Udoka Azubuike
No. 20 – Utah Jazz
PositionCenter / Power forward
LeagueNBA
Personal information
Born (1999-09-17) September 17, 1999 (age 21)
Lagos, Nigeria
NationalityNigerian
Listed height6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight280 lb (127 kg)
Career information
High schoolPotter's House Christian Academy
(Jacksonville, Florida)
CollegeKansas (2016–2020)
NBA draft2020 / Round: 1 / Pick: 27th overall
Selected by the Utah Jazz
Playing career2020–present
Career history
2020–presentUtah Jazz
2021Salt Lake City Stars
Career highlights and awards
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at Basketball-Reference.com

Udoka Timothy Azubuike (/jˈdkə ˌæzəˈbki/; born September 17, 1999) is a Nigerian professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks.

Early life

Udoka Azubuike was the youngest of 3, with two older brothers and two older sisters.[1] His father, Fabian, was a police officer, and his mother, Florence, was a middle school teacher.[2] Azubuike lost his father to an undiagnosed disease at the age of 10.[2] Nigerian-born, he caught the attention of recruiters with Basketball Without Borders and was offered a scholarship to play basketball in the United States despite not playing the game until he was 13.[2]

High school career

Azubuike attended Potter's House Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. His then assistant coach Harry Coxsome and his wife Donna took care of him and soon became his legal guardians.[2] In his first high school game he was matched up against fellow future Kansas Jayhawk Joel Embiid.[2] Azubuike was a four-year starter averaging 16.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game his senior year.[3] Azubuike was selected to play in the 2016 McDonald's All-American Boys Game,[4] Jordan Brand Classic,[5] and Nike Hoop Summit.[6] He was also a member of the National Honor Society.[2]

He was rated by Rivals.com as a five-star recruit and was ranked as the 27th best overall player[7] while ESPN ranked him 22nd overall in the Class of 2016.[8] Azubuike received offers from many universities including Duke, Texas, Kentucky, and shortened his final list of colleges to Florida State, Kansas, and North Carolina.[9] On January 28, 2016, he announced his choice to play college basketball at the University of Kansas.[10]

College career

Freshman year

In his freshman season he started in six of the 11 games he played in before tearing ligaments in his left wrist, which ended his season.[11] Before the injury, he averaged 5.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 62.9% field goal percentage.

Sophomore year

For the 2017–2018 season, Kansas' coach Bill Self recruited Kansas football player James Sosinski to defend Azubuike during practice.[12] Udoka started every game of the regular season but missed the Big 12 tournament after spraining his left MCL.[13] He returned for the NCAA tournament until KU's loss to eventual champion Villanova in the Final Four.[14] He averaged 13.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and led the nation with a 77% field goal percentage for the season.[15] His field goal percentage broke the single-season record for Kansas and the Big 12 Conference.[16] This high percentage was in part due to the majority of his field goals being slam dunks, which typically have a higher completion percentage than jump shots or layups. He had more dunks than any other college player going back to the 2009–2010 season.[17] He was awarded All-Big 12 third team by the conference's coaches[18] and second team by the AP.[19]

On April 20, 2018, Azubuike announced his intention to the 2018 NBA Draft. He did not initially hire an agent, which would allow him to return before the combine.[20] Azubuike was one of a record-high 69 prospects invited to the NBA Draft Combine that year. On May 17, he measured out to be a near 7' tall center (with shoes on) weighing in at 274 pounds and holding the second-longest wingspan at 7'7", behind only Mohamed Bamba.[21] On May 30, 2018, he announced his intent to withdraw from the draft and return to Kansas for his junior season.[22]

Junior year

Azubuike was selected as an honorable mention to the 2018–2019 All-Big 12 preseason team.[23] On December 4, 2018, he severely sprained his right ankle against Wofford and missed the following four games.[24] On January 5, 2019, Azubuike injured his wrist during practice.[25] An MRI revealed he tore a ligament in his right hand.[26] He underwent season-ending surgery on January 9, 2019.[27]

Kansas won all nine games Azubuike played including against top ten teams Tennessee and Michigan State. He finished the season averaging 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds.[28]

On April 22, 2019, Azubuike announced he would return to Kansas for his senior season.[29] According to KU coach Bill Self, “We’re all very excited about Udoka making the decision not to enter the [NBA] draft.” "Unfortunately for him, injury is the reason as he still cannot participate (at) what would be the NBA combine or workouts for the NBA teams."[30]

Senior year

Azubuike scored a career-high 29 points in a 90–84 overtime win over Dayton on November 27, 2019.[31] On February 22, 2020, Azubuike scored 23 points and had a career-high 19 rebounds in a 64–61 win over top-ranked Baylor.[32]

At the conclusion of the regular season, Azubuike was named the Big 12 Player of the Year.[33] Azubuike averaged 13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game as a senior.[34] Azubuike's career field goal percentage of 74.9% is the highest in NCAA history. [35]

Professional career

Utah Jazz (2020–present)

Azubuike was selected with the 27th pick in the first round of the 2020 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz.[36] On November 24, 2020, the Utah Jazz announced that they had signed Azubuike.[37] Azubuike was assigned to the Jazz's NBA G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, for the start of the 2021 G League season, making his G League debut on February 10, 2021.

Career statistics

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

NBA

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2020–21 Utah 15 0 3.8 .444 .800 .9 .0 .1 .3 1.1
Career 15 0 3.8 .444 .800 .9 .0 .1 .3 1.1

College

* Led NCAA Division I
Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2016–17 Kansas 11 6 12.9 .629 .380 4.1 .2 .2 1.6 5.0
2017–18 Kansas 36 34 23.6 .770* .413 7.0 .7 .6 1.7 13.0
2018–19 Kansas 9 9 20.4 .705 .344 6.8 .6 .4 1.6 13.4
2019–20 Kansas 31 30 27.7 .748* .441 10.5 .9 .5 2.6 13.7
Career 87 79 23.4 .746 .416 7.9 .7 .5 2.0 12.3

References

  1. ^ Kussoy, Howard (March 29, 2018). "Kansas star will get amazing Final Four moment: Seeing Mom". New York Post.
  2. ^ a b c d e f King, Jason (March 30, 2018). "Think Reaching the Final 4 Is Tough? Then You Haven't Met Kansas' Udoka Azubuike". Bleacher Report.
  3. ^ Potter’s House hoops star Udoka Azubuike commits to Kansas
  4. ^ Josh Jackson and Udoka Azubuike impress at McDonald's All-American Game
  5. ^ Udoka Azubuike honored at first stop of the Jordan Brand Classic Senior Night Tour
  6. ^ Kansas commit Udoka Azubuike added to World Select Team at Nike Hoop Summit
  7. ^ Five-star basketball recruit Udoka Azubuike picks Kansas
  8. ^ ESPN
  9. ^ Potter’s House hoops star Udoka Azubuike commits to Kansas
  10. ^ Four-star center Udoka Azubuike commits to Kansas
  11. ^ KU freshman Udoka Azubuike out for the season with wrist injury
  12. ^ Reiss, Aaron (March 29, 2018). "'Pushing and shoving' Doke is this KU walk-on's job. He has bruises to prove it". Kansas City Star.
  13. ^ Bedore, Gary (March 7, 2018). "Udoka Azubuike out for Big 12 Tournament, KU hopeful he can return for NCAAs". Kansas City Star. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  14. ^ Adelson, Andrea (March 30, 2018). "Nigeria approves Udoka Azubuike's mother's visa to travel to USA". ESPN. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  15. ^ "Udoka Azubuike". Sports-Reference.com.
  16. ^ Bedore, Gary (March 29, 2018). "A former KU center analyzes the game of Jayhawks big man Udoka Azubuike". Kansas City Star.
  17. ^ Newell, Jesse (April 24, 2018). "This decade, no player has done what KU's Udoka Azubuike just did". Kansas City Star. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  18. ^ Newell, Jesse (March 4, 2018). "Devonté Graham, Bill Self take home coaches' All-Big 12 basketball awards". Kansas City Star. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  19. ^ Newell, Jesse (March 6, 2018). "Devonté Graham, Bill Self win AP All-Big 12 awards". Kansas City Star. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  20. ^ "Kansas' Udoka Azubuike entering draft without agent". ESPN.com.
  21. ^ http://stats.nba.com/draft/combine-anthro/#!?sort=WINGSPAN&dir=1
  22. ^ "Udoka Azubuike withdraws from NBA Draft. Here's what his return means for KU". KansasCity.com.
  23. ^ Newell, Jesse (October 17, 2018). "K-State, KU well represented on All-Big team". Kansas City Star.
  24. ^ Bedore, Gary (December 27, 2018). "Azubuike now '60, 70 percent'". Kansas City Star.
  25. ^ "Jayhawks sit out Udoka Azubuike due to wrist injury". ESPN.com.
  26. ^ West, Jenna (January 6, 2019). "Kansas' Udoka Azubuike to Undergo Season-Ending Surgery on Right Hand". Sports Illustrated.
  27. ^ Tait, Matt (January 9, 2019). "Self: Doc says Azubuike's surgery 'couldn't have gone any better'". KU Sports.com.
  28. ^ Bedore, Gary (January 7, 2019). "KU Coach Bill Self Laments Loss of Azubuike". Kansas City Star.
  29. ^ "Udoka Azubuike to return for senior season". KUAthletics.com.
  30. ^ 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike returning to KU for senior season, Wichita Eagle, Gary Bedore, April 22, 2019. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  31. ^ "No. 4 Kansas beats Dayton 90-84 in overtime for Maui title". ESPN. Associated Press. November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  32. ^ "Kansas snaps Baylor's Big 12-record win streak". ESPN. February 22, 2020. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  33. ^ "Men's Basketball All-Big 12 Awards Announced" (Press release). March 8, 2020. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  34. ^ Dauster, Rob (March 10, 2020). "NBC Sports College Basketball All-American Teams". NBC Sports. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  35. ^ https://kuathletics.com/%f0%9f%94%a5-dok-all-time-ncaa-leader-in-field-goal-percentage/
  36. ^ Walden, Eric (November 18, 2020). "Utah Jazz take Kansas center Udoka Azubuike at No. 27, trade center Tony Bradley and 38th pick to Pistons". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  37. ^ "Jazz sign Azubuike and Hughes". NBA.com. November 24, 2020. Retrieved November 24, 2020.