Former Kansas basketball player Zuby Ejiofor is making a strong impression in preseason practices with his new school.
Eight players transferred from the Kansas Jayhawks this offseason (seven if you don’t count Zach Clemence, who returned to the program). While KU revamped its roster to become a preseason No. 1 candidate, up-and-coming star Zuby Ejiofor was one of the most painful losses.
His freshman season was consumed by injuries and a lack of playing time. The former 4-star recruit from Garland, Texas appeared in 25 of KU’s 36 games, averaging 1.2 points and 1.7 rebounds in 5.1 minutes played per contest.
Ejiofor is a 6-foot-9, 240-pound big man with a high motor and tremendous defensive potential. After entering the transfer portal in May, he chose to commit to St. John’s over Kentucky and other schools.
He is expected to be a massive factor in the resurgence of the Johnnies’ basketball program. College basketball head coaching legend Rick Pitino, who has won two national championships at the collegiate level (one was technically vacated) and was the first coach to ever take three schools to the Final Four, took over at the helm in Queens this offseason after spending three seasons at Iona.
St. John’s was one of the biggest winners in the portal this offseason thanks to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer. Ejiofor has quickly caught his attention during preseason practices, according to the New York Post.
“Very few players I’ve coached have the ability to bring it every single day,” Pitino told the media. “From the day he arrived, he has not had a bad day just from an effort standpoint. I just think he laces them up and he goes full bore.”
Ejiofor was known for putting maximum effort into every play as a Jayhawk. He played hard until the whistle. He attributes that to his upbringing and wanting to leave everything he has on the court.
“It’s just a mentality. It comes from the hard work that my family puts in, the extra shifts that my mom [Sandra] works and seeing how hard it is for her to just put food on the table for our family. It keeps pushing me on a daily basis.”
Kansas basketball assistant coach Norm Roberts fell in love with Ejiofor’s game the second he first watched him play. He also spoke with The Post about his departure and the type of player he can bud into with the Red Storm.
“That’s why we took him,” Roberts said. “He always had a great motor. His whole game that gives him the most success is his energy. I always envisioned him being a lot like [NBA forward] Montrezl Harrell.”
“I think he has a chance to really, really grow as a player there,” he continued. “I would think he can be maybe an all-conference player by the time he’s a junior if everything falls right for him. … We did not want to lose him, but we understand what college basketball is today.”
Pitino said that if the season were to start today, Ejiofor would be slotted into the starting lineup. He figures to get plenty of run during his sophomore year, much more than he would have received at KU behind KJ Adams and Hunter Dickinson.
It would have been terrific if Kansas basketball could have kept him as a development player for one more year. However, he was well within his rights to search for new opportunities. Hopefully, Zuby can continue thriving in his new environment.