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Former Kansas basketball commit eyeing potential move to rival

Former Kansas basketball commit Riley Kugel is looking to potentially stay in the Big 12 Conference. Kugel is looking at Kansas State basketball as a potential new home, per Through the Phog. Kugel was set to head to Lawrence, but decided to bow out of his commitment to Kansas this offseason.

The transfer guard is highly touted, and highly pursued. Along with Kansas State, Mississippi State is making a run for the guard’s services. Arizona, Houston and UConn were also in the mix during his initial recruitment in the transfer portal.

Kugel previously played for Florida in the SEC. The 6-foot-5, 205 pound guard averaged 9 points a game for the Gators in the 2023-24 season. He entered the portal this offseason, and committed to Kansas but didn’t sign a letter of intent. Kugel is a Florida native and has good size for a guard. He shot 39 percent from the field during this last campaign, his second year in college. During his freshman season, he made the All-SEC Freshman Team.

Kansas basketball rebuilding

Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self during the second half in the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Vivint Smart Home Arena-Delta Center.
© Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas basketball has rebuilt itself through a the transfer portal this offseason. The 2023-24 campaign was one of the most disappointing in recent memory, as the Jayhawks lost more games in the Big 12 than it had in more than 30 years. Kansas was riddled with injuries, as leading scorer Kevin McCullar Jr. missed the NCAA tournament with a lower-body issue. Big man Hunter Dickinson hurt his shoulder, and missed the Big 12 Tournament. As a result, the Jayhawks failed to win the conference tournament and missed out on the Sweet 16.

The team got some good news this offseason as Dickinson announced he would return to the team. Guard DaJuan Harris is also coming back, and has plenty of ball handling experience. Kansas also scored in the transfer portal, despite losing Kugel. The Jayhawks picked up Alabama wing Rylan Griffen, a four-star recruit. Kansas also has two other four-star transfers, in AJ Storr and Zeke Mayo.

Kansas also has its usual dose of blue chip talent coming to Lawrence from the high school ranks. The Jayhawks have two freshmen joining the team this season, at time of writing. One of them is Flory Bidunga, a five-star center who will provide a punch to the front court, alongside Dickinson. Kansas also has Rakease Passmore, a four-star shooting guard who can hit from deep.

The Jayhawks don’t seem to be done, as the team has reached out to several other players in the transfer portal. Kansas isn’t used to struggling in the Big 12. The team has won the conference tournament more than any other school. The Big 12 is moving to a 20 game conference season, making the league even harder. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are joining the league this year. Texas and Oklahoma have left for the SEC.

Kansas State basketball rebuilds

Kansas State basketball is also in the midst of a rebuild, after a disappointing season. The Wildcats missed the NCAA tournament in Jerome Tang’s second year as head coach. Kansas State is relying heavily on the transfer portal to rebuild its roster. The team lost five players to the portal this offseason, but gained another five.

Kansas State’s key transfer so far this offseason is point guard Dug McDaniel. The former Michigan Wolverine is expected to get the bulk of the minutes at point this coming season. McDaniel averaged more than 16 points a game during the 2023-24 season.

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