What Riley Kugel committing to Kansas basketball means for the Jayhawks next season

The newest addition to the Jayhawks will be an important long-term piece to the program

Florida v Vanderbilt
Florida v Vanderbilt / Carly Mackler/GettyImages
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The Kansas Jayhawks and Bill Self did not take long to land the program's first transfer portal addition of the offseason, receiving a commitment from Florida Gators transfer Riley Kugel yesterday. He did not even need to visit campus to know KU was the right school for him.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound guard spent two seasons at Florida and had high expectations this year after making the SEC All-Freshman Team. His performance in 2023-24 was rather underwhelming, as he averaged 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.1 steals on 39.4% shooting across 33 games.

Once a projected first-round pick in the draft, Kugel also considered Arizona, Houston, and UConn in his recruitment process. It might take some time for him to adapt to the new environment in Lawrence, but Kugel has many positive qualities about his game that should excite Jayhawk fans.

Riley Kugel could grow into a fantastic player for the Kansas Jayhawks

While he figures to be a bench piece to begin the year, it's easy to see why Self grew fond of Kugel. He is extremely athletic and will serve as the slasher that the Jayhawks lacked this season. His play style fits the mold of a two-guard who can create separation off the dribble and hit pull-up jump shots.

Jayhawk supporters might be turned off by Kugel's low shooting percentage and struggles from beyond the arc. I'm telling you now that you should not be. After a rough start to the season, Kugel shot 39.6% from 3-point range in 18 conference play games. That falls more in line with the 37.6% clip he shot as a freshman.

Another thing that makes Kugel stand out is that he has two years of eligibility remaining. By his senior season, Kugel could be a star in the making for Coach Self. He could always enter the NBA Draft after one season, but Kansas would be in a good position if Kugel played well enough to garner attention from professional scouts.

If Elmarko Jackson and/or Jamari McDowell transfer out of KU, this addition will be especially impactful for the Jayhawks' thin guard room. Regardless, he should have a sizeable role with the second unit and could sneak into the starting lineup at some point. Kansas is just getting started in the portal, and Kugel was an excellent get by the coaching staff early on.

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