Lawrence – Watching Kansas basketball make its way to a national championship, Ernst Ode Jr. couldn’t help but be excited for the coaching staff he would soon be able to play with.
Odeh, who will be a freshman next season for the Jayhawks, took that away more than anything. Speaking earlier this week, Audi indicated that the team cannot win a title without a coaching staff like this. He thinks he’ll be in good hands, when he gets to Lawrence ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, and given he’ll report to campus in early June, that date is getting closer and closer.
Just like last October, when Audi committed to KS, Audi was confident in his ability. Audi is also quick to point out that he will always put team goals before personal goals, and that if the Jayhawks win and do what they need to, everything will take care of itself. According to Ben Witherspoon, who coached Audi at Dr. Phillips High School in Florida, Audi often talks about how excited he was to come to Kansas and be part of the upcoming effort to repeat the championship as national champions.
“I expect he’s going to be one of the best big guys in Big 12 when he gets in,” Witherspoon said this week. “It’s going to take some work between now and the start of the season, but it’s definitely achievable to be a starter and be one of the best players in the conference without question. But he’ll still be a freshman. The rookies do things for the freshmen sometimes, but the effect it’s going to make is with what he can do.” Defensively and guarding different situations, the way he protects the edge, the way he bounces back, his efforts and his drive, the way he finishes. The Loeb threat.”
Witherspoon continued, “I think coach (Bill) Self will help him tremendously, because of the way he’s playing Kansas, where the big guys are always involved, and he’s going to help him get better at sealing and all that stuff. So, I expect him to be one of the best players in the league this year.” end of the year.”
Udeh improves offensive skills, becomes stronger
Witherspoon said Audi, a four-star 247Sports Composite and ranked 29th in the nation in the 2022 class, had been focusing on his attack during his training before joining Kansas. This means becoming a better player off the low post, someone who can finish the race and a talent who can counter and beat the average jumpers off the post. This means staying in the gym, and the two are training one on one.
Witherspoon said Audi was going to the strength and conditioning coach in Orlando, too. This was part of Odeh’s efforts as well. And all while keeping in mind the goal of making the leap Udeh to college level is not as important as a step up as it would otherwise.
There will, of course, be a period of time when Audi gets used to the autonomous system, the terminology the Jayhawks use and more. Both Audi and Witherspoon expect that. But there’s a reason Witherspoon isn’t concerned about Audi’s adaptation to the strength and size of the men he’ll face, and that’s because Witherspoon sees Audi—listed by KS at 6 feet 10, 230 pounds—as someone who creates size and strength for others.
“I got in touch with his trainers in Kansas and made sure he was working on the right things,” Witherspoon said, adding that Audi gained confidence from lifting in a way different from many of the possibilities Witherspoon was in. “And his strength and conditioning coach has also spoken with (Athletic Performance Director) Coach Ramsey (star) in Kansas as well, so they are on the same page as well. So, obviously there is still some sort of adjustment. But he will be ready.”
Audi says trio of McDonald’s All-Americans could be ‘something special’
Odeh said the most important thing he wanted to do in high school graduation season, was to develop his self-confidence offensively. He felt that he had always projected himself in defence, but was looking forward to displaying it offensively as well. It is believed that he excelled at doing so, because he brought what he was doing in training to matches.
Witherspoon described Audi’s progress there as allowing his team to feel comfortable using him as a threat at the low post. Witherspoon said they put Audi in isolation situations, and let him go and try and score. According to Witherspoon, Udeh no longer relies on offensive rebounds and backwards when it comes to scoring.
The extent to which all of this is reflected in Audi’s play as a new student at Kuwait University will be determined in due course. But it does add to the potential that the Jayhawks’ freshman class, a group that includes other highly regarded prospects at Gradey Dick, MJ Rice and Zuby Ejiofor, will play an important role this upcoming season. Dick and Rice were both American McDonald’s just like Audi.
“It was great,” said O’Donald, musing about being an American McDonald’s alongside Dick and Rice. “The most important thing for me was just realizing that…my future teammates were right there with me. There were three of us. So, I just look at that — obviously, just because we’re an all-American McDonald’s, it doesn’t carry any weight at the level Next. But just to find out that we were all able to get that recognition…let me know we’ve got something, really, going on.”
Witherspoon saw Audi as a leader last season, as someone who embodies what their program is looking for in terms of effort and selflessness. Witherspoon sees Audi as someone whose personality, and positive energy, will allow him to fit in seamlessly when he reports to KS. Witherspoon said Audi will dance and rap, and last season was probably the second best rapper on their team.
It’s an important thing, no matter what an eventual comeback role with the Jayhawks this coming next season. Witherspoon believes that selfish behavior can create problems in the locker room. Witherspoon doesn’t expect Audi to do anything of the sort.
“I’ve been to the gym, counting the days until I can get to Lawrence,” O’Day said. “…The adult season is over, maybe it took, like, I don’t know, two days off? Then he went straight back to the gym. I make sure my body is healthy, of course, I eat the right things. But, overall, I’ve just been in the gym.” Sports I train.
Jordan Guskey covers the University of Kansas Athletics in The Topeka Capital-Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.