Kansas basketball: Former Jayhawk Kyle Cuffe elated to have fresh start, discusses time at KU

Kansas redshirt guard Kyle Cuffee Jr. (5) drives the ball during a scrimmage at Friday's Late Night in the Phog inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas redshirt guard Kyle Cuffee Jr. (5) drives the ball during a scrimmage at Friday's Late Night in the Phog inside Allen Fieldhouse. /

Kyle Cuffe Jr. transferred to Syracuse this offseason, and the former Kansas basketball player has high expectations heading into his redshirt freshman season.

The beginning of Kyle Cuffe Jr.’s collegiate career has been anything but what he expected.

A 4-star point guard out of Blair Academy in New Jersey, Cuffe committed to Kansas basketball in hopes of becoming the next great Kansas basketball guard under Bill Self. After redshirting in 2021-22 when the Jayhawks took home the national championship, Cuffe appeared in just two contests last year before tearing his MCL and PCL in a team practice.

The son of former St. John’s standout Kyle Cuffe — who was coached by now-Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts when he was on the Johnnies — has yet to score a point in college basketball. He knew that opportunities would be limited for him in the open market due to his injury history and unknown talent, but he bet on himself and it worked in the long run.

In the offseason, Cuffe entered the transfer portal and committed to a new age of Syracuse basketball. Jim Boeheim is out as head coach after 47 years with the program, and Adrian Autry will look to rebuild what used to be one of the top powerhouses in the NCAA.

Cuffe has had one of the most challenging paths to the top so far. But considering he redshirted consecutive seasons, he enters 2023-24 as an academic junior with four years of college ball remaining. He feels the two years taught him more about basketball than he ever learned.

“I feel like it changed me into the person I am today,” Cuffe proclaimed. “Going through it taught me a lot of lessons,” Cuffe said. “Just things like internally, what I got to do. What I gotta focus on now. What things I need to let go in my life.”

He spoke about the things he learned from being a part of KU’s program.

“Basically just little things on how to win. It doesn’t always have to be the big things but just knowing your role and accepting your role,” Cuffe told media. “Having everybody on the same page is what got us there. Basically bring Syracuse back to the top,” Cuffe said. “Back to where they’re supposed to be.”

“It was so fun just being able to be on the team with people like Christian Braun, Ochai Agbaji, Dave McCormack, even Remy Martin too and a guard that’s there right now Dajuan Harris,” he continued. “Jalen Wilson’s in the league right now. Those are the players I looked up to just because they’re older and they shaped the way I look at the game.”

Getting onto the court this season will not be any easier for Cuffe than it was at Kansas. He sits behind Judah Mintz on the depth chart, one of the best points guards in the nation, and will battle with Chance Westry for minutes with the second unit. To make matters worse, Cuffe missed the team’s summer workouts due to a broken hand he sustained in June. However, knowing Cuffe and his persistent work ethic, the Kansas basketball transfer will find his way onto the court one way or another.

The Orange open their season with a home game against New Hampshire at 6:00 p.m. CT tonight.

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