LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe will transfer closer to home for his final season of eligibility, ending a tumultuous run with the Jayhawks that included three Big 12 championships and multiple off-court distractions.
Tharpe said in a statement issued by the school Thursday that he made the decision to transfer so he could be closer to his daughter, Amara. She was born during his freshman season, and Tharpe said she has been dealing with medical issues that require regular visits to doctors.
“It’s going to be tough leaving a situation like this because of the teammates I’m leaving behind,” Tharpe said. “At this juncture, I feel it is best to be closer to home where I can assist and support in any way necessary.”
Kansas coach Bill Self said Amara is “doing very well now,” but Tharpe thought it was best to transfer closer to her. It’s not clear what school he’ll attend.
“Naadir and I have talked numerous times since he’s been here about his role and about his situation back home with his daughter,” Self said. “This is his decision.”
Tharpe drew Self’s ire before the season when he played in an unauthorized summer league game, which resulted in a one-game suspension. After the season, he was seen with a partially nude woman in a photograph circulated on social media that prompted Self to say he was “extremely disappointed with what’s transpired and the judgment that went along with it.”
On the court, where Tharpe showed flashes of brilliance mixed with moments of frustration. He averaged 8.5 points and 5.0 assists as Kansas finished with a 25-10 record, but struggled in a loss to Stanford in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
At one point in the season, Self replaced Tharpe with freshman Frank Mason in the starting lineup. Tharpe regained his starting job a few games later.
“I certainly appreciate all of his efforts since he’s been here,” Self said. “Naadir has been a good player for us in his three years here. But we also respect the fact that he wants to be closer to his daughter and we want to do everything we can to support that.”
The Jayhawks have plenty of depth in the backcourt, though Mason is the only prototypical point guard. Wayne Selden Jr. and Conner Frankamp also could play the position, though Selden is a slashing scorer and Frankamp a 3-pointer threat, both better suited to shooting guard.
Tharpe’s departure could sway Devonte Graham, the top unsigned player in the 2014 class, to choose Kansas. The 6-2 guard narrowed his choices Wednesday to the Jayhawks and North Carolina State, though it’s unknown when he plans to make a decision.
Graham played at Brewster Academy, the same prep school as Tharpe.
The Jayhawks only have two members in its upcoming recruiting class — 6-foot-8 forward Cliff Alexander, the Naismith player of the year, and 6-7 swingman Kelly Oubre. But both are five-star prospects who shined in the McDonald’s All-American game.
Kansas missed out on a commitment this week from 6-11 center Myles Turner, a top-10 prospect who chose Big 12 rival Texas. Turner would have helped Kansas compensate for the loss of 7-footer Joel Embiid, who declared for the NBA draft after his freshman season.