True freshman Jamari McDowell has quietly established himself as a mainstay in the Kansas basketball rotation through the first few weeks of play.
Heading into the 2023-24 season, the big question for the Kansas Jayhawks was whether Elmarko Jackson, Johnny Furphy, or Nick Timberlake would start alongside Dajuan Harris. But it turns out that another guard is making a name for himself in Bill Self’s rotation.
Jamari McDowell, a 4-star freshman combo guard based out of Houston, Texas, is making the most of his minutes this year. Despite being a redshirt candidate before the year started, he has actually been one of the most productive players on KU’s roster.
In Wednesday’s consolation round win over Tennessee in the Maui Invitational, he led the bench in minutes played (27) and saw more action than Jackson, Furphy, and Timberlake. He scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds on 2-of-7 shooting, with both of his makes coming on 3-point attempts.
While those numbers don’t jump off the page, McDowell provided a spark for Kansas basketball when he was on the floor. He is active defensively by keeping his hands up and disrupting passing lanes, and it is evident that he wants to contribute to the team’s success.
One thing that has separated him from his guard competition has been his ability to take care of the ball. He has turned it over just once this year in five games played, the lowest on the team. That is a huge step up from Jackson’s 1.7 per game or Timberlake’s 0.8.
McDowell has exhibited a maturity early in the season that most freshmen do not, especially one who was not expected to play meaningful minutes as a first-year. During KU’s win over Kentucky, he had sat the entire contest before being called upon with four minutes to go. That didn’t stop him from making a couple of big defensive stops or draining a pair of game-clinching free throws.
He might not be the most skilled player offensively yet, but Jamari McDowell clearly has what it takes to become the next great Kansas basketball guard. The sky is the limit for him if he sticks with the program as a four-year player.