrutiny again when it comes to his shooting range and positional fit. Defenses frequently sagged off Adams and dared him to shoot, and he beat them from time to time by hitting floaters and the occasional pull-up jump shot. But firing from outside the key really hasn’t been a significant part of his game to this point, which allows opponents to make things more difficult for Dickinson in turn.

Dickinson hasn’t yet announced his decision for the 2024-25 season — he still has a year of eligibility he can choose to use — but if he comes back, KU may have to deal with a bit of a frontcourt logjam. Highly touted freshman center Flory Bidunga will be in the mix along with Adams and Dickinson, and Zach Clemence could also potentially come back to the Jayhawks. That’s pending any additional transfer-portal acquisitions, and KU has reportedly been in contact with players like Oklahoma State transfer Brandon Garrison and Rutgers transfer Clifford Omoruyi.


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