Ernest Udeh, Jr. has announced he will hit the transfer portal. In a Thursday announcement confirmed by Bill Self, Udeh let his intentions be known after Hunter Dickinson was a confirmed sign that prior week. The freshman averaged 2.6 points/game with 1.8 rebounds and 0.3 assists, along with a 75.6% FG percentage, on an average 8.3 minutes a game. He showed a ton of potential and if Dickinson were to not sign, it's possible he would have been used as a starting 5 man. Bill Self likes his bigs and Udeh showed he can play and be developed. With this transfer, it could be argued that he is making a statement about being upset with potential playing time. Dickinson will, in all likelihood, command minutes. He's durable, has played big minutes for Michigan his former school, and has a lot of proven talent that we've only seen spurts of in Udeh. This doesn't mean he wouldn't have played, but it certainly cut his minutes down when the signing occurred. More than likely starter to backup 5 man once again. There's also the question of NIL money and how much Udeh would have potentially gotten paid. It was announced that Dickinson would earn a cool $4 million in NIL deals, but again, it goes back to having earned that ability to command that money and playing time. We know the NIL has made a huge impact into if college players stay in their programs and to which programs they go to, and it potentially had impact here. All of this is understood and known, what isn't known, however, is since Udeh is leaving, where is he going to go?
Udeh, as mentioned before, has a ton of potential. He flashed dominating strength, movement, and scoring ability throughout his freshman year. It's probably a good reason teams such as Duke are looking at him right now and having him visit. Speaking of that, Duke, Kansas State, and TCU have all confirmed a visit with the big man. Yes, Kansas State, why don't you just throw in Missouri too so we can complete the trifecta right? Any who, Udeh is garnering a ton of interest. As of now, with the departure of Eddie Lampkin as well as not a ton of depth down low to begin with, I think TCU gives Udeh the most opportunity for playing time. Kansas State is in a similar situation with the departure of Massoud, but frankly I don't think Udeh is looking for that type of aggressive betrayal unless they offer him a TON of NIL money that they don't have. If he's looking to secure a bag and get some NIL money, Duke is probably his best bet. It will still sting KU fan hearts if he does go to the Blue Devils, but it's not as potent and it will secure him a bigger payday. This being said, there's potential we don't know about some sort of animosity between the KU coaching staff and Udeh. Maybe there is something there and he's wanting to look at Kansas State for that reason. He IS taking the visit after all. However, I don't think it's likely he goes to the Wildcats, he's still got people that care about him a lot in Lawrence and to do that would be a stab in the back that he probably doesn't want to do (See Connor Frankamp, then again that kind of worked out well for him didn't it?) As of now though, here's my crystal ball predictions with the schools I have heard are interested:
Kansas State: 10%
Coming Back to KU (It's possible but highly unlikely): 5%
I'm want to follow the dollar here and think the NIL money is what will possibly attract Ernest Udeh, Jr. to Duke. It's not like Duke's bigs are super deep either, for one, and two, the bag they could offer Udeh would be far greater than what TCU or K-State could offer. As of now, the bigs for Duke include Sophomore Christian Reeves (1.5 PPG, 1 REB/GM, 72.7 FG%) and Senior Ryan Young (6.4 PPG, 5.5 REB/GM, 68.5 FG%) Udeh is already a step up from Reeves aside from being 2 inches shorter. He's more mobile, can score better, and is stronger. This being said, Reeves also has as many years of eligibility as Udeh does. Does Jon Scheyer want to bring in that competition and are Reeves and Udeh okay with that? This brings me to TCU, my top choice, who doesn't really have a big on their roster at all. Their tallest player is 6'9" and playing small ball against some of the best small ball teams in the nation in the Big 12 has its significant drawbacks. We know how much Lampkin dominated the paint when he played for the Frogs, and Udeh could do more of the same if developed correctly. TCU could also offer a pretty penny for him as well, but that is up to whether or not the NIL coordinators are willing to invest that much in him. In the end, I think TCU has the right combo of dollar and playing time to attract Udeh, which is why they are top of my crystal ball.
What do you think though? Any dark horse candidates I miss or anything that could make the other suitors more enticing? Leave your thoughts below!
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