In a stunning turn of events in an already wild offseason for Kansas Basketball, big man Zach Clemence has decided to decommit from the University of California-Santa Barbara and come back to Kansas for his junior year. Clemence will redshirt in hopes of developing his skills further under the tutelage of Bill Self and will back up fellow big men Hunter Dickinson, KJ Adams, and in all likelihood Parker Braun, making for a very deep bigs roster for Kansas. A far cry from last year where there were bigs, but no one that really stood out from the crowd aside from KJ Adams and in flashes, the now departed Ernest Udeh. Clemence averaged 1.4 PPG, 1.3 Rebounds/game, 0.1 Assists/game, and a 32.4 FG% over an average of 5.7 minutes/game played (ESPN)
Now, I'm sure a lot of people are asking why exactly Clemence returns after so little production last year and really being seen as a sort of "gimmick" player rather than being taken seriously. Expectations were unrealistically high at the beginning of 2022, and he didn't live up to those expectations, however people believed he actively regressed compared to his freshman year. I don't entirely believe that, we barely saw him his freshman year and we barely saw him last year too, so to make a judgement such as that seems a bit farfetched, though I understand where the thought process comes from given his follies when he did play. That's what Self is here for though, as there have been plenty of players exactly like Clemence that have gone on to take a key role in many great KU basketball teams. One of those guys was Christian Braun, who underwhelmed his first couple years before really catching fire and being a key leader on a national championship squad. We all know where he is at now, and I am certainly not saying that Clemence will end his career with the Jayhawks on the same pedestal as Braun, but I am saying that this is #1: A good depth move for the Hawks and #2: Gives Clemence a chance to develop under one of the best all-time coaches in the NCAA, arguably the best player developer to step foot on the college court.
Clemence has a lot of promise, which is why his expectations were so high entering his sophomore year, and while he did underwhelm, he can still blossom into a true force to be reckoned with, especially with him redshirting this year and taking some time to work on his craft and go up against one of the best if not the best bigs in the nation in Hunter Dickinson in practice. As the old saying goes, iron sharpens iron, and both Clemence and KU potentially could benefit immensely from his return. If nothing else, he's a great depth addition, especially considering KU is probably out on the Grant Nelson sweepstakes. Overall, a great addition that I see zero problems with, welcome back to Zach and I hope he develops into a great Self-made player.
Burn Notice: 8/10 A single spark can start a big flame, another old timey saying for ya.