Australian freshman Johnny Furphy had a career night in last night's Kansas basketball win over Cincinnati. With his family in town to watch the game, the first-year guard posted career highs in points (23) and rebounds (11), securing a double-double in the victory.
Since being inserted into the starting lineup full-time, Furphy is averaging 14.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.0 steals on 55.9/47.6/76.9 shooting splits. He has taken the Big 12 by storm and is already earning himself consideration as one of the league's best freshmen.
At 6-foot-9, 200 pounds, the Melbourne native has the physical and athletic tools to play professional ball one day. He excelled at the NBA Academy Games in the summer and caught the eye of many scouts. Coincidentally, a Kansas basketball teammate of his thinks the same.
During his postgame press conference, Jayhawk star Hunter Dickinson revealed something he told Furphy before the game started.
"I was trying to tell him, 'Johnny, you don't really have to do too much.' If you just go in, you play your role, you play some defense, you make some shots, you could end up as a first-round pick. I think he's doing that out there. He's making a lot of noise and we'll see how long he lasts in Lawrence."
Although those aren't the words the Jayhawk faithful want to hear, Dickinson is speaking the truth. Not only is Furphy playing his role and improving on defense, but he is scoring the ball and playing an efficient floor game. He is the prototypical big wing that so many teams covet in today's game.
Furphy is not the only Jayhawk with professional attention. Kevin McCullar is a projected first-round pick with his offensive surge this season. Fans might hear two the names of two Kansas alums on draft day.
Both Dickinson and Furphy can return to Kansas next year, so it isn't out of the question that the tandem spends more than one year in Lawrence. But if Furphy continues to play at this level for the remainder of the season, it will be difficult to pass up an opportunity to sign an NBA contract.