Kansas basketball: Joseph Yesufu could be this team’s Remy Martin

The Jayhawks look to bounce back when they host Oklahoma today at 12:00 PM CST (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
The Jayhawks look to bounce back when they host Oklahoma today at 12:00 PM CST (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images) /

A Kansas team in dire need of bench scoring might have their spark plug in Joseph Yesufu.

Kansas has one of the most competent starting lineups in college basketball. Their bench, however, was statistically the worst in the Big 12 and one of the worst in the nation.

There is hardly any layover for the starters when they get subbed out. The drop-off in talent when Jalen Wilson or Dajuan Harris come off the floor is far too apparent. Bill Self has played guys 40 minutes a game because even when they were exhausted, they still did better than the bench would have.

Norm Roberts gave the bench 43 total minutes in KU’s blowout victory over Howard. That was due to Howard’s lack of skill, but getting quality minutes from the second unit would increase Kansas’ odds of making a deep tournament run.

In 2021, Remy Martin transferred from Arizona State to play in Lawrence. He had lofty expectations coming into the season — Martin was voted the conference’s preseason player of the year. He was neither the best player in the league nor a top-three player on Kansas. Coach Self made him start coming off the bench before the calendar year even switched.

Instead of fussing over his lack of playing time, Martin embraced being the team’s sixth man. He went from becoming nearly phased out of the rotation to one of their most important players in March.

During KU’s six-game run in the NCAA Tournament, Martin averaged 14.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on 51.7%/47.6%/70.0% shooting splits. He finally came out of his shell and proved why the Jayhawks reeled him in as a transfer. If it were not for Martin, Kansas probably would not have captured a national title.

A year later, with a Kansas team not quite as deep as last season, Joseph Yesufu can be that unexpected spark for the Jayhawks.

Yesufu gained traction in the transfer portal because of his outstanding performance in the Missouri Valley and NCAA Tournament in 2021. He scored 21.0 per game on 40.0% three-point shooting in those four games.

His outside shooting has dipped since arriving at Kansas, shooting a measly 27.2% from beyond the arc. However, he hit two of his four attempts from range in KU’s win vs. Howard. If Yesufu can display some of the March magic he had two years ago, it would make Kansas a much more dangerous team.

The Drake transfer is the leading scorer on the KU bench, averaging 4.1 points in his junior season. He still has another year of eligibility and could carve out a sizeable role on Kansas if he can pour in some baskets during March Madness.

On a squad so reliant on its starters, Yesufu could provide stability to the bench with his three-point shooting and exceptional dribbling skills. He might not supply the team with the same energy that Martin did, but he can put points up immediately. Yesufu must continue to flourish in his role as the first guard off the bench.

Next. Five things to know about Arkansas. dark