Naadir Tharpe Era at Kansas Comes to a ClosePosted by Brian Goodman on May 1st, 2014
Over the last two seasons, the hope for Kansas was that Naadir Tharpe would grow into a steady, reliable point guard after previous seasons had been characterized by up-and-down play from Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson. While he wasn’t without his positive contributions from time to time, Tharpe in three seasons cemented a legacy of ill-advised shots and other questionable on-court decisions (as well as a big one off the court), all of which came to a head in a 2-of-8, two-turnover dud in Kansas’ Round of 32 loss to Stanford in this season’s NCAA Tournament. Thursday afternoon, ESPN‘s Jeff Goodman tweeted that Tharpe will transfer out of Lawrence rather than return for his senior season, and head coach Bill Self confirmed the report to Kansas City Star beat writer Rustin Dodd later in the day.
Tharpe arrived at Kansas in 2011 as a four-star recruit from prep powerhouse Brewster Academy. While his playing time, assists and shooting percentages rose in each of his three seasons, he arrived at those numbers through a series of rollercoaster performances, and his erratic play and defensive lapses turned him into a lightning rod among fans and a source of constant frustration for Self. The Kansas head coach shuffled through his other options at the position, including Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp, in the hope that either could jump-start the Jayhawks’ offense, but they didn’t prove to be markedly better.
Thursday’s news of Tharpe’s transfer comes as a slight surprise, as the rising senior appeared to be the Jayhawks’ incumbent point guard heading into next season. Despite his shortcomings, he still cracked the all-Big 12 team as an Honorable Mention this season, but his inconsistency, off-court issues, and a stated need to move closer to his daughter, keep the decision from being a true shock. According to Dodd, Tharpe is somewhat shy of the academic credits necessary to graduate and play immediately as a transfer next season, so unless the NCAA is sympathetic to his family obligations, he’ll have to sit out the 2014-15 campaign.
Without Tharpe’s services next season, Kansas’ point guard situation remains cloudy. Mason and Frankamp should get chances to prove themselves as worthy floor generals to accompany Wayne Selden and Kelly Oubre on the perimeter, and former Appalachian State commitment Devonte Graham will enter the fray if he opts to come to Kansas instead of North Carolina State.