Kansas basketball: Nick Timberlake might have finally regained his confidence

Nick Timberlake had the best game of his Jayhawk career against Yale. Has he finally come out of his shell?
Yale v Kansas
Yale v Kansas / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Nick Timberlake's start to his Kansas basketball career has been anything but what head coach Bill Self expected when he recruited him from the transfer portal during the offseason. Between Nov. 10 to Dec. 16, he averaged 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds on 24.2% field goal shooting and 18.2% 3-point shooting. He appeared to have a case of the yips, but he might have broken out of his slump.

In last night's game against Yale, he scored a season-high 13 points and connected on 3-of-7 3-point attempts. Timberlake saw 30 minutes of action after playing 20 or less in each of KU's previous 11 contests. While one performance won't be enough to convince fans he has turned it around completely, it was an encouraging sign from a player who was expected to be a vital contributor this year.

“I’ve been thinking way too much during the whole year and finally felt like the kid at Towson who Coach Self recruited here,” the guard said in his postgame press conference.

“I finally felt good," he continued. “I had a great week of practice ... and it just carried over.

There had been a lot of lead-up heading into this 'breakout' game. Bill Self talked about how it has been affecting him mentally all week.

“I think outwardly he’s handling it perfect. Inwardly he’s got to be, ‘What’s going on?’’’ Self said. “Look at the Indiana game. It’s such a small sample size because he did some good things. But you miss two wide-open ones, miss a front end … is he better defensively if he’s not scoring the ball than what somebody else would be?

The guys around him still believed he could turn it around. “He had a real good practice yesterday knocking down a lot of key open shots that he’s usually made,” KJ Adams said about his teammate. “Getting there, getting more comfortable with his play could help. He’s going to have a big role in our year. Getting him more comfortable is going to help us a lot.”

With Johnny Furphy absent due to a family commitment back home in Australia, Timberlake made the most of his opportunity. If he is finally transforming into the version that the Jayhawks hoped he would become, it would be the perfect time as KU begins conference play in two weeks.