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KU basketball’s Bryce Thompson, a former five-star recruit, to enter transfer portal



LAWRENCE, Kan. — An expected key contributor for Kansas basketball next season instead won’t be returning to the Jayhawks.

Bryce Thompson, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound guard who just completed his freshman campaign with the Jayhawks, will enter the transfer portal and play elsewhere in 2021-22, Thompson announced Tuesday on social media. A former five-star recruit, Thompson averaged 4.6 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 17.1 minutes per game across a debut collegiate season hampered by two significant injuries.

A Tulsa, Okla., native, Thompson is the fifth Jayhawk to enter the transfer portal this offseason, joining fellow reserves Tristan Enaruna, Tyon Grant-Foster, Gethro Muscadin and Latrell Jossell as players departing the program. Guard Ochai Agbaji and forward Jalen Wilson, meanwhile, declared for the NBA Draft but have left open the possibility of a return to KU.

“While it was a difficult year for many reasons, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to play at the University of Kansas,” Thompson wrote. “Thanks to Coach (Bill) Self and his staff, the doctors, trainers, my teammates and the fans for your support all season long.”

Thompson never quite got into enough of a groove at KU to showcase the skill set that made him the nation’s No. 21-ranked recruit in the Class of 2020 according to 247Sports’ composite.

After carving out a reputation as a dynamic offensive player at the high school level, Thompson shot just 35.3% overall, 22.2% from 3-point range and 64.7% from the free-throw line in his lone season at KU. Thompson, whose father Rod played for Self at Tulsa in the late-’90s, reached double-figure scoring twice across KU’s first four games but achieved that mark just one other time the rest of the way.

Health wasn’t on Thompson’s side, either. The guard cracked a vertebrae in his lower back at KU’s first practice back from winter break, an injury that sidelined Thompson for the team’s next three contests. Then, late in his return to action on Jan. 12 at Oklahoma State, Thompson broke his right index finger vying for a loose ball. Both injuries required surgery, but the second shelved the freshman even longer — Thompson missed a month of action before finally returning in a Feb. 11 home contest against Iowa State.

Thompson played 16 minutes per game across his final five contests with KU, averaging just two points on 19% shooting and totaling only five rebounds and four assists across that stretch. That run ended with a scoreless effort on 0-for-5 shooting with one assist and no rebounds in 15 minutes of the Jayhawks’ season-ending 85-51 defeat to USC on March 22 in Indianapolis.

“I know Bryce had a tough freshman season with injuries but I enjoyed coaching him this year through the ups and downs,” Self said in a news release. “We wish nothing but the best for the entire Thompson family moving forward.”

Thompson’s departure will likely only intensify KU’s push for four-star point guard TyTy Washington, a 6-3, 185-pound high school prospect out of Chandler, Ariz., ranked No. 30 nationally by 247Sports’ composite. Incoming Jayhawks already include transfers Joseph Yesufu (Drake guard), Cam Martin (Missouri Southern forward/center) and Sydney Curry (John A. Logan College forward) and high school recruits Zach Clemence (four-star forward), K.J. Adams (four-star forward) and Bobby Pettiford (three-star guard).