Recent Johnny Furphy cold stretch could change decision to return to Kansas basketball next year

The recent slump from Johnny Furphy could increase the likelihood of him returning for a sophomore season.

Mar 13, 2024; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Johnny Furphy (10) handles the ball
Mar 13, 2024; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Johnny Furphy (10) handles the ball / Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Furphy was a late-summer addition to the Kansas basketball team after he made a name for himself at the NBA Academy Games. The 6-foot-9 Australian guard burst onto the scene for the Jayhawks in the second half of the season and has become a mainstay in the starting lineup for head coach Bill Self.

With his length, athleticism, and shooting stroke, it is no surprise Furphy emerged as an intriguing draft prospect to professional scouts. From Jan. 16 to Feb. 24, Furphy averaged 13.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.3 steals on 57.3%/43.8%/77.6% shooting splits. However, his recent performances during KU's most crucial stretch of the year have raised concern — especially his brutal outing last night in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament.

In a 72-52 loss to Cincinnati, the Melbourne native shot 1-for-8 from the field and missed all three of his attempts beyond the arc. He scored two points, the lowest tally of any Jayhawk starter, and had his second consecutive poor shooting night. Over the past five contests, Furphy is averaging 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 0.8 steals on 10-for-37 shooting (27.0%) and 3-for-19 3-point shooting (15.8%).

While Furphy was creeping near the lottery in mock drafts during his initial surge, his play has come down to earth toward the later stages of the year. If anything, his slump is one of many reasons why Kansas basketball is struggling this badly heading into March Madness. He certainly did not help his draft value with yesterday's dry spell when the offensive relied more heavily on him.

What seemed like a foregone conclusion one month ago is once again a topic of discussion among Jayhawk fans. The possibility of Furphy exercising his sophomore eligibility continues to rise. There is no doubt he could use another year at KU to improve his defense and consistency.

At 19 years old, an NBA team could still bring in Furphy and look to develop him further in the pros. However, with just two months of real collegiate experience under his belt and a recent rough patch, the decision for him to enter the draft or stay in Lawrence another year could become more difficult if his stock begins to take a dive.