Kansas basketball: Johnny Furphy will return to court vs. Wichita State after a one-game absence

Kansas gets back its top bench scorer today

Allstate Maui Invitiational - Day Three
Allstate Maui Invitiational - Day Three / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The Kansas basketball team sits at 11-1 and No. 2 in the nation, but Bill Self’s second unit has struggled immensely. They rank 312th in the country in bench scoring and heavily rely on the starting rotation. However, the Jayhawks will receive a big-time boost when they take on Wichita State today at 3:00 P.M. CT.

According to On3 Sports, KU freshman Johnny Furphy is available to play against the Shockers after missing the previous contest against Yale. The top bench scorer on the Jayhawks is back after his short absence and should make an immediate impact.

He had been away from the team for over a week during the short Christmas break due to a 'family commitment.' Coach Self said he was supposed to leave earlier than he did, but he stayed a few days longer to play vs. Indiana in Assembly Hall. Shortly after the win, he traveled back to his hometown of Melbourne, Australia.

The coaching staff knew of this for months, and it has been speculated that it was one way Kansas could support him in the absence of NIL. International players typically avoid NIL deals because they would have to accept the payments back in their original country. Ultimately, it is a slippery slope that most programs aren't willing to cross, and the coaches likely wanted to give something back to him during the holiday season.

Through 11 games, Furphy has averaged 5.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.3 assists on 50.0% shooting. He leads the bench in scoring and has shown flashes of his considerable athleticism and diverse offensive skill set.

It will be interesting to see how minutes are distributed after transfer guard Nick Timberlake had the best game of his KU basketball career vs. Yale. He played 30 minutes to Elmarko Jackson's 17 and Jamari McDowell's five. With Furphy back in the fold, we could see various lineup combinations from Bill Self.