In what is becoming a routine at Kansas, head coach Bill Self is having to deal with the bittersweet emotions of losing a player after only a year, as freshman guard Kelly Oubre announced via a statement issued Wednesday morning that he will forego the rest of his time in college and declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft.
The news is exactly groundbreaking for Self, the Jayhawks or their fans, as Oubre has been consistency pegged as a likely lottery pick in June’s draft. For Self, it’s tough because they’ll have to replace a player, who’s best days are ahead of him, but it’s also a time to celebrate a kid’s accomplishments on the floor and as a person.
“This should come as really no surprise to anybody that has followed us,” Self said in the statement. “Kelly came in being well thought of by NBA personnel and certainly, nothing has changed in that regard. In the time he was here he’s been a great ambassador, a great teammate and, obviously, a very talented player.”
The 6-7 guard with 7-2 wingspan wowed many in his only season at Kansas. Oubre averaged just over nine points a game and added five rebounds per contest. He was also named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. The decision is also bittersweet for Oubre himself, as he’s quick to wax poetic about his time at Kansas, while looking forward to what lies ahead.
“The University of Kansas has always been behind me,” Oubre said in the statement. “This has been a great experience. It has felt like home since the first time I took my official visit. I wouldn’t trade this situation and this time for anything in the world. I feel like I will always have a home I can come back to and I will always have people I can lean on.”
“I’ll miss the different personalities in the locker room,” Oubre continued. “We all gelled from the first time we were together. I’ll miss the coaches pushing us every day to be the best players we can be. Every time coach Self says something, it’s definitely something you need to work on. He’s seen it. He’s seen it before, multiple, multiple times.”
In addition, Oubre, who’s started 27 games, en route to a 27-9 season and another Kansas Big 12 championship, says he plans to continue working towards his degree, as he moves on to the next level.
As for Self and the Jayhawks going forward, this is just the nature of the business in college basketball these days and this scenario is one he’s planned for and is getting accustomed to. This year marks the third consecutive season in which he has had a “one and done.” It leaves no reason to worry as Self and his staff work to build a team that could be a national contender next season regardless of how their off season plays out.
“On the surface this presents a void on our perimeter from last year but this is something we have known could happen for several months and we are prepared for it,” Self said. “I’m real excited about our players returning.”