Griffen becomes KU’s fourth transfer commitment, third signing

photo by: AP Photo/Ryan Sun

Alabama guard Rylan Griffen (3) shoots over North Carolina guard RJ Davis (4) during the first half of a Sweet 16 college basketball game in the NCAA tournament Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Los Angeles.

Updated 1:40 p.m. Friday:

The Kansas men’s basketball team continues to bolster its roster with big-name transfers, cultivating levels of depth far beyond anything it had during the 2023-24 campaign, and on Friday former Alabama wing Rylan Griffen signed to join the Jayhawks next season.

Griffen, who will have two years of eligibility left to play, was a key part of the Crimson Tide’s run to its first-ever Final Four this past year, as he averaged 11.2 points and 3.4 rebounds while starting 33 of 36 games for Alabama.

Perhaps most importantly given what KU has been looking to address this offseason, he shot 39.2% from deep on a total of 189 attempts. That number rose all the way to 48% (13-for-27) in the NCAA Tournament.

Those numbers in his sophomore campaign were a massive improvement from when he connected on only 30% of his 130 3s as a freshman coming off the bench.

The 6-foot-6 Griffen will have a chance to make significant contributions immediately for the Jayhawks. Among the transfer class, he provides a tad more size than Zeke Mayo, is coming off a more productive year than fellow incoming junior wing Riley Kugel and has a bit more of a reputation as a defender than KU’s most recent acquisition AJ Storr.

“I see myself as a defender first,” he told Shay Wildeboor of “Kevin (McCullar Jr.) left, so guarding the team’s best player, that’s a role that’s open and I need to step up to the challenge. I did it at Bama, so that was something important when I chose a school, I still kind of wanted that role. I see myself as someone who can score, too, and make open shots. They were a decent three-point shooting team last year, but Coach (Bill) Self said we need to take it to another level.”

Griffen is a native of Dallas and attended Richardson High School. KU had previously recruited him when he was entering college.

“The biggest reason I came here is to be pushed and learn from Coach Bill Self,” he told Wildeboor. “He has a great track record. He’s a winner and that’s something that I still want to do at the highest level. I came here so all of my coaches can push me and help make me the best player that I can be and keep growing and learning. It’s a basketball school, so just seeing all the players here before me, I want to live the same life they did.”

His commitment puts the Jayhawks in a solid scholarship situation as they will now have 12 players on the books if Johnny Furphy does not return to school (the deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft is May 29) and the maximum 13 if he does; Self has clearly held true to his suggestion that he would recruit as though Furphy was not coming back.

Self has said he would be content enduring KU’s remaining penalty of one forfeited scholarship from the Independent Accountability Resolution Process either next season or the following year. Either way, if Furphy were to return the Jayhawks would be unable to acquire any additional scholarship players.

KU has announced the official signings of Griffen, Mayo and Storr, but not Kugel as of Friday afternoon.

“Rylan’s won everywhere he’s been,” Self said in a press release announcing Griffen’s signing. “He’s a solid shooter, making 39 percent from three-point range on last season’s Final Four team at Alabama. He’s also a solid defender, often guarding the best perimeter player on the opposing team. Rylan fits our system well.”

The Jayhawks will also have to find the right player-personnel combination for their starting lineup with many options at their disposal, which they did not have last year. With Dickinson and point guard Dajuan Harris Jr. locked in at their spots, Self and his staff will have to pick two of the four transfers to start alongside returning forward KJ Adams, unless they choose to consider moving the dynamic Adams to the bench in his senior year.

The roster may not be resolved yet, either; even beyond the draft decisions, last offseason KU continued to lose players and add new ones until the start of its fall semester.

photo by: AP Photo/Ryan Sun

Alabama guard Rylan Griffen fields questions ahead of their Elite Eight college basketball game in the NCAA tournament Friday, March 29, 2024, in Los Angeles.


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